TWO teaching unions have written to a Welsh exam board urging them to waive resit fees in the wake of a row over GCSE English papers.
Results for two units of the new GCSE English language course, which pupils sat for the first time this year and which is unique to Wales, were much lower than predicted, with some top-performing pupils achieving the lowest possible grades.
This week, the Argus reported how Gwent schools face bills of thousands of pounds to enter students for a resit in the summer, costing £7.11 per unit.
An internal enquiry by the exam board WJEC resulted in an offer to send back ten per cent of papers to schools for free, in addition to its usual re-marking service for individual papers.
This was followed by a Welsh Government “rapid fact-finding exercise” which concluded the papers would not be remarked, but that WJEC should offer extra teacher training.
The report insisted the events of 2012, when then education minister Leighton Andrews ordered that GCSE English papers should be re-graded, would not be repeated this time.
Now Dr Chris Howard, acting director of National Association of Head Teachers Cymru, and Robin Hughes, secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders Cymru, have written a joint letter to WJEC chief executive Gareth Pierce, urging him to remove uncertainty over what will happen in the summer.
The letter said their members are “extremely dissatisfied” with the position staff, pupils and parents find themselves in, and pupils feel worried and insecure.
“This is an unacceptable state of affairs as young people prepare for the summer examinations,” said the letter.
As well as asking WJEC to waive the resit fee, the unions called for the board to write to all schools explaining students will be awarded the better of the January or summer grades if they choose to resit.
The Argus contacted WJEC for a comment but did not receive one.