As thousands of Welsh school pupils sit their exams this June, the Welsh Government's review of qualifications is asking some fundamental questions about the exam system itself. These include whether there should be new literacy and numeracy qualifications, whether A-levels are fit for purpose and what should happen to GCSEs and vocational qualifications.
Perhaps the most crucial question is whether Wales should continue to have much the same exam system as England. One option is to develop the Welsh Baccalaureate into an over-arching compulsory exam, another is to reintroduce the concept of 'matriculation', with pupils having to pass exams in a prescribed range of subjects to qualify. However, unlike the the old matriculation system, which ended in 1951, there would be three different levels to cater for pupils with different abilities.
– Huw Evans, Chair of the qualifications review
This is the first ever review of qualifications in Wales. A knowledgeable group of people from a wide range of backgrounds 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. 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.
Some radical changes are on offer. The questions that Huw Evans is asking include:
- How far should qualifications in Wales diverge from those in England?
- How do we make sure the qualifications are rigorous and internationally respected?
- Should the Welsh Baccalaureate be a general qualification across Wales and if so what changes are needed?
- Should we adopt changes to GCSEs as they emerge in England or develop GCSEs to reflect the curriculum in Wales?
- Do we need new, more stretching, qualifications to better reflect pupils' literacy and numeracy, especially to potential employers?
- How can we make sure that vocational qualifications are rigorous and relevant?
The closing date for responses is 1 September 2012.