Radical national curriculum overhaul proposed in Wales

  • Published
Media caption,

Prof Graham Donaldson launched his report at a school in Canton, Cardiff

A radical change to how and what children in Wales are taught is under consideration 26 years after the national curriculum was introduced.

Prof Graham Donaldson wants computer programming and IT in all classes to be as important as literacy and numeracy.

Schools should have more flexibility to teach around a central curriculum.

The results of the independent review have been called "a compelling, exciting and ambitious vision" by the education minister.

Image caption,
'Digital competency' should be studied across all subjects, the report says

Prof Donaldson - a former chief inspector of schools appointed last March to look at what is taught in Wales - suggests:

  • Six areas of learning will combine core and non-core subjects
  • 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.
  • A key development is embedding "digital competency" in school life. As well as improving computer science as a subject, all pupils would be equipped with the ability to programme and code computers. Teachers would have to think of ways of weaving that, along with literacy and numeracy, into every lesson.
Image source, vovashevchuk
Image caption,
Six areas of learning will combine core and non-core subjects
Media caption,

Jackie Parker, head teacher of Crickhowell High School said time is needed to apply the changes

The Successful Futures report has taken nearly a year to compile and Prof Donaldson said he had received a "clear and consistent" message after taking evidence from more than 700 people, from pupils and parents to teachers and business.

The former schools inspector was commissioned by Education Minister Huw Lewis to undertake a comprehensive and wide-ranging review of the national curriculum and testing.

Mr Lewis said: "The scope and scale of the changes he envisages are both fundamental and wide ranging and will take time to create and secure".

Prof Donaldson said the proposed changes were about better learning and higher standards.

"Better learning because it draws on evidence from Wales and beyond to focus on what really matters in a modern school curriculum," he said.

"Higher standards because it sets high expectations for learning and provides ways in which schools and teachers can help young people to meet, and often exceed, those expectations."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NAS/UWT union said the report would be considered carefully.

"We broadly welcome the thrust of the review which has the potential to make a positive difference for learners, teachers and the wider workforce in Wales.

"The emphasis on ensuring that teachers are given sufficient autonomy in the classroom to make decisions about teaching and learning is particularly welcome."

David Evans of the NUT praised how the review had been conducted, adding: "It is absolutely critical now that what Prof Donaldson has set in motion is implemented fully in conjunction with the profession".

The Welsh government said it would launch a "great debate'" on the curriculum shortly.

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