Curriculum for Wales: an overview


The Curriculum for Wales is being rolled out.

The new curriculum will be taught to those up to year 6 from September 2022. Year 7 and 8 will all be taught with it from 2023 and it will then roll out year by year until it includes Year 11 by 2026. 

The Welsh government explains the curriculum has been made in Wales but “shaped by the best ideas from around the world.”

The curriculum has ‘Four Purposes’ and ‘Six Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLE)’.

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In this article we provide an overview of the Curriculum for Wales, things to consider as a teacher and what schools are doing in Wales.

Curriculum for Wales: what are the key documents?

The Welsh government has published a series of documents which outline the changes. These include:

Curriculum for Wales: what are the requirements?

The Welsh government explains that all maintained schools and funded non-maintained nursery settings must adopt a curriculum. An adopted curriculum must meet the following general requirements:

  • Enable learners to make progress towards the four purposes
  • Be broad and balanced
  • Be suitable for learners of differing ages, abilities and aptitudes
  • Provide for appropriate progression for learners and includes a range of provision to ensure this (linked to ages, abilities and aptitudes)

The following six areas of learning and experience (area/areas) must be reflected in the adopted curriculum.

  • Expressive Arts
  • Health and Well-being
  • Humanities
  • Languages, Literacy and Communication
  • Mathematics and Numeracy
  • Science and Technology

The Welsh Ministers will have powers to add and remove Areas.

Schools must publish a summary of their adopted curriculum and keep their curriculum under review.

The headteacher must implement their school’s adopted curriculum in a way which:

  • Enables learners to progress in the way described in the four purposes
  • Is suitable for learners of different ages, abilities and aptitudes
  • Offers appropriate progression for those learners

The governing body must exercise its functions with a view to ensuring the curriculum is implemented in that way.

Schools must ensure their curriculum is supported by assessment arrangements which assess the:

  • Progress made by learners in relation to the relevant curriculum
  • Next steps in learners’ progression and the learning and teaching needed to make that progress

PRUs and EOTAS must secure learning and teaching in the Health and Well-being Area of Learning and Experience and in the other Areas as far as that is appropriate to the individual learner. 

Curriculum for Wales: the four purposes

All schools must write a curriculum that helps children and young people to achieve four main aims.

 The four aims are to help children and young people be:

  • Ambitious and capable learners: this means they believe in themselves and what they can do. They want to learn and do better. They have the skills to learn
  • Enterprising and creative: this means they can be creative and think of new ideas. They can solve problems. They can use this in their work
  • Ethical and informed citizens: this means they understand their rights and responsibilities. They take part in their community. They care about the world
  • Healthy and confident: this means they have healthy minds and bodies. They feel good about themselves and what they believe in

In developing their vision for their curriculum, schools and practitioners should consider what the four purposes mean for their learners and how their curriculum will support their learners to realise them.

 Their vision – and the four purposes more broadly – should then guide the process of curriculum and assessment design. This will include developing their approach to curriculum design decisions across the whole school.

As schools develop their vision to support their learners to realise the four purposes, learner voice should be central to this. The input of learners should be an important consideration throughout the design process.

Six areas of learning and experience

The six areas of learning and experience are:

  • Expressive Arts: The Expressive Arts Area of Learning and Experience (Area) spans five disciplines: art, dance, drama, film and digital media and music. Although each discipline has its own discrete body of knowledge and body of skills, it is recognised that together they share the creative process
  • Health and Well-being: The Health and Well-being Area of Learning and Experience (Area) provides a holistic structure for understanding health and well-being. It is concerned with developing the capacity of learners to navigate life’s opportunities and challenges. The fundamental components of this Area are physical health and development, mental health, and emotional and social well-being
  • Humanities: The Humanities Area of Learning and Experience (Area) seeks to awaken a sense of wonder, fire the imagination and inspire learners to grow in knowledge, understanding and wisdom. This Area encourages learners to engage with the most important issues facing humanity, including sustainability and social change, and help to develop the skills necessary to interpret and articulate the past and the present
  • Languages, Literacy and Communication: The Languages, Literacy and Communication Area of Learning and Experience (Area) addresses fundamental aspects of human communication. It aims to support learning across the whole curriculum and to enable learners to gain knowledge and skills in Welsh, English and international languages as well as in literature
  • Mathematics and Numeracy: Progression in the Mathematics and Numeracy Area of Learning and Experience (Area) involves the development of five connected and interdependent proficiencies which have no hierarchy. These are crucial considerations for schools when designing their curriculum to ensure the progression of learners.
  • Science and Technology: What matters in this Area has been expressed in six statements which support and complement one another, and should not be viewed in isolation. Together they contribute to realising the four purposes of the curriculum.

Curriculum for Wales: what are schools doing? 

Overmonnow Primary School in Monmouth has set out its plan for the Curriculum for Wales.

It explains a plan for designing and developing the new curriculum and assessment framework has been developed in collaboration with Pioneer Schools and key stakeholders. 

It has produced a PowerPoint for parents outlining some of the key changes. It explains that its curriculum:

  • Is a purpose led curriculum – with the four purposes at the heart (life skills, health and wellbeing)
  • Includes authentic learning experiences (relevant and engaging)
  • Is organised as a continuum of learning from 3 to 16 – children working by stage not age
  • Is organised around ‘What Matters’ statements for each AoLE
  • Is organised around descriptors of learning (at 5,8,11,14 and 16)
  • Is cross curricular and not biased towards some subjects (inclusive of all learners)

Hawarden Village Church School in Deeside outlines the impact that the Curriculum for Wales will have on pupils. It explains:

“The new curriculum will have more emphasis on equipping young people for life. It will build their ability to learn new skills and apply their knowledge more confidently and creatively. As the world changes, they will be more able to adapt positively. They will also get a deeper understanding of how to thrive in an increasingly digital world, developing digital skills across the curriculum to prepare them for the opportunities and risks that an online world presents.”

It notes:

“At Hawarden Village Church School, we want to design a bespoke curriculum that has the views of our learners and their families at its heart.”

Ysgol Glan Gele Infant School in Conwy explains how it is preparing for the Curriculum for Wales. It explains:

We have been fortunate as a school to be given the opportunity to work alongside many of our colleagues in education to develop and shape this exciting new journey for our pupils. Ysgol Glan Gele is a Professional Learning School and we will help to share the new curriculum with our colleagues. The schools states:

  • The principles of the Foundation Phase (which we have now) will stay the same become part of a seamless curriculum transition from 3-16 year olds
  • There will be 6 new AoLE, Expressive Arts, Health and Well-being, Humanities, Languages, Literacy and Communication, Mathematics and Numeracy, Science and Technology

These will replace the current Foundation Phase Areas.

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