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Project Board for the Review of Qualications

Yesterday, the Project Board of the Review of Qualifications for 14 to 19 year olds got together for the first time. It was good to have the opportunity to meet them.
Thursday 08 December 2011
Western Mail

The individuals that have been appointed to serve on the Board come from a variety of backgrounds and bring a range of highly relevant experiences to the table. This is a very important review and it was essential to ensure that the Project Board includes such key players from education and employment in Wales.

Huw Evans OBE (currently Principal of Coleg Llandrillo Cymru) will lead the review and chair the Project Board. The review will be wide ranging but will focus on working to ensure that our qualifications system is understood, valued and meets the needs of our young people and the Welsh economy.

I want to ensure that public money is used wisely and that our qualifications system helps us ensure that we have the skilled workforce our economy needs.

Those leaving school or further or higher education these days are entering a very challenging world and we need to equip them as well as we possibly can. I don’t want to tell them what they should be doing but I do want them to be in a position to take the most relevant qualifications and to make informed choices about their futures.

The board is made up of people with established reputations in the fields of education and employment. The Review will draw on a wide range of evidence and will listen to the views of key stakeholders.

The external Board members will bring their own individual thoughts to the Board rather than act as representatives of any organisation or sector. An additional four members will come directly from the Welsh Government.

From the world of education, the Board will include Professor John Hughes, Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University, Nick Bennett, Principal of Gower College Swansea, Katherine Davies, Headteacher of Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr, and Michael Griffiths, recently retired Headteacher of Cardiff High School.  

An employer, training and career perspective will be provided by
Jackie Pearson, Mill Controller at UPM Shotton, Roger Evans, Plant Director at Schaeffler (UK) Ltd, Arwyn Watkins, Managing Director, Cambria Training Company and Ann Evans, Chief Executive of Careers Wales Mid Glamorgan and Powys.

I am delighted that we have been able to secure the support of such individuals and together, I am confident that they will help us meet our objectives.

The review will aim to identify the most relevant qualifications and to help us ensure that those qualifications:

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

We often hear it said that some qualifications are more useful to learners than others – whether they want to go on to further or higher education or into employment.  

I want this review to find out which qualifications have greatest value; which qualifications are most relevant and we should be encouraging. We want to consider whether all or part of the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification should be graded.

We are also looking at the way we fund post 16 education, and we want to ensure that we use such levers as revised funding arrangements and school performance measures to ensure that the most relevant qualifications are made available to our young people.  

The review will consider both General and Vocational Qualifications and how the system as a whole can deliver the skilled workforce that we need. We want to ensure that both General and Vocational qualifications are equally valued and provide learners with the  progression routes they need to help Wales compete globally.

Finally, we need to ensure that the qualifications we deliver are fit for purpose and remain fit for purpose.  

The review will consider the way we assess learners and whether current assessment arrangements are appropriate.  

Also in England, GCSEs will, in future, be assessed at the end of the course only. Modular GCSEs have only recently been introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Wales, we will look at the evidence before coming to a decision on such issues.  

Qualifications need to change with the times. We need to ensure that the system is sufficiently flexible to be able to respond to changing needs,

The group will deliver a final report by next autumn. However, the review will be conducted in several phases and I look forward to making further announcements about its progress ahead of the final report.



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Jeff Cuthbert AM

Deputy Minister for Skills



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