School curriculum shake-up 'on time' in Wales

Prof Graham Donaldson
Image caption Prof Graham Donaldson speaking to a policy forum for Wales on the curriculum

A new curriculum for Welsh schools has a "fair chance" of being delivered on time, the author of the report which proposed the reforms has said.

It is a year since Prof Graham Donaldson published his plans, which include making computer skills as central to learning as literacy and numeracy.

Curriculum content is expected to be available to schools by 2018.

But one union said the timetable set by the Welsh government was too ambitious.

The new curriculum is set to be the biggest shake-up in what is taught in schools in more than 25 years.

Education Minister Huw Lewis in October said schools should begin teaching it in 2021, with the content available to teachers by 2018.

He is stepping down in May's election and one union leader urged his successor to look again at the timetable.

Dr Philip Dixon, director of ATL Cymru, believes it is too ambitious and there needs to be a debate on the detail over the next three or four years.

"We've go to be careful we don't rush this, we don't botch it and we get a curriculum that's fit for purpose and will last for several decades," he told BBC Wales.

"Why do it in a rush, let's do it properly instead."

Prof Donaldson said he had spoken to a lot of head teachers who were impatient to get moving with it and others who were worried about having enough time to come to terms with it.

"I think the process which has been put in place has a pretty fair chance of getting us to the point at which by 2018 and beyond schools will be able to move forward with thinking about the curriculum and its implications for their young people," he said.

"The important point is this is not a delivery in terms of a point in time, a cliff that's reached and everything's suddenly different. This is a process which will take place."

Image copyright Thinkstock

What has been suggested for the new curriculum?

  • Six areas of learning combining core and non-core subjects - from maths and numeracy to expressive arts
  • Key stages - which apply from the moment pupils start to infant school to when they take their GCSEs - to be replaced
  • Pupils' learning should be more seamless as they progress and there should be better working between primary and secondary schools
  • "Digital competency" to be part of every lesson, in the same way literacy and numeracy so all pupils would be able to programme and code computers

Prof Donaldson said for parents it would not be "year zero" where everything changes but would build on the strengths already in schools.

He also welcomed the level of support and enthusiasm for the proposals so far.

"I'm also really encouraged by the maturity of the political debate about the curriculum," he said.

"It can become very easy for it to become a political football. But politicians across the assembly have been supportive of the way we're trying to develop the curriculum in Wales."

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