You have probably read several headlines in the press about the results, so here’s an explanation for everyone involved with Bro Edern of the situation with this year’s results.
In the absence of any exams, what we have this year is a technical, statistical, mathematical process to try to recreate all-Wales results to look similar to what they would look like in any other year.
In a normal year, not everyone passes. Many pass, but not all. This year likewise, not everyone in Wales will be able to pass. If Bro Edern pupils had sat all their exams, not everyone would have passed, and in the absence of the exams, not everyone will pass. If your child has been on target for a series of low grades, then unfortunately, this will still be the case.
What we needed to do at Bro Edern …
Decide on grades
In the middle of the lockdown period, all GCSE and A Level teachers in Wales and beyond were asked to input a predicted grade for each pupil in each subject.
These grades (officially known as the ‘centre assessed grade’) needed to take into account a whole host of factors, such as:
- the pupil’s previous performance
- completed coursework
- any previous modules (AS, year 10) that had been completed
- practical work (if applicable)
- results of mock exams
- classroom performance
- some other considerations
As well as giving every pupil a grade in each subject, we also needed to rank our pupils in every subject – from the strongest to the weakest in the year. This is where the results of year 10 and 12 modules were key, as were the mocks, coursework etc. Clearly, WJEC already has year 10 and 12 results from last year and that is going to be an important part of their considerations for years 11 and 13.
As you can imagine, there were difficult decisions to be made and Bro Edern staff spent a lot of time trying to ensure that all children in each cohort were treated fairly.
As in all years, we had some classes with a large number of pupils between two grades. As in all schools, we have some classes where everyone could achieve a C on a good day, but a D or an E on a bad day. In higher sets, many pupils could get A* and A on the day. As teachers decided on grades across Wales, classes like this will have had the benefit of the doubt from their teachers, because on their day the C/D pupils could have achieved a C, so this is what they would have received as their predicted grade. In such cases, Bro Edern pupils also had the benefit of the doubt. Our job as teachers, who know our pupils so well, was to ensure fairness for all, in what seemed, on many levels, an unfair process.
However, in a class full of borderline C/D pupils, statistically, about half of these pupils would probably achieve a C on the day, and this will also be the case this year. The WJEC and Qualifications Wales statistical modelling process across Wales will turn the 2020 results into something that looks like a “normal” year’s results. This will essentially mean that some pupils get a grade higher than expected, while some receive a lower grade.
According to WJEC, 25% of GCSE pupils in Wales would have achieved an A* or an A grade had they accepted all schools’ predicted grades. In 2019, 17.9% of pupils gained these grades in Wales. In statistical terms, a 7% jump in exam results is huge. WJEC cannot allow such a large jump in results, as this would undermine this year’s results for all pupils.
The differences with GCSE A*-C grades are just as stark. In 2019, the A*-C grades were 62.4% across Wales. With the teacher predicted grades, it would have been 73.4% this year.
At A Level, according to the WJEC, the gap between teacher predicted grades in Wales and the usual results was even greater, with 40.4% of teacher grades predicted at A* and A, while the actual results last year were 27% A* or A. Again, WJEC cannot justify such a large jump, and this would cause difficulties for universities, with so many suddenly receiving the highest grades. It would also undermine the process and the value of the results, and public confidence in the 2020 results would have been questioned far and wide for years to come.
Year 13 pupils
For our year 13 pupils, this is the last step on the journey through Bro Edern, and none of us would have wanted the journey to end this way. Year 13 have been an extremely likeable and engaging year and they have played an important part in Bro Edern’s development as our second cohort of pupils. Academically and extracurricularly, they have contributed so much to life in Bro Edern and we will miss them. It is such a shame that their time in Bro Edern ends with a statistical quagmire.
It is our understanding that, for year 13 pupils, the AS results of all pupils in Wales will play an important role in awarding their grades. The AS grades are “in the bag” with WJEC since last year, and these will be a major influence on the final grades. Clearly, some year 13 pupils were planning to re-sit some AS modules, and this has not been possible. This means that any proposed resit would not have been considered to the same extent as the results already received last year for their AS results. This is a real shame and will be a source of frustration for some pupils who had made great progress during year 13.
The most important thing for year 13, though, is that they can go on to the next step in their life, and we are here to help them start their journey. Miss Land and Mrs Rhys-Roberts are available on Friday for our annual Clinig Cefnogi, the support clinic.
Arrangements for results
The school doors will open for pupils to receive their results at the times below. This will also be the time your child receives a school e-mail with their results. Thanks to everyone who has already responded to the questionnaire and has chosen to come to the hall or receive an email. Sixth formers who have not responded to the questionnaire will receive an e-mail, and an envelope also awaits them in school. Will the GCSE pupils please respond by the end of the week? https://forms.gle/DnHbyxEBnM8piRyc6
A Level: Thursday 13 August 9am
AS: Thursday 13 August 10am
GCSE: Thursday 20 August 9am
We will offer our usual Clinig Cefnogi or Support Clinic on the Friday following the two results’ days. We are always here to support your child, and if help is needed for the next step then they are welcome to make an appointment to come to school between 10:00 and 12:00. Please follow the link below to book an appointment with a member of staff.
Sixth Form Clinig Cefnogi – Friday August 14
GCSE Pupils’ Clinig Cefnogi – Friday August 21
The Situation in Wales -v- England
You may have read that A Level pupils in England can either receive their final grade, take their mock examination result, or sit an exam in the autumn. There are currently no similar arrangements in Wales, but should there be a change then we will let you know. Traditionally, pupils do far better in the summer than in any mock examination, so the offer of receiving the results of their mocks is unlikely to be an attractive proposition!
Is it possible to appeal?
An appeal is possible, but the procedure is different this year, because the marks on the papers, and the way the papers have been marked, cannot be appealed.
An appeal process must take place through the school, and only for very specific reasons, including:
- WJEC used the wrong data in determining the grade;
- the grade specified has been incorrectly assigned or communicated;
- a procedural failure has occurred.
Is this all fair?
What we have this year is an imperfect system for an imperfect 2020. Many believe that asking students to sit an exam at the end of a course is also an imperfect system – with everything depending on a 2 hour performance at the end of a 2 year course. It must be remembered that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, and that no-one would have wanted to be in the situation we are in. Returning to the word of the year – the situation is certainly the oft-quoted “unprecedented”!
Some of the newspapers talk about scandal, others mention downgrading, with teacher results being ignored. In an unprecedented year, nothing was going to be perfect – there are winners (pupils who hate exams) and losers (pupils who enjoy cramming last minute). It’s all frustrating, and some pupils will certainly feel that they have not had a chance to shine. However, we need to differentiate between the feeling of disappointment, of frustration and of unfairness. They are very different things, in a year that has been very unfair to so many families.
The next step
The most important thing this year (the only important thing perhaps?) is that Bro Edern pupils have the results that enable them to go on to the next step. For GCSE pupils, this probably means 16+ studies, whether at our Sixth Form in Bro Edern or at another institution. For year 13, this means getting to university, starting a different course or starting a job of their choice.
Please remember that the support clinics on the two Fridays after the results are planned, so that we can help all pupils and parents who would like to have a conversation about the next step. We are privileged to be able to help the wonderful pupils of Cardiff East reach their goals, reach their potential, reach the next step, and in 2020 this will be more important than ever for us here at Bro Edern.
Most pupils have worked so hard throughout their time at Bro Edern, and it is important that they know that their achievements in 2020 are no less than pupils in other years. It is, after all, not their fault that their exams were cancelled. We are, and will always be, very proud of them.