A raft of changes are set to be made to GCSEs in Wales in the coming years. 

Qualifications Wales announced today (June 28), 26 new 'Made-for-Wales' GCSEs (General Certificates of Secondary Education) will be introduced to schools across Wales in September 2025. 

Following extensive consultation, these newly designed GCSEs will replace the existing GCSE offer available to most learners aged 14 to 16 in Wales.

These changes will reflect what and how learners are taught in line with the new Curriculum for Wales which was introduced recently.

These new Made-for-Wales GCSEs will support the aims and ambitions of the Curriculum by: 

  • Offering more choice
  • Refreshing content
  • Incorporating a broader range of assessment methods
  • Making greater use of digital technology

Qualifications Wales said it has collaborated with hundreds of contributors over the past four years, to ensure that the voices of learners, subject experts, parents, schools, teachers, colleges, lecturers, universities, employers and many others, were captured and helped co-create these new look qualifications. 

More than 2,100 responses were received during the public consultation on GCSE reform which ran from October to December 2022.

The result from the consultation Qualification Wales says is a "new coherent, inclusive, and bilingual GCSE qualifications offer which will reflect the knowledge, skills and experiences gained by learners, so they can move forward confidently to the next stage of their lives".

The changes being made to GCSEs in Wales

The key changes being made to the GCSEs in Wales include:

  • The introduction of 26 new Made-for-Wales GCSEs reflecting revised content and updated assessment arrangements.
  • New integrated GCSE Cymraeg Language and Literature will be double award GCSEs, with single awards also available.
  • New integrated GCSE English Language and Literature will be double award GCSEs – with single awards also available.
  • The new GCSE Mathematics and Numeracy will be a double award – with no single award available.
  • A new Double Award GCSE will become the main science qualification taken by the majority of 14-16 learners in Wales. A new combined single award GCSE in the sciences will sit alongside it.
  • Most of these new GCSEs will be introduced in 2025, with the first award in 2027, while a small number will be introduced a year later in 2026.
  • These new Made-for-Wales GCSEs will form part of a new Full 14-16 Qualifications Offer – to support the Curriculum - the rest of which will be announced in January 2024.

The Leader: See what changes are being made to GCSEs in Wales and when.See what changes are being made to GCSEs in Wales and when. (Image: Qualifications Wales)

When will these changes be made to GCSEs in Wales?

The new qualifications will begin being taught in September 2025, when the first cohort of Curriculum for Wales learners reaches Year 10. 

This will result in the first new GCSEs being awarded in 2027.  

What Qualification Wales said about the changes to GCSEs in Wales

The Leader: Qualifications Wales has announced 26 new Made-for-Wales GCSEs.Qualifications Wales has announced 26 new Made-for-Wales GCSEs. (Image: PA)

Qualifications Wales Director of Qualifications Policy and Reform, Emyr George, said: “These new and purposely Made-for-Wales qualifications, co-created to reflect the new Curriculum, will look and feel different to the GCSEs that learners in Wales currently take.

"While today’s announcement may be the culmination of a sustained process of collaboration, these decisions are just the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Welsh education.  

"As a regulator, it’s our role to ensure that qualifications provide fair, reliable measures of attainment, and having involved so many partners and wider stakeholders in this reform work, I’m confident that these new Made-for-Wales GCSEs will deliver exactly that for our learners."

What learners said about the new look GSCE set up in Wales

Jess, a learner and member of Qualifications Wales’ learner group, said: “I think that the creation of new Made-for-Wales GCSEs will be really beneficial for all learners in Wales.

The Leader: A new look GCSE set up will be introduced across Welsh schools in 2025.A new look GCSE set up will be introduced across Welsh schools in 2025. (Image: PA)

"GCSEs have been modernised to better fit the needs and wants of pupils, with an increased use of technology in the courses and a greater mixture of assessment, including more opportunities for coursework.

"As a member of the Learner Group, it’s been great to see our thoughts valued by Qualifications Wales and to have our ideas included in the process.” 

Headteacher of The Bishop of Llandaff High School and member of Qualifications Wales’ School and College Leaders’ Group, Marc Belli, added: "I’m really excited to see our first cohort of learners studying for these new qualifications in two years’ time.

"This is an opportunity for transformational change for students in Wales and, potentially, for our wider society.”