WALES could be heading for a separate system of qualifications after a report recommended the country's pupils keep GCSEs.

A Welsh Government review of qualifications for 14 to 19 year olds recommended that officials should work to create a "distinctive" national qualifications system and should support divergence with other parts of the UK "where in the interests for Wales".

It makes 42 recommendations, and says that GCSEs should be retained as the main ‘level one and two’ general qualifications for 14 to 19 year olds.

If the recommendations are followed Wales could end up with a separate system of qualifications to England, where it's been proposed that the GCSE is replaced by the English Baccalaureate.

The report also says A-Levels should be retained as the main ‘level three’ general qualifications at 16 to 19, and recommends that Wales introduces a more "rigorous" model for the Welsh Baccalaureate.

The Welsh Government should encourage the "universal adoption" of the qualification as the basis for learning programmes in schools and colleges, the review adds, while a single body called Qualifications Wales should be responsible for the regulation of all non-degree level qualifications.

Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert said he was excited by the opportunities in the report.

He added: "I look forward to considering the recommendations in detail and I intend to respond formally by the end of January 2013.”