New curriculum in Wales
Written by Gavin on 10th March 2021
History has been made in Wales as the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill reached its final stage before being passed into law.
Members of the Senedd voted to pass the final text of the Bill meaning the Curriculum for Wales will now be introduced in 2022.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “This is an historic day for Wales and another significant milestone in our national mission. The new curriculum has been developed to ensure that our children and young people in Wales have the best opportunity and support in life to ensure that they are all able to thrive for the future of Wales.
“I call it a national mission as it has involved everyone working together co-constructively – teachers, parents, academics, businesses, national organisations, and my department of course – to raise standards, tackle the attainment gap and to have an education system for our learners that is a source of pride to us all.
“Diolch yn fawr to everyone who has played their part in this historic journey for education in Wales.”
Following Royal Assent, which is anticipated in April, the Bill will become the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021.
Last year, the Minister published an updated action plan setting out the next steps in Wales’ reform journey, ahead of the introduction of the new Curriculum for Wales.
Alongside the updated Our National Mission action plan, the Welsh Government also published a document setting out shared expectations of what curriculum realisation means for practitioners and schools from 2022. Curriculum for Wales: the journey to 2022 has been created to help schools prepare for designing and implementing their curriculum. In January, the Welsh Government published the Curriculum Implementation Plan which will steer our work with partners to deliver the Curriculum for Wales.
Here are five things you may not have known about the new curriculum:
1. The curriculum has been made in Wales but shaped by the best ideas from around the world
This is the first time ever that schools in Wales will have a national curriculum set in Welsh Law.
The curriculum guidance is already published and is the result of many years work involving teachers, experts, national and community organisations from Wales, the OECD and from as far afield as New Zealand!
2. The curriculum has been co-constructed from the early stages of its conception
The Curriculum for Wales is the result of co-construction – not top-down diktat from Government.
It has been developed by practitioners for practitioners, bringing together educational expertise and wider research and evidence.
The OECD recognised this in a report stating: “The co-construction process succeeded in engaging many and in developing trust, while systemic adjustments in institutions and other policies are helping set in motion a professionally-led education.”
3. The curriculum has been designed around four purposes for learners
The four purposes will be the starting point and aspiration for every schools’ curriculum design. These represent the kind of learners that schools should help develop and the ethos of the entire education system.
Ultimately, the aim of a school’s curriculum will be to support its learners to become:
- ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
- enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
- ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
- healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.
4. Named subjects have been replaced by Areas of Learning and Experience
The curriculum framework includes six areas of learning and experience:
- Expressive Arts
- Health and Well-being
- Languages, Literacy and Communication
- Mathematics and Numeracy
- Science and Technology
The six areas encourage strong and meaningful links across different disciplines and this will enable learners to build connections across their learning and combine different experiences, knowledge and skills.
Each area includes What Matters statements – there are 27 of these in the entire framework – these are the ‘big ideas’ and key concepts for the curriculum. This is the national framework and helps ensure the same core learning and consistency of approach in curriculum design across settings and schools
5. Children in Wales will have access to the full curriculum
Schools will teach all learners about religion, values and ethics, and relationships and sexuality education in a consistent and developmentally appropriate way.
This will ensure that all young people are provided with access to information that keeps them safe from harm and that all pupils will learn about issues such as online safety and healthy relationships.