Teenagers finishing their GCSEs and A-levels this year have already missed out on exams, their school proms and now next month’s results days will look very different too.
Some students will be able to go into schools and colleges to collect A level and GCSE results – which have been calculated on previous work – while others will simply receive their grades on email.
Even for those who do go back into school, it will be very different. There will be no hugging as they mark the end of an era and years of work. Instead, results days, where they happen, will be strictly socially distanced.
Councils across Wales are giving school and college leaders the option to decide how and whether to run results days.
Some have told WalesOnline that they will invite students in at a social distance, others said they will be sending results by email. Decisions are still being made.
Where students can come in they will have to minimise contact and there will be set time slots.
Exam board the WJEC and regulator Qualifications Wales have already said that results will be out, as planned before the pandemic, with A level results on August 13 and GCSE results on August 20 from 8am.
Some heads believe it is important for teenagers to be able to come in so to school to find out their grades so that they can discuss any problems or issues with staff.
Some are expecting large numbers of appeals from students unhappy with the way their grades have been calculated.
Some teenagers have already said it is unfair that their marks for mocks earlier in the year will be taken into consideration for final grades because no one knew that at the time and they would have worked harder for them if they had.
After schools were shut and exams cancelled in March schools and colleges in Wales were issued with detailed information on how to rank students with a grade for GCSE and A levels.
Independent regulator Qualifications Wales Qualifications wrote to them in April telling teachers to provide grades for pupils for GCSE, A levels, AS levels and the Skills Challenge Certificate (SCC).
* Non-exam assessment already done
* Results of any homework assignments already done
* Mock exams and;
* Any other records of performance over the course of study
Heads of exam centres are accountable for the accuracy of the data submitted.
Exam board the WJEC said: “Results will be available to students from 8am (on results days). We will issue these to our centres, it’s up to the respective school/college how they will issue the results to their students.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “It will be for schools and colleges to make arrangements for their results days based on the needs of their learners and local circumstances. Welsh Government will not be issuing any specific guidance.
” Schools/colleges will be expected to follow the latest public health guidance and can draw on the operational guidance already issued.”
How different results days will be run around Wales
Gower College, Swansea
A spokeswoman said:“Exam results will be made available for Gower College Swansea students to view online from 8am on Thursday 13 August.
“If they wish, A Level students can attend the Gorseinon Campus to collect their results in person from 9.30am that same morning. They will also be offered advice and guidance on campus, should they require it.
“At all times, we will have appropriate social distancing measures in place, in line with the most up to date guidance from Welsh Government.
“We will also be looking to provide a vocational results service at our Gorseinon and Tycoch Campuses on 13 August.
“Our AS students will be offered advice and guidance on Friday 14 August as they enrol for their second year, and are being advised not to attend campus on results day.”
Armando di Finizio, headteacher at Eastern High in Cardiff
Mr di Finizio feels it is important for students to be able to come in to collect results, safely socially distanced, if they want to.
He has 140 student receiving results in August and they will be given to option of collecting them or getting them via email.
Mr di Finizio and his staff are currently discussing how best to run results day including asking pupils in in staggered groups either in alphabetic order or in friendship groups to pick up envelopes with results in from desks laid out at the school.
“Exam results are a rite of passage, to have that little bit of fear and excitement when you open the envelope.
“They can’t hug each other this year though. They can come in socially distanced and pick up results from desks in alphabetic order.
“We thought friends might want to come in together so we might also have a look at friendship groups or running it in alphabetic order with A to G coming in from 9am to 9.30am and then more coming through in separate groups.”
John Kendall, headteacher at Risca Community Comprehensive, Caerphilly
Mr Kendall said his school will email GCSE results to its 140 exam year pupils. The school doesn’t have a sixth form.
“We made a decision when I wrote to Y11 at the start of June to email GCSE results out to our students this year rather than have them in school to collect them.
“I know many (though perhaps not all) students will be sorry to miss this experience as will the staff, but given that the day tends to be one of high emotions with lots of spontaneous cwtches and hugs, we felt this would be the sensible thing to do in the expectation that physical distancing guidance will still apply.
“We will of course be on hand to take phone calls and emails to help address any issues that arise that day, and will be able to meet students to discuss things on an appointments basis once the results are released. “We also hope to be able to run a celebration evening back at school at some point next term. It’s been tough for this year group and we are really keen to catch up with them again when it is safe to do so.”
Huw Powell, head teacher Mary immaculate High, Wenvoe
“We will be holding a socially distanced version with only year 11 collecting results. We will be adapting the premises to make it safe whilst allowing conversations with and support for our year 11s going forward.”
Marc Belli, executive headteacher at Bishop of Llandaff Church in Wales High and Caldicot School
”We will share results electronically via secured emails. However, a team of staff will be on hand to support virtually.
“We will also review admissions to sixth form using Centre Assessed Grade CAG in line with results from board owing to concerns about standardisation model. The health advice regarding large gatherings will make face-to-face distribution not possible.”
Bev Cheetham, headteacher, Y Pant, Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taf
“We will be running a socially distanced results day.
“We want to celebrate the successes of our students with them but also support those that may need it at this stressful time.
“We want to make it as special as possible and ensure that all are supported for their next step whatever and wherever that may be. Our LA have been very supportive and consulted and worked with us on how we may achieve this.
A Cardiff Council spokesperson said: “With support from the local authority, schools are continuing to plan for A-level results day on 13th August, and GCSE results day on 20th August.
“The options being considered are: opening on the day for students to collect results, while maintaining social distancing; sending results electronically; or a combination of the two. Schools will also be offering help, support and advice to those students that may need it.
“The decision on which option to implement will be based on the specific circumstances of each individual school. Parents and students are starting to receive notification of arrangements from their schools, and this will continue as the results days approach.”
A council spokesperson said: “In Carmarthenshire schools will have their own local solutions.
“School leaders will carry out their own risk assessments and if they choose to open their buildings they’ll ensure that parents and pupils are able to collect their results adhering to structured health and safety protocols. Some may choose to send their pupils their results digitally.
A spokesman for Swansea Council said the local education authority had left the decisions to schools and expects to know by the end of this week what all are doing.
Keith Maher, head of Pen y Dre High in Merthyr, said his school would do a combination of having students in to collect results and sending them by email.
Once assessment grades and the rank order have been submitted, the WJEC will carry out a process, agreed with Qualifications Wales, to standardise grades between centres to ensure fairness.
The regulator’s detailed guidance adds: “To make sure that grades are fair between centres, WJEC will put all centre assessment grades through a process of standardisation.
“It will look at evidence such as the expected national outcomes for this year’s learners, the prior attainment of learners at each school and college, and the results of the school or college in recent years.
“If grading judgements in some centres appear to be more severe or generous than others, WJEC will adjust the grades of some or all of those learners upwards or downwards accordingly.”
Head teachers and the Association of School and College Leaders have said schools knew their students well and were well placed to accurately judge their achievement.
For every GCSE, AS, A level and Skills Challenge Certificate qualification, each centre was required to submit:
A centre assessment grade for each learner. This is the professional judgement of the subject teachers, including the head of department, about the grade that each learner is most likely to have achieved if they had sat their exams this summer
The rank order of learners within each grade, for each qualification.