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Written Statement - The future of January AS and A level assessment opportunities in Wales

Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

On 29 January 2013, the Welsh Government accepted the recommendations of the Review of Qualifications for 14 to 19 year olds in Wales. The review has been widely welcomed by stakeholders as being thorough, open and democratic and officials are currently working to take forward the review’s 42 recommendations.

On the issue of AS and A level January assessment opportunities, evidence from the review was inconclusive and the review recommended that the Welsh Government should recognise the range of views expressed by stakeholders about their continued use.

In order to ensure that a decision on this issue is taken in the best interests of our learners and based on evidence, I asked my officials to gather further stakeholder views on the January assessment opportunities and a six week online survey closed on 14 January.

I have now considered the range of evidence available to me in relation to this issue and have concluded that for those students who started their A level courses in September 2012, assessment opportunities should remain available to them in January 2014. In my view, it would be wrong for me to deny these students the assessment opportunities which, when they started their courses, they believed would be available to them. It is a matter for awarding organisations to choose whether they will offer these assessment opportunities but I trust they will also put the interests of learners at the heart of their decisions.  

We are currently considering wider issues about the structure of GCE A levels in Wales. The Review of Qualifications provided clear evidence of support for the current AS / A2 structure for these key qualifications.  I am also aware of support for this structure from stakeholders, including universities, who consider the AS to be an important indicator of candidates’ suitability for Higher Education. 

We will, of course, continue to work with stakeholders to make sure that we put the interests of our learners before any political ideology. I will make a further announcement on the availability of January assessment opportunities for other cohorts of students as well as on the wider structure of AS and A levels in Wales during the summer term.