Major overhaul of GCSEs in Wales to put less emphasis on traditional exams

Pupils, teachers and parents are being asked for their views Credit: PA

Less emphasis will be put on traditional exams and language and literature could be merged under major plans to transform GCSEs in Wales, the watchdog has said.

Exam regulator Qualifications Wales has launched a national conversation to give pupils, teachers, parents and employers the chance to share their views on an overhaul of the GCSE system - which would be taught from 2025.

Under the plans, there will be new content and new ways of assessing the qualifications, with less focus on traditional exams.

Instead, the new Made-for Wales GCSEs will make more effective use of digital assessments, with a balanced mix of assessment methods and more opportunities for pupils to be assessed during their course.

Schools will also be given the opportunity to design their own curricula and meet the needs of their learners, the watchdog said.

Qualifications Wales is also asking for feedback on names for a number of new subjects.

These include GCSE the sciences and GCSE core Cymraeg.

The reforms include controversial plans to merge language and literature into a single GCSE, and individual science subjects will be combined in one qualification.

Qualifications Wales also wants people to share their views on the content and assessment of brand-new GCSE subjects - including Social Studies, Engineering, Film and Digital Media, and Dance.

When the plans were published last year, Qualifications Wales said the overall aim was to see one Welsh language qualification for "all learners in all settings".

Welsh language campaign group Cymdeithas yr Iaith has criticised Qualifications Wales' decision not to introduce a single Welsh language qualification, and has accused the body of doing nothing more than "rebranding" Welsh second language and "failing another generation of children".

The proposed changes to Welsh qualifications are in line with the requirements of the Curriculum for Wales - teaching for which started in schools in September.

It was formally introduced in primary schools and about half of secondary schools, marking the start of the rollout to all three to 16-year-olds.

The qualifications watchdog is asking for views on the content of 26 GCSEs, including food and nutrition, health and physical education, engineering, and film and digital media.

Speaking about the consultation, Emyr George, Qualifications Wales’ director of qualifications policy and reform, said: "We want young people and schools to be able to choose from a range of bilingual qualifications, which offer something for everyone. Whatever their interests and wherever they want to go next, there will be a qualification that appeals.

"We have worked closely with a wider range of sector experts including teachers and academics to reimagine what future GCSEs should look like in terms of their design, content and assessment.

"Now we want to hear from as many people as possible about what they think of the proposals.”

Jeremy Miles, the minister for Education and Welsh Language, said: “The Curriculum for Wales marks a significant shift in our education system, focussing on giving young people the right range of knowledge, skills and experiences.

"Qualifications taken by learners at 14-16 need to be reformed to ensure that they are fit for purpose to meet the future needs of our learners, supporting their progression and employment, and so that they align with the ambition and ethos of Curriculum for Wales.

“This consultation is the next step in the journey to reforming these qualifications, and I encourage everyone who is interested to get involved in this conversation, from teachers and parents, to young people and employers.”

The consultation comes to an end on December 14.

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