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Welsh Minister for Education guarantees that a learner’s final A Level grade cannot be lower than their AS grade

Welsh Minister for Education Kirsty Williams

Welsh Minister for Education (@WGMin_Education) Kirsty Williams has issued @Quals_Wales with a direction on #ALevel grades for publication on 13 August 

I am confident that the system overseen by Qualifications Wales (QW) and WJEC, in response to the current emergency, is fair for students and robust in what it measures and signals to employers and universities.

However, governments in other parts of the United Kingdom have introduced changes to their systems and we must make sure that these alterations do not disadvantage Welsh students.

Students in Wales, and prospective employers and universities across the UK, can be assured that their A Level grades reflect their work and externally assessed exams.

Almost half the final grade comes from AS Level exams – this is not the situation elsewhere.

Therefore in building on that completed work, I am giving a guarantee that a learner’s final A Level grade cannot be lower than their AS grade. If a student receives a final grade tomorrow that is below that of their previous AS grade, then a revised grade will be issued automatically by WJEC. 

This will mean – and I have received assurances from UCAS and universities – that students can speak with confidence to their prospective universities regarding their A Level grades.

OFQUAL are yet to publish the details of the new appeals process following the English Government’s announcement.  I have asked Qualifications Wales, working with the WJEC, to work closely with the qualifications bodies of the other UK nations as they develop their plans.  I will be asking Qualifications Wales to move forward quickly on relevant adjustments to a Welsh appeals process as soon as these plans are clearer, in order to ensure Welsh students are not disadvantaged. 

I am confirming today that all appeals will be free for Welsh students, to ensure there is no financial barrier to ensure learners feel their exam grades are fair. 

A level grades – Qualifications Wales statement

This Direction requires us to pay due regard to Welsh Government’s new policy that A level learners should not receive a grade outcome in a subject in Summer 2020 that is lower than their corresponding AS level grade.  This rule is being introduced after the initial release of results by WJEC to schools and colleges.  Therefore, learners receiving their A level grades tomorrow should look at the grade awarded to see if it is the same, higher or lower than their AS level grade in that subject.   

If the grade is the same or higher, then no action is required.   

If, however, the grade is lower it will be replaced with the same grade as that received for the AS level – revised grades will be issued by WJEC as soon as possible. If necessary, learners wishing to progress to Higher Education should contact their prospective university to advise them of the change.  Universities will already be aware of the AS grades awarded as they will have been reported on the UCAS application form. Some learners may have taken AS units, but not made a request to  ‘cash in’ for the AS level award. In these circumstances, WJEC will reissue the A level grade as though the AS had been cashed in. 

We have contacted UCAS for this statement to be shared with admissions staff in HE. 

Grounds for appeal 

The Minister’s Direction also asks us to consider whether the grounds for appeal can be broadened for all A level, AS level and GCSE qualifications. We have already published guidance outlining the grounds for appeal and will now reconsider the grounds already cited. We expect to provide more information on appeals early next week. 

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