A new review has found that schools in Wales want to keep the recognised brands and not adopt the new qualifications planned for England.
The review of qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds in Wales found that teenagers should continue to sit GCSE exams as part of a revamped Baccalaureate. Recommendations from the report would increase the differences with England, where new qualifications are being planned.
Concerns over the complicated nature of the exam system prompted a review on the quality of GCSE students' abilities at reading, writing and maths. The report has called for new GCSEs in English language and first language Welsh that put more emphasis on the quality and accuracy of students' writing and on the core skills of spelling, punctuation and grammar.
This move to improve the current system will diverge from what is happening in England, where GCSEs in core subjects are being replaced by a new English Baccalaureate, which will be awarded on the basis of a single end-of-term exam.
The report's author, Huw Evans, former principal of Coleg Llandrillo, said some degree of "divergence" with England was unavoidable. He added that he wanted to guarantee the "rigour" of qualifications and make sure they are recognised by employers and universities, with the research revealing that some employers and universities didn't think a grade C in GCSE English, Welsh and maths is a reliable indicator of literacy and numeracy skills.
Mr Evans makes 42 recommendations in the review with the purpose of building on and strengthening the Welsh Baccalaureate" to provide an "overarching framework" for 14 to 19-year-olds. The Welsh Bacc was introduced in 2002 and the review recommends that 16-year-olds should be able to gain a national level Welsh Bacc if they obtain at least five GCSEs at grades A to C and the components of the baccalaureate.
Other recommendations include setting up a new body to regulate qualifications, with ministers losing responsibility for regulating the exams system.
Posted by Theo Foulds