Y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg

Children, Young People and Education Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

James Evans AS
Jayne Bryant AS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Ken Skates AS
Laura Anne Jones AS
Sioned Williams AS

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

David Jones Prif Weithredwr, Cymwysterau Cymru
Chief Executive, Qualifications Wales
Philip Blaker Cadeirydd, Cymwysterau Cymru
Chair, Qualifications Wales

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Michael Dauncey Ymchwilydd
Naomi Stocks Clerc
Rebekah James Ymchwilydd
Rosemary Hill Ymchwilydd
Sarah Bartlett Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Siân Hughes Ymchwilydd
Sian Thomas Ymchwilydd
Tom Lewis-White Ail Glerc
Second Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:16.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:16.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Croeso i gyfarfod y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg heddiw.

Welcome to this meeting of the Children, Young People and Education Committee.

I'd like to welcome Members to the meeting of the Children, Young People and Education Committee this morning. The public items of this meeting are being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, and a Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. Aside from the procedural adaptations relating to conducting proceedings remotely, all other Standing Order requirements for committees remain in place. The meeting is bilingual, and simultaneous translation from Welsh to English is available. Buffy Williams MS has sent her apologies. There are no substitutions. Are there any declarations of interest from Members? I see no declarations. 

2. Craffu ar Adroddiad Blynyddol Cymwysterau Cymru 2021-2022
2. Scrutiny of Qualifications Wales Annual Report 2021-2022

We'll move on to the second item on our agenda, which is scrutiny of Qualifications Wales's annual report 2021-22. We've got our witnesses before us this morning—welcome. We have David Jones, chair of Qualifications Wales, and Philip Blaker, chief executive of Qualifications Wales. Welcome here this morning. It's good to see you both. Members have a number of questions to ask you. I'll make a start first of all. Perhaps you could briefly summarise your approach over the past year to meeting the two statutory principal aims that legislation sets for Qualifications Wales. Perhaps you can add also how you ensure, in a practical sense, that you've had regard for the eight matters that are set out in the legislation.

Perhaps I'll kick off with that. Bore da. We're grateful for the opportunity to be here again at the committee. I just at the start want to say a big thank you to everyone at Qualifications Wales—the staff, the board—and everyone in the system in Wales for working with us over the past year and supporting us. Hopefully, our annual report is a useful document.

Chair, in response to your question, I suppose the first thing is, in terms of the statutory principal aims, there are two of them that you refer to, and we refer to them all the time. I know the exec do as well in terms of the papers that are presented at meetings, and, indeed, at board meetings we're always making reference to them. For those who are not so used to them, broadly, the two aims are around making sure that we meet the needs of learners and also that there's confidence in the system as well. I think this year there's a range of things that we've continued to do or maybe expanded in terms of the engagement with learners. We've set up a whole range of formal and informal ways of linking with governors. So, I'm confident that the voice of learners is stronger than it's ever been before, and, ultimately, they're the people that we're serving. I'm sure that the word 'COVID' will come up a few times in the response today, because it's still there, and it has impacted upon us and continues to do so. But I think that's one of the things we've learnt from the COVID period—how important stakeholder engagement and communications are, and the learners are probably the most important that we work with.

In terms of public confidence in the qualifications system, I think clearly we have to be very much aware of what's going on in the other jurisdictions as well. So, maybe some of the things over the past year such as the return to examinations in summer 2022 and the arrangements for 2023—I'm sure they're points that you'll want to discuss in the meeting with us. But they are areas where we've had to be very conscious of what's going on in other jurisdictions as well. At the same time, we're very independently Wales, and we're doing the right thing for Wales. For instance, we're not doing exactly the same as England next year, and hopefully that gives people clearly the message that we will do the right thing by learners in Wales, but always have an eye on what's going on in other areas.

In terms of the measures that you referred to, the eight measures, I won't pick up on them individually, but again in terms of our annual report and, indeed, all of our work, it picks up a range of things, such as Welsh language and a whole range of other issues. And, again, it's something that is part of the day-to-day operation of the organisation.

The last point I think I would make on this one would be that this committee might be interested to know that, periodically, in addition to the annual review that we carry out of board members and, indeed, the chief exec, every three or four years we commission an external review of the organisation, of our governance. And one of them has just been concluded. It was totally external, totally independent, and as part of that process we asked them to look at the way that we respond exactly to the question that you've asked. And we're very pleased with the report that we received last month. Yes, it provides us with some areas for development, but they're relatively minor and they're areas that we welcome in the spirit of continuous improvement that we have as an organisation.


Thank you. Just following on from that, you say in your report that you're going to publish your strategic priorities for the next five years. Can you give any more detail on the timescale of publishing your new strategy, and perhaps a very brief indication of what the priorities would be?

I'll do this one as well. There'll be some questions shortly where Philip's depth of knowledge will be the reason why he answers most of them. The document will be launched very shortly—in fact, on 15 December. It's something that we have been working on for the past year. And, indeed, it's the first time that we've had a strategic document of this nature, and I think it's a really important step forward for us. I know it's something that current board members of Qualifications Wales, and indeed previous board members, were keen for us to produce. As chair, I've been continuing to develop that in the right way. We would have done it, probably, a little bit earlier, but again COVID has just been a crisis, if you go back a couple of years ago, for everyone. So, we've had to slightly delay it, but we do have the plan. It's going to be launched, as I said, next week. It has been developed not in isolation. We have consulted with a range of stakeholders. Indeed, we did write to this committee and we understand why the committee couldn't contribute, but you'll acknowledge that was the document. But we've been out to stakeholders over the summer, sharing with them a final draft and then getting their feedback, and the feedback has shaped our final document. So, we're confident that those who took the time to read it and to feed back to us will see that we've listened. 

There are broadly four areas around, predictably, I suppose, looking at the 14 to 16 offer, which is very much work at the moment but it's going to continue for a long period of time, developing a coherent and inclusive range of qualifications in that space, but also reviewing and developing a range of qualifications for learners over the age of 16—16 to 19—including apprenticeships. We're actively seeking to modernise and diversify assessment. And yes, that can be a signpost to more digital and online assessment, but it's not just that, it's about diversity in assessment as well. And then finally continue to engage with all stakeholders to support qualification development. In reality, the awarding bodies out there are predominantly commercial organisations, and we do have to work with them positively in order to make sure that we can maintain qualifications in those areas that are key to our society and to the economy in Wales. And then finally, I would say running right across our strategic priorities as a theme is Cymraeg, the Welsh language and the way that we can contribute through qualifications and as an organisation with other partners to the development of the Welsh language. That's really important, as is more generally modernising the way we operate as an organisation through the use of technology, but also again learning from the experience of COVID, the way we operate as an organisation in terms of hybrid working, and so on. We've tried to take the positives, the learning out of the period, as well as some returning to old ways of working, but also maintaining those areas that gave us more efficient and better ways of employing our staff in a way that works for them and gets the best out of them within their life patterns.


