Wales

Q&A: Draft school curriculum for Wales

As a draft of the new school curriculum for Wales is unveiled, we take a look at what the biggest reform to Welsh schools in decades actually means.

Image copyright DGLimages/Getty Images
Image caption The curriculum will be rolled out from September 2022 for children currently in Year 3 and below

Why is the school curriculum being changed?

The main basis for the current curriculum dates from 1988. Technological developments have led to major changes in society and that means young people need different skills.

Over 30 years, extra elements were bolted on to the curriculum so some argue it has become too unwieldy.

The new curriculum aims to set out a more coherent and relevant blueprint of what pupils should be getting out of their time at school.

The reforms also came out of concerns about standards and poor results in international Pisa tests and ministers will hope it will pay dividends in better results too.

How will it be different?

The curriculum does not set out a detailed plan for exactly what schools should be teaching.

It sets the overall "framework", setting out "what matters" to each of the Areas of Learning and Experience (AOLEs).

Individual schools will design their own ways of making sure their pupils develop the right skills. It is meant to give teachers more flexibility to be creative in how they interpret the curriculum.

The biggest changes are likely to be seen in secondary schools because narrow subjects will be ditched in favour of six AOLEs.

Different topics will be weaved together with literacy, numeracy and digital skills featuring in every lesson.

How will we know how pupils are doing under the new system?

At the moment school is divided up into Foundation Phase (ages three to seven) and then "key stages". That will change to "progression steps" at ages five, eight, 11, 14 and 16, which will set out broad expectations for young people at those different stages.

There will still be annual national reading and numeracy tests for seven to 14 year olds - although the author of the original report on the new curriculum, Prof Graham Donaldson, suggested ultimately there should be less testing.

GCSEs will be reviewed so they reflect the new curriculum but there are major questions about how exams at 16 will work in the context of the broader sort of education the new curriculum is meant to introduce.

And beyond the school gates?

The discussion so far has mainly been limited to the schools involved and the education experts, but publishing the draft is seen as a chance to widen the discussion.

What do employers and universities make of it? And will it inspire the confidence of parents in an education system which has had plenty of bad press in recent years?

More on this story