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Exams and assessments in Wales set to go ahead as normal this year, education minister confirms

EXAMS and assessments in Wales are set to go ahead as normal this year “unless the public health situation makes it impossible to physically run them.”

It will be the first time that formal end of year examinations for students have taken place since before the pandemic.

For the last two years GCSE and AS/A Level grades have been decided via teacher-managed assessments.

This included assessments that were externally set and marked but delivered within a classroom environment under teacher supervision

Speaking at a press conference today Education Minister Jeremy Miles confirmed that exams and assessments will go ahead this year, unless the public health situation makes it impossible for them to physically run. Something he said the Welsh Government “do not envisage” will happen.

He said: “The intention to adjust grade boundaries to reflect disruption has already been set out.

“Adaptations to exam content have been put in place as well as prior notification of areas of examination. , so that assessments are as fair as possible, and which will enable teachers to focus their time on the key areas for learning.

“Working collaboratively with Qualifications Wales, we are working with colleges to ensure learners undertaking vocational qualifications are also able to access appropriate adaptations this year.

“I encourage all learners in exam years to talk to their schools and colleges about what additional support and flexibility might be available this year, to help them progress with confidence.”

He also confirmed that schools exams will be shorter and will cover less material to reflect the reduced teaching time many students have experienced.

The minister added: “All countries across the UK are continuing with exams and to do otherwise in Wales would risk putting our learners at a disadvantage against learners in other parts of the UK.

“We are clear that exams and assessments remain the fairest way of assessing learners, even in these difficult circumstances.

“We know that alternative options such as centre determining grades in fact mean less opportunity for teaching and learning in the classroom and can introduce their own inequities as well.

“Adaptations to exam content have been put in place to account for the disruption faced over the last two years so that assessment are as fair as possible.”

However the minister was questioned on whether exams remain the fairest form of assessment given the amount of time many students have missed the last two years due to either lockdowns or having to self isolate.

He said: “I am confident that this is the fairest way even in the challenging circumstances in which schools have been operating.

“I do absolutely recognise that learners across Wales will be anxious about sitting exams this summer. We’ve had a series of exams in November and we’ve got a series of exams coming to an end today in fact.

“I know that learners have been anxious around sitting exams perhaps for the first time, but what I would say to to learners and to schools and to parents, is that these aren’t going to be exams such as they were in the summer of 2019.

“Qualifications Wales has announced that the grading of those examinations will reflect the disruption that’s happened.

“What I want to see is that anyone sitting for example GCSEs this summer is able to progress to the next stage of their education journey or whatever they choose.