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Delivering a national qualifications system for Wales Owen Evans Director General, Department for Education and Skills, Welsh Government Kate Crabtree Head of Qualifications and Regulation Division, Welsh Government. Background: Review of Qualifications. Review launched September 2011

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Delivering a national qualifications system for Wales Owen Evans

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Delivering a national qualifications

system for Wales

Owen Evans

Director General, Department for Education and Skills, Welsh Government

Kate Crabtree

Head of Qualifications and Regulation Division, Welsh Government


Background: Review of Qualifications

  • Review launched September 2011
  • Concerns: complexity, clarity, relevance, value, progression
  • Independent Review Board
  • Evidence-based
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Reported November 2012 with 42 recommendations
  • All recommendations accepted by January 2013


Qualifications that are understood and valued and meet the needs of our young people and the Welsh economy



  • A national qualification system for Wales
  • Independent, rigorous quality assurance
  • Meet the needs of all learners, and our economy
  • Broad and balanced education 14 to 16
  • Coherent programmes of learning 16 to 19
  • Literacy and numeracy are central
  • Portable qualifications, internationally respected
  • Build on strengths, steady pace, listen to evidence and stakeholders

Key changes

  • Establish Qualifications Wales
  • Rigorous new Welsh Bac with focus on skills
  • GCSEs to continue
  • New GCSEs to assess literacy and numeracy
  • A levels to continue – with coupled AS level
  • Vocational qualifications – new categorisation, stronger gatekeeping
  • Changes to performance measurement
  • Major communications campaign – awareness and confidence

Qualifications Wales: What’s changing?

  • New independent body
  • Emphasis on quality assurance and improvement
  • In time, awarding most qualifications 14-16, most AS and A levels, Welsh Baccalaureate
  • Providing information and advice to stakeholders and Welsh Government
  • Aim to simplify the system and strengthen confidence and understanding

Qualifications Wales: When?

  • Consultation ‘Our Qualifications – Our Future’ – runs to 20 December
  • Officials analyse responses to consultation with a view to the Welsh Government bringing forward legislation
  • Subject to legislation passing all the Assembly’s scrutiny processes, the intention is:
  • Organisation to be established September 2015

Welsh Baccalaureate: What’s changing?

  • Strong focus on skills for learning and work
  • Revised, more rigorous model:
    • grading
    • more demanding individual project
  • Literacy and numeracy assessed through new GCSEs
  • Skills assessed through ‘Challenges’ – same skills as in Curriculum Review
  • No requirement to take Essential Skills Wales qualifications
  • Universal adoption at 14-19

Welsh Baccalaureate: Skills

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Planning and organising
  • Personal effectiveness
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Digital literacy

Welsh Baccalaureate: When?

  • Grading introduced this year at Advanced Level
  • Steering group and working groups advised on new model
  • High level model developed and agreed
  • Stakeholder survey is live – runs to 20 December 2013
  • Next phase: detailed development, workforce/support/CPD
  • Specifications available autumn 2014
  • First teaching of new model September 2015
  • Evaluation of new model from 2016

Vocational Qualifications: What’s changing?

  • Adopt European categories:
    • Initial or Continuing Vocational Education and Training (IVETs/CVETs)
    • Only IVETs available pre-16
    • Develop new generic IVETs for KS4
  • Stronger gatekeeping
    • Relevance, value, purpose, progression
    • Sector bodies to do relevance checks
  • Welsh Bac model gives equal status

Vocational Qualifications: When?

  • IVETs/CVETs categorisation is complete
  • Only IVETs will be available pre-16 from 2014
  • Gatekeeping – DfES/Awarding Organisation Liaison Group set up
  • Pilot Sector Qualifications Advisory Panels being established
  • The Panels will consider the need for generic IVETs

GCSEs: What’s changing?

  • Revised GCSEs in English Language and Welsh (first) Language - greater assurance of literacy
  • Two new maths GCSEs – greater assurance of numeracy
  • Close links with LNF – progression from KS3 expectations
  • New GCSEs in other subjects to incorporate subject-specific literacy and numeracy
  • Move towards a single suite – one specification per subject

But we will:

  • Keep GCSEs – and modular courses where appropriate
  • Allow controlled assessment, tiering, short courses – where justified

GCSEs: When?

  • Strategy and subject planning groups set up
  • First new GCSEs being developed with expert groups
  • Draft design principles developed for new GCSEs
  • Stakeholder survey now live – runs to 20 December 2013
  • Further development and consultation 2014
  • Specifications available autumn 2014
  • Resources and CPD available from 2014

GCSEs: When?

  • First teaching of new English/Welsh and Maths GCSEs 2015
  • Next tranche of revised GCSEs taught from September 2016(final list to be agreed)

A levels: What’s changing?

  • New content for many A levels from 2015 (Wales, England and Northern Ireland)
  • While content will be the same as England and Northern Ireland where possible, we will allow variation to meet needs in Wales
  • One re-sit per module with the best mark counting

But we will:

  • Keep A levels
  • Keep AS levels as coupled qualifications
  • Review relative weightings of the AS and A2 components of A levels

A levels: When?

  • Strategy group set up
  • Policy announced – re-sits, January assessment, AS level
  • Stakeholder survey now live – runs to 20 December
  • No January assessment opportunities for AS or A levels after January 2014
  • Challenging timetable for A level redevelopment for 2015 across UK
  • Aim to have revised specifications available autumn 2014
  • Resources and CPD available from autumn 2014

Essential Skills: What’s changing?

  • Essential Skills Wales qualifications will not
    • be used pre-16 (except Entry level)
    • be required for the Welsh Baccalaureate
  • New revised Essential Skills qualifications will
    • be available post-16
    • include new Digital literacy qualifications
    • include new employability skills (old Wider Key Skills)
    • have more robust assessment

Essential Skills: When?

  • Comparison of range of skills frameworks is complete
  • Set of skills areas developed – aligned with curriculum review proposals
  • Same set of skills to form core of Welsh Bac
  • Development of new suites of qualifications underway
  • Steering group and working groups are advising
  • New qualifications to be trialled 2014
  • New qualifications to be available for use 2015

Measurement of Performance: What’s changing?

  • Key stage 4
    • No qualification worth more than 2 GCSEs
    • Welsh Bac measures to replace threshold measures
    • Further work to consider measures and their use/weighting in reporting, etc.
    • Early entry issues to be addressed
  • Post-16
    • Consistent measures across sectors

Measurement of Performance: When?

  • Working group set up
  • Some changes announced for reporting
  • Further development work 2014
  • Announcement of outcome by summer 2014
  • New equivalences for reporting 2016 (2 GCSEs max)
  • Welsh Bac measures introduced, reporting 2017
  • Post-16 measures to be considered through project to develop consistent measures across sectors

Next steps

  • Analyse survey and consultation responses
  • Roadshows for managers, spring 2014
  • Development of specifications
  • Development of CPD/teaching/resources/support
  • Analysis of workforce implications
  • CPD materials and events from autumn 2014

Further information

Further information available on the new website