The Welsh Government is sticking to its plans to make GCSE exams more challenging, despite uproar this week at the poor performance of secondary school pupils in Cardiff.
“We have established an extensive reform programme to transform qualifications in Wales to improve rigour and raise standards,” said a spokesman. “We remain on track to deliver our reforms.”
The Government will be meeting with schools and the Welsh Joint Education Board, who set the papers, in the coming weeks but the spokesperson said they remain firm in keeping on track to improve standards.
Changes in the way the English papers are marked are being blamed for poor results in January exams delivered yesterday.
In the English exam, accuracy is the main focus under the new system. A huge 50 per cent is now given for spelling, punctuation and grammar in the writing paper and this is a big change.
The other big change is papers are now marked by external examiners instead of internally by teachers.
Under the old system, teachers could award just 30 per cent for accuracy, spelling and grammar in the English Language writing paper.
Following pressure from the Welsh government, the specification has changed and now technical accuracy is 50 per cent of the paper.
“The main difference between the old GCSEs and new GCSEs is greater focus on technical written accuracy,” according to information on the WJEC.
“50 per cent of marks for writing tasks are now awarded for how well sentences are structured and the use of correct spelling and punctuation,” it says.
The Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We will be working with the WJEC and schools over the next few weeks to establish the issues that may have affected the results achieved by students in the units sat this January.”
The new GCSE has been taught in schools in Cardiff since September 2012, and the first exam under the new system was in January. Results delivered yesterday caused a furore among teachers, parents and unions.
The results were devastating for some parents, pupils and teachers but the Welsh Government is determined to continue with reforms to improve educational standards, despite the poor performance.