Secondary Education in Wales

Secondary Education in Wales

Secondary Education in Wales is delivered through Secondary School or High School.

The National Curriculum is applied to 4 key stages of pupil development. In Primary school learners study the National Curriculum at Key Stages 1 and 2. In Secondary School learners study Key Stage 3 and 4 National Curriculum subjects.

Key Stage 3 includes years 7,8,9
* Year 7, old First Form, age 11 to 12
* Year 8, old Second Form, age 12 to 13
* Year 9, old Third Form, age 13 to 14 (End of Key Stage Three Tests and Tasks)

Key Stage 4 includes years 10,11
* Year 10, old Fourth Form, age 14 to 15
* Year 11, old Fifth Form, age 15 to 16 (old O Level examinations, modern GCSE examinations)

Key Stage 5/6 includes years 12,13
* Year 12, old Lower Sixth Form, age 16 to 17
* Year 13, old Upper Sixth Form, age 17 to 18 A level examinations


Regular and systematic assessment of a pupil's ongoing progress throughout compulsory schooling is an essential complement to the National Curriculum. Its primary purpose is to provide a clear picture of what pupils have achieved against individual subject attainment standards by the end of three key stages of a pupil's school life i.e. broadly ages 7, 11 and 14. The respective assessments were based on a rising scale (Levels 1 to 8, and then Exceptional Performance) of achievement.

For 7 year olds (Key Stage 1) the general expectation is that the majority of pupils will attain Level 2 in each individual subject. For 11 year olds (Key Stage 2) the expectation is that the majority of pupils will attain Level 4 in each individual subject. For 14 year olds (Key Stage3) the general expectation is that the majority of pupils will attain Level 5 in each individual subject.

The system of statutory national key-stage tests in Wales was, until 2000, the same as in England, and was managed by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA). In 2000, the National Assembly for Wales took responsibility for these tests in Wales, at which point they were developed by test agencies on behalf on ACCAC, whilst the tests in England were developed for the QCA.

In 2002, the Welsh Assembly decided to stop the tests at Key Stage One. Instead, optional teacher-assessment materials were provided to schools in 2003 for use in English, mathematics, and Welsh. These had been adapted from materials that had originally been developed by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and the other test agencies to be used as statutory assessment materials for 2003. At the end of 2003, the Daugherty Report was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly to undertake a review of the country's assessment procedures. Following the outcome of the Daugherty Assessment review Group in 2004, Key Stage 2 task/tests were made optional in 2005 and Key Stage 3 tasks/tests were made optional in 2006. Only results for teacher assessments were published from 2006 onwards. []

In 2003, the Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification was piloted at Key Stage 5/6. Subsequently Welsh Baccalaureate programmes have been introduced for study at three levels, Foundation, Intermediate or Advanced between ages 14-19years.

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