For the uninitiated amongst you that is pronounced “Borra da” .. Think about how some dialects would say “have you got a tenner I can borra Da?” when asking their Dad for a tenner. It means “good morning” in Welsh. I know its evening … I meant to publish this earlier but my laptop went PFFT! And I had to rush out to a meeting! But hey … every day is a school day and now don’t say I never teach you anything!

Why the Welsh greeting? Well, I want to summarise the changes to Maths qualifications in Wales and share some resources with you. Over the border they’re undergoing a whole raft of changes too. The Welsh government put out a call for awarding organisations to provide reformed GCSE and A Levels and WJEC were the only body to “step up the plate”. However the changes are far bigger than we’ve seen in England and from what I’ve seen I like elements of it, but boy! The papers are tough and have so many “wordy” questions! So so many words!! But even if you’re in England, trust me when I say it is really worth looking at the SAMs for the “Wales only” qualifications as there are some great questions .. including some nice multiple choice ones if you’re that way inclined (personally I’m not!).

curveballsFor example I like this question for stretching a basic topic like substitution (and maths purists I’m not interested in your opinion about it as a “maths question” … I like it! It’s my opinion!) but there are some really great context and abstract questions.

Basically there are now two branded qualifications coming out of WJEC:

  • Eduqas .. this is a new brand from WJEC and offers the GCSE as we know it. These are the papers that went through the accreditation process with the other 3 bodies recently
  • WJEC which is only available for schools in Wales and if you are a maintained school in Wales there is NO CHOICE!

For maintained schools in Wales:

  • There are TWO GCSEs in Maths:
  • Allegedly they won’t cover more content than the current GCSE so according to the Qualifications Wales website they don’t require additional teaching time. The site even goes on to say that the time schools “devote to maths is a matter for them” and that the teaching time that would be sufficient to meet the two quals is “dependent on the amount of time already committed to teaching mathematics”.
  • Most students will be expected to take BOTH GCSEs – however there is a note that for some students it may be more appropriate for them to focus on the Numeracy GCSE.
  • Either qualification at grade B will be sufficient to start Initial Teacher Training in Wales.
  • In terms of the performance measures in Wales: GCSE Mathematics – Numeracy will count towards the “Maths element” and the GCSE Mathematics can count as one of the “other qualifications”.

In terms of the WJEC (Wales only) qualifications the changes don’t just stop at the introduction of Eduqas as an option for us to use in England. No! They are massive.

  • One key difference is that Wales will continue to use the grading structure of A* to G with A* to C being Level 2 quals and D to G being Level 1.
  • Both quals are linear and will be equally demanding.
  • There are three tiers: – Guess what they are? Yes. Higher, Intermediate and Foundation
  • Two papers on each tier (calc and non calc) with each paper being 1 hour 45 minutes.

I have split the sample assessment materials up into separate papers and also put together some worked solutions for BOTH GCSEs that you guys in Wales have to deliver (in fact I’m still working on the Maths ones but they’ll be up tomorrow). I have also added them to this DROPBOX LINK –  which has all the SAMs and worked solutions for the other boards we can use in England.



One of the main points that I do like is the fact that there is a hopefully an opportunity for students to sit the legacy quals for resits. With the current GCSEs when the 2010 specification was introduced Edexcel were allowed a legacy resit in March and this was a massive help to schools and colleges, especially in FE. Let’s make no bones about it; we are faced with a massive issue with our current year 11 due to the “unlikeliness” of having any additional legacy exam sittings. Let me explain: year 11 sit their exam in June 2016 (remember they won’t have been exposed to the new GCSE) and if they fail to get a C will resit the current spec in Nov. Results aren’t published until about 10/11th Jan and so up until this point schools are going to have to make the call to continue teaching them .. but it will have to be the NEW content as the next opportunity for resitting is June 2017. The alternative is that schools/colleges wait until the results and then try to shoehorn topics in and prepare for students in 5 months.

I wonder if the DFE/Ofqual would consider introducing an additional legacy sitting in March 2017 for students aged 16+? Worth asking?

Doubt it!

(PS: – Must give credit to Steve Murphy for pointing me in the direction of some of this information)