STUDENTS should be allowed to refer their awarded A-level grades to a free and independent appeals process says Plaid Cymru’s Shadow Education Minister, Siân Gwenllian MS.

Ms Gwenllian wants to see a “robust, national and independent system of the appeal” amidst concerns that some students are set to see a down-grade in the A-level results predicted for them by their teachers.

While teachers were asked to assess grades for each student based on coursework, mock exams and homework, the grades were put through a ‘standardisation’ process which considers the past performance of the school or college. As a result, it has been reported that thousands of students are set to get lower grades than expected for reasons beyond their control.

A Children’s Commissioner report published in May showed that 52% of children aged 12 – 18 said they were worried about how coronavirus would affect their exam results, and 58% were worried about falling behind.

Ms Gwenllian praised teachers and students alike for showing “incredible resilience” during a time of “unimaginable uncertainty” and has called for every A-level student to have access to careers advice, counselling and a “robust, national and independent” appeals process. Most importantly, says Ms Gwenllian, is that these services should be free.

She also called for Welsh universities to be flexible and keep places open for students who may have to appeal their results.

Siân Gwenllian MS, added::

“Teachers and pupils have shown incredible resilience during this time of unimaginable uncertainty.

“First coronavirus, and now a flawed standardisation system that scores thousands of learners according to their schools’ past record rather than their performance as individuals. It is so unfair that this cohort of young people has had to deal with much that is out of their control.

“I’m calling on the Welsh Government to acknowledge the anxiety all this uncertainty is causing, and to step in with a package of support for them during this time – this needs to include careers advice, counselling and – crucially – a robust, national and independent system of appeal. All of this must be free for our learners.

“Furthermore, it shouldn’t be merely up to pupils to refer themselves to the appeals process. Schools must ensure rigorous oversight of this so that everyone who should have their grades appealed is able to do so. There also needs to be an independent review of schools and colleges in deprived areas to ensure that students have not been unfairly disadvantaged by historic under-performance.

“Too much emphasis has been on the system – now we must see the focus on the individual, and ensure that no young person should suffer because of this flawed system.”

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