ASCL comment on GCSE results in Wales

20/08/2020
Eithne Hughes, Director of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Cymru comments on GCSE results issued in Wales today.
 
Commenting on GCSE results issued in Wales today, Eithne Hughes, Director of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Cymru, said:

Congratulations to students on their GCSE results and to their teachers. These have been extraordinarily difficult circumstances, and this generation of young people has suffered a degree of uncertainty and disruption that is without precedent. Our hearts go out to them. We sincerely hope that they are now able to move on to the next stage of their lives, and we wish them the very best with their future studies.

Reverting to centre-assessed grades was the fairest solution in the circumstances once it became clear that the statistical model for moderating grades was producing far too many anomalous results. But we have to know why the problems with the algorithm were not foreseen, and what steps were taken to test whether it was fit for purpose. We are pleased that the Minister for Education has committed to an independent review of events following the cancellation of this year’s exams.

In the longer term, this debacle has thrown the spotlight on an exams system which is far too obsessed with statistics even in normal times. It fixates on ensuring consistency in the distribution of grades from one year to the next and thus ensures that a certain proportion of young people always leave school feeling as though they have fallen short. 

This year more students will receive higher grades because of the decision to revert to centre-assessed grades. But this is by accident rather than by design. In the longer term, we have to think again about our statistics-fixated system. We have to do better

Finally, credit should go to leaders and teachers in our schools and colleges who approached the task of producing centre-assessed grades with great diligence, and a determination to get it right on behalf of their students. The failure of the standardisation model was an event outside their control, and they have been left to pick up the pieces.”