Current research projects

We are undertaking research to help monitor and review current qualifications, and to help shape the future design and development of qualifications for learners in Wales. Central to this programme of work is considering how qualifications can support the new school curriculum for Wales. For more information on each of our current projects, please click on the relevant title below.

The use of technology in assessing Vocational Qualifications

Qualifications Wales has commissioned a partnership of vocational education providers and national membership bodies, led by Pembrokeshire College, to identify and investigate a number of examples of good or innovative use of technology in assessing vocational qualifications. The examples identified will be a mix of cases covering the assessment of knowledge and skills. They will be predominantly focused on vocational learning in level 2 or 3 qualifications in Further Education or Work Based Learning. However, the researchers will also explore the use of technology in assessing qualifications from other levels (for example higher education) or general qualifications, providing that those examples have potential to be used in assessing level 2 or 3 VQs. 

Exploring GCSE Mathematics Qualifications in Wales

Qualifications Wales is conducting a programme of research to explore Mathematics qualifications in Wales. The project will focus on GCSE Mathematics, GCSE Mathematics-Numeracy and Level 2 Additional Maths.

Initially this project will be made up of three strands of work:

Strand 1: A survey of Maths teachers to explore thoughts and opinions about the design, tiering, content, manageability and examination entry approaches for each of the qualifications.

Strand 2: An exploration of the assessment constructs of the qualifications and how they relate to each other.

Strand 3: An analysis of data related to the qualifications including an analysis of exam entries, results and performance, from before and after the introduction of the new Mathematics GCSEs.

The curriculum in Wales is currently going through a period of reform. The new curriculum will be structured around six areas of learning and experience (AoLEs). Given that one of the AoLEs focuses on Mathematics and Numeracy AOLE, we can expect further changes to Mathematics GCSE qualifications in the future. Our research aims to inform any such changes by gathering information about the focus of each qualification and the views of those who teach these subjects.

Non-Examination Assessment (NEA) in reformed GCSEs

Non-Examination Assessment (NEA) refers to any type of assessment that is not an exam taken by all candidates at the same time. NEA therefore covers a range of assessment activities including coursework, oral assessment, fieldwork, portfolio work and practical assessment.  

As part of an ongoing programme of work to consider how qualifications can support the new curriculum for Wales, we have explored teacher and learner perceptions and experiences of NEA through: 

  1. focus groups with teachers; 
  2. an online survey for teachers; 
  3. focus groups with learners. 

The data was collected between Spring 2019 and Spring 2020 in relation to all approved GCSE qualifications that have an NEA component. We anticipate publishing a summary of the key findings towards the end of 2021.   

You can read more about the  focus groups we held with teachers, including an outline of the qualifications included and our lines of enquiry, here.    

We have also engaged with moderators through an online survey to explore their perceptions and experiences of the moderation process. To make the most effective use of resources, this aspect of the work considered a sample of approved GCSE subjects where the NEA component is marked internally by centres and moderated by WJEC. Any future work will be agreed based on the emerging findings. 

Teachers perceptions of reformed GCSEs

We have commissioned a study to investigate teacher opinions of some of the recently reformed GCSEs. The aims of the work are:

  • To find out how the new qualifications are working and what impact the changes are having.
  • To gather evidence that could inform any future qualification reforms, including to support the new curriculum for Wales.

In 2018-2019 we used interviews and an online survey to explore the views of teachers of the following GCSE subjects: Geography, Science, Performing Arts, English, Welsh, Maths and Modern foreign languages.

In 2019-2020 this work is extended to: Art and Design, Business, Design and Technology, Computer, Science, Food and Nutrition, History, Media Studies, Physical Education, Religious Studies.

Monitoring public confidence in qualifications and the qualification system

One of our principal aims is to promote public confidence in qualifications and the qualification system in Wales.

We have also commissioned an annual survey of public confidence which is being conducted by Beaufort Research. This survey asks a representative sample of the general public in Wales about aspects of their confidence in GCSEs, A levels, vocational qualifications and the Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate.