Frequently Asked Questions

What will the new curriculum mean for qualifications?

Q1: What does the new curriculum mean for 16-year-olds studying in Wales?

The new curriculum gives us the opportunity to consider what qualifications taken at 16 are for. We are taking this chance to look at whether the range and mix of qualifications available to 16-year-olds is the right one, and to consider whether and how it could be improved. We want to make sure that qualifications  should relate to and support the new curriculum for Wales, offering all learners a breadth and depth of learning across a balance of knowledge and skills, to show the world what they have learned, what they can do and what they are ready for – their passport to a brighter future.

Q2: How will we decide which qualifications will be needed for the new curriculum?

We’ll be working with a range of stakeholders to make sure any proposed changes to qualifications make sense for learners, teachers, parents and employers.

Q3: How will the transition from the existing qualifications to the new qualifications happen? Will there be some overlap, and how will that be managed?

We’ve now concluded our consultation on the guiding principles we should use to shape the future qualification offer for 16-year-olds, and to look at how qualifications may need to change in line with those principles.

During 2020 we will consider:

  • the design principles for GCSEs​
  • the qualifications and subjects to be included in the offer (all qualification types, not just GCSEs)​
  • a continuum for Welsh language learning

We expect to confirm in 2021 what the future qualifications offer will look like, so that schools can get on with planning and introducing the new curriculum confidently and effectively, and so that any new qualifications are available in plenty of time before learners begin to study towards them. 


Q4: The proposed new curriculum for Wales is different to what we have now. Does this mean that the new qualifications will be different as well?

Qualifications are likely to change over time. Although the curriculum and qualifications are separate, we know that they need to fit together so that learners are offered a coherent, flexible and bilingual choice. The new qualifications could include a mix of current subjects and new subjects.

Q5: When will any new qualifications be ready?

We know that teachers need enough time to prepare for new qualifications ahead of first teaching, so we’re planning to get changes finalised well ahead of first teaching in 2025. After a period of engagement, design and further consultation, individual qualifications will then go through a formal approval process while training and resources are developed.

Q6: Will learners still study for GCSEs?

Based on the responses to our first consultation, there was strong support for retaining the GCSE brand. As a result, we have made the decision that GCSEs will continue to have a place in the new curriculum. But individual GCSEs will need to adapt to reflect the changing curriculum, so may look quite different from today’s GCSEs. Later this year we will consult on proposals for how the content and assessment of GCSEs could change in future.

Q7: Is the current range of qualifications in Wales fit for purpose, and if so, shouldn’t we keep them?

We want qualifications that are fit for the future, and the new curriculum offers an opportunity to rethink possibilities. The new curriculum will bring a different approach to teaching and learning for learners in Wales aged 3 to 16. This is an exciting time, with an ambitious and innovative curriculum on the way, and new technology and ideas changing how schools teach and students experience their learning. We have a chance to look how new and different qualifications – trusted and recognised in Wales, the UK and the world – could help make the new curriculum a success. But we are not assuming that everything will need to chance. We won’t be making changes for the sake of it. We will carefully consider the case for any changes to makes sure that they will bring benefits to learners and to the system as a whole.

Q8: What will happen to A levels and other post-16 qualifications?

Although our focus is on qualifications for 16-year-olds, we know that any changes to GCSEs and other entry level, level 1 and 2 qualifications could have a knock-on effect for the qualifications that learners go on to study next. Any changes we propose will be aimed at improving progression opportunities for all learners moving into post-16 education. Where necessary, we will look at specific changes to post-16 provision as part of our work on the pre-16 offer, if we consider this will bring the most benefit to learners. 

Q9: How does the existing Welsh Baccalaureate and Skills Challenge Certificate (SCC) align with any proposed new qualifications?

The new curriculum is an important shift in education, however many pieces of the jigsaw are not yet in place with some important decisions yet to come. Our first consultation provided valuable feedback on how the SCC could be improved. We will take this feedback into account when considering how the SCC fits into the overall qualifications offer for 16-year-old learners. We are taking an open and consultative approach to our review of qualifications. The views of all interested stakeholders will contribute to the process. We welcome any thoughts, or comments you may have on the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.


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