Colleges call for urgent action on A level results

On behalf of our member colleges and in light of the publication of today’s AS and A level results, ColegauCymru is requesting an urgent review of the awarding process.

Despite the cancellation of examinations, outcomes are broadly similar to previous years. However, worryingly, colleges across Wales have seen considerable inequalities in individual learner results. This is naturally proving to be hugely concerning and frustrating, both for learners, parents and carers and staff.

ColegauCymru Director of Development Kelly Edwards said

“The grades learners receive today at AS and A level will have a huge impact on the decisions they make both now and in the future. We must ensure that the grades awarded are fair and accurate so that learners can progress on their chosen path.”

A level (A2) concerns
ColegauCymru is calling on Qualifications Wales, WJEC and Welsh Government to clarify the appeals process for those learners whose A level grades are lower than their predicted, centre assessed grade, but higher than their AS result. A swift and robust appeals process must be established to ensure that queries relating to individual learner grades are resolved quickly, to allow appropriate progression. An appeals process should prioritise those candidates whose next step has been negatively impacted by the current circumstances.

Similarly, in light of the Minister for Education's statement yesterday evening, learners and others need to know when they will receive their confirmed and final A level grades and confirmation is sought from Qualifications Wales that the correct A2 results have been received by UCAS and can be used by universities in assessing an initial application or through the clearing process.

AS grade concerns
Colleges across the FE sector are deeply concerned with the impact the standardisation process has had on AS results. They report considerable issues in relation to AS grades and note reservations as to the reliability of the standardisation models and algorithms used by WJEC and approved by Qualifications Wales in reaching this year’s outcomes. We are now calling for both WJEC and QW to urgently address our concerns and to replace the awarding process for AS with a model similar to that seen in Scotland, which has reverted to centre assessed grades (CAG).

2020 AS resit grades have been officially issued by WJEC to a number of learners. It has however been stated and then contradicted by WJEC that the upgrade or protection offered by the Minister last night only applies to 2019 AS grades. The 2020 resit grades appear to have been through the moderation process and are now official. The Minister’s statement did not provide details that the protection would be based on 2019 only grades and we seek clarification here.

ColegauCymru Chief Executive Iestyn Davies, said

“Our member colleges have worked tirelessly over recent weeks and months, meticulously following guidelines and their own robust internal processes to ensure the fair and accurate grading of qualifications. The time, effort as well as dedication that teachers and curriculum leaders have put into the awarding process to ensure its accuracy has been unprecedented and considerable, only to be adversely affected by issues with standardisation models used by WJEC.”

Looking ahead to 2021
We are calling on the Minister for Education to provide assurances that WJEC and QW will ensure that 2020 AS results will not contribute to A level grades in the summer 2021 series. In the event of a further public health crisis that leads to disruption to the 2021 series, learners must have confidence that the lessons of 2020 will be acted on to safeguard their futures. The sector is also calling for a clear outline and plan detailing how examination and assessment will likely take place next summer.

Iestyn Davies concluded,

“It is essential that we now work closely with WJEC, Qualifications Wales and government colleagues to ensure that current issues are resolved quickly and that there are no negative repercussions felt next year. The grades learners receive today, both at AS and A level will have a huge impact on their decision-making process both now and in the future. We must ensure that the grades awarded are fair and accurate so that learners can progress on their chosen path.”

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