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GCSE and A levels retained in Wales – Ministers accept recommendations of Qualifications Review

GCSE and A levels will be retained in Wales, alongside a revised, more rigorous, Welsh Baccalaureate.
Tuesday 29 January 2013

This is the message from the Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert, as he today outlined the Welsh Government’s response to the Review of Qualifications for 14 to19-year-olds.

The recommendations to create new GCSEs in English Language and Welsh First Language, as well as two new GCSEs covering numeracy and mathematical techniques, have also been accepted.

These will be introduced in September 2015 and will reflect and support the improvements expected from the new Literacy and Numeracy Framework.

The Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert said:

“We are broadly accepting all of the Review’s recommendations and are setting a clear strategic direction and vision for qualifications in Wales.

“We will retain GCSEs and A levels. Where necessary we will strengthen and amend these, but ultimately we have confidence in these well established qualifications, which are recognised around the world,.

“People expect GCSEs to assess literacy and numeracy, this is why we are developing new GCSEs to do just this. Having two mathematics GCSEs will reflect the importance of the subject for progression and employment. We will expect most learners to take both these GCSEs.

“At the heart of this system will be a revised, more rigorous, Welsh Baccalaureate. The Review identified clear support for this qualification.  But we will not rest on our laurels, the Review also noted some concerns over the rigour of the current model and we will act to address these, introducing grading and more stretching requirements.

“We will further develop the detailed model put forward by the Review and consider whether there is a case for incorporating specific subjects, such as science.

“We will continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure that the Welsh Baccalaureate provides both breadth and rigour, together with an engaging learning experience.”

The aim is to introduce the revised Welsh Baccalaureate for teaching from September 2015.

Other key recommendations being accepted are:

  • The introduction of a new, stronger gatekeeping process for vocational qualifications to ensure that public funding is only approved for qualifications that have quality, rigour, relevance and value. This will reduce the number of qualifications available and simplify the picture for learners, parents and employers.
  • A maximum equivalence of two GCSEs for vocational qualifications, where justified, for reporting from 2016
  • Removing the Essential Skills Wales qualifications for 14-16 from 2015 with  revised Essential Skills and Wider Key Skills qualifications, to be introduced in 2015 for post 16 learners.

The Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, has already accepted and outlined the establishment of Qualifications Wales, a new body to regulate and assure the quality of all qualifications, other than degree level, in Wales.

The Deputy Minister added:

“We are setting out a clear strategic direction and vision for qualifications in Wales. These must be understood and respected worldwide.

“Our guiding principle is doing what is best for learners in Wales and for the Welsh economy. This will sometimes mean diverging from England and the rest of the UK.

“Implementing the Review represents a significant programme of work. We must be prepared to make an investment in terms of resource, commitment and belief in getting qualifications right.”



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Welsh Government response to the Review of Qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds


Education and skills 29 January 2013 Over 16 and continuing in education Welsh baccalaureate Mid Wales North Wales South East Wales South West Wales

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