South East Wales

Welsh pupils' Edexcel exams translated for marking

pupils sitting GCSEs
Image caption RhAG says Welsh pupils will be at a disadvantage if their papers are translated

An exam board has been criticised over plans to translate Welsh-speaking pupils' papers so they can be marked by examiners in English.

Edexcel will translate some responses because it was unable to recruit Welsh-speaking examiners in certain subjects.

But education campaign group Rhag said the move placed pupils studying in Welsh at a significant disadvantage.

Union UCAC said qualifications through Welsh should not be offered if the demands of delivering it are not met.

Edexcel said it had struggled to find Welsh-speaking examiners for its A-Level music technology and sport and active leisure principle learning qualification.

Instead it will have students' answers translated to English.

The exam board said the papers will be sent to a Welsh-speaking subject expert to confirm that the content has been fully translated.

Only then will the paper be marked in English, alongside the original script, with any translation queries referred back to the subject expert.

Edexcel told BBC Wales that "in no individual paper are more than 9 learners affected".

'Completely unacceptable'

But Ceri Owen, of Rhag, said the decision was "a scandal".

"Such a situation is completely unacceptable and places pupils studying through the medium of Welsh at a significant disadvantage," she said.

"They should have the same conditions as their contemporaries who study through the medium of English, where there is no interference in the original work.

"In such circumstances, the work being assessed isn't that of the pupil's but another person's interpretation of that said work, in a completely different language."

Rebecca Williams, of Welsh education union UCAC, said it was impossible to guarantee the translated text would capture the precise meaning pupils intended.

"If an exam board is unable to cope with the demands of offering a qualification in Welsh, then they should not be offering that qualification in the first place," she said.

'Rare instance'

A spokesperson for Edexcel said it was working to ensure every student is treated fairly.

"We always aim to recruit Welsh-speaking examiners where we have entries for assessment that are offered in Welsh. In the majority of cases we are able to do so," said the exam board official.

"However in the rare instances where we are not able to recruit Welsh-speaking examiners with the necessary subject and assessment experience, we undergo a four stage process, using a translation agency also used by the National Assembly for Wales."

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