Delivering Digital: Getting ready for the new qualifications

It’s been a busy 18 months since we published our report announcing our intention to develop a new GCSE, AS and A level.

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By Emyr George, Director of Qualifications Policy and Reform

Published 9 November 2020

Back in spring, we approved the new GCSE ready for first teaching from September 2021. You can view the specification, sample assessments and support materials on WJEC’s website. This represents the culmination of sustained collaboration and engagement with stakeholders on the proposed content and assessment of the new qualifications. Thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to give us your views along the way.  

Since then we have engaged on proposals for the new Digital Technology AS and A level.  Once again we are grateful for the thoughtful input from a range of different stakeholders that will help us to shape the final requirements for the qualification. We will publish the approval criteria for the AS and A level in spring 2021. Our aim is to approve specifications and assessments by August 2021, in time for first teaching in September 2022.  

During the design and development of these new qualifications, we have been thinking about what schools and colleges will need to help them prepare for delivering the new qualifications.  

We have worked closely with Welsh Government, WJEC and Technocamps, to agree what support will be available. Our focus is making sure teachers have access to suitable training and development opportunities, and on ensuring that schools, colleges and learners will be able to access the software they need. 

Technocamps and WJEC have agreed a programme of professional development for teachers to help prepare for teaching the qualification from September 2021. Technocamps is designing a free programme of high-quality training to develop teachers’ knowledge and understanding of the subject. WJEC will be offering events, as shown on its website, and resources that support teachers’ understanding of the requirements of the qualification and its assessment arrangements. This programme is scheduled to begin in December 2020, and we’ll shortly be publishing a timeline on our website that details what will be offered.  

Some schools and teachers have raised concerns about the software requirements for the new GCSE specification. The new qualification will allow learners to use a range of industry-standard software to complete their practical tasks. The software requirements will help to ensure that learners can evidence their work simply and clearly so that they can be rewarded appropriately for their efforts.  

We know there will be cost for some centres to give their learners access to the software they need. Welsh Government is currently looking at options for schools to procure user licences at the most cost-effective price, with single sign-on access via Hwb to the full Adobe Creative Cloud package. We are in regular contact with Welsh Government about this exciting development and the signs are promising. Welsh Government expects to give an update on this work by the end of 2020. 

As we continue our work on the new AS and A level qualifications, we will identify the training and support required and work with our partners to help make sure it’s available to centres when they need.   

In the meantime, if you’d like to get in touch about any of our work on the new Digital Technology qualifications, you can reach us at development@qualificationswales.org