The journey towards the rollout of Wales’ new curriculum in 2022 reaches a major milestone today with the publication of a draft designed by teachers and shaped by experts from Wales and around the world.
Since 2015, teachers from pioneer schools across Wales have been working together on a draft framework that deliberately breaks away from the prescriptive, narrow and outdated curriculum first introduced in 1988.
The new curriculum is being constructed around four purposes that will help learners to become ambitious and capable, enterprising and creative, ethical and informed and healthy and confident.
Teachers will be given more flexibility to develop a curriculum in their school that meets the needs of their learners. They will be able to do this by using a common framework that includes six new Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLEs).
These Areas of Learning and Experience will cover: Mathematics and Numeracy; Science and Technology; Humanities; Languages, Literacy and Communications; Health and Wellbeing; and Expressive Arts.
Traditional subject-to-subject boundaries will be broken down, allowing learners to consider different concepts and issues in the broadest possible way.
Every AoLE will also be set firmly within a Welsh and international context so that learners have the opportunity to understand their country and its contribution to the world in every part of the curriculum.
Cross-curriculum responsibilities of literacy, numeracy and digital competence will be statutory up to 16 years old.
The purpose of making these areas cross curricular is so that learners can apply them to different academic or real-life situations; from an earlier age that might be practicing their numeracy skills by learning songs or at a later age it might mean learning about how to problem solve and manage their money in a relationship.
English and Welsh, Religious Studies and Relationships and Sexuality Education, will also be statutory up to 16 years old.
The teachers and other practitioners and experts who have been working on the draft AoLE documents have built them on the basis of what they think really matters for learners – the knowledge, skills and experiences that form a well-rounded, high standard of education and prepare learners for employment in a fast-changing world.
In a break from the past, Key Stages will be removed and replaced with Progression Steps for each AoLE. These will set out expectations for what learners ages 5, 8, 11, 14 and 16 should be achieving and will inform the design of the curriculum in each school. They will also allow teachers to assess learners progress as they move through school.
This continuous assessment is intended to give learners, as well as their parents/carers, a clearer picture of areas where they can improve - taking into account their individual abilities, experiences and rates of learning and understanding.
Independent regulator Qualifications Wales will ensure that any proposed changes to qualifications as a result of the new curriculum make sense for learners, teachers, parents and employers.
A total of £44 million has been specifically set aside to support schools and teachers prepare for the new curriculum. This includes £20 million for development and implementation and a further £24m - the single biggest investment in support for teachers in Wales since devolution – for professional learning.
Launching the draft curriculum at Olchfa School in Swansea, Education Minister Kirsty Williams said:
“Today marks the culmination of years of hard work by our teachers and experts from both inside Wales and beyond.
“What we’re publishing today is very different to what most of us will have experienced and it’s a big culture change. We’re moving away from an outdated, narrow curriculum that sets out subject by subject, topic by topic and hour by hour what pupils should be learning. This isn’t a rule book.
“Using their considerable knowledge, experience and expertise, teachers in Wales have instead built a framework that sets out the fundamentals of a truly twenty-first century education.
“As I’ve said before, we’re not taking a big bang approach. The curriculum isn’t going to land on a teacher’s desk on a Friday afternoon, to be taught on a Monday. This is going to take time and that means working alongside the profession so that we get things right.
“Today marks the beginning of a major consultation around the draft curriculum framework that runs until 19th July. I’ll soon be embarking on a National Mission Tour around Wales and finding out what the education workforce has to say.
“We’re also calling for the widest possible range of views on this draft framework - from Universities and Colleges to industry; from youth organisations to businesses and employers from across the public, private and third sectors. Make sure you join the conversation.”
The draft curriculum framework will be available to view on Hwb, alongside resources including free google and Microsoft tools.