Commenting on the publication of the Right Choice for Wales Decisions report by Qualifications Wales and the proposals contained within it to reform GCSEs in Wales, Eithne Hughes, Director of ASCL Cymru, said:
“Education in Wales stands on the cusp of its most important period of reform for a generation. The new curriculum is a landmark moment and offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape the way learners across Wales will study, whilst this important report from Qualifications Wales outlines how GCSEs will be reformed to dovetail in come 2025.
“It is vitally important that this process involves everyone from across the educational spectrum and that everyone’s voices are heard and listened to with equal prominence.
“Qualifications Wales’ intention to recruit a team of teachers and educational professionals to help shape the outline proposals into meaningful and workable exams is therefore welcomed. The exercise requires a breadth of curriculum experience, forward-thinking and optimism that matches the aspirations and ambitions of Professor Graham Donaldson’s ‘Successful Futures’ report in 2015.
“However, it is difficult to imagine a more difficult or inappropriate time to ask leaders to free up their staff to participate.
“The time that potential recruits are being asked to commit to the exercise would not be a problem in normal times but education across Wales is currently anything but normal, with schools barely managing to cope with providing lessons due to unprecedented levels of staff absence caused by the coronavirus.
“We also have some reservations about the proposals themselves, particularly the plan to create a new joint GCSE in English literature and language. Only 30% of those involved in the original consultation exercise thought this was a laudable or workable idea but somehow it has made it into the final report.
“Similar proposals to create a maths and numeracy GCSE and a new integrated science double qualification also received a mixed response but the concerns of many respondents appear to have been overlooked in the rush to get this report out.
“Qualifications Wales needs to recognise the critical importance of getting the future shape of qualifications in Wales right and take a pause for breath. The severe pressure our schools are currently operating under risks jeopardising the entire project and trying to hurry it through now is self-evidently the wrong thing to do.”