Page last updated at 12:22 GMT, Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Children and Young People Committee

There are "weaknesses" in the current GCSE and Welsh Baccalaureate qualifications but the answer is to strengthen them, not get rid of them, according to the chair of the qualifications review.

Huw Evans was giving evidence to the Children and Young People Committee on 9 January 2013 who are considering the review of qualifications for 14 to 19 year olds in Wales.

The review was published in November 2012, recommending teenagers in Wales should continue to sit GCSEs as part of a revamped Baccalaureate.

The review came following Education Minister Leighton Andrews' decision to order the WJEC exam board, which sets most of the GCSEs taken by Welsh pupils, to re-grade English exams.

Mr Andrews said he acted after a report by his officials found the way grade boundaries were set was unfair.

"We have taken strong evidence, spoken to hundreds if not thousands of students, employers and teachers over the past months," said Mr Evans.

"There is strong evidence to stay with GCSE's.

"We're not saying (the system) doesn't have its weaknesses but the challenge is to adapt.

"In England, they're moving to the Ebacc but there are only a few subjects within the Ebacc.

"We don't feel in Wales that would be suitable for our young people and it would exclude people.

"The direction of travel that we thought important was adapt and strengthen what is already happening."

He said it was very important to "communicate" the system to parents, worried that universities will not hold GCSEs in high regard.

This was not the case, he insisted.

Universities the committee had spoken to explained that they accepted students from all over the world, whatever the qualifications they had been awarded, as long as those qualifications were of a high standard.

"Having a different qualification system in Wales was not a view we were concerned about.

"What we were concerned about, was that what we do in Wales, that it's rigorous."

He said he had no doubt that education in Wales could compare favourable with any other country and could be "world standard".

Children and Young People Committee membership

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