Consultation open on draft new National Curriculum

(Title Image: Wales Online)

Yesterday, the Education Minister, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), released the draft version of the long-awaited new National Curriculum for Wales.

The draft curriculum is very similar to white paper proposals published earlier this year, but it’s worth going through it again.

What will pupils learn?

Traditional subjects will be replaced with six areas of learning:

  • Languages, Literacy & Communication – The aim is for learners to be able to communicate effectively in English, Welsh and at least one modern foreign language. Schools will be allowed to tailor Welsh-medium education to meet the skills of pupils (i.e. English-medium school pupils who’ve attended Mudiad Meithrin may be taught to a higher level than everyone else). Literature in English, Welsh and from elsewhere in the world will be included.
  • Mathematics & Numeracy – Pretty self-explanatory, though the emphasis will shift away from mathematical theory and process towards the use of real-world examples which enhance problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
  • Science & Technology – This includes biology, chemistry, physics, IT and design & technology. The goal is for pupils to develop conclusions based on experimentation and evidence, apply scientific theories to practical examples and provide preparation for them to become “digital citizens”.
  • Health & Well-being – Pupils will learn all the different factors that affect their personal health and general well-being, ensuring they make positive choices in terms of physical health, mental health and their interaction with the world (i.e social media, career choices).
  • Humanities – This includes the study of history, geography, religious education, business and anything else that “questions the human condition” and promotes understanding of how Wales and its culture, industry and communities interact with the rest of the world.
  • Expressive Arts – Anything which encourages pupils to develop their artistic and creative abilities, including music, drama, art and digital media. The goal is to build confidence, independence and an ability to express complex subjects creatively.

In addition to this, there’ll be several cross-cutting themes applied to all six areas of learning. These are literacy, numeracy, digital skills, a Welsh context, work and related experiences and Relationship & Sexuality Education (RSE).

So when it comes to RSE, for example, pupils will learn about the biology of sex within Science & Technology, explore the emotional and personal impacts in Health & Well-being and put this in a broader social or creative context in Humanities and Expressive Arts.

How will they learn?

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. There’ll also be separate “Routes for Learning” for pupils with learning disabilities.

Schools and teachers will have more freedom on how to deliver lessons, though pupils will still be expected to learn certain skills at each progression step.

It doesn’t look like formal targets will be set by the Welsh Government anymore. However, it appears as though pupils in Years 2-9 will continue to take part in annual literacy and numeracy tests – which will move completely online by the 2020-21 academic year.

When and how will the new curriculum be introduced?

Schools and teachers will have up to three years to prepare for the new curriculum with a final version of the curriculum 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. This rolling programme will continue until the first cohort of Year 7 pupils complete their GCSEs (or equivalent) in 2026.

Pupils who are in Year 8 or higher as of September 2022 will continue using the current curriculum.

The consultation is open until 19th July 2019 and all the details are available here.

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