FAQs – Years 11, 12, 13: Assessments, Grades etc

Here are the questions that we know that many parents would like to ask us. We understand that the time in the online parents’ evenings is limited! Some of these questions have already been asked to the Heads of Year, others are questions that we can finally answer. 

My child’s target on the report is too low, we want a higher grade than this

The recent report contains a target for your child to aim for. All targets have been set by subject teachers, discussed at departmental meetings and approved by the Senior Leadership Team. The targets are also based on your child’s past performance in the subject. Your child may not reach the target, but it is also possible for your child to exceed the target, if he / she consistently exceeds the target in the assessments held at school after Easter.

My child’s current grade is too low on the report

Again, the current grades set by the subject teachers have been discussed at departmental meetings, and have the approval of the Senior Leadership Team. If you think that the current grade is doing your child a disservice, there is an opportunity over the next few weeks for your child to prove his / her true ability to the teachers who teach them as they complete assessments in class.

My child’s effort level is unfair on the report

The effort levels have been determined by teachers taking into account a large number of factors. Staff have put a lot of thought into determining the level of pupils’ effort. If the effort level has been low, pupils now have the opportunity to return to school, full of enthusiasm and motivation and give 100% to every lesson and task. Effort grades are not sent to WJEC, their sole purpose on the report is for you to see your child’s current efforts, from subject to subject. Have you looked at your ClassCharts app lately? A picture of the latest situation should be there for you to see.

You have given my child a target of D and we are paying a tutor. The tutor says that they should get at least a C grade.

The grade is a target. In accordance with the regulations that have just been issued to schools, teachers can only take account of work set by the school when determining grades. The assessments set in the classroom over the next few weeks will form a key part of our evidence. We are happy to be proved wrong, if a pupil performs beyond our expectations in front of us in class.

Can the current grade go down between now and the actual summer results?

If a pupil performs consistently poorly in the proposed assessments in a particular subject, then the final grade may be lower than the current grade on the recent report. The school needs a range of evidence in order for us to determine the final grade with WJEC, and so it is essential that all pupils do their best in the forthcoming assessments. The assessments will be done in chunks, so that our pupils can revise particular aspects of their courses, do some retrieval practice at home, and get enough sleep during the week to ensure they are ready for all their assessments.

My child has found the lockdown difficult, and I believe that s/he will not be able to do his / her best because of this.

We know that the lockdown period has been difficult for everyone, but that some pupils have found the whole experience more difficult than others. We sympathise with this and look forward to welcoming pupils back to some form of normality at school, where they can see their friends daily, and have face-to-face lessons with their teachers again. Over the lockdown period, pupils at Bro Edern have continued with a full timetable of lessons, and are therefore far more fortunate than most pupils in schools across Wales. Pupils in other schools are in a much worse position in terms of completing work and completing their courses ready for the next stage. Once the pupils have returned, if you are still worried about your child, then please contact Miss Land (Yr 12 and 13) or Mr Voyle (Yr 11) to discuss the matter further.

When will the assessments take place?

The assessments will be held in a window over a few weeks, starting immediately after the Easter holidays. Pupils will know in advance the exact timing of each assessment, the approximate duration and content. The assessments are going to be based on past papers, coursework, non-exam assessments (e.g. oral exams) in order to build a balanced overview of each pupil’s attainment in each subject. It is essential that pupils are present every day at school in order to fully benefit from this non-exam process.

I thought that the school was going to look over the class work and coursework in general, and just decide on a grade.

As the assessment arrangements have been formalised by Qualifications Wales, WJEC and the government since January, the focus has changed completely from a general assessment of the work, to the proposed assessments now under consideration. Schools have been told that the evidence needs to come from past papers set by WJEC, and marked using the recognised mark schemes and grade boundaries. The marks will also come from coursework, non-exam assessments e.g. oral examinations, practical work, any formal assessments e.g. pupils’ past mock results, results of modules that were taken externally in year 10 e.g. English Literature, and the project and challenges in the Bac.

