Mr Cuthbert, said:
“The Welsh Government wants to simplify the qualifications system, and ensure it delivers for our learners and the economy.
“Last year I asked Huw Evans and his board to carry out a review of qualifications for 14 to19-year-olds in Wales.
“At this time of year qualifications are uppermost in the minds of many young people and their families. We must ensure that their hard work and achievements are rewarded with qualifications that remain relevant, valued and fit for purpose in the 21st Century.”
Huw Evans OBE, who is leading the review, said:
“This is the first ever review of qualifications in Wales. The project board is a knowledgeable group of people from a wide range of backgrounds.
“They have been gathering evidence for the past six months and consulted extensively with the many different people involved with qualifications. We have now identified a number of key areas that need to be looked at in more detail to help us make our recommendations to the Deputy Minister.
“We have been acutely aware of the economic context in which the Review is taking place. In recent years the youth labour market has declined dramatically and more young people are staying on in education after 16.
“The qualification system needs to respond to these changes and evolving challenges. It is essential that young people in education are gaining the knowledge, skills, understanding and qualifications that will best equip them to enter the increasingly competitive worlds of employment or higher education.
“Please take this opportunity to let us know what you think, whether you are a learner, a parent, an employer or someone who works in education or training.”
Subjects covered and questions raised in the paper include:
• How far should qualifications in Wales diverge from those in England to meet our own needs? And how do we make sure they are rigorous and internationally respected?
• New literacy and numeracy qualifications. Do we need new more stretching qualifications which better reflect pupils’ literacy and numeracy abilities, especially for potential employers?
• The Welsh Baccalaureate. Should this become a general qualification across Wales and if so what changes are needed? Ministers have agreed with the Board’s view that it should be graded at Advanced Level to help with higher education admissions - but should it be graded at other levels?
• Despite some recent negative comments in the media the Board found that GCSEs are well understood and valued in Wales. But how can GCSEs be improved to maintain their value? Should we adopt changes as they emerge from England or develop Wales-only, high quality and rigorous GCSEs to reflect the curriculum in Wales?
• The Board thinks the vocational qualification system needs to be simplified. But what should be the criteria for approving vocational qualifications, and how can we make sure that they are rigorous and relevant?
The consultation paper is divided into two parts. Part A is aimed at all respondents; Part B is more detailed and technical and may be of more interest to specialists in particular fields.
Following this consultation and further evidence gathering, the Board will submit its final report and recommendations to the Deputy Minister by the end of the year.
You can take part in the consultation by submitting your responses to the questions raised. In addition, you can apply to present your views to the Review Board in person, by attending the evidence day on 11 July in Newtown. This event is aimed at individuals, including learners, parents, employers or teachers, who would not otherwise have the opportunity to talk directly to the Board. The closing date for responses is 1 September 2012.