Wales A-level student hopes assessed grades are 'fair'

Begw Rowlands
Image caption Begw Rowlands: "I hope that the way they've gone about it is as fair as it could possibly be"

"I'm quite relaxed about it, I've never been one to worry about exams," says 17-year-old Begw Rowlands, one of thousands of young people waiting for A-level results.

But after exams were cancelled, this year is different because "obviously we haven't been able to do an exam and feel that went well or that didn't go as well".

Begw, from the Vale of Glamorgan, always intended taking a year out before applying for drama school next year.

A Careers Wales survey found that 38% of A-level pupils said the pandemic had affected their future plans.

Begw, who studied A-level drama and Welsh, BTEC music and the Welsh baccalaureate, says she was pleased at first when exams were cancelled.

"I was quite chuffed to begin with actually, because no one wants to do exams," she says.

"But, obviously, Year 13 is the pinnacle of your school experience and you kind of want to prove yourself."

This year's grades have been calculated using grades assessed by schools and colleges which have then gone through a standardisation process to make sure they are consistent.

A mass upgrading of A-Level results should not be needed in Wales despite some predicted grades being lowered, the Welsh Government has insisted.

"I hope that the way they've gone about it is as fair as it could possibly be," Begw says.

She's currently working as an assistant in a hospital and hopes to travel when that's possible, as well as keeping up with her drama.

Image copyright Getty Images

The Careers Wales survey also found that three quarters of pupils in exam years were worried about their grades.

"It's natural for young people to be worried about their exam results," says Stephen Williams from Careers Wales.

"If they're not what they were expecting, just take a step back.

"Try not to get too emotional and try to think about things logically, talk things through with people that are important to them and make contact with us.

"We will help them put things into perspective and start looking at how we get to where you wanted to get to."

Brother and sister Imogen and Scott Gilmour from Powys, are pupils in Caereinion High School.

Before the pandemic, both were preparing to sit exams, Imogen, 16, doing GCSE and Scott A Levels.

Scott, 18, says he was apprehensive after hearing there would be no exams and was initially concerned the results would be "less credible".

Image caption Imogen and Scott Gilmour

He's hoping to study law and both he and Imogen, from Meifod, will receive their results via email rather than visiting the school.

"Obviously I hope I do well, but I don't feel it's the end of the world if I don't get exactly what I need.

"I'm not worried I'm going to do terribly but I have thought about the possibility of me not doing as well as I need to - to get to university because both of my university choices are quite high requirements," he said.

Imogen intends to stay on for sixth form to study biology, chemistry, physics and maths.

She says: "I'm feeling okay about the whole thing and I'm quite excited that it's getting emailed to us at a specific time.

"It will just be nice to be able to sit there with your family and wait for it."

She says she was also a "little apprehensive because when you do exams you have some idea of how you might have done".

"But with this, it's a little bit more tricky because you don't know at all how the teachers are going to grade you."

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption A-level results in Wales, England and Northern Ireland are due out on Thursday

Similar grading systems were adopted in other parts of the UK and in Scotland the government was forced to make a U-turn after tens of thousands of teacher assessed grades were lowered.

Education researcher Jane Nicholas said the system in Wales is different in some ways.

"Most of the candidates for A-level this year will have already sat the AS exam under normal conditions last year, which means that 40% of their mark is taken from the mark they achieved in the AS level," she says.

"That gives, I think, some reassurance that they'll be more weight given to actual data about what those individual pupils were able to achieve.

"But, certainly, there is a lot of concern and rightfully so from the candidates themselves.

"It's a really stressful time for them and their parents, it always is at exam time.

"This week is always very stressful for everybody, but it's been uniquely so this year."

More on this story