Brilliant. Thank you. We'll move on to questions now from Laura Jones. 

Thank you, Chair. Building on the discussions we had on the subject in September, how satisfied are you as a regulator that the exam series went successfully in the summer of 2022 and delivered fair outcomes for learners?

Shall I pick that up? Obviously, we've had discussions with the committee before now. I think, generally, we're very pleased with how the summer series went. Obviously, there were a number of challenges. It's the first time that schools and colleges would have had to deliver a summer series in a couple of years, so there were always going to be more opportunities for things to go wrong. We're very pleased with the way things turned out in terms of the number of incidents, which was broadly the same as we'd see in a normal year. We saw a few particular incidents that we've already discussed with the committee and you may want to discuss again later on, but those have all been resolved.

We spent a lot of time after the exam series talking to stakeholders—so, talking to teaching unions, representative bodies, regional consortia, headteachers, college leaders—to understand if there are any issues from the summer that we weren't sighted on, and we haven't seen anything coming out of that that's caused any dissatisfaction. But I think the main thing for me is, we know that this year, there's been a consistent assessment model that's been applied across all learners. If we're thinking about this from a fairness perspective, it's really important that there's a consistent model that's delivered. We've got particular features of this year—that we know that the materials that were being used for assessment were secure materials that hadn't been seen by anybody before. We also know that a consistent standard was applied across all learners so that those outcomes have got that parity, regardless of whether a learner was in one school or another school or one local authority or another local authority. Those are all really important elements of fairness for us.

Thank you. Since we met in September, you've decided that 2023 will be another transition year with generous grading to deliver results that are broadly midway between 2019 and 2022. This continues that correction to pre-pandemic levels that you began this year, but is a change to what you had intended with the transition occurring over two years rather than one. What were the main reasons for this decision? Given the desire to mirror the position in England up to now, what risks are there to the Welsh qualification system in terms of comparability and confidence, given that England is sticking to a correction back to 2019 levels in 2023, and knowing, of course, the important reasons—why it is so important that we do the same, given the fluidity of our border in terms of education? Did you have conversations with England on this? Thanks.

Yes, we speak regularly across all of the regulators. Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales come together regularly, both at a chief executive and chief regulator level and with operational colleagues.

Three things have really underpinned the decision that we've made for 2023. No. 1 is just recognising the context for this year. Whilst COVID has moved out of its pandemic phase, we're still anticipating there'll be increased illness, both through COVID and through flu, and the potential for industrial action and other things that may happen over the coming months. So, we recognise that the autumn/winter period would be a difficult period for schools. 

The main driver for taking a different approach is, certainly for A-levels and for some GCSEs, they run in what would be considered a modular way—unitised qualifications. So, if you think about particularly A-levels that will be awarded this year, 40 per cent of those A-levels were actually taken in the AS-level units, which were taken last summer. For those units, those would have been awarded under the 2022 position with grading. That—if we want to call it 'generosity'—sort of grading position will flow into the awards this year. Now, the only way that we could return to pre-pandemic standards and have outcomes like 2019 would actually be to award or to have harsh awards in the A2 units to compensate for generous awards in the AS, and we think that's unfair. It would also seek to unpick all of the things that we were trying to do last year and recognise the position last year. So, we don't think it would be fair or possible to actually return to that pre-pandemic standard for this year.

And then, the last thing is that we recognise that, in the grading policy for last year, we were seeking to have awards that were broadly midway between 2019 and 2021, which is the same position that England was looking to do. In reality, because we didn't want those awards to be considered to be harsh in any way, we wanted to err on the side of generosity. For A-level, actually, aiming for that slight generosity relative to a midway point has ended up with only having about a third of the corrections. So, there is still quite a lot of generosity in the system from the 2021 grades.

That's the same position in England; there was only about a third of a grade correction, rather than half a grade correction. We think that's quite a big step to correct in one year, so recognising that it's quite a big step to make in one year, recognising that in order to get to pre-pandemic standards, we'd have to have harsh awards in 2023, which we think would be unfair, and recognising the context, actually going for the position that we're going for, which is broadly midway between 2019 and 2022 outcomes, we think that we'll halve the difference again. So, if we look at 2021, there was roughly one grade's generosity in A-level grades. That was corrected down last year to about two thirds of a grade generosity in last year's grading. This year, or 2023, we anticipate that to go down to about a third of a grade, and then, obviously, in 2024, we'll be back to broadly pre-pandemic standards. So, we always recognised that there would be a journey of correcting standards, and we also knew that there would need to be discussions across the regulators once we were through the summer of 2022 to decide on the grading positions.

We recognised that there could be unintended consequences, particularly for A-level learners with HE admissions and decisions that are made around making offers. We've been very careful about that and spoken to higher education representatives, and we've seen no evidence from them and we've heard nothing to suggest that Welsh learners would be disadvantaged relative to their peers in England. And, indeed, I'll be speaking at a UCAS-led event for admissions officers in January to reinforce the position in Wales.


Yes. Obviously, there are risks, and there will be risks, because as soon as it gets out that the results will be different in Wales, and done differently than in England, there are risks involved for learners. Did you or England not want to give way on it, not doing the same, seeing the importance of doing the same, and the importance you've put on doing the same in the past?

I think there was recognition across the regulators that the different models, particularly for A-levels, were such that it would not be possible for Wales to follow England for the reasons I've mentioned, because, in England, they don't have the coupled AS and A-level. The A-level is awarded in the one year. There are no AS contributions towards the A-level. So, England was in a position where it could make that decision to return to a 2019 statistical standard.

We're in the same position as Northern Ireland, where there is a coupled AS level and A-level, and Northern Ireland is making the same decision as us. So, I think there was recognition across the regulators that that fundamental difference in structuring qualifications meant that it wasn't possible to all do the same thing.

Thank you very much, Chair. I've got some questions about review and reform of the general qualifications taken here in Wales, so I'd quite like to ask you how much of a challenge it has been to produce and design proposals for the new GCSEs, given that the new curriculum is a broad framework and that actual schools can, in a way, design their own curriculum. And to what extent are the principles of school autonomy and flexibility going to be in your thinking when new proposals are coming forward?


Sure. So, it's probably worth just stating where we are in the process and what the steps are that are moving forward. At the moment, we're in the middle of quite a large consultation on what we call design proposals. These design proposals, once they have been agreed, once we've seen the consultation responses, will then become what we call approval criteria, which will go to WJEC to develop the new GCSEs against those approval criteria, knowing what we will then make approval decisions against. So, we're still at a relatively early phase in the development of these new GCSEs.

