CLWYD West’s AM Darren Millar has labelled today’s GCSE results as “ very disappointing”.
Mr Millar offered his congratulations to students who secured the grades they wanted, but felt – due to reforms – many learners weren’t able to reach their full potential.
Changes have been made to GCSEs this year in order to make subject content and exams more challenging. Under the reforms, most exams will now be taken at the end of a two-year course, rather than on completion of modules. There will be fewer ‘bite-sized’ questions and more essay-style questions and every student will have to do at least two science GCSEs.
Coursework and controlled assessment will disappear from most subjects, aside from practical courses such as art, dance and drama.
In England, grading has moved to a nine to one scale. The A*-G grading scale has been kept in Wales but students now have to take two maths GCSE qualifications as well as new-style Welsh language qualifications.
Mr Millar, Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Secretary, said: “The drop in attainment of grades A*to C and plummet in uptake of modern foreign languages are particularly disturbing, and do not bode well for Wales’ future economic prospects.
"In recent years we've seen international league tables rank Wales as the worst schools system in the UK, and the Chief Inspector has raised serious concerns about leadership and teaching standards.”
Mr Millar has called on Cabinet Secretary of Education, Kirsty Williams AM, to re-think her reform of the schools curriculum.
The GCSE pass rate in Wales has fallen to 62.8 per cent; it had remained stable at 66.6 per cent for three years. Results at A* have remained stable.
Ms Williams has stood by the reformed qualifications.
“We can be proud of the way our pupils and teachers have handled the introduction of these new qualifications that are playing a vital role in raising standards.
“I am concerned about the high number of pupils being entered early for their exams. Many of these pupils, who are taking exams before they have completed their two years of GCSE study, have not had the opportunity to reach their full potential. This is putting unnecessary pressure on pupils, teachers and also puts an extra strain on school budgets. I will respond to Qualifications Wales’s rapid review of this issue when I receive it in October, but the current situation is unsustainable and all options are on the table.”