Qualifications Wales is now an integral part of the Welsh education and training system, having developed new and innovative ways of fulfilling our duties as a responsible regulator.
Promoting and maintaining public confidence in qualifications and the Welsh qualification system is central to our work. We ensure this by continually improving the ways that we communicate and engage with the widest possible range of audiences across the country.
We have a range of channels and techniques and work with partners across the education sector, industry and civil society to convey both our regulation and reform duties.
In our strategic priorities we have identified five key themes that will underpin our work over the next few years.
We recognise that Wales has unique characteristics that require careful consideration in all our work, including:
- the roll-out of the Curriculum for Wales
- the need for an active offer of bilingual qualifications
- stability in the range of qualifications that are available to learners, particularly considering emerging policy changes elsewhere in the UK
- a demand for a wide range of vocational qualifications, including many with low numbers of learners
- separate legislative requirements in devolved matters
Qualifications play a key role in education and must remain up-to-date and relevant to modern society. The process of reforming qualifications has historically been one of periodic major reforms, often with long pauses between iterations. This can lead to qualifications becoming outdated or at odds with expectations.
We believe in a dynamic approach, where qualifications can adapt and change over time to reflect new opportunities or needs as they arise. We also recognise that it may not always be manageable for all ambitions to be met in one leap, so a process of evolution will be necessary to make changes that work for all involved.
We have now led the reform of many qualifications and learned how important it is for the system to engage with the design and development of qualifications in a process of co-creation and prepare for and commit to qualification change.
Successful change requires the education and training system to come together collaboratively and communicate effectively. We are committed to playing our part in that collaboration and building the relationships required for all to successfully play their part in change.
Modernising assessment has been a topic of discussion in the UK for many years, but progress has been slow. Wales has a unique opportunity to build the digital infrastructure needed to support new and innovative forms of assessment, which can be used to broaden assessment approaches to address a wider range of learners’ abilities and aptitudes.
We recognise that there are constraints and anxieties in moving to more digital forms of assessment, but with a sector-wide approach to change, we can support the journey to assessments that align with an increasingly digital society.
Qualifications are important and their value must be protected for the learners that they seek to serve. The wellbeing of learners is at the centre of our decision making. To help achieve this we directly involve and engage with learners when making decisions. We recognise that high stakes qualifications can be stressful and challenging, and that they motivate learning and build resilience.
Welsh qualifications system
In Wales, Welsh Government sets the direction for education and decides on policy. Qualifications regulate qualifications and recognise awarding bodies who are responsible for developing the qualifications. Qualifications Wales also has a significant role in reforming qualifications.
A range of qualifications are taken by learners in schools, colleges, workplaces or other learning providers and in community settings - these include:
- AS levels
- A levels
- vocational qualifications
- Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificates
We work closely with all stakeholders, including Welsh Government and awarding bodies to ensure that the qualifications available meet the needs of learners in Wales and that there is public confidence in them.
Our Qualifications in Wales database contains details of all qualifications that are approved or designated for teaching in Wales for learners - excluding higher education.
Across the UK, most qualifications taken at school, further education college, work or university fit into one of nine levels (12 in Scotland). The higher the level, the harder the qualification. Qualifications at the same level can be very different in terms of content and the length of time they take to complete.
The Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales provides a common currency for learning achievement for learners in Wales, of all ages and abilities. There are similar frameworks in each of the UK nations.
We consider vocational qualifications to be those that assess knowledge, understanding and/or skills that relate explicitly to the world of work. Vocational qualifications should reflect the needs of employers whether they lead to employment or to the next stage of learning. We regulate vocational qualifications by conducting regular sector reviews or through designating qualifications for centres in Wales.
Together with our day-to-day work as a regulator, sector reviews form the backbone of our work with vocational qualifications, allowing us to focus on qualifications within employment sectors. With every sector review we aim to:
- understand the qualifications landscape
- hear stakeholders’ views on the qualifications and the qualifications system
- decide whether we should take - or recommend that others take - action to improve qualifications or the system
For some larger sectors, we also aim to:
- consider whether the qualifications, and the qualifications system, are technically effective and fit for purpose
- learn lessons from the qualifications systems of other nations
We may also designate a qualification as eligible for use on publicly funded programmes of learning for learners under the age of nineteen, in Wales Designation means that we regulate the awarding body offering the qualification and that we are content that it is appropriate for the qualification to be offered on publicly funded courses for young people.
Essential Skills Wales
Essential Skills Wales qualifications cover key skills needed for life, learning and employment. All Essential Skills qualifications are available from entry level 1 to level 3, except for Essential Employability Skills, which is available from entry level 3 to level 3. They have been developed for use in further education, work-based learning, adult community learning and alternative settings.
To find out more visit our Essential Skills Wales section.
Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales
The Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales is a level 3 qualification which supports learners to become effective, responsible and active citizens, ready to take their place in a sustainable global society and in the workplace. It promotes learning inside and outside of the classroom with learners encouraged to choose areas of study which are of personal interest and linked to their future studies and careers.
To find out more visit our Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales section.
Have Your Say
We believe that open dialogue and feedback helps us to improve both our activities and the Welsh qualifications system.
Whatever your interest in qualifications in Wales, Have Your Say is your dedicated platform to contribute and comment. It's where you can fill out our latest surveys, sign-up for one of our advisory groups, or respond to major consultations.
Working with us
We are committed to engaging directly with existing and new audiences via a range of methods - stakeholder meetings, presentations, webinars, events, surveys and using our digital channels.
We have established relationship groups to enhance understanding between stakeholders, reducing potential conflicts and promoting effective cooperation. The groups are a great way to have two-way dialogue and gather feedback on qualifications reform, regulation plans and other proposals.
If you'd like to help us to improve qualifications in Wales, please contact our Strategic Engagement Team.