Welsh Government launches consultation on qualifications
Review of qualifications calls for a simpler system of fewer subjects, more rigorous assessment and with a focus on literacy and numeracy.
The Welsh Government is seeking consultation on the future of qualifications for 14-19 year olds. The review is being sought in order to simplify qualifications, with possibilities such as a significant cut in courses and the replacement of GCSEs being considered.
An overhaul of qualifications is needed
A Board comprised of headteachers, college principals, a university vice chancellor, business people and chaired by former Principal of Coleg Llandrillo, Huw Evans, was launched last year to review qualifications in Wales. The recently published findings of the Board suggest that an overhaul of qualifications is needed in favour of a simpler system with fewer subjects, assessment that is more rigorous and a larger focus on literacy and numeracy.
Qualifications with true value
The review also noted that the increasing numbers of 16 year olds staying in education coupled with the difficult labour market faced by young people, made it imperative that institutions offered qualifications with true value, Wales Online reports. Board Chairperson Mr Evans commented, "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."
Deputy Minister for Skills to launch consultation
The findings and assessment of the Review Board have prompted Deputy Minister for Skills to launch a consultation on the future of qualifications in Wales. Jeff Cuthbert is asking anybody with a stake in the Welsh Education system to put their ideas forward, saying “the Welsh Government wants to simplify the qualifications system, and ensure it delivers for our learners and the economy”.
ATL Cymru comments
The announcement has been welcomed by teaching unions. ATL Cymru Director, Dr Phillip Dixon commented "there can be no more ducking of the difficult issues that surround things such as growing divergence from England, the suitability and value of external testing at 16, and the rigour of A-levels to name but a few."
NAHT Cymru comments
The decision was also supported by NAHT Cymru. “We’ve come a long way in developing a distinctive curriculum and while there is more work to do, we need to make sure that qualifications in Wales suit the needs and aspirations of Wales itself,” Union Director Anna Brychan said.
There were also calls from NASUWT to ensure that teachers were involved in the consultation process, with Rex Phillips, Wales Organiser for the union saying “the Welsh Government must seek to work in collaboration with teachers to ensure that the qualifications and exams system reflects their experience of classroom practice. Engaging with teachers would also help to tackle the issues around excessive workload which could result from this review.”
The consultation is scheduled to last three months and will end on 1 September, with final recommendations expected in November.