Education Minister Kirsty Williams has today (Tuesday 10 November ) confirmed Wales’ approach for qualifications in 2021. Her decision that there will be no end of year exams for learners taking GCSEs, AS levels or A levels.

Instead The Welsh Government will work with Headteachers and others to determine a nationally consistent approach to teacher based assessments. This is likely to involved externally set and marked assessments. Like exams, but taken in a school setting.

Kirsty Williams cites “fairness” as a primary driver for the decision.

We remain optimistic that the public heath situation will improve, but the primary reason for my decision is down to fairness; the time learners will spend in schools and colleges will vary hugely and, in this situation, it is impossible to guarantee a level playing field for exams to take place.

Welsh Education Minister, Kirsty Williams

Schools and colleges look set to have flexibility about how and when assessments will take place. But it does still look like a formal – albeit less formal – test and assessment approach is still on the books. This means revision and study remains high priorities for students. Especially those looking for the top grades. BUT it might be that a more focused approached will be advised by schools.

Limited application

This decision doesn’t apply to vocational courses, such as BTECs or the new T-Levels.

Importantly: this does not apply to England. Wales as a devolved nation of the UK sets its own policy in relation to education. As a result we do not yet know what will happen in England.

It is unknown at this point whether this only applies to WJEC courses. A number of school and colleges in Wales also adopt other exam boards such as AQA, Edexcel and OCR. And of course many – especially independent schools – follow iGCSE specifications.

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