The General Qualification Strategic Plan, published in July 2017 by Qualifications Wales, sets out the priorities for regulating general qualifications over the next three years.
The plan outlined five focus areas;
- Securing standards
- Evaluating change
- Improving public understanding
- Increasing availability through the medium of Welsh
- Adopting an incremental approach to future changes
Firstly, the plan aims to ensure qualifications awarded in Wales are widely recognised as trusted and a fair measure of learners’ achievements. Qualifications Wales want to be seen to have as rigorous qualifications as the rest of the UK.
Secondly, the plan describes the establishment of a research and monitoring programme to ensure the new qualifications are reviewed and their performance evaluated. The programme will also look at the changes in range and pattern of qualifications taken.
Qualifications Wales aim to improve public understanding of the qualifications and qualifications system, and therefore ensure the public have confidence in the education system. Providing accurate and reliable information in order to understand the way in which Qualifications Wales operates will be key.
Qualifications Wales wish to improve access to their qualifications and so will ensure all general qualifications are offered through the medium of Welsh and English. They will take steps to assist awarding bodies to deliver qualifications bilingually through targeted grant funding, support and advice.
Finally, Qualifications Wales will allow time for teachers, schools and colleges to adjust to the newly-reformed qualifications. They will take an incremental and evidence-based approach to making changes; considering these changes on a subject-by-subject basis, involving stakeholders in the decision-making process and ensuring change is well planned.
There are a number of challenges that have influenced the strategy that Wales may face over the next three to five years;
- Move to general qualifications designed for Wales
- Introduction of new qualifications
- Changing structure of the general qualifications’ market
- Potential impact of the new curriculum for Wales on qualifications
Moving to qualifications specifically designed for Wales is not necessarily a problem, but means that Welsh qualifications need to be trusted and still secure access to further study and employment for the learners.
Introducing new qualifications can bring opportunities for improvement, however, it can lead to additional pressure on the education system. Awarding bodies, teachers, schools and colleges have to adapt to the new qualifications and must be given sufficient time to familiarise themselves with the changes. This may be particularly difficult when teachers are taking students through the final year of the previous qualification alongside the first year of the new qualification.
Amalgamating delivery of all general qualifications designed for Wales under one awarding body, the WJEC, has streamlined the system, however, comes with its own risks. Strict regulation will need to be carried out to ensure the WJEC still provides high quality and valuable qualifications without competition from other awarding bodies.
Finally, the development of a new national curriculum for Wales may have a huge impact on the education system. Currently, we do not know how the new curriculum will align with existing qualifications. This potential impact of the new curriculum will become clearer as the development progresses.
To ensure that Qualifications Wales delivers on the five focus areas, they will undertake continuous evaluation to identify what activities have been successful in progressing towards the aims. They will also seek feedback from stakeholders and consider ways they can improve the development and delivery of the new qualifications and curriculum in Wales.
Qualifications Wales are currently accepting feedback on the General Qualification Strategic Plan, along with more general feedback on the work they undertake.
The plan can be found here; http://qualificationswales.org/media/2636/general-qualifications-strategy-2017-eng.pdf
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