The process that we've gone through has been a process of co-creation for these design proposals. We've had a series of structures to help us to develop our thinking. We've had subject level working groups in each subject area that have involved practising teachers—and we've had quite an open call to have people involved in that process—and subject experts, both of whom are familiar with the requirements of the new curriculum, so they shape their thinking looking at the requirements of the curriculum, and also having expertise in those subject areas.

We have area of learning and experience groups—so, the six areas of learning and experience—that will then look at the workings of the subject level working groups at an AoLE level, and we then have a stakeholder reference group that takes an overarching view across all of the reforms that we're looking at. So, it's very much a co-creation process.

We recognise that the new curriculum wants to have more of a localised curriculum view and more autonomy for schools. Now, that doesn't undermine the fact that there still needs to be a core body of knowledge, so to speak, or content for each subject. So, if we took an example of something like science, there'd still be a need to understand things like photosynthesis. So, those sorts of content requirements can be specified, can be outlined in these design proposals, but we also want to have enough space in the design proposals for local curricula to come through, and each subject is different in terms of the scope that there is for that to come through. But if we look at something like humanities subjects, we're looking at those being much more non-exam assessment in those humanities subjects, so being roughly 50 per cent exam assessed, 50 per cent non-exam assessed, and that non-exam assessed work can include projects, investigations and various other things that allow the local curriculum to come through. There's a lot of scope for that in subjects like history, geography, social sciences and the like. So, we're looking wherever it's possible for that space for the local curriculum to come through and then looking at assessment methods that allow that to come through in a fair and consistent way.

Okay, that's fine. What we're hearing, sometimes, from teachers is that they'd like to see an end goal to this, as well. Do you have any idea when this is all going to be concluded by, because what I've heard isn't really—. Yes, it's all great, but I'm not really hearing an end date to all this, and it would be quite useful to know when you think this will all be concluded.

We're looking for reforms to be implemented over a number of years. So, reforms will start for first teaching from 2025, and we envisage that the full offer of qualifications for 16-year-olds will be in place by 2027. Now, in that phasing of those proposals, we are looking for all of the main GCSE replacements and the qualifications that will sit very closely aligned to them to be in place for first teaching from September 2025, which actually means we're looking for those to be developed and approved by us by September 2024 to allow a full year for schools to become familiar with the new specifications before they start to deliver them from September 2025.

We're looking at a small number of new GCSEs in new subject areas. If I give you some examples, British Sign Language is an area where we're looking for a new GCSE, engineering is an example of a new GCSE, social sciences is a new GCSE. For those, it will take a little longer to develop those requirements. Also, we think it'll take a little longer for schools to become familiar and be prepared to teach those. So, we're aiming for those to be in place, to be approved, by September 2025 so they can be in for first teaching from September 2026.

We're also about to start a consultation in the new year—we're thinking at the moment probably at the beginning of March—on the full offer of qualifications. So, not only the GCSEs and very closely related qualifications to them, but also a broader range of qualifications that would include skills for life, skills for work, pre-vocational qualifications, and other qualifications at entry level, level 1 and level 2 that would sit around the GCSEs. Now, that area of work is something that we've been working very closely with schools and colleges on, and PRUs and special schools, to understand the diverse needs across a wide range of learners. We're looking, for that offer, as I say, to consult on that next year and for that to be in place by September 2027. So, it'll be everything in place by September 2027.


Okay, that's fine. Thank you very much for that. We've had a couple of consultations on the qualified for the future series. Is there going to be another qualification? Where are we with that now?

It's the consultation I just mentioned, so this notion of a full offer. If we look at the number of qualifications that are offered by schools in Wales, there are about 400 qualifications that are offered, so it's broader than just GCSEs. Some of those are in pre-vocational areas, some of those are in skills areas, some are available bilingually, some are not available bilingually. What we consulted on in our first consultation was to develop an inclusive and coherent range of qualifications for 16-year-olds. So, the consultation that we're in at the moment is very much around those GCSEs and the qualifications that we think will sit very closely around those. Those are taken by about 80 per cent of learners in Wales, but there is still a need for qualifications that sit outside of that core, if you want to call it a core, that we need to get in place. We envisage that those will be approved qualifications for Wales—some will be bespoke, some will be ones that we look to try and adapt in from the UK offering, particularly in some of that pre-vocational space where we think there's space for those to come in. We think that what we will end up with is a range of qualifications of about 100 qualifications that will be approved for use in schools for 16-year-olds, with those all having a clear relationship with each other and all of those being available bilingually.

Okay, thank you very much. I just want to turn back just quickly, as you did mention that you would hope that all the new GCSEs would be in place by 2027. I think I heard that correctly. So, just out of interest, will the 2025-26 and then the 2026-27 cohort be taking legacy qualifications if everything isn't in place?

So, the plan at the moment is for all of the replacement GCSEs for GCSEs that are there at the moment to be ready for the cohort as it's coming through with the new curriculum. So, they will be in place for September 2025. It's just the new qualifications, new GCSEs in things like British Sign Language, which won't be there until 2026. The full range of qualifications will be there for 2027. If I give you one example of where there will be a cross-over between legacy qualifications and new qualifications, we'll be consulting in the new year on what the new model might be for a replacement for the skills challenge certificate that is taken, which is often called the Welsh bac, which is taken by most 16-year-olds. That is not likely to be ready until September 2027, so what we would see is that the existing legacy skills challenge certificate is taken by learners alongside new GCSEs for the first couple of years while those new qualifications are coming into place. The new qualifications will be very similar in structure. We think that there's a big place for a project-type qualification, which is 50 per cent of the skills challenge certificate at the moment, but we do want to look at that space and come up with new proposals that are much more aligned to the new curriculum. So, there will be some cross-over, but we're not seeing that cross-over in the main GCSEs. 


Yes. I just wanted to ask you, because you keep mentioning the British Sign Language exam, which, of course, we would all welcome—it's fantastic, and we look forward to that being developed and seeing the rise in people wanting to do things in British Sign Language now, and, of course, they're doing it across the border. They seem to be a little bit more advanced across the border in terms of having structures to enable learners to be able to do a potential GCSE in British Sign Language. There are 22 schools with provision for deaf children—18 in England, three in Scotland, one in Northern Ireland and none in Wales. I'm just wondering, is this is a GCSE that you're going to make to be able to go out in every school, or are they going to have to have specific schools and teachers and, obviously, people who are going to help the learners do a British Sign Language exam? Thanks.

