Following the closure of schools and the cancellation of exams, this page covers the key implications for universities relating to Wales school qualifications and admissions. This page will be reviewed and updated as new details emerge.
In response to growing concerns about Covid-19, schools across Wales are now closed except for the most vulnerable children, and children of key workers.
As part of this closure, school exams will not go ahead as planned this year. Pupils will instead be awarded grades based on a combination of their performance to date, completed coursework, mock examinations and other forms of non-exam assessment. The exact method of assessment may differ depending on the qualification.
How will students be graded?
For AS and A-levels in Wales: Qualifications Wales (QW) have provided information following the decision not to hold secondary school exams this summer. Grades for A-Level qualifications in 2020 will be calculated using a range of evidence. They will be based on a combination of factors which may include marks for work completed to date, for example AS results for A-Level grades, and standardised teacher assessed grades.
QW is still considering the fairest way to issue grades for learners who are studying vocational qualifications and the Welsh Baccalaureate. Most vocational qualifications are offered across the UK, so QW are working with fellow regulators, exam boards and governments across the UK to ensure consistency. More detail is expected in due course.
For International Baccalaureate (IB) students: The IB intends to release results to higher education providers and schools as planned on 5 July 2020.
Students will be awarded either a diploma or a course certificate which reflects their standard of work. The achievement will be based around the students’ coursework and the established assessment expertise, rigour and quality control already built into the programmes. Further information can be found on the IB website.
UUK is working with other sector bodies, including UCAS, on the implications that cancelled exams will have for pupils taking other qualifications. UCAS also has advice on the latest announcements relevant to different exams and qualifications on its website.
For vocational and technical qualifications: To ensure consistency for learners taking these qualifications, the same approach will be taken for learners in Wales as that set out by Ofqual.
Qualifications Wales is applying the same principles in deciding the right approach for qualifications designed specifically to meet the needs of learners in Wales.
Qualifications will be differentiated into one of three categories
- Category 1 – Qualification used for progression to further or higher education (treated very much like GCSEs/A Levels)
- Category 2 – Qualifications serving a mixed purpose
- Category 3 – Qualifications awarding occupational competence.
Awarding bodies will decide which of the following principles should be applied: –
- A calculated grade, if possible (Calculate)
- Where calculation is not possible, consideration should be given to adapting existing assessments (Adapt)
- Reschedule assessments where it is clear that neither calculation nor adaptation are possible (Delay)
Will this affect these students in later years?
The grades will be indistinguishable from other years, and the distribution of grades will follow a similar pattern to other years so that students do not face a systematic disadvantage. Welsh Government and Qualifications Wales have said they want to make sure that results are fair and that, as far as possible, learners are not advantaged or disadvantaged because their centres are more generous or harsh than others when making those judgements. That means the final grade a student receives could be different from the one your centre sends to WJEC or other exam boards.
When will students get their grades?
Welsh Government has issued a written statement confirming that the 2020 results day for AS and A Level students will be as originally scheduled. Wales, Northern Ireland and England will share the results day of 13 August for AS and A level. GCSE results day will be 20 August.
There will also be an appeals process. Students will have the right to sit an exam at the earliest possible opportunity, if they are not happy with their grade.
What does this mean for existing UCAS applications?
Universities will be flexible and do all they can to support students to progress to higher education.
The Minister for Education in Wales noted in a letter on 27 March that there is no reason for the usual admissions cycle to be disrupted. The Minister has recently confirmed that the moratorium on unconditional offers remains in place in Wales until 1 May 2020.