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Qualifications Wales news

On Thursday 6 June, Qualifications Wales published its decision to delay the introduction of GCSE The Sciences into Phase 2 of the new qualification roll out. Both The Sciences GCSE (Double Award) and Integrated Science GCSE (Single Award) will now be available for first teaching from September 2026.

Following discussions with Qualifications Wales, The Royal Society of Biology (RSB) supports this decision to delay. The RSB looks forward to working further with Qualifications Wales and WJEC in developing The Sciences GCSE as the route for the vast majority of learners in Wales, and in ensuring the biology content is contemporary, durable and flexible, in a way which aligns with the Evolving 5-19 Biology. This decision follows significant engagement between the RSB, our partners in other science organisations, Qualifications Wales and Welsh Government to discuss decisions and outcomes in regards to the shape, content and assessment of the route.

Lauren MᶜLeod, Head of Education Policy at RSB said: “Postponement of the The Sciences GCSE will support further development to ensure the content, pacing and assessment of the new GCSE is appropriate for learners. RSB is confident that The Sciences GCSE is the best route to prepare all learners in Wales for study, life and work regardless of their destination post-16.”

As in the RSB’s letter to Qualifications Wales CEO Philip Blaker last year, the RSB continues to support a single route through the sciences that is open to all students. Each science discipline should have its own identity, be taught and timetabled separately, and be examined to receive its own grade at the end of the qualification. The qualification should be tiered to support breadth of attainment in the student cohort, and the full range of grades valued by teachers, schools and employers. Schools should deploy teachers within their disciplinary expertise, with at least two lessons in the week per discipline (depending on timetable structures). The new The Sciences GCSE will provide this route for learners in Wales, reducing the amount of content for a more manageable GCSE with good progression to a variety of post-16 routes through the sciences, alongside students who do not wish to study the sciences further, allowing all young people to experience curricula and assessments which prepare them to be scientifically literate, able to make scientifically informed choices and ready them for the diverse world of work.

Last year, Qualifications Wales announced its decision to introduce Integrated Science GCSE alongside The Sciences GCSE. The Royal Society of Biology has strongly recommended to Welsh Government that its statutory guidance is updated to ensure all students are entitled to study The Sciences GCSE, with entries to Integrated Science GCSE limited to a small minority of students in exceptional circumstances. All schools should be expected to offer The Sciences GCSE, and to ensure that the inequity of access and progression in the sciences – present in the current qualification system due to the existence of dual routes – is not recreated or exacerbated in these new qualifications.

For more information about RSB’s previous formal responses and engagement with Qualifications Wales and Welsh Government, please see our consultation responses page. If you have specific questions on RSB’s position, please contact