Obviously, this is an area for consultation, so we need to see what those consultation responses are. But we envisage that this British Sign Language GCSE is something that would be accessible to all. So, it wouldn't be something that would just be for deaf schools; it would be something that other schools can engage with as well. Now, obviously, there are things that need to be thought about in terms of the ability to teach and timetable those sorts of qualifications, and we'll draw all of that out in the consultation in terms of the manageability and the ability to implement these proposals, but we see it as being, from a qualifications perspective, something that could be a universal offer.

I have one, if that's okay. If I could just turn very quickly to post 16 and the understanding, really, of the new advanced skills baccalaureate in Wales. I just want to know how you're promoting that to employers and higher education institutions, especially ones in England, to ensure that the qualification is valued and given sufficient currency, for example in UCAS points, so that Welsh pupils are not being disadvantaged when they go into England. And that's me done. Thank you, Cadeirydd.

Certainly. So, if I pick up on the last part of that first of all, the UCAS points, that's quite a simple process now. So, as the new qualification goes on to QR database, UCAS picks up on that, and there's an automatic process now for UCAS points to be allocated, which are based on the size of the qualification in terms of its guided learning hours, and the level of the qualification, and the advanced skills baccalaureate being at that sort of A-level equivalent is a level 3 qualification. So, in terms of feeding into the HE admissions system from a UCAS points perspective, all of that is in hand.

There is, clearly, a job of work to do in terms of promoting it. Universities have become much more familiar with the advanced skills challenge certificate, the Welsh bac, so there is that good familiarity there. What we will be doing is introducing the changes to them, rather than a completely new qualification. I think that's a slightly different exercise to introducing something completely fresh. We do have a new HE engagement officer, a key person, joining us in January, and it will be a key part of their work to promote not only the advanced skills baccalaureate Wales, but also the changes in GCSEs, so that, as learners are presenting themselves for offers from HE, HE understands what the changes in GCSEs are for learners in Wales.  


Really quickly, just in terms of developing the GCSEs, again, going back to being comparable to the rest of the UK, obviously, we need to have exams that are going to be recognised and just as good—hopefully, better—as across the border. What are you doing in terms of making that—obviously that's going to be a high priority?

Yes. We're looking at—. One of the reasons for maintaining the GCSE brand into these qualifications is that it's a well-known, well-respected brand. All of our public confidence work that we do demonstrates that people understand it and hold it in high regard. Now, as a regulator, it's then our responsibility to ensure that there's going to be comparability across UK jurisdictions that are using the same brand. The things that we're looking to change are the content, in terms of making sure that content is aligned to the new curriculum, and we're looking at some of the assessment methods to bring in more non-exam assessment, and have less reliance on just exam assessment. But, actually, in doing that, we're looking to change the modes of assessment and not the overall level of demand of the qualification. So we will be looking to maintain performance or attainment standards from these legacy GCSEs across into the new GCSEs. 

Thanks, Chair. Probably best directed at Philip, if that's okay. I'm going to ask about the review and reform of vocational qualifications, beginning with the question: what were your main learnings from the problems that stakeholders identified in the rapid review of the new vocational health and social care qualifications? And have you identified any key issues with the process itself that developed these qualifications? 

Obviously, health and social care is where we started as an organisation. So, it was the first of our sector reviews, the first time that we used our powers to restrict and commission qualifications and the first time that we worked with the sector and with awarding bodies in the development of new qualifications. It's probably worth making it clear at the beginning that a lot of those reforms were very led by the sector in health and social care. So, Social Care Wales were very deeply involved in the prescription of content for those qualifications, and worked very closely with the awarding bodies, as did Health Education and Improvement Wales. So, we worked very closely with those sector bodies that are looking to represent the sector and the needs of the employers in those areas.

Now, I think, one of our learnings from that initial health and social care reform was probably that there wasn't enough involvement from FE colleges in that process, so maybe we leant too much towards the sector bodies and their input. We recognised that quite early on, and, in our more recent reforms of construction and built environment qualifications, there was an awful lot more involvement from FE colleges through various networks and various engagement bodies. Now, actually, in looking at that, it's still not an easy process, because there are different views and opinions about what's the right thing to do, and it's very difficult to please everybody, and, as a regulator, we therefore have to make decisions about what's the best way forward, given all of the evidence that's available to us. 

Having said that, one of the early questions was around what our strategic priorities are. Amongst our strategic priorities, we've got themes that run through our work over the next five years. One of those themes is around having very close change management processes, because I think one of the things that we've identified through health and social care that we implemented in construction and built environment, but we think there is more that needs to be done, is around this very careful change management process. Because whenever there are big reforms in qualifications it's inevitable that there will be some unintended consequences or some teething problems. I think we should just accept that that is likely to happen. I think the important thing is being able to identify those problems swiftly and do something about them swiftly, and that’s what we did with the rapid review of health and social care—engage with colleges about what their manageability problems were, what their delivery problems were and identify those and distil them down into actions and then take action very rapidly, so that learners aren’t disadvantaged.


Sorry, can I just add, agreeing with the points that Philip’s made? It’s interesting that the review of vocational qualification areas is not something that happens quickly, and this was the first one, and indeed, I wasn’t involved with Qualifications Wales when it started. I can put another hat on now, which is the hat I had for about 16 years, which was as principal of a college. So I’ve got the other side of this, and I think, building on what Philip said, there was a need for change in terms of standards and appropriateness of qualifications driven by the bodies that ultimately are the recipients of the learners and want to have high standards for health and social care in Wales across a whole range of areas. And colleges, I know, because I was at the college at the time, were consulted as part of that, but I think it’s fair to say, as a college principal at that time, perhaps we could have engaged—the college I was at, anyway—more with the process.

I think one of the learnings for Qualifications Wales is that, when you’re doing a consultation, you might go out to 20 people and if only five come back, you can’t just ignore the fact—I’m making these numbers up, by the way—that 15 didn’t come back to you. You have to say, ‘Well, no, we need to work harder to get 20 people to respond, because their views are important'. And I think we’ve learned a lot about communication and collaboration and stakeholder engagement over the last few years, and certainly, Philip and I have very close engagement with the colleges at the moment. But it was a change, it was a big change, and also let’s not forget that this is happening or coming from a development stage to an implementation stage when COVID was probably at its worst. So, what we had was a whole education sector that was struggling, for a range of different reasons, and then the new qualifications kicked in, and if we think about some of the main challenges that we faced, I think in the January exams this year there were some concerns, which we’ve addressed, but if you think back to the autumn term at colleges last year, i.e. in the 2021-22 year, the learners came through, they had disrupted learning prior to that, they’d come into colleges I think a couple of weeks late, because the start of term was delayed, and certainly, I think last winter term finished early and then a number of them were entered for examinations in January. So, I think in many ways, it wasn’t surprising that there were some issues there that arose. In hindsight, the exams are available, people were put in for them; I’m not criticising the colleges for one moment, but I think there’s learning there, and perhaps it was a bit predictable that we had some of the problems. I think there was learning here for every one of us. We’re not sitting here saying that we were right on everything; I think everyone has a joint responsibility as leaders of education and qualifications in Wales to work together with the employer organisation and learn from this process, and certainly, as Philip has outlined, that’s what we’re trying to do with the vocational areas that have followed, and some of which are still live today.

