ASCL Cymru comment on GCSE results

Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru comments on the publication of GCSE results in Wales.
Commenting on the publication of GCSE results in Wales, Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru, said:
Congratulations to learners across Wales on their GCSE results, and enormous thanks to the teachers who have worked so hard to assess and grade young people following the government’s decision last autumn to cancel public exams because of the disruption to education caused by the pandemic.
“These results show a small increase in top grades compared to last year, but the system used to assess learners for GCSEs this summer is completely different to public exams and it is not therefore fair or reasonable to compare them directly. 
“The grades awarded to our young people today are an accurate reflection of their performance under the robust evidence-based system used this year and they will now be able to progress with confidence to the next stage of their education, in post-16 courses and apprenticeships.
“We need to offer our congratulations to learners for their terrific performance and give them huge credit for all they have achieved in extremely difficult circumstances. They have done so thanks to the support and encouragement given by their teachers, who have shown amazing adaptability and professionalism over the last 18 months. We also would like to recognise the support of parents and guardians during this most difficult time. 
“We are conscious of the debate currently taking place about how the turbulence of this year and last year will affect grading decisions in future years, but there is no easy answer to that dilemma and the immediate focus is to celebrate the achievements of this year’s cohort. 
“The announcement of both A-level and GCSE grades this week gives us an excellent opportunity to look at a range of assessments which can be used to determine qualifications as we move towards the new curriculum for Wales. This will require brave leadership on the part of decision makers. 
“The question of next year’s grades is only one part of the wider issue of how to support pupils in the wake of the pandemic. This must also involve a very detailed plan for reform, which must be fully-funded, ambitious and deliberately placed at the centre of all education policy.
“Many of the young people receiving their GCSE grades will be now going on to study BTECs and other applied general qualifications, which are popular and respected qualifications providing a proven pathway to universities, apprenticeships and careers. We would fully support continuing with a broad menu of vocational courses to provide rich opportunities for all learners