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'Urgent steps' needed for exam confidence - Plaid

Plaid Cymru's Education spokesperson, Simon Thomas, says the Gove letter has highlighted the need for urgent action by the Welsh Government to ensure confidence in an increasingly distinct Welsh exam system.

I have tabled an emergency question in the Senedd to get a discussion on the next steps for Wales. The Welsh Government must take urgent steps to ensure confidence in the system. Plaid Cymru is calling for the creation of Examinations Wales as an independent regulator as soon as possible to ensure confidence in the system and ensure standards do not fall.

– Simon Thomas AM, Plaid Cymru Education spokesperson

Minister's twitter 'spat' was 'unbecoming' says Lib Dem leader

The Education Minister should 'stop having spats on Twitter' and concentrate on improving education standards, according to the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats. But Kirsty Williams said she's 'relaxed' as a politician and as a mother, about the prospect of different exams in Wales and England.

Her comments follow a letter sent to Leighton Andrews by the Education Secretary Michael Gove suggesting that a separation of the exam system was now inevitable because of changes being looked at in the two countries. Kirsty Williams said it's 'perfectly possible' to have a credible Wales-only exam.

But she attacked as 'unbecoming of a government minister' the decision of Mr Andrews for taking to Twitter to respond to criticism from UK Government sources. She said 'sometimes it seems Leighton Andrews would rather spend his time having a row on twitter than concentrating on his job.'


Wales-only GCSEs could push standards up - Plaid

A senior Plaid Cymru politicians says different exam systems in Wales and England could lead to higher standards in Wales. Rhodri Glyn Thomas was responding to the news of Education Secretary Michael Gove's letter to his Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts suggesting a split is on the cards.

The Plaid AM said he 'would welcome the opportunity to separate the exam system in Wales' from that of England and he rejected claims that it could lead to reduced standards, saying

I don't think it necessarily would lead to a situation where standards drop. I would hope it would lead to a situation where standards would rise.

– Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM, Plaid Cymru

Wales won't give up exam titles without a fight

Michael Gove's letter as reported in the Guardian contains the suggestion that Wales and Northern Ireland may have to give up the titles 'GCSE' and 'A-level' if the systems are to diverge. The Welsh Government's official response is terse.

Wales is keeping GCSEs and A-levels, as is Northern Ireland. We wish Mr Gove well with his plans to rename these qualifications in England.


  1. Nick Powell

Leighton Andrews defends GCSE decision

Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews will be questioned by MPs this morning about why he ordered a regrade last summer of the GCSE English exam set by the Welsh exam board, the WJEC. His decision overturned a change in grade boundaries backed by the Education Secretary at Westminster.

It meant that hundreds of Welsh school pupils were moved up a grade from the results they were initially given. That's led to claims that Welsh and English exam candidates were marked to different standards as there was no regrade in England, even for pupils who sat the WJEC exam.

Mr Andrews has written to the Chair of the Education Select Committee before he gives evidence to MPs and answers their questions. He blames Education Secretary Michael Gove for any damage to the link between Welsh, English and Northern Irish examinations. (Scotland has always had its own system).

GCSEs and A levels are three-country qualifications ... owned jointly by the CCEA (the examinations body in Northern Ireland), Ofqual [who regulate exams in England] and the Welsh Government. You may be interested to know that John O'Dowd, the Minister for Education in Northern Ireland, and I wrote to the Secretary of State for Education on 1 August last year asking for a meeting with him ... he rejected that request, which is unfortunate.

The GCSE English Language grading last year has raised issues that go to the heart of GCSEs as three-country qualifications, including the use of Key Stage 2 indicators -not historically used in either Northern Ireland or Wales- as factors bearing on the setting of grades in GCSEs. [There is also] the question of achieving 'comparable outcomes' ... which Ofqual now appears to see as a year-on-year device to prevent what is sometimes called 'grade inflation'.

– Education Minister Leighton Andrews AM

Welsh Government urged to keep GCSEs here

Teenagers in Wales should continue to sit GCSEs as a central part of the school qualifications system. That is a recommendations of an independent report published today.

It says GCSEs and A levels should be retained as part of the Welsh Baccalaureate - a key difference from what is planned in England. Our Education Correspondent Joanna Simpson was at Neath Port Talbot College for the announcement.

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