How can my child prepare for the assessments?

The best way to prepare for different subjects varies greatly. The recommendation from WJEC is that an assessment takes the same amount of time as the actual exam, but that it needs to be broken down by the school into specific sections to fit into normal lessons, and to reduce the pressure on the pupils. Certain parts of a qualification will require revision, but this is not the same as revising a full two-year course of knowledge and facts. 

For example: Pupils will be told to revise volcanoes, not the whole Geography course. Pupils will be told to revise French vocabulary for the Holidays topic only, not the vocabulary for all the 18 topics that make up the GCSE French course. 

My child has missed lessons over the lockdown period

The important thing going forward is that pupils do not miss any more lessons and work. There is now an opportunity to attend every lesson in school and make the most of this next phase. This opportunity is in your child’s hands … 

My child is worried about the assessments

It is natural that some pupils will be worried about the assessments, because this is not what anyone expected this year. The assessments will be held earlier than the exams were supposed to be and the arrangements are completely different. However, it must be remembered that these are not exams. They are assessments, and will be done in bite sized chunks.

What’s happening with the Bac?

It’s business as usual for the Bac in years 11, 12 and 13. The priority for years 11 and 13 is to finish the project, as this needs to be fully marked as a key part of our evidence. There is a dedicated Bac website, with detailed instructions for pupils to follow every step of the way.

What happens if my child is ill on an assessment day?

It is essential that your child does not come to school if he or she is showing COVID-19 symptoms, or that there are symptoms in the family. In this case, you must arrange a test as soon as possible. We do not want large groups of pupils self-isolating once again! If your child has another type of illness then a sensible decision will need to be made as to whether they can attend or not. We will need to look at each case individually, but we want to try to avoid absences as much as possible. Sometimes a pupil is too ill to come to school, and we obviously recognise this. In such cases, we will need to adjust our arrangements.

What happens if my child needs to self-isolate on an assessment day?

The requirement to self-isolate will be taken into account, if a pupil is unlucky enough to have to self-isolate over the next few weeks. If pupils have to self-isolate for COVID-19 reasons, then live lessons will be provided while the rest of the class have a lesson with the teacher at school. In such cases, we will need to consider the arrangements for the assessments.

Where will the assessments be carried out?

These are assessments, not exams, so they take place in the classroom, in normal lessons. Assessments in some subjects will need to take place across several lessons, as the tasks last longer than 45 minutes.

Can my child do assessments at home?

Some tasks may need to be completed at home, but most tasks will take place in class with subject teachers. It should be noted here that pupils will need to sign a declaration stating that the work submitted is their own and teachers will also need to sign this. If pieces of work are presented that are not similar to a pupil’s normal work, then the subject teachers, together with the Senior Leadership Team will need to investigate this. Measures will be put in place, in these cases, to ensure that teachers are happy that the standard of our pupils’ work is comparable to that normally completed.

Will the assessments take place under examination conditions?

Assessments take place in the classroom, in a normal lesson. The duration of any in-class assessment will be 45 minutes at a time, longer if there is a double lesson. Obviously, pupils will need to settle quickly and concentrate on their work in silence, so that everyone has the best chance of success. Both the school and the pupil must sign documentation from WJEC stating that the work submitted is by the pupil. The assessments will be completed in a way that is fair to all pupils, while following WJEC requirements.

What will be included in the assessments?

Your child will be informed in advance when the assessments are taking place and what will be involved? e.g.

