(Title Image: Wales Online)
Yesterday, the Education Minister, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor) launched a white paper setting out how the long-awaited new National Curriculum for Wales will work (pdf).
“This is an exciting time for education in Wales. Not only are we developing a curriculum that ensures our learners are equipped to meet the needs of the future, but we are developing a curriculum through genuine collaboration with our schools and key stakeholders.
“I am asking people across Wales to contribute to this debate over the coming weeks and months. The White Paper is ambitious and far-reaching. But we will only reach those high standards through a genuine national mission and conversation.”
– Education Minister, Kirsty Williams
What will pupils learn under the new curriculum?
- Core subjects and the basic curriculum for 3-14-year-olds will be replaced with six areas of learning: expressive arts; health & well-being; humanities (including religious education); languages, literacy & communication; mathematics and numeracy; science & technology.
- 14-16-year-olds will follow a more specialised curriculum through GCSEs, but subjects will still be grouped into the six areas of learning.
- Literacy, numeracy and digital competence will be embedded across the new curriculum.
- Welsh and English will remain compulsory until age 16 and Welsh will no longer be taught as a second language.
- Schools will be able to decide for themselves which modern foreign languages are taught and at what age, opening the door for British Sign Language and foreign languages to be taught from as early as primary school.
- Age-appropriate careers education will be introduced for all pupils.
- Sex education will be renamed Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) and will be taught in age-appropriate ways from the age of 3. It’ll also have a syllabus which is much broader than the biological aspects of sex.
- Religious education will remain compulsory, but the syllabus will be changed so it takes into account non-religious worldviews.
- Pupils could (depending on the outcome of the white paper consultation) be given a right to decide for themselves whether to withdraw from religious education and relationship & sexuality education. However, sixth formers will definitely be allowed to choose for themselves whether to attend such classes.
How will children be taught and assessed?
- Key Stages will be scrapped and replaced with what’s described as a seamless “continuum of learning” from ages 3-16 with standards of progression set at ages 5, 8, 11, 14 and 16. These standards of progression will enable teachers to determine which pupils need more help and which pupils can be stretched beyond their age group.
- Schools and teachers will be given a bit more freedom in how they assess pupils’ progress and the Welsh Government will no longer set any formal targets; teachers will judge how well pupils are performing and whether they meet the standards of progression.
- Pupils will have an E-portfolio to showcase their work, achievements and experiences inside and outside schools.
When will the new curriculum be introduced?
The new curriculum requires a law to be introduced in the Senedd.
Schools and teachers will have up to three years to prepare for the new curriculum with the process starting in April 2019. A final version of the curriculum is expected to be ready by January 2020.
The new curriculum will be rolled out in September 2022 for all nursery and primary school pupils as well as pupils starting Year 7. Pupils who are in Year 8 or higher in September 2022 will continue using the current curriculum.
The public consultation is open until 25th March 2019 – all the details are available here.