Measuring public confidence and perceptions of  qualifications in Wales 

We commissioned a survey  to measure public confidence in GCSE and AS/A levels, and to explore public perceptions about the value of the Welsh Baccalaureate and Vocational Qualifications.

Release Date: Friday 19 October, 2018
Period covered: September – October 2017
Next Update: March 2019 (Provisional)

It’s the first time that Qualifications Wales has commissioned such a survey with the intention of conducting it on a regular basis  to measure public confidence in a consistent way.     

Measuring  such  an abstract  and complex  concept  as  public confidence has inherent challenges,  including those  related to  how stable the measurement might be  considering  different modes of data collection. 

We therefore wanted to establish if there might be substantial differences in the statistics produced using different methodological approaches, with the aim of generating some evidence whether the choices available to us were likely to be very important in terms of the stability of the statistics produced.  

  That’s why we commissioned two  suppliers to conduct the survey  using different survey modes:  

1. YouGov which  operates  an online panel  of survey respondents   

2. Beaufort Research, which  operates a  face-to-face omnibus survey   

  We are publishing the reports  delivered  by both suppliers.  Although the resulting statistics contained  some differences, as would be expected, the overall pattern of the findings was very similar. 

Beaufort Research has been selected to conduct future surveys using the same methodology. For this reason, findings contained in their face-to-face survey should be quoted - to maintain consistency and avoid confusion.

Some of the highlights from  the face-to-face survey conducted by Beaufort Research are:  

  •  Respondents had the highest level of  confidence in  general  qualifications  being  good preparation for further study, with 76% for AS/A levels and 79% for GCSEs  saying they agreed or strongly agreed  with this statement.    
  • The lowest level of agreement was expressed in relation to the assertion that the marking for general qualifications was accurate, with 32% for AS/A levels and 41% for GCSEs. 
  • At the same time, only a small proportion of respondents disagreed with this statement (15% for AS/A levels and 16% for GCSEs). This statement therefore generated the highest proportion of people who neither agreed nor disagreed and a relatively high proportion of respondents who said they did not know how to answer the question. This may be because members of the public are less likely to perceive that they understand technical aspects of the qualification system, such as marking.  
  • Almost four fifths of the  respondents  (79%) believed that GCSEs were good preparation for further study. However,  a smaller proportion considered them to be good preparation for work (52%). Similar views were expressed about AS/A levels (76% and respectively 44%).   
  • The composite measures  of confidence in general qualifications  (calculated as the average  of the  average scores obtained for each  statement)  was 3.51 for AS/A levels and 3.62 for GCSEs, where 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest.  
  • 62%  of respondents  had not heard or did not know anything about the Welsh Baccalaureate.  Familiarity with WB was greater among young people and among respondents from higher socio-economic statuses. 
  •   When the essence of the Skills Challenge Certificate was explained, 65% of respondents agreed that it is valuable for young people’s future to be able to take a Skills Challenge Certificate and only 6% disagreed. 
  • Respondents had  high  levels of agreement about the value of vocational qualifications, which were broadly defined as qualifications covering a range of work-related subjects. 
  • Around three-quarters of them (78%) agreed that a vocational qualification at age 18 instead of A levels was at least as valuable for young people’s future as achieving A levels and considerably more (88%) agreed that taking vocational qualifications in schools alongside GCSEs was valuable for young people’s futures.  


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