Wales and Northern Ireland
Like all exam boards, we can only offer qualifications that comply with government policy and regulations. Recent government changes mean that policies and regulations are no longer aligned in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – so we now can't always offer the same qualifications in all three countries.
We've decided not to offer new ("reformed") qualifications in Wales, or to adapt certain new qualifications for Northern Ireland. We're sorry about this: we know that schools and colleges in these countries will be disappointed.
It was a difficult decision to make: we'd like all our qualifications to be available to everybody. But we had to consider the practicalities of running significantly different versions of the same qualification – including the extra administration needed, and the challenge of trying to set the same standard across different countries.
We've not developed new GCSE, AS or A-level qualifications to meet the specific new requirements of the Welsh regulator. Of all the exam boards, only WJEC are committed to developing these qualifications specific to Wales.
We have no plans to make our GCSE, AS or A-level qualifications offered in England available to maintained schools or colleges in Wales. The potential requirement to give students the choice of taking exams in English or Welsh would pose significant operational risks.
We've sought confirmation from the Welsh Language Commissioner, via Qualifications Wales, that we would be exempt from this potential requirement. Qualifications Wales are not able to rule out this being a requirement in future. However, if we receive this confirmation, we’ll happily seek approval to offer our qualifications to all students in Wales.
There's more information, including a full list of the qualifications affected, on the Qualifications Wales FAQ page.
Our technical, vocational and other general qualifications (including ELC) will continue to be available to all students in Wales.
Independent schools in Wales will be able to continue offering any of our qualifications including our new GCSE, AS and A-levels.
Availability of our GCSEs
Education Minister Peter Weir has overturned the decision made by former minister John O'Dowd in 2015 to allow pupils in Northern Ireland to receive GCSE grades from English exam boards who give results using numbers from 9–1.
We’re pleased that this announcement means we’ll once again be able to offer our high-quality, internationally recognised qualifications to the young people of Northern Ireland.
There are, however, two exceptions to this decision. We will not be able to offer the following qualifications because we do not meet the requirements specified below:
- GCSE English Language: the assessment of speaking and listening must be included and contribute towards the overall grade
- GCSE sciences: the assessment of practical skills must be included and contribute towards the overall grade.
All our other GCSE qualifications will be available again with immediate effect.
The Department for Education Northern Ireland have already confirmed that if you're an independent school, you can still offer qualifications from any exam board.
Availability of our AS and A-levels
With regards to AS and A-levels, Northern Ireland has an "open qualifications market". This means that if you're a school or college in Northern Ireland, you can offer our AS and A-level qualifications, as long as they meet any subject-specific requirements – even if the qualification was specifically designed for England.
The only AS and A-levels that we can't offer are any of the science subjects. This is because our science qualifications don't have a mark for assessing practical skills that contributes to the overall grade.