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A summary of the group's purpose from 21 January 2021 following the move to centre-determined grades.

Background and context

The Design and Delivery Group was established to develop workable proposals which could deliver the Minister for Education’s policy on qualifications in 2021, following the November 2020 announcement that there would be no exams at GCSE, AS level or A level for Qualifications Wales-approved qualifications. Chaired by Geraint Rees, the group fulfil an advisory function and do not have any formal decision-making role, nor impact on any other organisation’s accountability arrangements or statutory responsibilities.

Their initial remit involved the development of a centre-based outcomes model, to include an element of teacher-managed classroom-based assessments, which would be externally set and marked by WJEC. In December 2020 the group submitted proposals based on a three pillar approach (whereby marks awarded through Non Examination Assessment, Internal Assessment, and External Assessment would contribute towards a grade awarded by WJEC). The model was accepted and, on 16 December, the Minister for Education communicated her intention that general qualifications be supported by the 3 pillar approach.

Over the Christmas break, in response to the changing course of the pandemic, and the announcement that schools and colleges should return to remote learning arrangements for learners, the first assessment window planned as part of the three pillar approach was cancelled and the Design and Delivery Advisory Group reconvened to adapt the proposals they had previously presented seeking to ensure they continued to promote learner well-being and progression.

On January 20 2021, having received revised proposals from the Design and Delivery Advisory Group, the Minister for Education announced that learners undertaking GCSE, AS and A levels approved by Qualifications Wales would have their qualifications awarded through a Centre Determined Grade model. This meant that grades would be determined by their school or college based on an assessment of the learner’s work.

The Centre Determined Grade model puts trust in practitioners to prioritise teaching and learning in the time available to support learner progression. It also recognises that teachers and lecturers have the knowledge of the quality and breadth of their learners’ work and are best placed to plan assessment alongside their teaching and learning plans. As part of their work, the Design and Delivery Advisory Group continue to work alongside Qualifications Wales, WJEC, and Welsh Government to provide a scaffolded, supportive approach aimed at guiding centres through grading process

The focus of 2021 qualifications work has prioritised learner fairness, wellbeing and progression, in the context of major ongoing disruption to learning due to COVID-19.


The group are tasked with considering issues around GCSE, AS and A levels for Qualifications Wales approved qualifications. Where issues emerge which are relevant to wider qualifications, including vocational qualifications, these are noted and shared with the relevant WG policy team or other organisation.    

Their focus, since January 2020 has been twofold:

  • Advising on the design of arrangements for the Centre Determined Grade model, including the scaffolded approach to supporting centres through the awarding process.
  • Supporting implementation of the Centre Determined Grade Model as it moves from the design phase and into the delivery phase. 

The scope of their work includes the development of advice and approaches aimed at ensuring a consistent approach across Wales, the professional learning that may support this, and the mechanics of the agreed national approach to provide transparency to support learner and public confidence.

In the context of the agreed model, though not an exhaustive list, the group are also tasked with supporting the development of proposals on appeals, private candidates, and in relation to issues of workload and other workforce considerations, equalities and learner voice.

This is another exceptional year and the decisions made this year will be the ones that are right for learners in summer 2021. The approach should be consistent with the direction of travel on curriculum reform, and the group will remain mindful of implications for 2022 in developing their model particularly those currently in year 10 and 12. However, the group is not being tasked with developing a longer-term model for qualifications: this will be an issue for the next government, informed by Qualifications Wales’ consultation in early 2021, and in the context of COVID-related ongoing disruption.

Issues to consider

  • Mindfulness of the ongoing pressure on teachers and lecturers and ensuring that any proposals are acceptable and proportionate on their time, given other burdens (in particular the need to continue teaching).
  • Teacher/lecturer ownership of the model, and ability to support their learners through the year.
  • Clarity on how proposals will optimise available teaching and learning time.
  • Ensuring that the overall national picture embeds equalities issues in line with the Welsh Government’s public sector equality duty.
  • Providing assurance for universities about the skills and capabilities of learners and that they have covered the core components needed to successfully progress.
  • Providing assurance for universities on the rigour of the proposed approach.
  • Consideration of the legal framework and requirements within which General Qualifications are awarded.
  • Supporting the development of a timeline and workplan, including communications.  