Thank you. That’s really helpful for our understanding of what you’ve learnt from the process and how you’re going to apply those learnings. Can I just ask: are you considering any further rapid reviews of qualifications to ensure that they’re fit for purpose, both for learners and for employers? And also, how are you monitoring the impact of sector reviews more widely, including work on phase 2 sector reviews?

We found the rapid review of health and social care really informative. We’ve already undertaken one with construction and built environment, and we’ve actually made the decision that we’re just going to have these as a standard thing that we do as part of the process. So, one year after implementation of new qualifications, we’ll undertake a rapid review to understand if there are issues in delivery, and what can be done about those issues in delivery. This is something that we’ll just do as a standard process. We think it’s good practice to do that. As I said at the beginning of this, you’re never in a position where you’ll get everything absolutely right. What we do have the ability to do as a relatively small nation is to bring people together quickly to be able to identify any issues and try and address them. And that is essentially what we want to try and do, is to have a responsive system so that, if there are issues, people don't have to live with the issues or work around them; they're things that we can try and address. 

In terms of keeping an ongoing review, there are a number of things that we're doing. We've got some work to try and evaluate the impact of changes, and we talk to Social Care Wales about that, because, obviously, they need to understand the impact that it's having for them. One of the things that they wanted to do through these reforms was to increase the professionalism within the health and social care workforce. So, we're interested in understanding from their perspective whether these reforms have been helpful for them in that respect. 

One of the things that we've also introduced—in fact, we've had the first ones quite recently—is sector qualification review groups, or groups bringing together work-based learning providers and colleges for each of 13 sectors—including health and social care, construction, built environment—some of the areas that we've covered in phase 2 sector reviews, and some areas that we haven't undertaken sector reviews on at all, to just understand what are the perspectives, what are the risks, what are the issues, what are the opportunities in each of those sectors to try and then understand what action might be needed. 

So, if we're thinking about, for example, the range of qualifications that are available through the medium of Welsh, if there is a particular sector where there is a demand in certain qualifications for bilingual provision where it's not there at the moment, those are the sorts of things that we want to try and pick up through these groups, and then understand how we can work with awarding bodies to encourage them to make those qualifications available bilingually. 


Diolch, Cadeirydd, a bore da, a byddaf i'n gofyn y cwestiynau yn Gymraeg, os ŷch chi angen eich set pen. Cwestiynau gen i ynglŷn â'ch gweithgareddau rheoleiddio chi. O dan Ddeddf Cymwysterau Cymru 2015, gallwch chi naill ai gymeradwyo neu ddynodi cymwysterau er mwyn gwneud cyrsiau sy'n arwain at eu hastudiaeth yn gymwys ar gyfer cyllid cyhoeddus. O'r adroddiad rŷm ni'n gweld, o blith y 4,256 cymhwyster sy'n gymwys i gael cyllid cyhoeddus, mae 4,050 wedi'u dynodi a 206 wedi'u cymeradwyo. Felly, hoffwn i wybod sut ŷch chi'n penderfynu a ddylid cymeradwyo neu ddynodi cymhwyster, ac a yw'r nifer fawr o gymwysterau dynodedig yn bennaf yn rhai oedd yn y system yn barod pan gawsoch chi’ch ffurfio yn 2015, neu ydych chi weithiau yn penderfynu'n bwrpasol dynodi yn hytrach na chymeradwyo cymwysterau? 

Thank you, Chair. Good morning, and I will be asking my questions in Welsh, if you need your headsets. My questions relate to your regulatory activity. Under the Qualifications Wales Act 2015, you can either approve or designate qualifications in order to make courses leading to their study eligible for public funding. From the report we've seen, of the 4,256 qualifications eligible for public funding, 4,050 are designated and 206 are approved. I'd like to know how you decide whether to approve or designate a qualification, and are the large numbers of designated qualifications mainly ones already in the system when you were formed in 2015, or do you sometimes purposely decide only to designate rather than approve qualifications?

If I have a go at picking that up, we approve qualifications where we have set approval criteria for them. All qualifications that are coming in to either the approved or designated space will undergo some checks from us. Approval is really where we've set the design parameters for a qualification, where, as I described in the process that we're going through for GCSE at the moment, we will formulate some design parameters; we will turn those into approval criteria; and we will then invite awarding bodies, either through the commissioning process or through an open process, to submit qualifications to us for approval against those approval criteria. Now, those have mainly been in—. Because we are going through a design process, those become made-for-Wales qualifications, so we're looking at GCSEs, A-levels, health and social care qualifications, construction and building services qualifications. Those will be the main areas at the moment.  

Designated qualifications will be a mix, probably less so of qualifications that we took on in 2015, because many of those usually have an end date of about five years. So, as qualifications get to that end date, they will need to be resubmitted to us for designation. And, at that point, we want to make sure that the qualifications have been updated and they're not just old legacy qualifications that have been recycled into the system. So, not many of those, I imagine, will be ones that we took on in 2015, although they might trace their heritage back to some of those qualifications. The main difference between the two is that we haven't set approval criteria for them, and most of those designated qualifications will be UK-wide qualifications, which are being regulated not only by us, but also by Ofqual, probably the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment and, potentially, the Scottish Qualifications Authority as the regulator in Scotland as well. The unique thing about the approved qualifications is they're only being regulated by us.

What we do expect to see, and again this is something that we set out in our strategic priorities as one of those themes, is that we will start to see a sharper increase in the number of made-for-Wales approved qualifications. And if we're thinking about qualifications that are being used by 16-year-olds, or available to schools for 16-year-olds, by 2027, we're expecting—I wouldn't say all, but probably 99 per cent or 95 per cent of those qualifications to be approved qualifications. And at the moment, of those 400 qualifications that are currently available, many will be designated. So, we'll start to see a reduction in the number of designated qualifications and start to see an increase in the number of approved qualifications.

It's also probably worth noting that there's not a direct relationship between the two. So, if I give some examples: for health and social care—I'm trying to remember the figures here exactly, so please don't quote me on the figures exactly—I think there are 12 qualifications in health and social care that are replacing roughly 200 qualifications that used to sit in the designated space. So, as we make more made-for-Wales qualifications, we see a reduction in the number of designated qualifications, with a smaller increase in the number of approved qualifications. So, both go through checks. We will see a change in that balance as we move forward, but the main difference is, for approved qualifications, that really reflects made-for-Wales qualifications where we've set design criteria.


