Michelle Francis, Bangor Socialist Students
The decision by the Welsh Government to scrap 2021 end-of-year exams for A-level and GCSE students is a step in the right direction. However, the assessments taking their place are still basically exams.
They are marked externally, they are in exam paper form, and have a time limit. Teachers will be able to alter the content of the exam to reflect what they have had the most teaching time on.
The ‘assessments’ will take place at different times of the year for different schools. The answers could be all over the internet.
This silly loophole could be closed by replacing phoney exams with proper teacher assessment. And it is still unclear how students taking a BTEC or vocational course will be graded.
From speaking to other students and my own experience too, I can say that teacher evaluation could provide a much more efficient and less stressful way of assessing students. That could be achieved far sooner if students and workers had more power over the curriculum and the ways we are taught and assessed.
Scrap our exams too and bring in teacher assessment
Mia Wroe, Birmingham Socialist Students
Watching thousands of students across the country receive their A-level results this summer was difficult viewing for me and everyone else who grew up in an ‘undesirable’ postcode. I can remember the nerves opening my own A-level results in 2017.
They were so much more to me than just exams. They were the manifestation of the hard work of me and my single mother, and my ticket to university.
This year, I watched the disappointed faces of my friends in my former college. They were doomed to the pandemic postcode lottery of the 2020 A-level results, until the Tory U-turn.
The class of 2021 is looking down the barrel of sitting GCSE and A-level exams after months of online classes delivered by teachers stretched to the limit by underfunding.
The Welsh Government is placing more trust in its own teachers. They can provide the best assessment of students’ progress and the extent to which each individual has been affected by the pandemic.
If Tory education secretary Gavin Williamson were to ask himself: ‘What is best for young people?’ he may have good reason to follow suit.
Extra work must not be placed in the hands of teaching staff without also providing the essential resources and investment that education is desperate for after years of Tory austerity.