Welsh schools and colleges may soon be offering a single overarching 16-19 certificate linking vocational and traditional education courses, writes Huw Richards.
This week's Welsh Office white paper, Building Excellent Schools Together, says the new certificate will allow young people "to undertake A levels and/or vocational qualifications, plus the key skills of communication, application of number and IT. In time, this could become the basis for progression to higher education and employment from age 18: it would be available for young people in work-based training as well as in full-time education."
The Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales, to be set up in October, will immediately start consultation on the development of broader A levels and stronger vocational qualifications. The Welsh Office originally intended to introduce new A-level and AS-level syllabuses, new model General National Vocational Qualifications and a new key skills qualification in 1998, but has deferred their introduction for a year to take account of the consultation.
The new core curriculum for primary teachers trained in Wales will demand competence in Welsh, as well as in English and mathematics.
Wales will also have its own General Teaching Council, but consultation will determine whether this is a separate body for Wales or a combined body with England which includes a distinct, statutorily recognised decision- and policy-making Welsh component.
The reforms proposed in the white paper, proclaimed by the Government to be "the first so comprehensively and exclusively focused on education in Wales in modern times", will be supervised by a 12-member Education and Training Action Group for Wales. This will be chaired by Peter Hain MP, Welsh Office minister for education and training, and will develop a Wales Education and Training Action Plan that will take account of government responses to the Dearing report and the Lifelong Learning white paper to be published later this year.
l Plans for improving performance in Scottish schools were announced this week by Brian Wilson, education minister for Scotland.
Mr Wilson is to chair an action group that will advise on standards and target-setting. John MacBeath, director of Strathclyde University's Quality in Education Centre, has been appointed to the group.