The students sitting their exams this summer are part of Generation Z. Born at the turn of the century, for them the interconnected global world is the norm. Less than 10 years from now, it’ll be the turn of Generation Alpha – the children of Millennials.
What skills and knowledge will they need to be ready for their future? And in what ways will they need to be able to show what they’ve learned and what they’re capable of?
The new Curriculum for Wales is an important shift in education, and that’s why we’re already looking at what it means for 14-16 year olds in the future. In other words, the exams they’ll be sitting from 2027 onwards.
Right now, most 16-year-olds study for GCSEs, as well as a range of other qualifications. Once the new curriculum comes in, we’ll still need to have exams and qualifications. But they’ll need to evolve to make sure that they are the right fit for what the young people taking them have learned.
The new curriculum, and the wider reforms to school performance and accountability arrangements, give us a rare chance to reconsider why students take qualifications at 16. It’s an opportunity to create a qualifications system that supports young people to realise the purposes of the new curriculum and to continue to a successful future.
We want to see forward-looking qualifications that offer a coherent, flexible and bilingual choice, with currency in Wales and internationally, that enable learners to get on in life, and that inspire public confidence.
Working out what that could mean in practice won’t be easy. To help get it right, we’ll need to hear from lots of different people and organisations.
Over the next few months, we’re asking a range of stakeholders some big questions to help us think about what’s needed. That’s our starting point. We want to hear what people think qualifications should be like in the future.
We’re not only interested in GCSEs, we’re thinking about how a range of qualifications can meet the needs of all learners. That means looking at alternatives to GCSEs as well as entry level qualifications. When it comes to the GCSE brand, there’s a strong argument for keeping it, but we’re still open to other views. Even if we still call some qualifications GCSEs, they’ll be different from the ones we have today.
We’ll be speaking to as many different groups as possible, including: children and young people, schools, parents, employers, universities and many other organisations besides.
We want to explore and discuss:
- What should be the main purposes of qualifications taken at 16? How could their purposes influence the way qualifications are taught and assessed?
- How should qualifications relate to the new curriculum?
- Should there be a mix of different types of qualifications and assessment methods?
- Are there things we shouldn’t try to assess as qualifications? Are there other ways of demonstrating achievements and experiences?
- Which range of subjects and areas of learning should qualifications cover?
- What size should qualifications be and over what period should they be studied?
- How many and what range of qualifications should students be aiming to leave school with?
Over the summer we’ll be having some early conversations to help shape our thinking on these big questions. Using what we learn, we’ll develop proposals for what the future range of qualifications could look like. In the autumn, we’ll consult formally on those proposals, to give everyone a chance to have their say. See the full timeline here.
To find out more about how we are thinking about qualifications and the new curriculum, visit our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
In the meantime, if you’ve got any thoughts you’d like to share with us, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Emyr George, Associate Director General Qualifications, Qualifications Wales