Qualification development

How are qualifications developed in Wales?


The development of qualifications such as GCSEs, A levels, vocational qualifications and the Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales is an extensive process that involves many subject stakeholders. This is to ensure they provide learners with an opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills to succeed. 


Welsh Government, Qualifications Wales (QW) and WJEC, all have distinct roles and responsibilities within the development of qualifications in Wales. 



WJEC and qualification development


Managing qualification development


Many people are involved in the development of new qualifications within WJEC, including the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) and the Qualifications Development Management Group (QDMG).


Developing a qualification is not something that can be done in isolation. ELT and QDMG involvement ensures that we have a consistent approach across qualifications, where appropriate, and that any new qualification can be developed efficiently, and can be assessed reliably and accurately.


When a qualification is being developed, the staff directly involved are:

  • an assistant director
  • a qualifications development officer
  • a subject officer
  • a team of subject specialists (usually current teachers) appointed to produce the specification sample assessment materials and resources for teachers and students.


The development process   


The qualifications we develop must meet all relevant regulatory criteria (rules) published by QW. We must ensure we are clear on all aspects of the regulatory criteria which apply to these qualifications.


Our draft materials, including the specification and sample assessment materials, are submitted for review by QW. We make amendments responding to feedback until QW is content to approve the qualification.


We engage closely with QW while they develop the relevant criteria as these define, not only the nature of the assessment (e.g. whether it includes coursework or whether it is assessed by exams only), but also the key topics which have to be covered by the subject content. 


There are rigorous quality assurance checks throughout the qualification development process. We also engage with subject specialists including teachers of existing WJEC qualifications, to ensure our new qualifications meet the needs of students in Wales.



How long does the process take? 


Timescale to develop a qualification   


It typically takes between 18 months to two years, though significant changes, as in the example below, can take longer.  


Because most learning programmes in schools and colleges have a duration of two years, the total time between initial discussions with the regulator until the first awards is typically around four and a half years:

  • about 18 months for qualification development,
  • publication of the approved qualification one year in advance of first teaching and,
  • nearly two years from when students begin their studies to when they take their exams.