Welsh Government announces A-Level grades will not be lower than previous AS grades

Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, explains the last minute change to A-Level results.

The Minister for Education in Wales has confirmed that no student receiving A-Level results on Thursday will be awarded a grade lower than their previous AS grade.

Kirsty Williams MS said though she was "confident" that the system of moderated grades is "fair" and "robust", other parts of the UK have introduced changes and it was therefore important to ensure that those alterations "do not disadvantage Welsh students."

As a result of the announcement, if a student receives a final grade that is below that of their previous AS grade, then a revised grade will be issued automatically by the exam board.

A-Level students across Wales are due to receive their results on Thursday, but due to the coronavirus pandemic exams did not go ahead as planned.

As a result, their results will instead be based on predicted grades that have gone through a 'standardisation' process.

But this system caused controversy in Scotland and was subsequently scrapped, and in a sudden change on Tuesday, students in England were told that they can use mock exam results instead of their moderated grades.

Credit: pa images

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Kirsty Williams said students, employers and universities "can be assured that their A Level grades reflect their work and externally assessed exams."

She added: "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."

Responding to the news Qualifications Wales said: "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. "