This year’s GCSE results mark a stark difference between Wales and England.
As England goes towards grading in numbers, not letters, Wales will stick with the letters but also focus on its own, Welsh made, qualifications.
As well as the new Skills Challenge Certificate for the Welsh Baccalaureate, there are six new GCSE qualifications to look out for in several subjects:
- English Language
- Welsh Language
- English Literature
- Welsh Literature
These new qualifications have been reformed by Qualifications Wales, with a focus on those skills that are essential for the workplace.
The Mathematics-Numeracy GCSE, for example, focuses on those maths skills students need in their everyday lives, in the world of work and in other general curriculum areas – requirements that were identified by the Welsh Government in a Review back in 2012.
Year 10 entry & lower results
This year sees a substantial entry by year 10 students, those who are in their first year of the two year course, in some of the new GCSEs:
- English Language 21,000 year 10 pupils
- Welsh Language 1,030 year 10 pupils
- Mathematics 10,400 year 10 pupils
- Mathematics Numeracy 11,200 year 10 pupils
Experts believe this will mean the overall results for those subjects this summer will be lower than in previous years, and it will also be harder to compare year on year as the cohort, and the qualifications are different.
Whilst the regulator says there is no ‘right’ entry strategy for all students, Qualifications Wales is currently researching why schools are entering so many year 10 pupils for their GCSE examinations early, with a report expected in the Autumn.
Are students at a disadvantage?
Whenever there are new qualifications students in the first few years are likely to get lower marks in their exam paper because they aren’t so familiar with the exams.
To protect students from that, a ‘comparable outcome’ approach is taken which means that, overall, students grades should be similar to what they’d achieve if they were taking the old paper.