Wales scraps GCSE and A-Levels exams for 2021 to ensure “fairness”

A teacher-managed assessment will take its place

Students in Wales will not take exams for GCSEs, AS-levels or A-Levels next summer, the country’s education minister has announced.

Kirsty Williams said the decision was made for the “well-being of learners” and to “ensure fairness” as a result of students spending differing amounts of time in school or college during the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of exams, the Welsh government will work alongside schools and colleges to deliver assessments which will be managed by teachers and undertaken in classrooms. They will be set and marked externally.


Williams said: “We remain optimistic that the public heath situation will improve, but the primary reason for my decision is down to fairness; the time learners will spend in schools and colleges will vary hugely and, in this situation, it is impossible to guarantee a level playing field for exams to take place.

“We have consulted with universities across the UK and they have confirmed that they are used to accepting many different types of qualifications.”

She added “They expect a transparent and robust approach which provides evidence of a learner’s knowledge and ability.”

Teachers will also have flexibility on when they wish for the assessments to take place.


Responding to the news, Wales’ National Union of Students said: “We welcome the Education Minister’s decision to cancel this year’s GCSE, AS and A level exams. Work must now begin to ensure the new system provides robust and fair results.”