Diolch. Mae hwnna'n ddefnyddiol iawn o ran deall y gwahaniaeth. O ran, felly, y sefyllfa ar hyn o bryd, sut ydych chi'n cadw'r gronfa ddata cymwysterau yng Nghymru yn gyfredol? Ac, yn fras, faint o'r cymwysterau sydd ar gael sy'n segur ar y cyfan neu nad yw llawer yng Nghymru yn ymgeisio amdanyn nhw, ar y cyfan?

Thank you. That's very useful in terms of understanding the difference. In terms, therefore, of the current situation, how do you keep the qualifications in Wales database up to date? And, roughly, how many of the qualifications on there are largely redundant or at least not commonly taken by anyone in Wales?

So, we do a number of things to keep Q database up to date. We tend to, on an annual basis, have a review of all the qualifications, to look to see if there is anything that has met that level of redundancy. So, we would normally look at that if a qualification hasn't been awarded in Wales for two years or more. We would then contact the awarding body to understand if there's a reason why that's the case and whether they're expecting some demand to come through in the future. So, there may be some qualifications that haven't been awarded for a time, but the awarding body anticipates that there'll be some future demand for it, in which case we would keep it in the, most likely, designated space. 

But also we do some specific targeted reviews of the Q database. So, awarding bodies have access to the database directly, so they've got a responsibility for keeping their qualifications up to date, and we do quality assurance around that to make sure that they are keeping it up to date. One of the things we've done in the last year is a very specific thing to make sure that awarding bodies have got information about Welsh-medium provision that's up to date. So, we have a specific strategy called 'Choice for All' for our Welsh-medium qualifications strategy. One of the actions that we had in that was to clean up the data on this to make it really clear through the Q database around what was available in both languages. So, that work was a specific piece of work that we've done in the last year, just to make sure that that aspect of Q is as tight as it can be. 

Diolch. O ran y rhestr cymwysterau blaenoriaeth, y tro diwethaf y cafodd y rhestr honno ei chytuno â Llywodraeth Cymru oedd ym mis Ebrill 2021, gyda'r Gweinidog blaenorol. Ydych chi'n rhagweld y bydd y rhestr cymwysterau blaenoriaeth yn cael ei diweddaru, yn ogystal â rhestr y rhai sydd wedi'u cyfyngu i un darparwr yn unig, yn y dyfodol agos? 

Thank you. In terms of the priority qualification list, the last time that list was agreed with the Welsh Government was in April 2021, with the previous Minister. Do you anticipate updating the priority qualification list, as well as the list of those that are restricted to only one provider, in the near future?

Yes, we do. So, the update in 2021 was to the priority qualifications list. There's another part of that, which is a future look. So, it's identifying those areas where qualifications will move on to the priority qualifications list in the future. In 2022, I think it was, we listed the areas for the new qualifications for 16-year-olds, the new GCSEs. So, those are sitting in the future look at the moment. Once we've completed the consultation, refined the design proposals and finalised the approval criteria, we will be approaching the Minister to move those new GCSEs and the related qualifications onto the priority qualifications list, so that they will then be ready for submissions from WJEC for approval of those qualifications.

I talked about the other consultation that we've got next year around the other qualifications that will be available for 16-year-olds to make the full offer. We'll be starting to put those areas onto the future look. So, it will follow the same process for them and once we've got design proposals and approval criteria in place for those qualifications, those will move onto the priority qualifications list. So, we will see the work that we're doing in that 14 to 16 space start to get reflected onto the priority qualifications list from next spring.


Diolch. Ac wrth edrych at y dyfodol—ac roeddech chi'n sôn am CBAC fanna—beth yw manteision ac anfanteision cyfyngu rhai cymwysterau allweddol i un darparwr yn unig, sef CBAC, sy'n golygu bod ganddo fonopoli, i bob pwrpas, dros y rhain?

Thank you. And in looking to the future—and you mentioned WJEC there—what are the advantages and disadvantages of restricting some key qualifications to only one provider, namely WJEC, meaning that it effectively has a monopoly over these, to all intents and purposes?

Sure. I think there's probably a useful point of understanding here about those occasions where we deliberately seek to use our powers to restrict the market so that we can elicit a market response, and those occasions when that is the market response. So, if we look at some of the big reforms we've done in vocational areas like health and social care and construction and the built environment, we've been looking to make fairly significant structural changes to the qualification offers in those areas. And that's a move away from the UK position in those qualifications and doing something that's very much made for Wales. Now, given the size of the market, what we have to look at doing is: how are we going to elicit a market response from awarding bodies in order for them to actually develop and deliver those qualifications? And in those circumstances, we take a view, we go through a process to establish whether we need to restrict the market in order to get the market response. 

In some other areas, we don't do that, but actually you end up with a single-supplier situation as a matter of default, and GCSEs are a good example of that. So, in the reforms that came in in 2015—actually, this is before Qualifications Wales was established, but from that Welsh Government work, WJEC was the only awarding body that wanted to develop GCSEs that were made for Wales, to the policy position in Wales. The other recognised GCSE awarding bodies of AQA, Pearson and OCR decided that they didn't want to develop qualifications for Wales. Now, in the reforms that we're doing at the moment, we've been working quite closely with the market and talking to awarding bodies, and we understand that's the same position now. So, we haven't actually taken an active decision to restrict the market; we are just in a situation by default of there being a single supplier, in that WJEC is the only awarding body that is seeking to develop and have qualifications approved by us.

Now, in that natural market position, there are some advantages. So, if I give you just a couple of examples of some of those advantages: one is that we can have a much closer working relationship with the awarding body that is developing those qualifications, because you're not looking at there being a group of competitors and having to work in a different way, where you're not giving competitive advantage to one over the other. So, I think it allows for a slightly closer working relationship, though still preserving and protecting very carefully that separation between regulator and regulated.

The other advantage is when we actually come to awarding, we've got a very close eye on comparability across years and making sure that results have got that sort of consistent standard, but we're doing that with one body and we've got much more of a focus on across years. If you think about the position in England, they've got that perspective of across years, but they've also got to think about it across competitors in awarding bodies, so they've got to make sure that not only is, for example, GCSE mathematics being awarded in a consistent way with previous years, but also that AQA, OCR, Pearson and WJEC through their Eduqas brand are also being consistent across each other. So, there is an efficiency from our perspective in having a single supplier.


