A new curriculum is being developed for settings and schools in Wales. Following a feedback period which ended in July 2019, the refined version will be available in January 2020, which will be used throughout Wales by 2022.

First published:
1 December 2017
Last updated:

What's changing

The whole approach to developing young people aged 3 to 16 will change.

The new curriculum will have more emphasis on equipping young people for life. It will build their ability to learn new skills and apply their subject knowledge more positively and creatively. As the world changes, they will be more able to adapt positively.

They will also get a deep understanding of how to thrive in an increasingly digital world. A new digital competence framework is now introducing digital skills across the curriculum, preparing them for the opportunities and risks that an online world presents.

Meanwhile teachers will have more freedom to teach in ways they feel will have the best outcomes for their learners.

The central focus of assessment arrangements will be to ensure learners understand how they are performing and what they need to do next. There will be a renewed emphasis on assessment for learning as an essential and integral feature of learning and teaching.

The purpose of the new curriculum is to support our children and young people to be:

  • 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.

It will have 6 ‘Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLE).

  • Expressive arts.
  • Health and well-being.
  • Humanities (including RE which should remain compulsory to age 16).
  • Languages, literacy and communication (including Welsh, which should remain compulsory to age 16, and modern foreign languages).
  • Mathematics and numeracy.
  • Science and technology.

It will also include 3 cross-curricular responsibilities: literacy, numeracy and digital competence.

Assessment is a continuous process and takes place on a daily basis in schools. Progression reference points help learners, teachers, parents and carers to understand if appropriate progress is being made. They will set out expectations for learners in each area of their learning relating broadly to ages 5, 8, 11, 14 and 16.

Why it's changing

Now more than ever, young people need to be adaptable to change, capable of learning new skills throughout life and equipped to cope with new life scenarios.

Advances in technology and globalisation have transformed the way we live and work. These changes have profound implications for what, and how, children and young people need to learn. After all, tablets and smart phones didn’t even exist when the last curriculum was introduced in 1993.

Schools and teachers need more flexibility to respond to this environment, using a new curriculum which will promote high achievement and engage the interest of all children and young people to help them reach their potential.

The new curriculum will bring this about by making learning more experience-based, the assessment of progress more developmental, and by giving teachers the flexibility to deliver in more creative ways that suit the learners they teach.

This new approach was informed by Professor Graham Donaldson’s independent review of curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales, Successful Futures, in February 2015 which provided the foundations for a twenty-first Century curriculum shaped by the very latest national and international thinking.

Since the report, teachers and stakeholders have been consulted at events across Wales to gather their thoughts and start to shape future curriculum and assessment arrangements.

Professor Donaldson also took note of a range of independent reports connected with education and skills which suggested a need for change, from the qualifications review to an industry-orientated ICT Steering Group, as featured below:

Independent subject reviews

ICT Steering Group's report to the Welsh Government

Review of Welsh second language at Key Stages 3 and 4

Final report of the Cwricwlwm Cymreig, history and the story of Wales review group

Report of the Schools and Physical Activity Task and Finish Group

Arts in Education in the Schools of Wales

Culture and Poverty: Harnessing the power of the arts, culture and heritage to promote social justice in Wales

Review of Qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds in Wales

When it's changing

Work on developing the new curriculum is well underway, but this is not a process that will be rushed. The key milestones on the journey are set out below.

2015 - 2016: Pioneer Network established

2015 - 2019: Design and development phase of the new curriculum

September 2016: Digital Competence Framework available

December 2017: Digital Professional Learning Approach (DPLA) Available

2017 - 2022: Practical support to schools to prepare for the new curriculum

April 2018: Initial National Approach to Professional Learning Available (Phase 1)

April 2019: National Approach to Professional Learning Available (Phase 2)

April 2019: New curriculum and assessment arrangements available for feedback

January 2020: Final curriculum and assessment arrangements available

April 2020: Full Implementation of National Approach to Professional Learning (Phase 3)

September 2022: All maintained schools and settings using the new curriculum and assessment arrangements

The first teaching of all year groups from primary school to Year 7 will begin in September 2022 and the new curriculum will roll out year-on-year from this point.

A plan for designing and developing the new curriculum and assessment framework has also been developed in collaboration with Pioneer Schools and key stakeholders.

How it's happening

The new curriculum is being developed by teachers and practitioners through a network of Pioneer Schools. These schools have been drawn from across Wales, including settings that are rural and urban; bilingual, English-medium and Welsh-medium; primary, secondary, special schools, schools with a religious character and a range of school sizes.

The Pioneer Schools Network is working as part of an all-Wales partnership with:

  • local authorities
  • regional consortia
  • the schools inspection body Estyn
  • external experts
  • the further and higher education sectors
  • employers
  • Welsh Government
  • other key stakeholders.

Initially, Pioneer Schools were identified to lead on 3 distinct work streams.

  • Design and development of the Digital Competence Framework. This has now been made available and Pioneers are acting as ambassadors to encourage take-up
  • Design and development of the new national curriculum
  • Effective professional learning to ensure teachers and practitioners can deliver the new curriculum

A new group of 25 Pioneer Schools joined the original cohort in January 2017, giving added impetus to work on the six Areas of Learning and Experience which contain the subject content.

Regardless of their initial focus, all Pioneer Schools work closely together and with their clusters, networks and wider stakeholder groups, to involve as many schools as possible in this exciting work.

Resource: List of Pioneer schools (File size: 530KB)

Teachers/practitioners will be offered specific training to help them deliver the new curriculum successfully.

The Pioneer Schools Network, working with local authorities and their regional consortia, will provide practical support and expertise for all schools to develop the pedagogical and leadership skills crucial to successful implementation of the new curriculum.

Training and development will spread and embed what the best schools and practitioners are already doing, ensuring fairness of opportunity for all, in a self-improving school system.

The radical new approach to the design and ongoing development of the curriculum and the way in which it is taught is wholly consistent with the philosophy of trusting and empowering professionals.

Initial Teacher Education and Training will also be transformed in line with Professor John Furlong’s proposals in his report Teaching Tomorrow’s Teachers.

Curriculum for Wales news

Get involved in the conversation and keep up to date with developments to the new curriculum through our Curriculum for Wales blog.

You can also keep updated by listening to the Education Wales podcast on Spreaker or iTunes

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