Exam regulator warns learners will face lower marks next summer

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Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash.

Students are warned they could face lower exam scores next year, as the Welsh exams regulator has confirmed it will take action to realign results to pre-pandemic levels.

Qualification Wales says he will follow his English counterpart’s approach after the UK government called for inflated school levels to be reduced to pre-Covid levels over the next two years.

A level and GCSE scores in Wales have shown sharp increases over the past two summers with results based on teacher assessments due to disruption caused by the pandemic.

“We want to make sure their evaluations next summer are as fair as possible,” Philip Blaker, Qualifications Wales general manager, told BBC Wales.

“Next year we will see a return to normal assessments which provide a fair and consistent approach to learners.

“We envisioned the fairest way to award ratings, taking the views of stakeholders across Wales and working with other qualifications regulators across the UK.

“Our approach will align with that adopted in England. This means that the results in 2022 will broadly reflect a point midway between 2021 and 2019 and offer a level playing field for Welsh learners, especially those applying for admission to universities in the UK. “

Mr Blaker also confirmed that arrangements are in place should the situation worsen in the coming months.

Contingency plans

“If circumstances change and the round of exams is canceled, we are putting in place contingency plans that will allow schools and colleges to assign grades using an approach based on that used in the summer of 2021,” he added.

This summer, more than 48% of A-level students in Wales achieved A or A * grades, up from 41.8% in 2020, when exams were first canceled.

In 2019, before the pandemic hit and when grades were based on exam results, only 27% of learners had the highest grades.

Covid test. Photo byanalogicus from Pixabay

Minister confirms new guidelines for Covid testing in schools and colleges

Starting next Monday, the government recommends that all learners under the age of 18, from a household where someone has tested positive for Covid, perform daily lateral flow tests every day for seven days. .

This is in addition to PCR testing on days two and eight, as currently recommended.

Parents are also informed that the new testing regime should be started from the day contact with the household is positive.

Education Minister Jeremy Miles has also confirmed that children under the age of five are no longer recommended to take Covid-19 tests without symptoms.

“I want to do everything I can to minimize disruption in education and child care. I recognize that some schools and some parents have been confused and concerned that students can attend school or college if they are family contact as long as they are asymptomatic. I have listened to these concerns and reflected on the additional assurances that can be provided while still allowing learners to continue in school, ”Miles said in a written statement.

“When considering the merits of testing, especially asymptomatic testing, it is important to consider the potential harm. I have been concerned about the level of PCR testing undertaken on children under five, which has quintupled since the beginning of August.


“The tests can be painful for the child, it can be difficult to get a suitable sample and of course children of this age are much less likely to pass the virus on to others,” he added.

“Following advice from our testing advisory group, I agreed that we would no longer recommend that children under the age of five take Covid-19 tests without symptoms. When children under the age of five have symptoms, we would not routinely recommend testing unless directed by a doctor or if parents believe testing is absolutely necessary and in the best interests of the child. child. “

The number of Covid cases has risen in younger age groups in recent weeks and figures released by Public Health Wales revealed that more than 40% of new cases recorded last week were in children and adults under the age of 19 years old.

Meanwhile, the rate of Covid cases in Wales has fallen for the seventh day in a row according to the latest figures released by PHW.

Since yesterday’s report, the weekly rate has fallen 23.2 points – from 530.5 to 507.3 per 100,000 population – and only three local authorities currently have rates above 600.

Torfaen’s rate remains the highest in Wales at 688.6, but is down from 691.8 in the past 24 hours.

Eight more deaths from the virus have also been confirmed since yesterday’s report, bringing the total number since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to 5,934.

Three of the newly recorded deaths occurred in the Hywel Dda Board of Health area, Cwn Taf Morgannwg and Swansea Bay each recorded two deaths and there was one in Aneurin Bevan.

Julie Morgan AM. Photo: National Assembly

Welsh government announces £ 36.6million to support families and children

The government has announced that an additional £ 36.6million is being made available to help children and families recover from the impact of the Covid pandemic.