  • In Tuesday’s lesson, the English assessment will be a reading comprehension paper from a past paper
  • In Tuesday’s lesson, the Bac assessment will continue with individual work on the project
  • In Wednesday’s lesson, the DT assessment will continue with the practical work
  • In the lesson on Wednesday, the Music assessment will continue with time to compose
  • In Wednesday’s lesson, the English reading comprehension assessment will continue from yesterday
  • In the lesson on Thursday, there will be a French oral assessment role play on the topic of school
  • In Thursday’s lesson, there will be a Chemistry assessment on crude oil and carbon compounds
  • In the lesson on Thursday, the English reading comprehension assessment will continue from yesterday
  • In Thursday’s lesson, the Bac assessment will continue with the project
  • In Friday’s lesson, the Religious Education assessment will consist of 3 exam questions on the latest theme
  • In Friday’s lesson, the History assessment will consist of 3 exam questions about crime and punishment

My child is entitled to 25% extra time in examinations and assessments

Mrs Meriel Powell, our new Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator oversees all special considerations for pupils who are entitled to claim extra time or any other arrangements, to ensure that all needs across the school are met, in accordance with our policy. It will be her responsibility to ensure that departments properly implement the school policy and that pupils receive what they are entitled to.

My child has had a tough time over the lockdown, so I would like special consideration, as I’ve heard that it is possible to get a higher mark like this.

WJEC takes special considerations into account each year for the exams, and these will continue for the assessments. However, it must be stressed that these are very limited, and represent extremely difficult and specific situations. For your information, the only situations that claim the maximum 5% of additional marks are:

  • the applicant’s fatal illness
  • fatal illness of parent / carer
  • the death of a close family member within two months of the assessment
  • a very serious and disruptive emergency / incident at or near the time of assessment.

Other categories exist for 4%, 3% etc but they are also, on the whole, very serious issues.

Can we have some marks now? Another school has already given pupils some assessment marks

At Bro Edern, we have our centre assessment policy, which includes clear internal moderation and standardisation processes, therefore we are not yet in a position to share any marks and grades. Everything needs to be internally moderated and standardised before we can share any grades for tasks with pupils.

I’m worried that my child will get low grades because he / she thinks some teachers don’t like him / her.

Our processes have been put in place to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and that the assessment process is fully transparent. Once our pupils’ work has been marked by the subject teachers, the assessments and grades will go through a process of departmental moderation. There will also be a verification process by the Department’s Line Manager, along with another member of the Senior Leadership Team. Mr Pritchard as Headteacher has to approve all grades on behalf of the school before they are submitted to WJEC. Teachers across Wales have to undergo online training provided by WJEC on record keeping, compiling of evidence, avoiding professional misconduct, access arrangements and reasonable adjustments.

If we are unhappy, will we be able to review a grade?

There is a clear process for pupils and their parents to review any grades, before they are sent to WJEC. When requesting a grade review, internal systems within school mean that members of the Senior Leadership Team as well as departments will need to go through all the evidence again. When revisiting evidence, it can be decided that the evidence is not as robust as previously thought, therefore a grade may go down, as well as go up. This process takes place before grades are sent to WJEC, so all pupils will know their results much earlier this year. On the official results day in August, there should be no surprises. If pupils continue to be unhappy with the school’s procedures, then there is a later process of appealing to WJEC after the results in August.

How can we help at home?

Your child needs to be in school every day. Attendance has never been more important than this year. Everyone needs breakfast before they arrive and they need enough food and drink to keep them going throughout the day, in the absence of our canteen. ClassCharts needs to be checked every night to see the latest timetable and to ensure that the school bag has been packed correctly. ClassCharts will also note your child’s recent progress or any problems that have arisen. Please ensure that the iPad is sufficiently charged to last a day of lessons.

At the end of the day, your child needs to be encouraged to do #HerYrHaul or continue with their St David’s Pilgrimage to get fresh air and a little Vitamin D. If homework is noted on ClassCharts, please make sure that it is done in good time. If revision is required, it needs to be done as thoroughly as possible. A good night’s sleep is needed before a day at school, so it may be necessary to turn off the internet in your house and / or keep mobile phones out of the bedroom. If there is a problem, we would like you to keep in touch with the appropriate Head of Year.

Once again, many thanks for your support. 

Cyhoeddwyd gan Ceri Anwen James

Athrawes Ieithoedd Modern sy'n Bennaeth Cynorthwyol yn Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern.

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