GCSE exams could be sat online in future, watchdog says

‘We risk being left behind by the rest of the world,’ regulator warns

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Monday 24 February 2020 15:49
comments
David Jones, chair of Qualifications Wales, said we need to make sure the technology works first
David Jones, chair of Qualifications Wales, said we need to make sure the technology works first

Pupils in Wales could sit their GCSE exams online in future, the watchdog boss has said.

Paper and pen could become a thing of the past in school tests as part of a major overhaul of the curriculum.

David Jones, chair of exams watchdog Qualifications Wales, has suggested that changing to electronic assessments would better reflect the way teenagers live in the digital age.

Consultations are currently under way regarding the testing of 16-year-olds in Wales from 2026.

In an interview with BBC News, Mr Jones said: “It doesn’t seem right if children spend most of their life using technology and then once or twice a year they have to go back to do traditional examinations that are at least 50 years old.”

But in May last year, the WJEC exam board had to apologise after a “technical issue” affected pupils taking a GCSE computer science exam.

Mr Jones said: “We need to make sure the technology works to be able to do qualifications online.

“But ultimately, at some point in the future, we have to have significantly more electronic assessment – or we risk being left behind by the rest of the world.“

The regulator believes the content and assessment of the qualification needs to change, but it has urged against ditching the GCSEs brand as it could confuse employers.

“GCSEs are well known and well respected. What’s important is what’s inside the qualification,” Mr Jones added.

The proposals are being considered as part of the Welsh government’s overhaul of the school curriculum, which will be taught from 2022.

It comes after a report earlier this month called for handwritten exams to be scrapped by 2025.

The study, by the not-for-profit education technology company, Jisc, called on the sector to stop “clinging to pen and paper” for assessments.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments