Qualified for the future

GCSEs in Wales are changing

Emyr George, our Director of Reforms and Policy, gives an overview of this programme of work.

It’s an exciting time to be part of the national conversation on how our learners become Qualified for the future.

We’re reimagining qualifications for 14 to 16-year-olds, to support the new Curriculum for Wales.

What is Qualified for the future?

In summary, we are reviewing qualifications currently taken by 14 to 16-year-olds. These include GCSEs, the Skills Challenge Certificate and other qualifications like BTECs, which we refer to as the ‘wider offer’.

We want these qualifications to support the new curriculum that is being taught from September 2022; more importantly, the four aims of the curriculum which enable learners to be:

  • ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
  • enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
  • ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
  • healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society

When reviewing the existing GCSE level qualifications against the four aims above, we realise that there needs to be some changes. These include:

  • GCSE subjects being reformed
  • GCSE subjects being combined
  • subjects being offered as new GCSEs

You can read more about these changes in our decisions report, found on ‘The story so far’ webpage.

What is happening now?

Since we published our decisions report in October 2021 and announced our decision about Welsh language qualifications at GCSE levelwe are currently in our co-construction phase.

In autumn 2022, we will be sharing the proposals for the new look GCSEs and other qualifications. Everyone will have a chance to feed back on the high-level design and content of these qualifications.

What is co-construction?

When we refer to co-constructing GCSEs, this means that we are working closely with teachers, learners, expert advisers, and those who rely on qualification outcomes such as employers, colleges, training providers and universities, to develop proposals for the new qualifications and what they should look like in terms of design, content and assessment.   ​

Together, we are developing proposals for each individual subject in each of the curriculum six Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLEs).

We have a predominately three-tiered approach to co-construction:


  1. Subject level working groups (SLWGs)

There is one subject level working group for each GCSE subject. The groups are made up of practitioners, subject specialists and assessment experts. ​In the groups, participants develop ideas and proposals for the high-level content and assessment of qualifications within that subject area. These groups may also pose questions to the wider AoLE networks groups.

  1. AoLE network groups

There are six AoLE network groups which support the subject level working groups. The six network groups are made up of teachers, lecturers, examiners, learned and professional bodies, and others with an interest in each curriculum area. ​

The members provide regular suggestions and help identify, debate and refine ideas in response to the feedback from the subject level working group proposals. ​

  1. Stakeholder reference group

An overarching stakeholder reference group offers a wider perspective to the ideas and proposals from the AoLE network groups and SLWGs, ensuring we meet the curriculum’s aims.

The group is made up of a wide range of stakeholders who represent different interests from across the education sector and beyond. ​

They concentrate on the overall qualification offer and advise on considerations such as:

  • Manageability
  • Deliverability and coherence
  • Alignment to the curriculum
  • Learner experience
  • Accessibility and inclusion
  • Learner well-being and progression


In addition to the above three groups, there are several other groups within Qualifications Wales that help explore and develop proposals for qualifications.

We are also working with learners from Year 5 to those in Higher Education so that they can help shape future qualifications according to their experience, knowledge and aspirations through focus groups and a dedicated online survey.