10 November 2020

Exam cancellation welcomed - but urgent need for clarity

UCAC education union has welcomed today’s announcement by the Education Minister to cancel external examinations for GCSEs, AS and A levels in the summer of 2021, and to replace them with alternative assessment arrangements.

Rebecca Williams, Deputy Secretary General and Policy Officer for UCAC said “This announcement will be a great relief for schools across Wales. Conducting external examinations in a way that is fair to pupils in the current circumstances is inconceivable and there is no guarantee that conditions will be more conducive in the summer.

“This decision means that alternative arrangements will be put in place and there will be no need to make last-minute changes, which is extremely welcome.

“We agree with the Minister that this is the best option in terms of ensuring fairness and wellbeing across the system in a year when disruption to pupil education is inevitable, despite everyone's best efforts. In addition, it significantly extends the teaching and learning period, which will help to provide full coverage of specifications despite any disruption.

“We note that a Group has been established to determine the detail of alternative assessment arrangements. There is a lot of work to be done, and detailed and technical discussions to be had. It will be important to get the decisions right especially in terms of the balance between internal processes within schools and external processes to ensure consistency, including the role of the WJEC and others.

“UCAC is pressing for early recommendations and decisions - ideally by the end of 2020 - to allow schools to put the appropriate arrangements in place, and for pupils to understand exactly how they will be assessed. While uncertainty remains, teachers and pupils will continue to feel anxious.”

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