Diolch. Roedd pedwar corff dyfarnu wedi ildio'u statws cydnabyddedig yn 2021-22. Ydy hynny'n gysylltiedig â'r hyn rŷch chi newydd sôn amdano? Beth oedd y rhesymau am hynny? Yw e'n cael unrhyw fath o effaith sylweddol ar y system gymwysterau yng Nghymru?

Thank you. Four awarding bodies surrendered their recognised status in 2021-22. Is that associated with what you've just mentioned? What were the reasons for that, and does it have any significant impact on the qualifications system in Wales?

We don't think that there's any significant impact on the qualifications system in Wales. Two of the surrenders are actually as a consequence of sales or mergers between awarding bodies, so no substantial change in the range of qualifications that are going to be available. One surrendered its recognition but is already in discussions with us about being re-recognised, so we think they saw a drop off in the market in Wales, but they're seeing some opportunity again, so looking to be recognised. And once it's outside of the funded, designated or approved qualification space, so it wasn't reliant on being regulated by us in order to access public funding, so they're privately funded qualifications, they continue to operate in Wales, but they just sit outside of the regulated market.

Diolch. Ac roedd yr adroddiad yn nodi bod 11 o'r 90 o gyrff dyfarnu sydd â statws cydnabyddedig, dŷn nhw ddim yn cydymffurfio gyda'ch amodau cydnabyddiaeth chi yn 2021-22. I ba raddau mae hynny'n peri unrhyw bryder i chi?

Thank you. And the report also noted that 11 of the 90 awarding bodies with recognised status reported non-compliance with your conditions of recognition in 2021-22. To what extent is this a cause for any concern?

Generally, we're not overly concerned with some of those non-compliances. A lot of them relate to the specific situation of COVID, and what awarding bodies have had to do differently within the period of the pandemic. One of the areas—. As well as asking awarding bodies to state their compliance against all of our standard conditions of recognition, we also have thematic reviews where we ask them to come back to us on particular issues. One of those, particularly given the impact on the market over the last couple of years, was on financial viability. We do have concerns about one awarding body's financial viability. It's something that we've been working on very closely with Ofqual and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment regulation, because this awarding body operates across the whole of the UK—relatively few number of awards in Wales, and there are two other awarding bodies that offer very similar qualifications. So, we've been working very closely with that awarding body to understand their financial position, to understand their sustainability, and to make sure that there's alternative provision that's available, should they not be able to proceed to operate, to continue to operate. So, that's the one area where we've had a real focus. We've put a lot of work into it, and we're assured at the moment that, should the awarding body not continue, there's alternative provision from two other awarding bodies.

Diolch. Gwnaethoch chi sôn reit ar y dechrau, dwi'n meddwl, ynglŷn â'r digwyddiadau yn ystod y gyfres o arholiadau, ac fe wnaeth cyrff dyfarnu roi gwybod i chi am 197 o ddigwyddiadau yn 2021-22, sy'n debyg i'r flwyddyn ddiwethaf pan gynhaliwyd arholiadau—192 yn 2018-19. Felly, oes yna unrhyw beth hoffech chi dynnu sylw'r pwyllgor ato ynglŷn â'r digwyddiadau hyn, a pha mor aml maen nhw'n digwydd?

Thank you. You mentioned right at the beginning, I think, about the incidents in the exam series, and awarding bodies notified you of 197 incidents in 2020-22, which is similar to the last year when exams took place—192 in 2018-19. So, is there anything you'd like to draw the committee's attention to regarding these incidents, and the level of prevalence?

I think the main incidents were ones that we've already discussed with the committee back in September. So, a lot of the other incidents might be small breaches of security in schools, so the sort of thing where they open the wrong packet of question papers, as an example. Actually, many of those will be occurring in England with England-regulated qualifications, but with the possibility of there being some learners in Wales. So, the awarding bodies notify us as a regulator as well as Ofqual in England, and then we just monitor that to make sure that no learners in Wales are affected. So, I think, beyond the main incidents that we've already discussed with the committee, there's nothing to add.

I think the only thing to maybe come back to is, as well as recognising those incidents, where there are significant incidents like the collation issue that WJEC had with its English literature unit, we follow that incident management through to the point where we understand the actions that the awarding body is intending to take or has taken, and we seek to assure ourselves that appropriate actions have been taken to, if not totally eliminate, at least minimise the possibility of that incident occurring again.


Diolch, ac un cwestiwn efallai mwy cyffredinol i orffen. Yn eich rhagair chi, Philip Blaker, rŷch chi wedi dweud eich bod chi, ynghyd â chyrff dyfarnu, yn archwilio'r effaith bosib y gallai newidiadau polisi yn Lloegr eu cael ar gymwysterau ar gyfer dysgwyr yng Nghymru. Allwch chi ehangu tipyn bach ar hynny, os gwelwch yn dda?

Thank you. And one more general question, maybe, to finish. In your foreword, Philip Blaker, you said that, along with awarding bodies, you're examining the potential impact that policy changes in England could have on qualifications for Welsh learners. Could you expand a little bit on that, please?

Yes, certainly. So, we know that there are changes in policy in England in relation to qualifications. An example there would be the introduction of T-levels, on which the policy position as we understand it at the moment is largely for those to replace the vast majority of level 3 provision that's currently in a range of qualifications, to almost move to an A-level or T-level position in England. What we need to do is to understand what would be the impact on learners in Wales if that change in the market position in England led to the withdrawal of qualifications. And in England, they started looking at which qualifications will be defunded in England as a consequence of the introduction of T-levels. There's already been a defunding list for wave 1 and wave 2 of the T-levels being introduced. So, what we do is we take a look at those impacts of what's going to be defunded in England, we understand what the likely impact is going to be in Wales in terms of those qualifications being awarded in numbers in Wales; is there an alternative qualification that is available? But also, we work quite closely with the awarding bodies to understand what their perspective is about the sustainability of the provision for learners in Wales. So, through that work, we've already sought extensions for BTEC qualifications and from City and Guilds for their qualifications for those that will cease to be funded in England from 2024 to continue to be funded in Wales until at least 2026 to allow time, apart from anything else, for the Welsh Government-led VQ review that is going on at the moment to come up with its findings and to understand what the long-term position will be for learners in Wales.

Now, it's probably worth noting that the VQ review has unsettled some awarding bodies in that it's created some uncertainty, and, as a consequence of that, some of the fruitful conversations that we've been having with awarding bodies have stalled a little, because they want to understand what the VQ review is going to find before they continue to make investments in Wales. But we're working very closely with them and with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, just to try and get as good a picture as we can, and also to make sure that everybody's comfortable with where things are going in Wales, and ready to deal with the VQ review findings when they come out next summer.

Diolch yn fawr. Diolch, Gadeirydd.

