New rules to reduce the number of pupils being entered too early for exams have been announced by Kirsty Williams, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Cabinet Secretary for Education.
From summer 2019, only a pupil’s first entry to a GCSE examination will count in their school’s performance measures. At the moment schools can count the best grade from multiple sittings.
It follows a review by Qualifications Wales, the independent organisation responsible for regulating qualifications in Wales, which found:
Early and multiple entry and GCSE poses risks to students and to the system which cannot be justified
Early entry encourages a ‘teaching to the test’ approach, at the cost of wider subject knowledge
The practice cost more than £3.3m in the last academic year
Qualifications Wales said they are “concerned about the extensive and growing use of early and multiple entry.”
In July 2017 Kirsty Williams warned that early entry was leading to lower grades, and addressing Liberal Democrat conference in September 2017 she described the practice as a “damping down of ambition.”
Announcing the new reforms, Kirsty Williams commented:
"The changes I am announcing today, based on Qualification Wales’ findings, will ensure that the interests of pupils are always put first.
“I am concerned that pupils who had the potential to get an A*, A or a B at the end of a two year course end up having to settle for a C. Too often this is because they take their exam early and are not re-entered again. I want every child to reach their full potential in school. Early entry must only be for the minority of pupils who will benefit.
“GCSEs are designed to be sat after two years of teaching, not one. These changes will ensure our young people access a broad and balanced curriculum, and focus in on what’s best for our children and young people.”