*An open letter to Huw Lewis AM, Minister for Education, regarding GCSE English results.
Dear Mr Lewis
You have stated in the news that "the Welsh government will be closely monitoring the introduction, delivery and awarding of this new qualification to ensure that learners are not unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged by its introduction" and a review will take place. Please consider the following in your review.
The percentage number of pupils in Wales that passed this exam. The percentage number of pupils in England who sat a GCSE English Language exam even though this will be of a different specification. If there is big difference in the results, for example - say 22 per cent of pupils passed the English GCSE in Wales whilst say 50 per cent of those sitting an English Language exam in England passed, then you will have created a big problem in Wales not only with the pupils, teachers and schools but with peoples perception of both the WJEC and the Welsh Government. This will be true for Welsh people and for those people looking into Wales. The questions you should be able to answer include: why would there be more than double the chance of passing an English exam using an English board of examiners?
Why is the Welsh Government happy to agree with a statistic that implies that English pupils are far far superior to the Welsh children in their English language ability?
Why is the Welsh Government happy to present and back information that implies it has little faith in the ability of its Welsh children?
Why is the Welsh Government happy to disadvantage pupils from Wales when competing with the English pupils for university places? After all do you really think that the university selection panel will pay much attention to the exam board or will they concentrate on the results first in any elimination procedure?
Would employers really look at what exam board a GCSE result is obtained from? Surely only the fact of whether it fits the specification of the job - ie pass or fail? Who writes the exam board on their CV?
So pupils may have a better chance of getting a job by sitting an English GCSE without even trying to ridicule the WJEC, as this exam has done, by nature and logic, surely it would be better to sit an English exam using English examiners and hence an English board?
Our Welsh version would only showcase and attempt to highlight a skewed perception of how poor the Welsh pupils ability is when compared to English children. To compound this outcome, the Welsh Government supports this reputation of implying our children, on the whole, have considerably lower ability when compared to our English counterparts. Unbelievable!
Will the reputation of the WJEC decline and numbers sitting WJEC examinations decline as schools switch examination boards?
I have no idea what percentage of children passed in England but I consider these important questions having done statistics, taught in a comprehensive school and being interested in politics as a local Community Councillor.
This would be the first thing I would want to look at if I was doing a review to be both fair and considerate of the interest of the children of Wales, to ensure that you are being true to the statement you made above where learners are not unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged by the new examination format introduction.
Such evidence, will become available in the public domain at some point so it is important not to ignore. By supporting these results you could be bringing down the reputation of the Welsh Government and the WJEC.
Why would anyone with any sense of intelligence want to stay in Wales and bring up their children here if the Welsh Government is so quick to rubbish the ability of its children?