Leighton Andrews dismisses WJEC claim of ‘incompetence’ over order for GCSE re-grading

Former Education Minister Leighton Andrews has dismissed claims the Welsh government was “authoritarian and incompetent” over the re-grading of exam papers in 2012. This is from the BBC…

Nearly 2,400 English language pupils got better results after the review.

Ex WJEC acting chair David Lewis said Mr Andrews dismissed advice about the complexities re-grading would cause.

Mr Andrews said Mr Lewis’ comments demonstrated the necessity for the WJEC governance to change.

The row over the English exams broke out in 2012 as GCSE results were published for pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Andrews claimed pupils in Wales were the victims of an “injustice” after receiving lower grades than expected following a shift in grade boundaries.

After the re-grading ordered by Mr Andrews, 1,202 students had grades increased from a D to a C and 598 from a C to a B grade.

Lowering boundaries also meant some changes at other grades. This resulted in an overall figure of 2,386 receiving raised grades.

Mr Lewis, who became acting chair of the WJEC after the re-grading row, has spoken out to say it was clear to him that Mr Andrews dismissed any advice about the logistical problems it created for the exam-awarding body.

Mr Lewis wrote to First Minister Carwyn Jones outlining his concerns about the WJEC and its relationship with the Welsh government.

BBC Wales has seen a copy of the reply given to Mr Lewis.

In it, Mr Jones says: “The Welsh government has had a long-standing and multi-faceted relationship with the WJEC and I acknowledge that, in some areas, this relationship has recently gone through a difficult period.”

Mr Jones did not accept Mr Lewis’s version of events but went on to say: “I have asked the Welsh government’s director general for education, Owen Evans, to consider whether there are any lessons that officials here can learn from your letter.”

When asked to describe the conduct of the Welsh government, Mr Lewis, a Neath Port Talbot councillor, told BBC Wales: “There’s one word, and that’s authoritarian.

“And without necessarily, in terms of what we experienced, evidence of a full grasp of what the real issues were. Now that’s a damning thing to say, but that’s the way it came over.

“The Welsh government were the incompetents in all this from our point of view.”

Mr Andrews rebutted the allegations. In a statement to BBC Wales, he said: “These comments are ludicrous.

“The decision to re-grade GCSE English was taken following a full regulatory review and was welcomed by all parties.

“Sadly, too many WJEC board members became hung up on minor points of process rather than the fundamental issue of principle, which was fairness to Welsh students.”

More at:  Andrews dismisses GCSE re-grading order ‘incompetent’ claim

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