03 February 2012

National Debate on Qualifications: Underway

Chair of the Qualifications Review, Huw Evans OBE

A national debate on qualifications in Wales is well and truly underway with intense discussions and big questions and issues being raised at yesterday’s high profile National Conference on Qualifications in Cardiff, hosted by ColegauCymru in partnership with the Welsh Government.

Educationalists from across sectors and all parts of Wales discussed and debated meaty questions on the relevance and assessment of qualifications as well as deliberating how performance should be measured, and specific questions on essential skills and the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification.

Following a key contribution from Professor Alison Wolf, the author of the highly influential report on Vocational Qualifications in England that was commissioned by the UK Government last year, the conference also considered the risks and opportunities of qualifications in Wales diverging from those in England.

Here in Wales, the Welsh Government has commissioned a Review of Qualifications for 14-19 year olds in Wales, led by Huw Evans OBE, and the conference provided the perfect opportunity for members of the Review Team to hear first hand from over 150 educationalists and a range of people who have a key role to play in the qualifications system.

The ensuing discussions were particularly lively and it became clear that the Review Team has a tough task ahead. Issues that were hotly debated included the credibility of particular qualifications, the role of the qualifications regulator, whether the number of qualifications available should be slimmed, and whether competence-based qualifications can be taught in a classroom or only in the workplace.

Chief Executive of ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, John Graystone, said: “Everyone has a stake in the qualifications system. Parents, pupils, teachers, businesses and community-based organisations, training providers, colleges, schools, universities and government – we all need to understand the system and have confidence in it.  We all in our various ways discuss and evaluate the education system and its qualifications.

“In an effort to give a national platform to these discussions and to turn up the volume so that the Review Team commissioned to undertake the Review of Qualifications in particular could gather evidence, ColegauCymru was delighted to host such a high profile conference, in partnership with the Welsh Government. I am even more pleased that the feedback from the highly interactive and over-subscribed conference is proving so positive.  

“The conference is over but the discussions continue.  ColegauCymru is now in the process of overhauling its online discussion forum to focus on the questions posed by the Review Team and to include all the conference proceedings. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the forum. It’s not often that a Review of Qualifications of this stature comes along. ColegauCymru is delighted to be able to take an active part in gathering relevant evidence that will then be fed into the Review.”

Contact: Sylvia Davies on 029 2052 8384 or 07968 771913.

Notes to editors:

1. ColegauCymru / CollegesWales is a national educational charity that represents all 20 further education (FE) colleges and institutions in Wales. Its mission is to raise the profile of further education with key decision-makers to improve opportunities for learners in Wales. For further information about ColegauCymru / CollegesWales, and the colleges it represents, visit www.colegaucymru.ac.uk or www.collegeswales.ac.uk

2. The online discussion forum hosted by ColegauCymru in partnership with the Welsh Government is at: http://qualificationsconference.pbworks.com

3. The key speakers included: the Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert; the author of the report on Vocational Qualifications in England, Professor Alison Wolf; the chair of the Review of Qualifications in Wales, Huw Evans OBE.

4. Pictured: Huw Evans OBE, chair of the Review of Qualifications, speaking at the conference. High-res photographs of the conference and the key speakers are available from ColegauCymru.

Key links

Discussion forum: http://qualificationsconference.pbworks.com

Conference slides including presentations of Huw Evans and Prof Alison Wolf: National Conference on Qualifications: slides

Key discussion points from the workshops: Workshops: summary of discussions

Conference pack including programme, workshop questions and speaker biographies

Twitter: www.twitter.com/CollegesWales and #QualsConf

The Welsh Government's page on the Review of Qualifications

ColegauCymru, Uned 7, Cae Gwyrdd, Greenmeadow Springs, Tongwynlais Caerdydd, CF15 7AB. E:helo@colegaucymru.ac.uk Ff: 029 2052 2500
CollegesWales, Unit 7, Cae Gwyrdd, Greenmeadow Springs, Tongwynlais Cardiff, CF15 7AB. E:hello@collegeswales.ac.uk T: 029 2052 2500