Qualifications Wales ‘is strong and provides clear leadership’ - independent report

Wednesday 30 Oct 2019

Qualifications Wales is seen as a strong organisation providing leadership and clarity in the education sector, according to a new study.

York Consulting has produced the third in a series of reports exploring stakeholder views and confidence in qualifications and the qualifications system in Wales. The reports have been produced regularly since 2015.

“The organisation was regarded to have developed good relations with the school sector, employer representatives and awarding bodies,” said the report. “It was credited with a commitment to open and transparent consultation, decision making and regulation.”

The report said there is clear evidence of a distinct Welsh qualifications system becoming apparent since the first survey was conducted in 2015.

While there was some criticism in certain areas, Qualifications Wales was consistently regarded positively through the three surveys. WJEC was respected and recognised as having the necessary expertise to fulfil its brief although some concern was expressed of their position as the main supplier for general qualifications in Wales.

“Despite some specific differences of opinion, overall there was support for the range of qualifications and the recent reforms to them,” said the report.

“There was support for the new school curriculum (currently being developed by Welsh Government) but also some apprehension about the effect on schools, teachers and ultimately pupils.”

Among the findings are:

  • The decision to retain the GCSE A*-G grading system in Wales, as opposed to the 9-1 system in England, was supported;
  • The Welsh Baccalaureate split opinion among stakeholder, with some recognising the wider skills it develops in learners while others questioned its value when more time needs to be dedicated for the new core subject qualifications;
  • There was a general feeling that Welsh-medium students were at a disadvantage due to late availability of some resources;
  • The sector reviews in vocational qualifications were valued but perceived as slow by those involved in Further Education and Work Based Learning.

The report said the priority areas to consider are:

  • Managing any changes to qualifications as a result of the new curriculum;
  • Improved change management for the introduction of qualifications developed as a result of sector reviews;
  • Further improve public and stakeholder understanding of the qualifications system and the roles of key organisations;
  • Aim to increase the availability of Welsh language resources to support qualifications;

Qualifications Wales Chief Executive Philip Blaker said: “This study builds on the findings of the previous two reports and reflects the progress we have made in developing the Welsh qualifications system since we became the independent exams regulator in 2015.”

The full report can be read on our website.