Page last updated at 18:11 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

Calls for exams to be delayed because of winter weather

Pupils sitting exams
Thousands of school pupils are due to sit exams over the next week

Two councils have called for A-level and GCSE exams to be postponed next week because of the wintry conditions.

Ceredigion council has called on the Welsh Assembly Government to intervene and said it had the backing of Powys council.

The UK is in the grip of its longest cold snap for nearly 30 years.

The Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) said it understood the problems facing schools, but exams would go ahead as planned.

Snow and ice continues to severely hamper travel in Ceredigion and further snowfall is expected in Wales on Sunday and Monday.

Based on the current conditions and the forecast, Ceredigion council said it was calling for A, AS and GCSE level modular examinations to be postponed until the weather improved.

It simply isn't fair that the futures of a whole generation of pupils across rural Wales should stand to be jeopardised by an inability to appreciate the ongoing gravity of the situation
Ceredigion council leader Keith Evans

Council leader Keith Evans said: "Ceredigion, one of the most rural counties of Wales, is still struggling to open roads on its rural roads network.

"Some of the lowest temperatures recorded in Wales this week have been in Ceredigion and there is yet more snow scheduled to hit us this weekend.

"Our education and community services department has tried and tried to get the WJEC to understand the position pupils in rural areas like Ceredigion face and to agree to postponement of the A, AS and GCE level modular examinations scheduled to take place across Wales next week.

List of schools due to be closed in Wales on Monday 11 January

"It simply isn't fair that the futures of a whole generation of pupils across rural Wales should stand to be jeopardised by an inability to appreciate the ongoing gravity of the situation."

The WJEC said the exams would go-ahead as planned next week.

A statement on its website said: "Together with other awarding bodies, we have given very careful consideration to options such as rescheduling.

"We have decided that exams should run to the current timetable for a number of reasons.

"Modular courses mean that candidates have several opportunities during a typical two-year course to sit an individual unit, and most candidates will have at least one further opportunity in May/June to take modules before they claim their subject award.

"If we had rescheduled examinations, the revised timetable might also be affected by bad weather.

"Also, rescheduling examinations to February would eat into the preparation time for those candidates preparing for their May/June exams."

The WJEC added that it was "impossible to guarantee the integrity of question papers" by asking all examination centres to postpone.

More than 500 pupils across Ceredigion's seven secondary and comprehensive schools are scheduled to sit A, AS and GCSE level examinations next week.

Meanwhile, Merthyr Tydfil Council says examinations scheduled for Monday are planned to go ahead.

The authority has set up a temporary examination centre at Merthyr College.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: "We recognise the stress and upset that the adverse weather can cause for candidates who have been preparing hard for next week's exams."

But added that deferring exams "might result in them being re-scheduled at a time when equally inclement weather occurs".

"It would also be unfair on all those students throughout the whole of Wales who have worked hard to prepare in the expectation of sitting examinations next week where there is no reason for their examinations not to go ahead.

"Alternative venues can be used to sit examinations through agreement between examination centres and the awarding bodies, and this is clear in guidance. The possibility therefore does exist for alternative centres in Ceredigion to be used."

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