We have welcomed the Welsh Government’s decision to publish a new timeline for the introduction of the new curriculum, which will be introduced in 2022.
It means that the first cohort of 16-year-olds to have followed the new curriculum will sit their end of school exams in summer 2027.
There’s no doubt that reform of the school curriculum in Wales will lead to changes to qualifications – but it’s too early yet to say exactly how much they will need to change.
Current thinking is that the well-established and trusted GCSE brand will continue, but that individual qualifications may need to change to reflect the demands of the new curriculum. We also need to include vocational qualifications to reflect the breadth of the new curriculum and to ensure the offer is as rich and as engaging as possible.
It’s also important to move things along gradually, and to avoid as far as possible changing lots of things at once.
We are conscious that the education system in Wales has gone through a prolonged period of reform in the last few years. That’s why, when we bring in future changes, we will consult on the details and plan plenty of lead-in time for both teachers and learners to get ready.
As curriculum reform is at an early stage, it’s not yet possible to see what the precise implications will be for individual qualifications. The impact is likely to differ by subject. We expect that some may change very little, while others may require changes to their content or structure.
We recognise that any new qualifications will need to be in place well before their go-live date of September 2025.
We will therefore make sure that they are ready in plenty of time for schools and teachers to prepare for teaching them, and for bilingual resources to be available to support teachers and learners.
Simultaneous reform of curriculum and qualifications is always going to be challenging, but with careful planning and regular dialogue with schools and colleges, we’re confident we can make the transition as smooth as possible.
By Kate Crabtree, Qualifications Wales Executive Director Policy and Research