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Written Statement - Review of Qualifications for 14-19 year olds

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Jeff Cuthbert, Deputy Minister for Skills

I am today (29 September 2011) making an announcement giving further details of our Review of Qualifications for 14-19 year olds in Wales.

On 14 February the Minister for Education and Skills, Leighton Andrews, announced that he was opening a debate on the qualifications available to learners in Wales. One of our manifesto pledges was that we would simplify the qualifications system. 

Our vision is to ensure that we have qualifications for 14 to 19 year olds that are understood and valued, and meet the needs of Wales.  We want our young people to pursue the qualifications and learning programmes which best serve them as well as the Welsh economy.

The review will contribute to this vision by working with partners to identify the most relevant qualifications and to make recommendations about how we can ensure that these qualifications:

  • are available to learners;
  • are trusted and understood;
  • have real value; and
  • remain fit for purpose.

In assessing the relevance of qualifications, the review will focus on the value to learners in terms of preparation for and access to next steps in education, employment or self-employment, as well as the value placed on qualifications by higher education institutions and employers.

We want to find out which qualifications have greatest value, which are most relevant and should be encouraged, and which may need health warnings, or need to be set aside.  The review will gather evidence from a range of sources and stakeholders.

The review is clearly related to a number of other areas such as:

  • The National Planning and Funding System (NPFS), which is being separately reviewed.
  • Our Labour Market Intelligence project, which will look to connect information on courses, career pathways, and labour market opportunities to ensure that learners get good guidance when making important learning and career choices.
  • Performance measures and other factors that may influence schools and colleges in deciding which qualifications to offer.

To ensure that our qualifications are trusted and understood, we need to ensure that assessment of our qualifications is appropriate.  The review will consider assessment broadly.  It will, for instance, enable us to take a measured and considered view on key issues such as the future role of modular GCSEs, and whether or not we should move towards grading of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification.

I shall shortly announce the Chairperson for the Review of Qualifications, who will bring together a team of key stakeholders. The review will deliver a final report late in 2012.