Education Minister Leighton Andrews came under fire last night as the Welsh Government’s role in the furore around GCSE English results was called into question. This is from Wales Online…
Shadow Education Minister Angela Burns claimed that, as the exams regulator in Wales, the Welsh Government had “played an integral part” in the confusion surrounding the results.
Moving forward, she said it was vital Wales has an independent regulator “who can ring the warning bell” and ensure Welsh pupils do not face the same disruption.
It came as Mr Andrews issued a legal direction to the WJEC to re-grade this summer’s GCSE English Language results.
Hundreds of pupils across Wales will have their papers re-marked after a sharp fall in the percentage of learners gaining the benchmark A*-C grades.
Mr Andrews said this year’s marks were “unfair” and it was “not right that hundreds of our learners should have to live with the consequences of having been awarded what, in all likelihood, is the wrong GCSE grade”.
A report commissioned by Mr Andrews found that new methodology used to award grades led to candidates from Wales being awarded lower grades than would normally be expected.
The minister called for the re-grading of GCSE English language results on Monday, but yesterday ordered a legal direction after WJEC’s failure to commit to the request.
A spokesman for the WJEC, which had instead asked the Welsh Government to engage in joint discussions with all regulators, said: “We understood from the minister’s statement that such discussions were continuing.
“In our response, we also indicated that if the Welsh Government found itself in the position of acting alone on its proposals, then the appropriate route would be a ‘direction’ from Welsh Government to WJEC, to ensure that the actions involved and their implications were clearly owned by the Welsh Government as regulators for Wales.
“The issuing of a direction today by the Welsh Government suggests that they do not plan to hold any further regulatory discussions in the short term. We shall now progress the actions requested, although we are concerned about a number of issues.
“One concern is that the Welsh Government has provided no scope for discussing a reasonable timeline in which to complete the work. Another is that we have received no advice on matters such as certification, which are normally undertaken on a joint regulatory basis.”
Gareth Pierce, WJEC chief executive, said the board would continue to act in the best interests of candidates and hoped for “constructive discussion” with regulators.
Mr Andrews’ decision to re-grade papers is in stark contrast to England – where ministers have refused to intervene.