Jeff Cuthbert, Deputy Minister for Skills
On 29 September 2011, I launched the Review of Qualifications for 14-19 year olds in Wales. The Review is led by a Board chaired by Huw Evans OBE and composed of external members and Welsh Government officials.
The Review’s task is to consider how we can achieve the vision of ‘qualifications that are understood and valued and meet the needs of our young people and the Welsh economy’. The Review was prompted by concerns about the complexity of the current system, the extent to which it is understood, and the relevance, value and rigour of some qualifications.
Between November 2011 and May 2012, Board members and officials met and listened to an extensive range of stakeholders at a variety of meetings and events across Wales. They heard from young people, parents, schools, colleges, employers and universities.
Huw Evans and I launched the formal consultation exercise on 31 May. The consultation paper invited views on the main issues that had emerged in the course of the review, and sought views on some proposals and options for the future. The formal consultation ended on 1 September with over 180 responses received.
I wish to reassure Assembly Members that in its deliberations about the way forward for qualifications in Wales, the Board is continuing to maintain a balance between responding to recent developments and considering the evidence identified during the Review. The Board is of course fully aware of the recent and current events in Wales and England in relation to GCSE English Language and, more generally, the direction of travel in relation to the future of GCSEs in England as announced by the Secretary of State on 17 September. However, the Review Board and Ministers are united in wanting to take the time required to make considered, sustainable and well-founded decisions in order to get qualifications right for young people and our economy in the long term. In particular, Ministers are committed to avoiding any significant changes to GCSEs that may be necessary until after the outcomes of the Review are known. Therefore, as well as taking account of current developments, the Board will continue to consider all the longer-term evidence, in the round. The review has drawn on a large body of evidence and data, and has commissioned bespoke research on key topics. It will give us a strong evidence base for making policy decisions to determine the future of qualifications in Wales.
The aim of Ministers in responding to the Review’s recommendations will, as always, be to put the needs of learners first and to ensure fairness for young people in Wales. We will also wish to maintain the inclusive approach of the Review , working with stakeholders and delivery partners to ensure that proposals and plans are feasible and well supported.
The Board expects to submit its final report to me at the end of November 2012 as planned.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep Members informed. Should Members wish me to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.