Cymraeg 2050 - Changes to Welsh language qualifications

Wednesday 16 Feb 2022

Qualifications Wales has announced that changes will be made to Welsh language qualifications to help more learners become confident Welsh speakers.

The regulator has been reviewing the qualifications available at GCSE level for learners studying Welsh. Following that review, it has recommended a trio of qualifications which will be available for 2025.

The changes are:

  • Welsh Language and Welsh Literature will be combined into one GCSE for pupils in Welsh-medium and bilingual schools.
  • GCSE Welsh Second Language will be discontinued, and a new GCSE in Welsh will be created for learners in English-medium settings.
  • A new additional qualification for pupils in English-medium settings who are ready to progress further in their Welsh language skills.

Emyr George, Director of Qualifications Policy and Reform, at Qualifications Wales, said: “This new set of qualifications will encourage all learners to be confident users of the Welsh language, regardless of which type of school they attend, and will help achieve the aims of the Welsh Government’s ‘Cymraeg 2050’ language strategy.

“Eventually, we want to see one overarching Cymraeg qualification for all learners in all settings, but we are not there yet because learners have varying levels of exposure to the language.

“The qualifications will give all learners a fair and equal opportunity to achieve in Cymraeg. They reflect the different sets of expectations for English-medium and Welsh-medium schools, as outlined in the new Curriculum for Wales, while also allowing those learners in English-medium schools who are ready, to progress further and more quickly along the Welsh language continuum.  

“We have worked closely with teachers, subject experts and the Welsh Government over recent months to ensure this offer best meets the needs of learners to have the skills and confidence to use Welsh in their learning, work, and everyday lives.”

Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said: “Welsh Language qualifications should support all learners on their Welsh Language journey and provide a route towards a shared goal. I welcome the new Welsh language qualifications, which remove the concept of Welsh being a second language and will reward the hard work of those studying Welsh across the whole spectrum of Welsh language experience and ability.

“I have been clear that changes to qualifications must be radical and ambitious and support the new Curriculum, as we move to a continuum for Welsh learning, from those with little or no language experience, right through to those working towards proficiency.” 

“There is a real opportunity to work with Qualifications Wales to help shape these new qualifications and I encourage everyone with an interest to engage with the process over the coming months.”

Welsh language qualifications for learners in English-medium settings have been developing for the last five years. In 2017, Qualifications Wales created a new, more demanding full-course GCSE which replaced the full and short courses in both GCSE Welsh Second Language and GCSE Applied Welsh. These changes were the first step on a continuing journey of reform and development of Welsh language qualifications.

Qualifications Wales will now work closely with teachers, examiners, employers, and young people to co-create the content, teaching methods and assessment of the three new qualifications. It is expected that the new qualifications will be ready for first teaching in 2025.

Emyr added: “We have recruited teachers and educational professionals to help shape these new Cymraeg qualifications and we are about to launch a major campaign for learners to give us their views on what the new qualifications should be like. This is a pivotal time for us to rethink and reimagine new qualifications as part of our Qualified for the Future programme.

“Everyone will have a chance to feedback on how the new Cymraeg qualifications will look, along with changes to other subjects in the autumn term.”

Dr. Alex Lovell, Senior Lecturer in Welsh, Swansea University, said: “There is no doubt that much more work needs to be done in order to close the gap between Welsh and English-medium schools in relation to Welsh language provision. Nevertheless, Qualifications Wales’ decision to create a new Welsh GCSE qualification which will once again increase the challenge and expectations for learners in the English-medium sector is to be broadly welcomed. And their decision to create an additional qualification to bridge between the two new GCSEs in particular is an important first step towards supporting the ambition of Cymraeg 2050 and enabling those Welsh learners who wish to move more quickly and further along the continuum to do so.”

A detailed decisions report about the Welsh language qualifications will be available to read and download from the website on Wednesday 2 March.

We’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions about the three qualifications.