Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister, has today unveiled the legal foundations of Wales’ planned new curriculum.
The reforms will replace a narrow, outdated curriculum with one that will empower teachers and prepare Wales’ young people for the future.
Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
“These are hugely significant and much-needed developments for Welsh education.
“Our Welsh Assembly manifesto talked giving schools more flexibility. It said teachers can teach at their best when they have the freedom to innovative. It was clear that teachers know their pupils better than politicians. But it also acknowledged that too often teachers don’t feel empowered to deal with the challenges they face.
“Now, with a Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister, we’re able to do something about it. These curriculum reforms will empower teachers, prepare pupils for the future and raise standards in our education system.”
Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister, said:
“Wales started on this journey of reform because of a drive to improve standards – we want our young people to develop higher standards of literacy and numeracy, become more digitally and bilingually competent, and grow to be enterprising, creative and critical thinkers.
“I am absolutely clear that to raise standards and extend opportunities, we need to empower schools and teachers by moving away from a narrow, inflexible and crowded curriculum.
“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.”
Why is it changing?
The last curriculum was devised in 1988 by a Government in Westminster. It was devised before smartphones and before tablets. It was devised at a time far removed from the world our young people live in today.
This is a curriculum made in Wales, made for the Wales of the future.
What will it mean for pupils?
There is a greater focus on ensuring young people are equipped for life. They will be: ambitious, capable learners; enterprising, creative contributors; ethical, informed citizens; and healthy, confident individuals.
Traditional subject areas are being broken down, with teachers trusted to decide what’s best for their pupils within six new areas of learning and experience.
Pupils will develop stronger digital skills. Digital competence is one of the three ‘cross-curricular responsibilities’, alongside literacy and numeracy. They will be statutory responsibilities, alongside English, Welsh, Religious Studies, and Relationships and Sexuality Education.
And assessment arrangements will focus on ensuring pupils know what to do next. It is assessment for learning, linked to 6 ‘progression steps’ through a pupil’s time at school.
What will it mean for schools and teachers?
Welsh Liberal Democrats know that teachers, not politicians, know what’s best for their pupils. These reforms empower teachers to be flexible and creative in their teaching.
We know it’s a big change and we’ve taken steps to support teachers to manage it. Kirsty Williams announced the single biggest investment in Wales’ teachers since devolution began, a £24million package which will help in the delivery of the new curriculum.
Schools and teachers have been at the heart of the new curriculum, with a network of Pioneer Schools working with stakeholders and other practitioners to develop the curriculum. A phased approach will support them in its implementation.
Why is it so important?
Curriculum reform is part of the National Mission to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap, and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride. The changes, overseen by a Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister, will help Wales meet the challenges of the future.
Teachers will be empowered to better prepare pupils for the challenges the coming decades will bring, in turn better preparing Wales for these challenges.
What comes next?
This is a made in Wales approach with collaboration at its heart. Engagement with the teaching profession will continue, and on top of this people from all backgrounds across Wales are being given the opportunity to have their say.
Today marks the beginning of a consultation period on the proposals around the curriculum. It has been launched by Kirsty Williams and will run for 8 weeks. The consultation can be found here.