Wales education minister Leighton Andrews says dropping GCSEs is a ‘backward step’
THE future of GCSEs in Wales remains uncertain, despite the qualification being formally scrapped in England today.
Westminster education minister Michael Gove unveiled plans this afternoon to replace them with a single end-of-course exam known as the English Baccalaureate Certificate or EBACC.
Pupils in England who started secondary school this year will be the first to sit the new exams and only one exam board will deliver each subject, he said.
But Wales’ education minister Leighton Andrews branded the move a "backward step".
Speaking before Mr Gove’s announcement, he told BBC Radio 4 Wales may choose to keep GCSEs, but said he would not know until the outcome of an ongoing Welsh Government’s review into the matter.
He has previously ruled out a return to O-Level style exams.
Following the news of the new EBACC, a Welsh Government spokesman said: "As always, our priority will be to ensure that the best interests of our learners are the focus of any decisions that we take. In Wales we are taking an evidence-based approach through our Review of 14-19 Qualifications. This is a decision that cannot be rushed and Welsh Ministers are committed to avoiding significant changes to GCSEs until after the outcomes of the Review are known at the end of November."
The review is looking at which qualifications have most relevance and value, whether existing qualifications are of the right quality, if they achieve their purpose and whether any qualifications should be stopped.
It will also explore how the system could be simplified and better understood, whether it would be beneficial to have fewer qualifications or awarding bodies and what the implications would be if Wales went its own way from England.
Findings at the end of November and no decisions will be taken about changes to GCSEs in Wales until then.