As reported by BBC news, regulatory body Qualifications Wales is consulting on the exams’ future, which could include a major shift towards 16-year-olds sitting tests online
New chairman David Jones believes we could see ‘significantly more’ electronic assessment in the new curriculum, to reflect the way teenagers live their lives, but he said that first it will have to be established whether the technology works or not.
As part of the proposed changes, consultations are under way regarding the testing of 16-year-olds from 2026. Qualifications Wales, the independent organisation that oversees exams, said qualifications must be fit-for-purpose in a ‘fast-moving world’.
“It doesn’t seem right if children spend most of their life using technology and then once or twice a year they have to go back to do traditional examinations that are at least 50 years old,” said Jones.
However, there are potential pitfalls in going digital. Last May, the WJEC exam board had to apologise after a ‘technical issue’ affected pupils taking a GCSE computer science exam. It is unclear how many schools were affected, but people in the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Pembrokeshire and Rhondda Cynon Taff raised issues.
While the exams watchdog believes the content and assessment of qualifications must change ‘significantly’, it has urged against ditching the GCSEs brand. However, The Future Generations Commissioner wants GCSEs to be scrapped and a move to other forms of assessment.
Jones believes GCSEs should be called the same, to avoid the ‘confusion’ of a new name. “Right now we think we should stick with the name GCSEs. The structure, framework and assessment of the qualification will change significantly but changing the name could be confusing. GCSEs are well-known and well-respected. What’s important is what’s inside the qualification.”