Jeff Cuthbert, Deputy Minister for Skills
In September 2011, I launched the Review of Qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds, and in November 2011 I asked Huw Evans to lead the Review. The Review Board was composed of external members, including two employers, representatives from schools, further education, work-based learning providers, higher education and Welsh Government officials. The members of the Board have a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience in delivering, designing, regulating and assessing qualifications across the school, further education and work-based learning sectors, through English and Welsh. The employers and higher education practitioners have front-line knowledge of how qualifications are perceived and what makes a qualification relevant and valued.
Today, Huw Evans and the Review Board will be submitting their final report and recommendations to Ministers.
The Review’s task was 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 a number of concerns about the complexity of the current system and 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. Young people shared their experiences and opinions with the Review team in schools, colleges and at stakeholder events. The Board also heard from many employers, employer representatives, universities and learning providers. It undertook research into the views of parents and the perceptions of qualifications by a number of stakeholder groups. A formal consultation exercise, running from 31 May to 1 September, attracted 185 responses and included an open evidence day at which any stakeholder was able to represent their views directly to Board members.
The Review drew on a large body of existing evidence and data. It also commissioned bespoke research on some key topics, such as qualification models in other countries, literacy and numeracy skills, Entry Level qualifications, gender issues in assessment and vocational qualifications in specific sectors.
I would like to thank Huw Evans and the Board for their excellent work on the Review and for producing an extremely thorough, well considered and valuable report. I am particularly pleased that its findings are based firmly on evidence and that its recommendations have been developed in an inclusive way on the basis of discussion with a wide range of stakeholders.
This is an independent report to the Welsh Government. However, its recommendations have been made in full recognition of the wider policy context. It builds on and fits with the work we are driving forward in relation to literacy and numeracy. It also reflects the decision we have already taken that the Welsh Baccalaureate should be graded at Advanced level for teaching from 2013, to enhance its rigour and value.
The Welsh Government will study the recommendations of the Review carefully and in detail before reaching any decisions about the way forward. We will respond formally to all the recommendations by the end of January 2013.