Thank you very much. Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, Sioned. Just a couple of questions from me, just to take us back a little bit to the grading policy again, in terms of the reason for needing generous grading in 2023, because of the link with the AS-levels, won't that be the same in 2024?

It will be, but the effect will be much smaller. So, we think it becomes quite marginalised. If we're thinking around two thirds of a grade generosity feeding into next year's award, and a third of a grade at 40 per cent of the overall award going into 2024, whilst there will be some small effect, we think that will be so marginal that, in effect, it will be almost negligible in the award of A-levels in 2024. Certainly, in terms of the public position of comparability with England, we don't think there's anything significant enough to cause concern.


Okay, thank you for that reassurance. And just finally, have you had any discussions with the Welsh Government about your required budget for 2023-24? And how confident are you that you'll have sufficient resources to deliver on your objectives?

The answer is 'yes', discussions have taken place and they're ongoing. We recognise the challenging context of the financial system right across Wales and the UK, but building on the good relationships that we do have with officials, they're positive conversations, and clearly, just building on the conversation we've had today at this committee, there's a whole range of pivotal policy reforms in education taking place in Wales, and alongside other stakeholders, we're at the heart of it. So, we see it as a priority, we feel that Government recognises it as a priority, we do focus on being an efficient organisation, but at the same time, we will need additional resources maintained in order for us to be able to deliver on the reforms and on the Curriculum for Wales. Alongside that, Philip touched on the vocational qualification review—hopefully that's going to report on time this summer. I think a delay in that would be a massive problem, for the reasons that Philip says around some of the concerns within awarding bodies. But beyond that, clearly, if there are any significant recommendations that are adopted as a result of the vocational qualifications review, that may mean that we have to have another conversation around additional resource. But that's an unknown quantity at this juncture. 

Okay. Thank you very much, and I'm sure that we'll be keeping a close eye on all of that as well. Just to say, finally, thank you very much for coming in today. Oh, sorry, Sioned. Sioned would like to come in briefly.

Really briefly.

Dwi jest eisiau gofyn, jest yn meddwl am y cyfrifiad ddoe, rŷch chi yn sôn—y cadeirydd a'r prif weithredwr yn sôn—yn eich geiriau chi, ynglŷn â sut rŷch chi'n cyfrannu ac yn ategu at agenda 'Cymraeg 2050' y Llywodraeth. Felly, allwch chi jest yn gyflym iawn—dwi'n gwybod does dim lot o amser gyda ni—rhoi eich ymateb chi i'r cwestiwn yna?

I just want to ask, just thinking about yesterday's census, you do mention—the chair and the chief executive—in your words, how you're contributing to and endorsing the Government's 'Cymraeg 2050' agenda. So could you briefly tell us, because I know we don't have much time, your response to that question?

Diolch yn fawr iawn am y cwestiwn. Roeddwn i'n flin i weld beth ddaeth allan y diwrnod cyn ddoe, ond o safbwynt Cymwysterau Cymru, dŷn ni wedi tyfu faint o waith rydyn ni'n ei wneud o safbwynt cefnogi'r Gymraeg mewn sawl ffordd. Mae gyda ni ein strategaeth Dewis i Bawb, sydd yn canolbwyntio ar wneud yn siŵr, o fewn y newidiadau efo'r Cwricwlwm i Gymru, bod y Gymraeg yn cael blaenoriaeth. Hefyd, yn ychwanegol, dŷn ni'n pwysleisio ar ehangu cyfleoedd i bobl sy'n dysgu ar ôl 16. Mae'r cynnig Cymraeg—yr active offer, i'w ddweud yn Saesneg—yn anelu at flaenoriaethu'r cynnig Cymraeg, dileu rhwystrau, a chefnogi cyrff dyfarnu ac eraill er mwyn gwneud yn siŵr eu bod nhw'n gallu ymateb i'r galw am gymwysterau yn Gymraeg.

Wedyn, jest yn gyflym, yn ehangach na hynna, fel sefydliad, dŷn ni wedi datblygu grŵp cysylltu sy'n ymwneud â'r iaith Gymraeg. Dŷn ni wedi bod yn cysylltu yn proactive iawn, yn enewdig y flwyddyn yma, efo rhanddeiliaid. Roeddem ni yn y ddau eisteddfod y flwyddyn yma, ac yn cymryd rhan yn y gweithgareddau. Hefyd, fe wnaethon ni lansio partneriaeth strategol efo'r Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, sydd yn bwysig. Maen nhw yn dod atom ni efo'r bwrdd ym mis Ionawr er mwyn gweithio i ddatblygu'r ochr Gymraeg, a hefyd, os gwelwch chi, mae gennym ni wefan newydd sy'n cael ei lansio yn ystod yr wythnosau nesaf, a'r ffordd dŷn ni'n cyfrathrebu, mae'r pwyslais ar y Gymraeg a dwyieithrwydd, dwi'n credu, yn rhywbeth sy'n dod trwyddo yn bositif iawn. Ond mae'n blaenoriaeth i ni.

Yes, thank you very much for the question. Yes, I was sorry to see the information published the day before yesterday, but from our perspective, we've developed the work that we're doing in supporting the Welsh language in many different ways. We have our Dewis i Bawb strategy, which focuses on ensuring that, within the changes to the curriculum, the Welsh language is prioritised. Also, we are emphasising enhancing opportunities in the post-16 sector. The active offer, the cynnig Cymraeg, aims to prioritise the active offer, removing barriers and supporting awarding bodies and others in order to ensure that they can respond to the demand for Welsh language qualifications.

Then, just more broadly, as an organisation, we have developed a contact group related to the Welsh language. We have been very proactively engaging with stakeholders, particularly this year. We were at both eisteddfods this year, and participated in activities. We also launched a strategic partnership with the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, which is important, and they will join us as a board in January in order to develop the Welsh-medium offer. You'll also see that we will have a new website launched over the next few weeks, and in our communication, the emphasis on the Welsh language and bilingualism will come through very positively. This is a priority of ours.

Thank you very much. Thanks, Sioned. And obviously, thank you, again, for coming in this morning—we really appreciate it. If we do have any further questions—I was very conscious of time—we might write to you and look forward to your responses on those. But diolch yn fawr, thank you for coming in and joining us.


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3. Papurau i'w nodi
3. Papers to note

We'll now move on to our next item, which is papers to note. Full details are set out in the papers to note on the agenda and in the paper pack. Are Members content to note them together? There are 11 papers there to note. I see that all Members are content.

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of this meeting


bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).


that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

So, the next item is to move into private session, so I propose in accordance with Standing Order 17.42 that the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of the meeting. Are Members content? I see that Members are content, so we will now proceed in private. 

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:30.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:30.