Calls for Education Minister to launch 'full public inquiry' into handling of A-level and GCSE grading 'fiasco'

There were protests in Wales and the rest of the UK after thousands of students had their A-level results downgraded. Credit: PA Images

Plaid Cymru have written a letter to Wales' Education Minister calling for a public inquiry into the handling of A-level, GCSE and BTEC results in Wales.

It is thought almost half of Wales’ A-level students initially had their results downgraded because of the algorithm.

In a U-turn decision, Education Minister Kirsty Williams MS later announced those students would instead receive their teacher-assessed grades following widespread outrage from students and teachers.

Ms Williams apologised for the "anguish" caused, after initially saying she was confident the grading system was fair and robust.

GCSE results were "substantially higher" than recent years after students had their grades based on teachers' predictions, while BTEC results were held back for regrading.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams is expected to announce an independent review into the A-level and GCSE grading fallout. Credit: Welsh Government

Ms Williams is due to announce details of a review into the events next week, but Plaid Cymru have said this would not "succeed in building back public confidence".

The letter, written by Shadow Education Minister - Sian Gwenllian MS, claims that the review the Minister is instigating will not provide enough scrutiny.

Ms Gwenllian said "The review which you are instigating will not achieve the necessary level of scrutiny following the systematic failures which led to the injustice experienced by many students.

"Neither will it adequately address how we build a robust and fair system in future. Both elements are of paramount importance in building back public confidence.

"A full public inquiry will give added reassurance to all stakeholders in what is an extremely anxious time."

Ms Gwenllian also noted in the letter that a public inquiry would give a voice to students and teachers, and would indicate that the Welsh Government wishes to learn lessons from this summer's 'fiasco'.

The release of BTEC results was delayed due to a last-minute regrading. Credit: PA Images

In a statement to the Education Committee on Tuesday, Ms Williams apologised that the process, which saw a standardisation process abandoned, and students being rewarded the grades assessed by teachers instead had made the situation "worse."

Speaking directly to students, she said that was "not the intention" of her, or the qualification bodies, but it was "right" to apologise directly to young people.

The statement said, "We have had to take decisions, and design new ways of working, at incredible pace. 

"The balance of fairness now lies with awarding Centre Assessment grades to students.

"I took the decision yesterday, ahead of results being released this week, so that there is time for the necessary work to take place.It was clear that maintaining confidence in our qualifications whilst being fair to students required this difficult decision.

"Next week I will be making a further statement on an independent review of events following the cancellation of this year’s exams."

The First Minister said the changes came because England and Scotland had already reviewed their system in the last week.

Mark Drakeford said he was sorry for the uncertainty caused by the system.