£ 20million of the funding will support access to play, sport, creative and expressive and cultural activities and experiences in Welsh and English for children and young people up to 25 years old.

In addition, 11.6 million capital funds will be used to increase the capacity of childcare, games and Flying Start facilities and the remaining £ 5 million will go to local authority projects.

“I am pleased to announce the funding to provide a package of support for the well-being of our young people and families in Wales.

“The impacts of the past year have been felt by all of us, and in particular by our children and youth on an emotional and physical level. This funding will provide them with continued support and more opportunities to strengthen their social, emotional and physical well-being, ”said Deputy Minister of Social Services Julie Morgan.

“This is our next generation, and this wellness support package is aimed at all young people in all communities and offers them the opportunity to develop their social, emotional and physical well-being for now and for. the future. “

Photo by Thomas Millot on Unsplash

Government challenged over climate change record

Government ministers have been accused of being ‘all talk and no action’ when it comes to tackling climate change

Welsh Conservative Shadow Economy Minister Paul Davies challenged Mark Drakeford over the government’s record since declaring a climate emergency in 2019, during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday and told the Senedd: “ The reality is that not enough has been done since that declaration to seriously tackle climate change in Wales.

“Progress to date has not been rapid enough to ensure that Wales will have net zero carbon emissions by 2050. And, let me remind you that a report from the Commission on Change Climate Change told us that Wales was off track against its previous 80% target, let alone net zero.

Mr Davies told the Prime Minister: ‘There are towns in Wales which have reported illegal and dangerous levels of air pollution in recent years, and air pollution is believed to be contributing to over 2,000 premature deaths.

“But we haven’t seen a Clean Air Act yet, although that’s one of your own leadership manifesto commitments in 2018. And on top of that, one of your own ministers has admitted we’re a long way from where we need to be tree planting goals, with just 80 hectares of new woodlots planted in 2019-20 – the lowest number in a decade.

Speaking outside the chamber, Mr Davies added: “It is quite clear that labor ministers have done very little to tackle climate change since the declaration of emergency more than two years.

“We need to see the Prime Minister and his ministerial colleagues making serious decisions, which match the gravity of the situation we face in Wales and the rest of the world.

“They are all talk and no action. We are facing a climate catastrophe and it is high time for ministers to get serious and define specific actions on how we are going to tackle the climate crisis in Wales. “

The Kop ends at the racecourse. Photo via Google

Wrexham hopes to increase its cash flow

Liam Randall, local democracy journalist

It is hoped that an announcement will be made soon as to whether two multi-million pound bids to regenerate parts of Wrexham have been successful.

Senior advisers approved a request for a combined total of £ 28.5million from the UK government’s leveling fund in June.

An offer of £ 18.3million has been presented as part of plans to transform the Mold Road entrance gate into town, which could see a new 5,000-seat grandstand built at the Kop end of the ‘Wrexham Racecourse AFC.

A four-star hotel, multi-story parking, and conference and hospitality facilities have also been suggested as part of efforts to boost the region’s economy.

A separate request has been made for £ 10.2million from the same pot to improve the area around the Pontcysyllte aqueduct in Trevor.

The program includes proposals to alleviate parking problems at the World Heritage site, as well as the creation of a visitor center, a treetop walk and a campsite.

Wrexham council chief executive Ian Bancroft said the local authority recently requested an update on the offers and was hoping for an announcement before late fall.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, he said: “I had correspondence on Friday as we sued the UK government purely in terms of timing.

“Their response was, ‘We always said fall and we anticipate it will be soon.’

“The feedback we’re getting is that these are very good project submissions, in terms of having all the details you need.

“What we’ve learned is that a lot of offers have been put in, so it’s going to be a pretty competitive process.”

If the requests are approved, the money will be provided through a £ 4.8 billion capital fund announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in March to invest in local infrastructure across the UK.

Wrexham was identified as one of the three priority areas in North Wales and the offers were supported by Wrexham MP Sarah Atherton and Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes.

All money provided by the fund must be spent by March 31, 2024, which means projects are likely to move forward quickly if successful.