GCSE The Sciences (Double Award),
Despite clear responses, Qualifications Wales had announced
The Sciences (Double Award) would be developed, replacing separate science
GCSEs. This decision could lead to challenges for pupils who wished to follow
traditional routes, such as studying medicine or veterinary science at
university and for apprenticeships. As outlined by the local authority’s
Corporate Strategy, one objective was to boost the economy, support businesses
and enable employment, therefore, strong scientific skills were key for
ventures such as AberInnovation and Food Centre Wales available locally. Barry
Rees explained that information had been shared about the proposals with the
Political Group leaders, the Chair of the Committee and the relevant Cabinet
were provided with the opportunity to ask questions to Barry Rees. The main
points raised were as follows:
higher education sector was involved in the consultation and confirmed that the
pathway from GCSE The Sciences (Double Award) to A Level and onto higher
education was legitimate. Despite this, concerns were raised by Officers and
Members that it would create a more difficult pathway for pupils compared to
pupils in England who would have the benefit of studying separate science GCSEs
and would retain the linear pathway.
· Concerns were raised that the changes that would possibly be
introduced from September 2025 onwards were a significant step back and would
prevent pupils from specialising in subjects.
· It was suggested that the changes may be due to the lack of
teachers, however, this solution would create another problem.
· Changes to other subjects were also being proposed; a report
would be presented at a later meeting.
· The rationale for the changes was questioned. It was noted
that there was an ambition for pupils to have a balanced education. In
addition, it would allow some time in the Curriculum for pupils to study other
subjects including the Welsh Baccalaureate. A combination of traditional/
academic and vocational subjects was deemed important but removing the choice
from pupils was concerning.
· The next step for Qualifications Wales was to present the
proposals formally to WG for decision. During this period, there were
opportunities to voice opinions on the changes to the decision-makers, and to
two key figures (the Chief Executive of Qualifications Wales and Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education
and Welsh Language).
· Members expressed concerns about whether the changes would
have an impact on university applications. Qualifications Wales alleged that GCSE The Sciences (Double Award) would be sufficient as the entrance points were based
on A-Level grades. Courses such as medicine were already difficult to
access given the high grades required, and as a result, foundation courses had
been established. This created a long pathway for pupils to reach their goals,
however, the changes proposed would make it more challenging again.
recommendations from the Committee Members, it was agreed for Barry Rees,
Corporate Director to draft a letter to be sent to the Chief Executive of
Qualifications Wales, Welsh Government and Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for
Education and Welsh Language to express deep-seated concerns, focusing on three
principles: removing the choice from pupils, disregarding the views of
respondents and the impact on pupils’ educational pathway. It was agreed that
the letter would be shared with the Committee and submitted in their name.