Fears that last year’s GCSE grading fiasco could be repeated have been fuelled after it emerged Wales’ exams regulator has missed crucial UK-level meetings. This is from Wales Online…
Draft minutes show regulators from England and Northern Ireland attended the latest meeting of the Exam Taskforce Association – but the Welsh Government, which is responsible for exams in Wales, did not.
The Exam Taskforce meets twice a year and provides those involved in the delivery of qualifications within the existing three-country exams system the chance to feed back and pool expertise.
The group’s last meeting – in Coventry on November 29 – was the first held after issues with GCSE English language, which resulted in thousands of Welsh pupils receiving improved grades, came to light in August.
Members were prevented from discussing the furore, pending the outcome of a legal challenge to get papers re-graded in England, but documents obtained by the Western Mail note the Welsh Government’s absence.
Head of general qualifications regulation Cassy Taylor sent her apologies and Gareth Pierce, chief executive of Cardiff-based exam board WJEC, updated members on “regulatory developments” instead.
The meeting, which included three representatives from Westminster’s Department for Education, took updates from other regulators – Northern Ireland’s CCEA and hosts Ofqual, head of regulation in England – who were both present.
According to earlier minutes, Ms Taylor was present at a meeting held in March 2012 and took part via telephone link in the two prior meetings held in 2011.
In an e-mail noting the next Exam Taskforce meeting on March 21, Ofqual’s June Marshall asks that “as always – if you are unable to attend – can I please ask you to nominate a deputy or send me your apologies”.
Simon Thomas, Plaid Cymru’s education spokesman, said it was “concerning that the Welsh Government didn’t see it fit” to send a representative to the meeting on November 29.
“This meeting took part in the wake of the English exam fiasco which saw the papers of hundreds of Welsh students remarked, and I would have expected to see the Welsh Government at this event to find out what went wrong, and to make representations to ensure that it didn’t happen again,” he said.
“Unless the Welsh Government takes action to prevent it, then there is nothing stopping it happening again this year. According to the event’s minutes, there were representatives from Welsh teaching unions, from UK-wide educational organisations and from the UK Government, so it is perplexing to see that the Welsh Government didn’t deem it important to have a representative there also.”