The New Curriculum for Wales: What does it mean for qualifications?

Here are some questions to help understand how the new curriculum fits with qualifications

What does the new curriculum mean for 14 to 16-year-olds studying in Wales?

The curriculum reform gives us the opportunity to consider what qualifications taken at 16 are for. We are taking this chance to look at whether the range and mix of qualifications available to under-16-year-olds is the right one, and to consider whether and how it could be improved. We want to make sure that qualifications complement the new curriculum for Wales, offering all learners a breadth and depth of learning across a balance of knowledge and skills, to show the world what they have learned, what they can do and what they are ready for – their passport to a brighter future.  

How will the qualifications for the new curriculum be decided?

We’ll be working with a range of stakeholders to make sure any proposed changes to qualifications make sense for learners, teachers, parents and employers. After initial engagement across the summer term, we’ll be launching a national conversation in the autumn. We’ll use the views and ideas we gather to shape proposals for future changes. We’re to agree with Welsh Government next year what qualifications should be available to support the new curriculum.

How will the transition from the existing qualifications to the new qualifications happen? Will there be some overlap and how will that be managed?​

We’re working with stakeholders to agree the guiding principles to shape the future 14-16 qualification offer, and to look at how qualifications may need to change in line with those principles. We expect to confirm in 2020 what the future qualifications offer will look like, so that schools can get on with planning and introducing the new curriculum confidently and effectively, and so that any new qualifications are available in plenty of time before students begin to study towards them.  

The proposed curriculum for Wales is different to what we have now. Does this mean that the new qualifications will be different as well?

Qualifications are likely to change over time. Although the curriculum and qualifications are separate, we know that they need to fit together so that learners are offered a coherent, flexible and bilingual choice. The new qualifications are likely to include a mix of current traditional subjects and possibly some new ones for the 21st century. 

When will any new qualifications be ready?

We know that teachers need enough time to prepare for new qualifications ahead of first teaching, so we’re planning to get changes finalised well ahead of first teaching in 2025. After a period of engagement, design and further consultation, individual qualifications will then go through a formal approval process while training and resources are developed.

Will children still study for GCSEs?

It’s likely that GCSEs will still exist but they will need to adapt over time to reflect the changing curriculum, so may look quite different from today’s GCSEs. We will improve advice and support for all pupils on their options as they prepare for their future careers. 

Are the current level 1 and level 2 qualifications in Wales fit for purpose, and if so, shouldn’t we keep them?

We want qualifications that are fit for the future, and the new curriculum for Wales offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink possibilities. The Curriculum for Wales will bring a different approach to teaching and learning for Wales’s children aged 3 to 16. This is an exciting time, with an ambitious and integrated curriculum on the way, and new technology and ideas changing how schools teach and students experience their learning. We have a chance to look how new and innovative qualifications – trusted and recognised in Wales, UK and the world could help make the new curriculum a success

Will there be any implications of this qualification reform on level 3, AS and A level qualifications?

Although our focus is on qualifications at 16, we know that any changes to GCSEs and other level 1 and 2 qualifications could have a knock-on effect for the qualifications that students go on to study next. Any changes we propose will be aimed at improving progression opportunities for all learners moving into post-16 education. Where necessary, we will look at specific changes to post-16 provision as part of our work on the pre-16 offer, if we consider this will bring the most benefit to learners.  

How does the existing Welsh Baccalaureate and Skills Challenge Certificate (SCC) align with any proposed new qualifications?

The new curriculum for Wales is an important shift in education, however many pieces of the jigsaw are not yet in place with some important decisions yet to come. We are currently looking at how the design of the Skills Challenge Certificate could be improved. We will consider the outcome of that work in the light of any changes we propose to support the new curriculum.  We are taking an open and consultative approach to our review of qualifications. The views of all interested stakeholders will contribute to the process. We welcome any thoughts, or comments you may have on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.   


In March 2019, we delivered presentations to a variety of stakeholders, outlining our vision for 14-16 qualifications for the new curriculum and the key considerations that will need to be addressed as we develop our approach. You can find the presentation here.

What else would you like to know? Email us at with your question and we’ll do our best to answer it.