The Welsh government has just announced that GCSE, AS Level, and A-Level exams will not take place in summer 2021. Instead they will be replaced with in classroom assessments.
This article will be updated as more information is released.
This follows months of disruptions to learning with lockdowns, online learning and significant numbers of students and teachers isolating. The Welsh government believe that if exams were to go ahead they would not be able to guarantee a level playing field for all students as some have been impacted by disruptions to teaching more than others have.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: "The well-being of learners and ensuring fairness across the system is central in our decision making process....We remain optimistic that the public health 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.
What will happen instead?
Instead of exams students will complete a number of classroom assessments. The assessments will be completed under teacher supervision, and will be during the second half of the Spring term, with teachers being given the flexibility to decide when is the best time for the assessments. The assessments will be externally set, and head teachers will work on a “national approach” to ensure consistency with difficulty and marking.
What does this mean for university admissions?
Ms Williams assured the public that they have “consulted with universities across the UK and they have confirmed that they are used to accepting many different types of qualifications."
Following a government U-Turn in summer 2020 all GCSE and A-level grades were based on teacher’s assessments instead of the government’s algorithms. Universities treated the 2020 grades, and will treat the 2021 grades, the same as they would in a normal year.
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What about the rest of the UK?
Currently no other UK country has announced the cancellation of exams, but this may change as the coronavirus situation develops. Students in England will sit their exams as planned, but three weeks later than normal, starting on June 7th instead of mid-may.
In Scotland National 5 exams have been replaced with coursework and teacher assessments, but Scottish Higher exams will be going ahead.
Today in Northern Ireland the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has said that it is impossible to rule out cancelling exams for summer 2021 and it is "ever more likely" that exams will not take place as normal in 2021.
With rising coronavirus cases and bleak winter projections across it's likely there will be more disruption to teaching, and the other devolved governments may choose to follow suit and cancel summer 2021 exams.