Delay hits start of country’s radical new school curriculum
CHILDREN now aged seven and younger will be the first to be taught Wales’ radical new school curriculum.
A new delayed timetable for the introduction of the change to the way children are taught and assessed will be announced today.
Instead of the previously planned big bang changeover for everyone in 2021, the new curriculum will be introduced gradually.
It means that for five years, teachers will have to teach the old and the new systems at the same time to students of different ages.
Children aged six or seven today will be the first to start new curriculum when they start secondary school in 2022 and will continue with it as they progress through school.
Children in primary schools will all switch over the same year.
However, older children will still learn the traditional way. It means the first set of GCSE-level exams sat under the new curriculum will be for today’s six and seven year olds in 2025.
By the time today’s six and seven-year-olds reach their final GCSE year in 2026, the roll-out will be complete.
Unveiling the new timetable today, education secretary Kirsty Williams said: “It’s the right decision to introduce the curriculum as a phased roll-out rather than a ‘big bang’, and for that to start in 2022.
“This approach, and an extra year, will mean all schools have the time to engage with the development of the curriculum and be fully prepared for the changes.”
All schools will have access to the final curriculum from 2020, to allow them to move towards full roll-out in 2022.
The revised timetable was announced by the Welsh Government in response to a progress report on the reforms last year from the body which runs the international Pisa test, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
And earlier this year the National Assembly’s education committee warned schools need a contingency plan with confusion about work being done following Professor Graham Donaldson’s 2015 “Successful Futures” curriculum review.
Details are contained in a 44-page report from the Welsh Government Education in Wales: Our national mission, Action plan 2017–21, unveiled today.
Writing in the document, the education secretary warns schools must move with changing times: “There is no doubt that Wales, and the world, face significant challenges and rapid change.
“Huge economic and technological transformation necessitates that our education system can’t stand still.
“Doing nothing is simply not an option. Taken together, our reforms will meet these challenges and deliver on the high expectations we all share for our young people.
“For the first time in a generation, educators right across our system are working together to craft a new and innovative vision for our schools.
“We have to grasp with both hands the opportunity to create something that will be the envy of the world.”
The report says the new curriculum will help develop young people as confident, capable and caring citizens.
“...We are moving ahead to ensure that the widely supported new curriculum will be available for all learners in Wales.
”In order to achieve that, we need to design a full curriculum and the associated assessment arrangements, which is now being done with schools and expert stakeholders.
“A key principle of the new curriculum is that it must be appropriate to every learner in every classroom.
“It is not a matter of simply adapting the existing curriculum.”
The report stresses the importance of a successful education system for Wales’s economic prosperity, and for ensuring young people have the skills they need for the 21st century,
“Schools are having to prepare our young people for jobs that have not yet been created and challenges that we are yet to encounter,” it says.
“This will require a renewed commitment to improving both the skills and knowledge of our young people.”
On the new curriculum, the report says that by 2021 the transformation will be well under way and “Schools will have significant experience of working together to take the new curriculum forward” in 2022.
It promises the reforms will raise literacy, numeracy and digital standards for all pupils as well as making them more bilingually competent; enterprising, creative and critical thinkers.
Independent regulator Qualifications Wales welcomed the new curriculum timetable.
“We welcome the revised timeline set out in the national education plan.
“We will continue to work closely with Welsh Government and Pioneer Schools to look at what new qualifications will be needed to support the new curriculum,” said chief executive Philip Blaker.
“We recognise that any new qualifications will need to be in place well before their go-live date of September 2025.
“We will make sure that they are ready in plenty of time for schools and teachers to prepare for teaching them, and for bilingual resources to be available to support teachers and learners.”
Qualifications Wales is working closely with the Pioneer Schools network on the development of the new curriculum.
It is also reviewing the range of qualifications currently taken by 14 to 16-year-olds to assess the changes that will be needed to support the new curriculum.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “There will be a period where some teachers will be teaching two curricula, but the roll out aims to assist with this and we will support the profession through the transition.”
The introduction of the new curriculum for Wales’ schools is being delayed