We’re updating qualifications for 14-16 learners to ensure that they match the aims of the new Curriculum – the teaching of which began in many schools in Wales at the start of the 2022-2023 academic year. This includes GCSEs, the Skills Challenge Certificate and other qualifications like BTECs, which we refer to as the Full 14-16 Qualifications Offer.
We want these qualifications to meet the four primary aims of the Curriculum, which enable learners to be:
- ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
- enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
- ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
- healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society
We ran an extensive consultation on our detailed proposals for the new GCSEs in late 2022, on our Have Your Say platform. These proposals offer a high-level description of what new GCSE qualifications could look like - but they are not draft versions of the qualifications themselves.
In total, we consulted on proposals for 26 separate qualifications, covering a range of subjects. The proposals were grouped around the six areas of learning and experience of the Curriculum for Wales:
- expressive arts
- health and wellbeing
- languages, literacy and communication
- mathematics and numeracy
- science and technology
Our GCSE reform decisions, published in June 2023, follow in-depth work and co-creation with stakeholders - including learners, teachers, lecturers, examiners, parents, employers, learned and professional bodies, subject specialists and interest groups, universities and colleges - over several years.
These new Made-for-Wales GCSEs are an important first step in the wider reform of the full 14-16 qualifications offer, all elements of which will be in place by September 2027.
To reflect the ambition and the purposes of the Curriculum, all GCSEs must include opportunities for learners to:
- engage with and consider the Curriculum’s cross-cutting themes of:
- careers and work-related education
- human rights
- local, national and international contexts
- relationships and sexuality education
- develop their cross-curricular skills of literacy, numeracy and digital competence
- develop the skills integral to the four purposes of the Curriculum
- engage with the theme of sustainability
Below is a detailed summary of our report explaining the decisions we have taken on the design requirements (approval criteria) for these new Made-for-Wales GCSEs.
Alongside this summary, you can read the full consultation report, together with a series of more detailed reports explaining the requirements we have set for each GCSE subject, as well as a summary and analysis of the feedback to the consultation. We have also produced a youth-friendly report that summarises and explains the key decisions we have taken across subjects.
You can also take a look at the complete set of approval criteria for all of these new GCSE qualifications.
Below you will find a number of additional documents related to these decisions.
- Made-for-Wales GCSEs - overarching consultation themes
- Qualified for the Future - co-creation vision
- Made-for-Wales GCSEs - consultation methodology
- Made-for-Wales GCSEs - analysis of learner outcomes in science GCSEs
- Made-for-Wales GCSEs - integrated impact assessment
- Made-for-Wales GCSEs - regulatory approach
- Qualifications Wales - Policy Statement - Curriculum for Wales cross-cutting themes
From this summer we will be working closely with the awarding body (WJEC) and Welsh Government to develop the detail of these new Made-for-Wales GCSEs, for approval by September 2024.
Schools will have a full academic year to prepare for first teaching in September 2025, with a package of teaching and learning resources available to support the transition. Later this year, we will be publishing a report into the change management required to deliver these new qualifications.
To learn more about the consultation outcomes and subject-level decisions take a look at our series of supporting webinars:
- Full Consultation Report – Watch and Presentation
- Humanities Decisions - Watch and Presentation
- Mathematics and Numeracy Decisions - Watch and Presentation
- Science and Technology Decisions - Watch and Presentation Q&A responses
- Health and Wellbeing Decisions - Watch and Presentation
- Languages, Literacy and Communication Decisions - Watch and Presentation
- Expressive Arts Decisions - Watch and Presentation
Frequently asked questions
What will be changing?
The new Made-for-Wales GCSEs will:
- prepare learners for the challenges of modern society and reflect diversity and the world we live in
- incorporate digital technologies to future-proof qualifications
- include a range of relevant, engaging, and varied assessment methods
- support positive mental health and wellbeing and promote positive teaching and learning experiences
- help learners make meaningful connections across their learning
Why are GCSEs changing?
With the introduction of the new Curriculum for Wales, qualifications need to be updated in line with what and how learners are being taught.
When will changes be made?
Most of the new Made-for-Wales GCSEs will be available for teaching from September 2025, with learners awarded for the first time in summer 2027. A smaller number, consisting mainly of brand-new subjects, will begin being taught from 2026.
Who will be affected by these changes?
Current Year 7 learners will be the first cohort to study towards the new Made-for-Wales GCSEs in 2025.
These proposals follow in-depth work over a number of years, which included running dedicated working and stakeholder groups to lead on developing proposals for qualifications in individual subjects.
We ran our initial Qualified for the Future consultation between November 2019 and February 2020. We outlined a set of guiding principles that should shape the future range of qualifications and asked about what should happen with GCSEs and the Skills Challenge Certificate.
In our subsequent decisions report, we agreed that the main qualifications taken by 14 to 16-year-olds should still be called GCSEs, but that the content and assessment of GCSE qualifications should be different. We also outlined our advice to the Minister for Education about the approach we were considering and to agree how qualifications should change in future.
In 2021, we held our second consultation where we asked for views on integral skills within the Skills Challenge Certificate, the range of subjects that should be available as GCSEs and other made-for-Wales qualifications. The consultation ran from January to April 2021.
Qualifications Wales has a team of researchers and statisticians who develop and deliver research and statistics in relation to qualifications and the qualification system. They have overseen the development and commissioning of both independent and inhouse research projects to help inform our decision making for the qualifications that will support the Curriculum for Wales.
The research informing our recent decisions can be found below.
Perceptions and Experience of Non-Exam Assessment
A set of reports about the subject-specific and cross-cutting findings from research conducted on teacher and learner experiences and perceptions of non-exam assessment in approved GCSEs in Wales, between 2019 and 2020:
International educational assessment systems and their involvement of teachers
A report describing international assessment systems and involvement of teachers in assessment.
Are you ready to help shape the future of education in Wales? Could you use your knowledge and expertise to help influence the qualifications of the future?
We’re looking for those with subject and assessment knowledge and experience to work alongside our approvals team to help us approve exciting, new Made-for-Wales qualifications. We need a variety of individuals with a wealth of experience across all subjects within all six areas of learning and experience (AoLE), who have a deep understanding of the Curriculum for Wales and secure knowledge and understanding of educational assessment.
As a subject expert, you will be collaborating closely with our approvals team throughout the approvals process and play a supporting role in the review of the new Made-for-Wales qualifications developed by the awarding body. This is a unique opportunity to make a significant impact on qualifications in Wales and gain invaluable experience.
Applications are now open, so, if you are interested in being part of this exciting opportunity, please visit Sell2Wales for further information and to complete an application form. The closing date for this opportunity is Friday 3 November 2023.
How to register as a supplier on Sell2Wales:
If this is your first time using Sell2Wales, before you can record your interest in our advert, you will need to register as a supplier.
Registration is free, only takes a couple of minutes and does not commit you to applying for a contract. You may respond as an individual or via an organisation you work for.
The Sell2Wales website contains lots of user guides to help you register and respond. If you missed our webinar, take a look at the presentation to find out more about what is involved in being a subject expert and how you can apply.
Please note, we do not require applicants to hold a Dun & Bradstreet Number to apply for this role. To register as a supplier without a DUNs number, please leave this field blank and then click “look up”. A check box will appear which allows you to tick it and bypass this requirement and register as a supplier.