ASCL Cymru comments on WJEC exam rebate announcement

23/06/2021
Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru, comments on WJEC’s announcement that it will rebate schools 42% of exam fees following the cancellation of public exams in 2021 and the Welsh government’s announcement that it would top up the rebate to 50%. 
 

Commenting on WJEC’s announcement that it will rebate schools 42% of exam fees following the cancellation of public exams in 2021 and the Welsh government’s announcement that it would top up the rebate to 50%, Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru, said:

“Quite how WJEC has arrived at its offer of a 42% rebate to Welsh schools is shrouded in mystery and, thus far, it has steadfastly refused to explain how this figure has been calculated despite repeated requests, claiming it is commercially sensitive. Given WJEC’s charitable status and the fact they enjoy a monopoly position in Wales we fail to understand their reluctance to be transparent and explain how this figure has been arrived at.

“School leaders will find WJEC’s rebate hard to swallow. In our recent survey almost 79% of school leaders told us they did not expect to have to pay any more than 25% of their normal exam fees this summer, with some questioning why they should pay anything at all given the huge volume of work they and their staff have had to take on in assessing and grading their students whilst also handling the considerable pressures around keeping schools open during the pandemic.

“Unlike their colleagues in England, WJEC has had a long time to prepare following the Welsh government’s announcement last autumn that exams would be cancelled this summer. We appreciate it will have incurred costs but it has had no exam papers to prepare in 2021 and no costs around marking or employing examiners.

“The Education Minister’s announcement that the Welsh government will top up the rebate to schools to 50% is obviously very welcome but it should not be the government’s responsibility to bail out WJEC. The fact they are stepping in to help at all tends to suggest they do not think WJEC’s rebate is sufficient.

“Exam fees represent a big ticket item for school budgets. Based on the government’s £1.6 million top-up, we estimate WJEC would normally expect to receive £20 million from 195 schools across Wales – an average of more than £102,500 each.

“Our school leaders will see the WJEC rebate as inadequate and deserve some openness and transparency on how the 42% figure has been arrived at.”