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Wales February A-levels and GCSE assessment schedule outlined

March 11, 2021

Original Article: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-55333506

Assessments for A-levels and GCSEs will start after the February half term but schools will decide when they are held, Wales' education minister has said.

A group of school and college leaders has been working on the details of the process for awarding grades, after a decision to scrap summer 2021 exams.

Internal assessments will be held from February until April with external assessments between May and June.

Kirsty Williams said universities could be "confident" in students' abilities.

Exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic's continued disruption to education from September, and the difficulties in making sure there would be a level playing field for students across Wales.

A Design and Delivery Advisory Group, made up of schools and college leaders, has recommended grades are based on a mix of internal and external assessments.

If coursework is part of the qualification then that will contribute to grades as planned.

Internal assessments can be held by schools within a window from 22 February to 23 April.

They will be able to choose from assessments provided by the exam board, the WJEC, and they will be marked by teachers.

External assessments, set and marked by the exam board, will take place in a window between 17 May and 29 June.

"Teachers and lecturers will decide how and when to deliver these assessments within the classroom so they do not create the pressure and anxiety of exams," the government said.

Eithne Hughes, director of the Association of School and College Leaders Cymru, said the plan "sets out a workable and fair approach to assessing GCSEs, AS and A levels following the cancellation of exams".

Plaid Cymru education spokeswoman Siân Gwenllian said: "External assessments are exams in all but name.

"It's not at all clear how this will work in practical terms and I worry that once again too much emphasis is being placed on the qualification at the expense of fairness to the pupils in these extremely difficult times."

Suzy Davies, the Welsh Conservatives' education spokeswoman, said "the element of external assurance is so important".

"It's also important to maintain confidence in the impartiality of the system, thereby protecting teachers against accusations of unconscious bias, or because of a lack of training," she said.

Ms Williams said the system was "mindful of our learners' well-being".

"I am satisfied we have an approach that is fair for all learners whilst minimising disruption to learning and maintaining confidence and trust in the integrity of qualifications in Wales," she said.

"I am also confident these plans minimise the impact on teacher workload - teachers and lecturers are already under a great deal of pressure and we do not want to add to this."

The system decided for summer 2020 grades collapsed after uproar at the downgrading of grades estimated by teachers.

 

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