Wales-only GCSE exams campaign starts for September launch

Pupils sitting exams
Image caption The changes start next September with the first qualifications awarded in 2016

Plans to introduce new Wales-only GCSEs have been welcomed by academics and business leaders in a Welsh government promotional campaign.

The changes, from next September, include new exams in maths, English and Welsh.

GCSEs, A and AS levels in both English and Welsh literature and the Welsh Baccalaureate have been revised.

But some independent schools said they might sit England's GCSEs over fears the Welsh exams may "lack credibility".

The campaign will be launched on Monday at St Richard Gwyn school, Barry, which is taking part in the pilot project.

The Welsh government said the new qualifications will place a greater focus on developing skills, particularly literacy and numeracy, and are designed to better prepare young people for work or further study.

An outline of the changes were announced in July following concerns about improving education standards.

'Lack portability'

Next year's reforms have been set out on a website and include endorsements from an Oxford University admissions official and the University of Cambridge's vice chancellor Prof Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, who was born and educated in Wales.

The Welsh government accepted 42 recommendations through an independent Review of Qualifications for 14-19 year olds and said it had worked with people in education.

The Federation of Small Businesses' Janet Jones believed the reforms had focused on literacy and numeracy.

However, some fee-paying schools have opted to follow the new GCSE courses for England.

Welsh Independent Schools Council (Wisc) said in June it believed the Wales-specific courses starting next year may "lack credibility and portability".

But ahead of the school visit on Monday, Education Minister Huw Lewis said: "These improved qualifications will meet the needs of young people and help support the Welsh economy.

"They will be recognised as a mark of excellence, trusted, valued and respected by employers and universities not only here in Wales and the UK, but internationally."

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