THE situation over the GCSE English exam in Wales was dubbed an “absolute shambles” in heated exchanges in the Assembly today.
But Welsh education minister Huw Lewis hit back, accusing opposition AMs of being reckless with the life chances of young people taking exams.
Last Friday a statement from Mr Lewis said a number of factors had contributed to a drop in results in two English GCSE units, after headteachers said exam results were lower than expected.
Plaid Cymru’s education spokesperson Simon Thomas called for an urgent question to the minister on the issue, saying: “This GCSE in English is the first wholly Wales-made exam in a core subject... It’s been an absolute shambles.”
“One school told me they were expecting 82 per cent A* to C passes and only achieved 36 per cent.”
“You can only rectify this by re-marking, re-grading or having everyone to resit. Which will you do?”
Education minister Huw Lewis told AMs he’d ordered a “rapid review which will then produce a rapid diagnosis of the problem and provide rapid support.”
But he accused opposition members of making “supposedly factual remarks based on rumour and opinion.”
Mr Lewis said: “There are real people at the end of the point scoring, real young people with real life chances that we need to take care of.
“Reckless, that’s what we’re seeing this afternoon. People being reckless with those life chances in order to score political points”.
But he didn't deny there was an issue, but said it was specific to some schools.
“We have here a specific problem that is specific to some schools,” he said.
Leighton Andrews, former education minister, said it wasn’t the same situation as in 2012: “We’re talking about a single unit, or a single module, we’re not talking about the overall grading for a GCSE”.
Earlier, during first minister's questions, Tory leader Andrew RT Davies asked if the results were an “injustice” and said a lot of people were bemused as to how the situation was allowed to occur.
But Labour first minister Carwyn Jones claimed the Tories wanted to cut education funding by 20 per cent and said he made no apology for raising standards of GCSE English.