GCSEs to stay in Wales

The Welsh Government has accepted proposals for the future of exams and qualifications in Wales. They mean that pupils will continue to sit GCSEs, although they will be abolished in England.

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Opposition warning on exams decision

The Conservatives say the Welsh Government can choose its own direction on exams but warn that there needs to be confidence in Wales-only qualifications. They also say that the main task is still to raise standards after Welsh pupils did badly in the international PISA comparisons.

The primary objective of devolution is to develop Wales-specific solutions to Welsh problems. These proposals setting out how Wales-only qualifications could be developed must secure the confidence of employers and universities in Wales, other UK nations and beyond.These qualifications shouldn’t be seen as a silver bullet to raising standards and the Welsh Government must ensure that the chances of current students are not written off in the same way he has written off the young people who took the 2012 PISA tests.

– Shadow Education Minister Angela Burns AM

Union welcomes exams decision

We welcome the Welsh Government’s renewed commitment to the retention of GCSEs and A levels. This provides stability for our young people and enables them to study tried and tested qualifications. They are not being used guinea pigs in some ill-thought through experiment like their colleagues across the border in England. We will need to show that these qualifications are rigorous, and that their quality is guaranteed by a regulator which is independent of government, to ensure that they have currency outside Wales.

– Dr Philip Dixon, Director of ATL Cymru


Qualifications will be reformed but not replaced

GCSE and A levels will stay in Wales, the Welsh Government has confirmed. The Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert says the exams will be 'alongside a revised, more rigorous, Welsh Baccalaureate'. In England, Education Secretary Michael Gove wants an English Baccalaureate to replace GCSEs.

Mr Cuthbert told AMs that although he doesn't ignore what happens in England, as it can have implications for Wales, he hoped that the Welsh Government's direction is clear. However, he admitted that not just many parents but some teacher in Wales think that Mr Gove's plans will affect them.

We will retain GCSEs and A levels. Where necessary we will strengthen and amend these, but ultimately we have confidence in these well established qualifications, which are recognised around the world. People expect GCSEs to assess literacy and numeracy, this is why we are developing new GCSEs to do just this. Having two mathematics GCSEs will reflect the importance of the subject for progression and employment. At the heart of this system will be a revised, more rigorous, Welsh Baccalaureate. The Review identified clear support for this qualification. But we will not rest on our laurels.

– Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert AM

The aim is to start teaching for the new exams from September 2015. The Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, has already accepted the establishment of Qualifications Wales, a new body to regulate and assure the quality of all qualifications, other than degree level, in Wales.

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