Tell us your views: Is the new Curriculum for Wales on track?
Schools and teachers face a big job to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to affect pupils’ well-being and learning.
At the same time, they are preparing for the biggest reform of the school curriculum since the National Curriculum was introduced in 1988.
The new Curriculum for Wales will be rolled out from September 2022.
We want to find out if preparations are on track. We want to hear from those involved in education – including teachers and parents – about the preparations for introducing the new Curriculum for Wales.
How is the new Curriculum for Wales different?
The new Curriculum for Wales differs from the current curriculum in some important ways:
- The way children learn in primary and secondary schools will be different; Learning will focus more on skills and experiences, as well as knowledge;
- Teachers will have more freedom to teach in ways they believe are best for their learners;
- The new curriculum is for all pupils aged 3-16. There won’t be key stages or a distinct Foundation Phase for 3-7 year olds;
- Subjects will be grouped into six Areas of Learning and Experience. There will be greater emphasis on the links between subjects;
- Assessment will take place on a day-to-day basis to look at each pupil’s progress, agree next steps and check progress. Tests at the end of key stages will go; and
- GCSEs will still exist for the end of compulsory education. They will look different to reflect the new curriculum.
The road to curriculum reform
The new curriculum is part of a large education reform programme that has been taking place during the last decade.
The Welsh Government has worked with education professionals to develop the new curriculum since 2014.
A 2017 implementation plan set out how it would achieve its aim for the new curriculum to be ready for all primary pupils and for year 7 in secondary schools from September 2022.
The first exams for pupils based on the new curriculum are due to be in summer 2027.
Why is Audit Wales looking at the Curriculum for Wales?
Given how important this reform is to pupils, parents and others in Wales, we want to look at whether the Welsh Government’s implementation plans are on track.
Concerns have been raised around resources and timescales as well as the effect of the pandemic.
Our colleagues in Estyn – the schools’ inspectorate - have been working with schools to find out how their preparations are progressing. Based on this, the Welsh Government confirmed the new curriculum will be compulsory in primary schools from September 2022.
However, it has given secondary schools some breathing space; the new curriculum won’t be compulsory for years 7 and 8 until September 2023.
Why are we doing this work now?
September 2022 will only be the start of the long process of curriculum reform, but we want to take a temperature check now, ahead of the start date. We will publish our report early next year.
Our work is a chance to find out how well the Welsh Government is managing the process and to explore any barriers to successful and timely implementation.
About the author
Claire Flood-Page is a performance auditor.