From education to employment

Update from Principal Mark Jones – 27 January 2021

Last week’s announcement by the Education Minister about the way GCSE and A Level assessments will be graded for this year probably doesn’t look a lot different from those used in 2020. Grades will again be determined by lecturers and based on their assessment of students’ work – although this year it will be called Centre Determined Grades.

Centre Determined Grades
The general principles and guidance of how these Centre Determined Grades will work (assessment framework) is now under development by Qualifications Wales and the WJEC.

Within the College, our course teams are already drafting their own assessment plans which will support lecturers in determining these grades, and which can quickly be finalised once the framework is in place. 

These plans will aim to include a good range of assessments, including some that have already been completed and some that will be built into classes over the remainder of the term.

I certainly don’t want to underestimate the challenges that this will present for our lecturers. In many cases, they will have only known their students and their level of abilities for around 10 to 12 weeks. However, in many ways the fact that we were able to continue with so much face to face teaching in the first term should now work in our favour as there will be plenty of assessments to choose from.

Vocational grading
Of course the most disappointing aspect of this latest release is that once again an announcement on GCSEs and A Levels is being made in advance of any in relation to vocational qualifications.

I would like to reassure vocational students and parents that considerable pressure is being put on the various vocational exam boards in terms of adaptions, and the Welsh Government and Trade Unions in terms of options for the partial reopening of campuses so students can undertake their practical assessments.

I currently sit on a Welsh Government Return to College group which is developing some options, which I will continue to share with you as soon as I can.

Covid-19 rapid testing
Another recent surprise announcement was the news that both the UK and Welsh Government had paused plans to roll out rapid daily coronavirus testing as more research is needed on how the system would work in practice.

I think that this is quite understandable, as there are still a large number of questions that need answering before we come to any decision in terms of how we may introduce testing when we return to College.

GCS and you
And finally this week, we know that a large number of students are finding these current challenges not only disappointing but worrying too. For this reason I am delighted that we will soon be launching our new mental health and wellbeing strategy GCS and you which sets out a range of activities, services and development opportunities that are in place for students.

We will also be launching a series of spotlight events for students who are working remotely – all of which are available on the student wellbeing planner.

We are committed to keeping you learning and progressing. We understand this can be an unsettling time so please keep talking to us. We are here for you if you have any further questions or need support.

How to keep in touch
Contact your course tutor by email or Microsoft Teams.
Visit the student portal for more information and links to the wellbeing support.

Mark Jones, Principal


Related Articles