15th June 2020

Technology Coronavirus: A-level and GCSE course changes considered

Technology Coronavirus: A-level and GCSE course changes considered

Technology

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Students have faced “unprecedented” challenges after exams were cancelled

Some coursework could be removed and courses streamlined for pupils due to sit A-level and GCSE exams next year, regulator Qualifications Wales said.

Exams in schools have been cancelled this summer due to coronavirus, though there are concerns over “forgotten” Year 10 and 12 students.

One teenager has petitioned the Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament claiming arrangements for Year 12s are unfair.

Qualifications Wales said students have faced “unprecedented challenges”.

Students due to complete A-level, AS and GCSE qualifications this summer will receive a grade based on teacher assessment and work already completed.

However the impact on those students half way through those courses remains unclear.

AS students have been told their grade – which normally counts for 40% of the final mark – will not contribute to the final A-level result. That has angered some pupils and parents.

Sian Williams, 17, from Llangollen, in Denbighshire, said she felt “frustrated and disappointed” and set up a petition calling for the decision to be reviewed.

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Sian Williams set up a petition querying the decision AS grades would not count towards A-level results

“You feel that all of that work has been for nothing,” she said.

“The prospect for next year now is a year that’s going to be already full of stress… looking for universities, trying to get the grades to go to universities.

“But for Year 12s in Wales, we can’t go to open days for universities, we’re not going to have that assistance to create our Ucas applications, to write our personal statements, and we don’t have the 40% of our AS grades that’s been there traditionally in Wales to carry forward.”

Exams watchdog Qualifications Wales said while it can issue a stand-alone AS grade, it cannot calculate a mark which fairly contributes to the overall A-level.

Sian’s mother, Susan Williams, said she was worried about the impact of the disruption on her daughter and classmates.

“The part we object to is that Sian and lots of other students have worked tirelessly and she was ready,” said Mrs Williams.

“I feel Year 12 is going to be like a forgotten year and if we’re not careful, their health and well-being, they’re going to really struggle. It’s just going to be very, very hard for them.”

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Evan Burgess

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Some pupils find studying at home “difficult”, said Evan Burgess

It is a similar story for Year 10 students half way through their GCSEs who are missing out on important time with teachers.

Evan Burgess, the Welsh Youth Parliament member for Aberconwy, said he feels he has made good progress with his work but knows others are struggling.

“Some people have found it really difficult to work at home,” he said.

“Perhaps they’re struggling with the technology or are finding it really difficult to concentrate, perhaps there’s a lot of noise at home. It’s important there is support.”

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PA

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A-level results will be published on 13 August and GCSEs on 20 August

The regulator Qualifications Wales said it was looking at how changes could be made to next summer’s exams.

“The situation is a complex one and it’s almost certain that there won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution,” said Emyr George.

“We need to take each qualification and look at it on its own merits.

“Some of the steps we’re considering include whether non-exam assessment or coursework might be reduced or indeed withdrawn, so learners can focus on the examined elements of their courses.

“Or we’re looking at whether some elements of content from courses can be taken out for this year’s Year 10 and Year 12 students, so they’ve got a more manageable course to complete by the end of the year.”

The Welsh Government has suggested that Year 10 and 12 students could be prioritised as pupils start returning to school, but it is unlikely they would return to a full timetable immediately.

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