Changes to the National Curriculum in Wales 2015

Changes to the National Curriculum in Wales 2015

Below, we’ve summarised some of the main changes that will occur to the Welsh curriculum at the start of the school year in September 2015, and in later years.

Please note that these changes will not affect children in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Isle of Mann.


Changes to GCSEs in Wales will see students assessed on similar skill types as the PISA assessments test – a triennial international survey which evaluates educational systems worldwide by testing 15 year old pupils. These changes will apply to English Language, Welsh Language, Maths and Numeracy and Mathematics and will occur as of September 2015. GCSEs will remain the main Level 1 and Level 2 general qualifications for 14-19 year olds and unlike England there will be no changes to the grading system.

The new curriculum takes note of the importance of being able to apply knowledge in real-life scenarios as well as in the classroom, and so there will be more emphasis on mastering processes, understanding concepts and functioning in various situations.

English Language and Welsh Language GCSEs

The changes to GCSEs in English Language and Welsh Language will mean that the subjects are much more similar than previously and will see a greater focus on literacy and the functional aspects of language.

Students will be assessed more on paraphrasing, interpretations, synthesis and analytical skills, and there will also be more emphasis on cross-curricular skills such as understanding and using information, inference and deduction and evaluating arguments.

A new section – Proofreading and Editing – will also be added to the curriculum, with emphasis upon writing accurately with correct grammar, punctuation and spelling.

‘Prose’ and ‘Non-Fiction’ will now be referred to as ‘Continuous’ and ‘Non-Continuous’ texts, to more closely reflect PISA definitions.

There will no longer be controlled assessments for reading or writing, and controlled assessment of oracy will only be worth 20% of the final grade for the English Language GCSE instead of 40%. It will remain as 30% for the Welsh Language GCSE.

Assessment will now be linear instead of modular, meaning students will be assessed at the end of the course rather than at the end of each module.

Paper will now be untiered; there will be no foundation/higher structure and all students will take the same paper.

Pupils will still receive one overall grade, but separate reporting will also be published for oracy, reading and writing for candidates and employers on the final certificate.

Those taking the Welsh Language GCSE will now sit 2 exam papers instead of one – reading and writing. Those taking the English Language GCSE will continue to sit 2 exam papers for reading and writing.

Multiple choice, cloze, sequencing and short answer questions have been added into exams to support traditional written responses.

Writing tasks will now be associated with reading material.

Instead of one or two texts featuring on exam papers, there will now be various continuous and non-continuous texts.

Mathematics GCSE

From September 2015 there will be two Maths GCSEs; one which will focus on numeracy and maths that is needed for everyday life, and one that will extend into skills needed for technical, scientific or further maths study. The first will have a greater emphasis on questions in context, whereas the second will include questions in purely mathematical contexts. It is expected that most students will take both of these GCSEs.

Assessment will now be linear instead of modular, meaning students will be assessed at the end of the course rather than at the end of each module.

Tiered papers will continue with the addition of an intermediate tier also. C grade will only be available in exceptional cases on the Foundation tier.

Content overall is expected to be very similar to current Maths GCSE, but with a greater emphasis on problem-solving.

There will continue to be two exam papers; one calculator and one non-calculator, and there will still be no controlled assessments.

Welsh Baccalaureate

The Welsh Baccalaureate will continue to help young people develop skills to prepare them for employment and higher education, although there are plans to make it more rigorous as of September 2015. The new curriculum will focus on literacy, numeracy, digital literacy, critical thinking and problem solving, planning and organisation, creativity and innovation and personal effectiveness. Students will take part in purposeful assessment through the new GCSEs in England Language, Welsh Language and Maths-Numeracy, as well as four challenges; The Individual Project Challenge, The Global Citizenship Challenge, The Enterprise and Employability Challenge and The Community Challenge.

A Levels

A Levels will remain as the main Level 3 general qualifications for 16-19 year olds and for the most part will remain similar to the content taught in England. Whilst England will be decoupling the structure of AS and A Levels in 2015, Wales will still maintain a coupled structure and so the AS grade will contribute 40% towards the overall A Level award. There will be no changes to the grading scales, but opportunities to re-sit exams will be reduced to once per module.

Click here to find out out about changes to the National Curriculum in England.

You can find out more about the National Curriculum on the Government website

We also stock a wide range of educational books to help support your children on our website.
Take a look at our Education page for more detail.