Welsh Qualifications Review | Pearson qualifications

Government response to the Wales Qualification Review

Wed Feb 06 15:45:00 UTC 2013

On 29 January 2013, Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert, gave the Welsh government’s response to the Review of Qualifications for 14-19 learners.

Read an outline of his response here or read his full statement here.

Below is a summary of the government’s decisions and recommendations, and what this means for you.

Read more

What does this mean for you in September 2013?

The Welsh government has clearly stated its view that a key ingredient in implementing successful change in education is allowing enough lead-in time. It is also aware that some of the recommendations need more detailed consultation before a final decision can be reached.

As a result, it is assuring schools and colleges in Wales that no significant changes will be made to qualification courses starting in September 2013. This means you can continue planning and teaching your current curriculum - including any GCSEs, A levels, BTECs or Skills qualifications you're running with Edexcel, Pearson or any other awarding organisation.

What does this mean for your provision with Edexcel and Pearson in September 2013?

GCSE, GCE A level and general qualifications

For this academic year it will be business as usual, which means you can continue offering all your existing general qualifications (including GCSE and GCE A level) in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 academic years. As you're already aware, our GCSEs are now only available as linear qualifications, and we are no longer offering modular GCSEs.

The recommendations do propose some future changes to the range of general qualifications available in Wales, and we will update you on final decisions and timelines in late spring 2013 when the government confirms its position.

As always, you should consult the Database of Accredited Qualifications in Wales (DAQW) at www.daqw.org.uk to confirm the position of qualifications in Wales.


As part of our discussions with the Welsh government, we've received confirmation that schools and colleges in Wales can deliver both the existing BTECs (QCF) and the next generation BTEC (NQF) qualifications in September 2013.

The only exceptions to this are:

  • BTEC Science

All pre-16 learners in Wales can continue with the existing BTEC Firsts (QCF).

If you want to start delivering the next generation BTEC Firsts in September 2013, these are available and will be funded for post-16 learners only.

  • Welsh Medium Centres

While development work is still in progress on the next generation BTEC Firsts (NQF), Welsh Medium centres should continue to offer the existing BTEC Firsts (QCF).

BTECs and GCSE equivalence

Although the existing BTEC Firsts (QCF) will no longer count towards pre-16 headline performance measures in England from 2015, these BTEC qualifications will maintain their existing GCSE equivalences in Wales for the 2015 pre-16 schools measure:

BTEC Firsts (QCF) GCSE equivalence

For pre-16 performance measures 2013-2015

Qualification size Guided Learning Hours(GLH) GCSE equivalence
Award 120 1
Certificate 240 3
Extended Certificate 360 4

The Welsh government is reviewing the equivalence between GCSEs and vocational qualifications for 14-16 learners for reporting from 2016 (see Vocational qualifications below).

Wales Qualification Review: Headlines

We've summarised the headlines from the Minister’s announcement below:

World-class qualifications for Wales

The Welsh government has broadly accepted the recommendations of the Wales Qualification Review as providing a solid platform from which to build a world-class qualifications system for Wales.

Strengthen the Welsh Baccalaureate (Welsh Bacc.)

The Welsh Bacc. will remain at the heart of the curriculum, although it will be revised to 'provide a framework for delivering a broad general education at 14-16 and coherent programme of learning at 16-19'.

The government aims to introduce the revised Welsh Bacc. for first teaching from September 2015; as announced last year, the current Advanced level Welsh Bacc. will be graded for learners starting in September 2013.

GCSE and A level

Recognised and respected by universities and employers nationally and internationally, GCSE and A level will remain at the heart of academic provision in Wales.

A level: While the Welsh government remains committed to championing these qualifications, Mr Gove’s recent announcement about changes to A levels in England means that a short period of further reflection is needed. The Minister confirmed that a further announcement on A and AS levels in Wales will follow.

GCSE: In addition to the existing range of GCSEs, the new body – Qualifications Wales - will develop, for first teaching in September 2015:

  • new GCSEs in English Language and Welsh First Language
  • two new maths GCSEs covering numeracy and mathematical techniques.

These new qualifications will support the improvements required by the Literacy and Numeracy Framework; Essential Skills Wales qualifications will no longer be offered at 14-16 from 2015 (see also Skills below).

Vocational Qualifications

While retaining its belief in good vocational education as the cornerstone of a healthy economy, the Welsh government intends to rationalise the range of vocational qualifications that attract public funding by introducing a new gate-keeping process which will ensure 'quality, rigour, relevance and value'. It is also reviewing the equivalence between GCSEs and vocational qualifications for 14-16, which it will cap at a maximum equivalence of two GCSEs 'where justified', for reporting from 2016.

Qualifications Wales

The government is committed to establishing Qualifications Wales, a new body to regulate and assure the quality of all qualifications in Wales (except those at degree level). This includes a commitment to providing evidence-based information around achievement and progression, and the implementation of a Unique Learner Number system. The government will now draw up detailed proposals to ensure Qualifications Wales demonstrates 'viability and value for money' for the people of Wales.

The Welsh government has also confirmed that it will allow all awarding organisations to offer qualifications to pre- and post-16 learners in Wales. Although some qualifications will be exclusively developed by Qualifications Wales in the future, there is certainly no suggestion that Qualification Wales will offer them all. This means that the established, well-respected BTEC qualifications will remain available to pre-16 learners in Wales.


From 2015, Essential Skills Wales qualifications will no longer be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. Revised Essential Skills and Wider Key Skills qualifications are due to be introduced for post-16 learners in 2015, with trials running during 2014.

What happens next?

The Welsh government will be implementing change over the next four to five years, releasing a detailed implementation plan by late spring 2013. We are in close touch with the Education Ministry, and we’ll stay in contact with you to share developments as they happen.

Further information for schools

Our Curriculum Development Manager, Paul Montague, is running update events in an area near you, and is available to visit schools if you need further advice, support and guidance.

You can contact Paul Montague at paul.montague@pearson.com.

Further information for colleges

We're running a series of Curriculum and Qualification update events in an area near you and as always, a Curriculum Development Manager or Curriculum Support Consultant is available to visit colleges to support you with any further advice, support and guidance.

Please contact:

Jacqui Allen, Curriculum Development Manager - Jacqui.allen@pearson.com

Jacqueline Longworth, Curriculum Support Consultant - Jacqueline.longworth@pearson.com


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