Businesses and academics have welcomed reforms to the Welsh examination system, saying they will help prepare children better for further study and the world of work.
Two new GCSEs in maths are to be introduced next September, along with new GCSEs in English Language and Welsh Language, revised English and Welsh Literature GCSEs, a more rigorous Welsh Baccalaureate, and revised A levels and AS qualifications.
These qualifications will place a greater emphasis on developing skills, particularly literacy and numeracy.
Revisions to the Welsh Baccalaureate mean it will be graded at all its levels, while at Advanced level the grading structure and its size will be equivalent to an A level.
Dr Samina Khan, director of undergraduate admissions and outreach at Oxford University, said the new qualifications would help to create independent thinkers who are highly motivated and prepared to be flexible.
Ceri Assiratti, head of people services at Admiral Group, welcomed the Welsh Baccalaureate as helping to ensure young people have the skills they need to further their careers.
Education minister Huw Lewis said: "The new qualifications will motivate, reward, and reflect the efforts of our young people. They will be recognised as a mark of excellence; trusted, valued and respected by employers and universities not only here in Wales and the UK, but internationally."
The Welsh government accepted 42 recommendations for qualifications for 14-19 year olds, proposed by the Review of Qualifications. They are being developed in partnership with educationalists and other partners.
Learners, parents and those in teaching jobs are to benefit from information and resources to help them understand the changes.
Tailored information packs are to be provided, alongside animated presentations and a website offering up-to-date information.
A new independent body, Qualifications Wales, will support the changes and be responsible for regulation and quality assurance, subject to legislation.
Posted by Alan Douglas