Structure of decision-making

The headteacher/college leader group members have been invited through recommendations from regional consortia, local authorities, and Colegau Cymru.    

The group are chaired by Geraint Rees, who has been invited to help the group develop a set of workable proposals which meet the Minister’s criteria.  Welsh Government officials will also sit on the group to represent the wider policy context, and will provide the secretariat.

The group are tasked with developing proposals for the centre determined grade model, which the chair or Welsh Government officials regularly present to the existing Welsh Government external reference group on qualifications. The reference group may wish to provide comments on the proposals. The proposals need to provide clear detail on both approach and timings for schools and colleges to take forward.  

Wider roles and responsibilities – qualifications 2021

The roles of the minister and Welsh Government are to:

  • set education policy
  • oversee the education system
  • engage with key stakeholders

The role of the Design and Delivery Advisory Group is to:

  • provide advice to the Minister on delivery and implementation of summer 2021 assessment arrangements
  • support communication and understanding across the education sector and with learners

The role of Qualifications Wales is to:

  • provide expert advice to the Design and Delivery Advisory Group
  • oversee the assessment approach
  • set the regulatory rules of the assessment approach (including the appeals process) under which WJEC deliver

The role of WJEC is to:

  • provide expert advice to the Design and Delivery Advisory Group
  • operationalise and implement the assessment approach including providing training and support
  • quality assure the assessment approach
  • provide an appeals process

Ways of working

The minister has set out a preferred policy approach for 2021 which focuses on the learner and requires all parts of the Welsh education sector to come together and collaborate to develop a model and approach which supports our learners. The Design and Delivery Advisory Group is led with this in mind.  

The headteacher/college leaders participating in the group will be embedded within their existing school and college relationships. However, they will not be required to represent the wider Wales headteacher/college leader community within the group.  

The detail of the group’s discussions will be confidential within the group, to support open dialogue. The chair will share information and updates as appropriate.

The group will arrange sub groups to consider specific areas, supporting detailed consideration of complex issues while ensuring join up and fidelity to an agreed and overarching approach.

The group will act in an ambassadorial role, supporting wider education sector understanding of the approach and collecting and sharing intelligence about key issues or areas of concern.

Timing of meetings

Meetings will be weekly between 11 and 1, with sub groups meeting as required between main group meetings. Welsh Government will provide the secretariat function. The group will consider additional meetings as necessary.


The below members have consented to the publication of their name, and school and college affiliation.  

Tracy Senchal (Coedcae School) 
Daniel Owen (Llanidloes high school, Powys) 
Mark Tucker (The John Frost High School) 
Christopher Wilkinson (St Joseph Catholic & Anglican high school, Wrexham) 
Aaron Bayley (Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones, Ynys Mon) 
Justin O’Sullivan (Cardinal Newman) 
Trystan Edwards (Ysgol Garth Olwg) 
Mark Leighfield, (St Davids College) 
Andrew Cornish (Coleg Sir Gar and Coleg Ceredigion) 
Yana Williams (Cambria) 
Kay Martin (CAVC)
Marc Belli (Caldicot School Monmouthshire; The Bishop of Llandaff, Cardiff) 
Sarah Sutton (Ysgol Eirias) 
Mair Hughes (Ysgol Penglais Aberystwyth) 
Mark Dacey (NPTC Group of Colleges)
Lee Hitchings (Cwmtawe Community School, Swansea)
Rebecca Collins (St. Cenydd School, Caerphilly)
Phillip Collins (Abersychan School, Torfaen)
Iwan Pritchard (Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern, Cardiff)

Qualifications Wales and WJEC are invited to all meetings, including sub-group discussions, as observers to provide expert advice on assessment.