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Jeremy Miles: Taking Curriculum Reform Forward

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The new curriculum and supporting reforms are at the heart of my ambitions for improving the education system in Wales. I absolutely believe they will bring huge benefits to our young people in preparing them for a changing world, and I’m committed to making sure all of our young people have an equal opportunity to progress.

The last year has been very challenging, and I’m well aware that you – our fantastic teachers and support staff – have done an amazing job of keeping our children’s education going in very difficult times. Thank you for your remarkable work and care.

Since becoming Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, I have been talking to practitioners in schools across the country to hear directly about how you have adapted to changing circumstances in the last year, and what more I can do to support you as we renew and reform education in Wales.

Earlier in the term I announced measures to reduce pressures on schools and create space, and will continue to look at how we can support you. This is why I have also announced an additional package of support for schools.

Having taken those soundings, I made an oral statement to the Senedd today (6th July) about my plans to take our curriculum reform forward. See the full statement here.

I have been impressed by the commitment and motivation that you have shown for our new curriculum.  I have heard the enthusiasm to renew and reshape education, and a desire to maintain the momentum of the reforms and the benefits for learners. 

Many of you have been exploring and experimenting with the new curriculum, using the four purposes and aspects like Health and Well-being as a foundation on which to build. Almost everyone has made a flying leap into digital competence. But it is clear that the pandemic has affected progress for some and we’re in a different place than we would have imagined when the Curriculum for Wales guidance was published 18 months ago

So whilst I want to maintain momentum I realise that more support is needed. And  whilst the new curriculum will still be implemented in all primary schools by September 2022, it is clear that some secondary schools will initially need more flexibility.

More support means:

  • Refreshing the Curriculum for Wales: The journey to 2022 document – which sets out the expectations on schools to deliver curriculum reform – to ensure it is clear, simple, and focused on the ‘how’ of curriculum reform. We are working collaboratively with partners to develop this and it will be published by the beginning of the autumn term. 
  • Launching a National Network for curriculum implementation in the autumn, practitioner-led, open to all schools, funded by the Welsh Government, that will be a key vehicle in supporting implementation of our new curriculum.
  • Providing £7.24 million in funding this financial year, directly to schools, to support their journeys towards curriculum reform. This will support engagement with the key issues around implementation, including through the National Network.
  • And in primary schools I propose to create some space by removing – a year early – the requirement for practitioners to undertake end of foundation phase and end of key stage assessments in the 2021-2022 academic year, for year groups that will be transitioning to the new curriculum in September 2022.

Flexibility for Secondary schools means:

Secondary schools can either continue with their existing plans for year 7 with roll-out starting in 2022, or start in 2023 with both Years 7 and 8 together.

Beyond 2023, roll-out of the Curriculum for Wales will follow on a year-by-year basis, and the first qualifications designed specifically for Curriculum for Wales will be awarded in the 2026-27 academic year as planned.

The reform of qualifications will play a fundamental role in the success of our curriculum. The exciting ambition behind our curriculum must be matched by our qualifications system. The flexibility for secondary schools in 2022 will provide space to work closely with Qualifications Wales over the coming year to help shape a high quality set of qualifications which are aligned with the philosophies of the new curriculum, and to capitalise on emerging opportunities around assessment methods. 

Colleagues it is a privilege to join you on this journey. We have a once in a generation opportunity to revolutionise the quality of opportunities for our children and young people. I’ll do all I can to support you as we move ahead.

Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language

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