The new Curriculum for Wales signals a big change in the way that young people will learn and that is why we are making changes to qualifications.
The changes we are making to qualifications in Wales are needed to align with the new curriculum. We also need to reflect the major cultural shift public bodies are making in Wales, thinking and working long-term for current and future generations.
As a regulator, we need to be confident that the right qualifications are available to meet the needs of future learners and future employees. As part of our decision making, we have decided to take a new approach to GCSEs in English, Mathematics and Sciences, by integrating each subject area. This will provide more space and breadth in learning across subjects and a more consistent approach for learners.
Why combine qualifications?
Currently most learners take many separate qualifications in these key subject areas, which leaves little opportunity for them to focus on the other subjects.
We have tested our thinking with a wide range of stakeholders, and we believe combining qualifications will benefit learners and teachers, providing more flexibility to schools so learners can pursue a wider range of subjects.
These changes would reduce the number of assessments for learners to ease the pressures they face and further support their mental health and well-being.
Research shows that assessing language and literature together is a positive way for learners to develop linguistic skills so they can apply them to different situations and in different contexts. It also provides an opportunity for all learners to study literature which is an important part of learning and enjoying a language and addresses concerns about the reduction in learners studying literature.
The change to GCSE Science will include content from each of the three science disciplines and make it clearer how they link to each other. This reflects the new curriculum’s expectation that learners can make the links across their learning and offers a coherent approach that benefits all learners.
The benefits of combining subjects
Creating integrated GCSEs in some subjects will not limit learners’ progression; and we will consider how each qualification can be designed to support progression to post-16 education, like A levels. Learners in Wales already study towards AS and A level without having previously taken a specific GCSE in the subject. And it is a common approach across the world for language and literature to be combined resulting in high level linguistic skills.
Education is so much more than qualifications. By reducing the number of qualifications in similar or related subjects we will free up time within the curriculum for broader learning experiences favoured by universities.
Reform can appear daunting, but it can also be an exciting opportunity to introduce change. It will require all of us to embrace new ways of working, thinking, and doing. But it is a challenge that we can all rise to and must for the benefit of the future generations of Wales.
Emyr George, Director of Qualifications Policy and Reform.
As science teachers we already make it clear how the 3 distinct subjects link to each other. We’ve been an AOLE for decades. To suggest that is the reason for linking is disingenuous. Your own research shows 80% of schools offer the separates GCSE, at a time when we are individualising curricula, to remove that option seems odd, punching down, dumbing down. Are we trying to cover up a lack of entry into the profession by labelling the 3 as science? Is the next step a “languages” GCSE where you cover French and Welsh together because there are links?
We are not scared of change, we’re not “daunted”, we simply want to offer our pupils who are interested in science, as there are many, the option to delve more deeply as the new curriculum suggests we should.
The consultation said this, the feedback you analysed showed this yet the response was, the subjects will still have an identity. I’m really disappointed I spent time completing it when clearly the decision had been made.
This is doing a disservice to the children of Wales, preventing them from showing their ability clearly.
After a year where the most used phrase was “follow the science” I’m amazed you can think so little of it.