New National Curriculum for Wales

New Curriculum for Wales –

Why is the curriculum changing?

  • Essential features of our curriculum devised in 1988 do
    not reflect our world of technology and globalisation.
  • Relatively low performance in PISA surveys.
  • Perceived shortcomings in the current curriculum and assessment arrangements.
  • The perception of highly prescriptive content allied to increasingly powerful accountability mechanisms has diminished the creative role of schools and professionals.

What were the key recommendations from Successful Futures?

  • Four purposes of the curriculum.
  • Six areas of learning and experience.
  • Three cross-curricular responsibilities.
  • Progression steps at ages 5, 8, 11, 14 and 16.
  • Achievement outcomes.
  • A range of pedagogical approaches.
  • Refocusing assessment on learning, including learners’ self- and peer-assessment.
  • Monitoring performance of the system at a national level through annual sampling.

The purpose of the new curriculum is to support our children and young people to be:

  • ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
  • enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
  • ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
  • healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.

The new curriculum is:

  • a purpose-led curriculum – the four purposes are the heart of curriculum development at a national and local level
  • organised as a continuum of learning from ages 3 to 16 – all children and young people will make progress along the same continuum
  • organised around progression steps, articulated as achievement outcomes
  • inclusive of the three cross-curricular responsibilities
  • the basis for thinking of the 14–16 phase, qualifications and beyond.

Our new curriculum will not be:

  • overly prescriptive or specific; it will not dictate time allocations for areas of learning and experience, subjects or disciplines driven by content coverage, defining detailed inputs for learners or groups of learners
  • biased towards either knowledge or skills; it has been developed to allow schools to provide a balance of knowledge, skills and experiences
  • based upon programmes of study; subjects and disciplines will work as parts of the areas of learning and experience to ensure that meaningful links are made.

Progression (of learning)

  • Progression should be described along a continuum of learning in each area of learning and experience.
  • It is formative and involves the learner actively in the process.
  • Curriculum, assessment and pedagogy are seen as parts of an integrated whole.
  • The model has been developed based upon research and evidence alongside the CAMAU project.
  • Progression of learning is described through achievement outcomes at five steps on the continuum.
  • Progression steps relate broadly to expectations at ages 5, 8, 11, 14 and 16.
  • Progression steps should be reference points, providing a ‘road map’ for each individual learner’s progress in their learning, not universal expectations of their performance at fixed points.
  • Authentic learning opportunities that connect aspects of the curriculum and make connections to ‘everyday life’.
  • Achievement outcomes are not to be used directly for assessment. They should be used:
    – for school-level and class- level curriculum design, development and planning
    –  to support practitioners’ understanding of moving learning forward.

Areas of learning and experience

Each area of learning and experience is organised into a suite of what matters statements which prioritise the important concepts about which learners must have experiences, knowledge and skills

Achievement outcomes

  • Described from the learner’s perspective, using terms like ‘I can … ’ or ‘I have … ’.
  • Describe the broad knowledge, competency or experience a learner needs to gain.
  • Should contribute clearly to the four purposes of the curriculum and have emphasis on achievement in a broad sense, rather than narrow measures of assessment.
  • Allow learners to make progress along the same continuum, regardless of any additional learning needs they might have, though they may move between progression steps at a different pace.
  • Should be used as the basis to build assessment approaches,
    e.g. formative, summative, self, peer, portfolio.
  • Should provide agency for professionals in developing curriculum and helping learners realise the achievement outcome.

Achievement outcomes are not:

  • narrow measures of attainment
  • qualification specifications
  • granular learning objectives
  • shallow descriptions of content
  • criteria for a single assessment piece.

What can you do now?



Vision and philosophy

  • Allow the space for all learners to be creative.
  • Make the offer fully inclusive.
  • Link to positive health and well-being outcomes.
  • Ensure that Expressive Arts skills are recognised
    as transferable and that they have a direct link to careers and lifelong learning.

The rationale for change

  • An arts-rich education is core to the whole-school experience of a learner.
  • All learners need to have access to rich contexts in which they have time to explore, to respond and to create.
  • Learners need access to all Expressive Arts disciplines.

How is it different?

  • It encompasses dance, drama, film and digital media, music, and visual arts linked by a common creative process and transferable skills.
  • Learning is linked through the creative process enabling a deeper understanding of individual disciplines to be developed.
  • Progression is not linear.
  • A focus on rich, authentic contexts for learning runs from ages 3 to 16.
  • Learner voice is encouraged.
  • Collaboration across the area of learning and experience and across other areas of learning and experience.
  • Flexibility – variety of delivery models.

What Matters in Expressive Arts?

  • Exploration through and of the Expressive Arts deepens our artistic knowledge and contributes to our understanding of identities, cultures and societies.
  • Responding and reflecting, both as artist and audience,
    is a fundamental part of learning about and through the Expressive Arts.
  • Creative work combines knowledge and skills using the senses, inspiration and imagination.



Vision and philosophy

  • Designed to equip learners to lead healthy, fulfilling and productive lives.
  • Enables successful learning and fulfilling relationships.
  • Focuses on the physical, psychological, emotional and social aspects of our lives.
  • A holistic approach to help schools address their priority areas.

The rationale for change

  • Aligns with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.
  • Education on mental, emotional and physical health needs to be more integrated – growing challenges.
  • Current provision is inconsistent.
  • Supporting and developing the health and well-being of all learners in Wales cannot be left to chance.

How is it different?

  • Holistic – Health and Well-being is an area of learning and experience but should be everyone’s responsibility.
  • Experiences, knowledge and skills that lead to healthy and active lifestyles.
  • Supports physical and mental health.
  • Develops learners so they engage in lifelong physical activity.
  • Must reflect local needs as well as national and global issues.

What Matters in Health and Well-being?

  • Developing physical health and well-being has lifelong benefits.
  • How we process and respond to our experiences affects our mental health and emotional well-being.
  • Our decision-making impacts on the quality of our lives and the lives of others.
  • How we engage with different social influences shapes who we are and our health and well-being.
  • Healthy relationships are fundamental to our sense of belonging and well-being.



Vision and philosophy

  • Encompasses history, geography, religious education, business studies and social studies.
  • Holistic, integrated and interdisciplinary approach.
  • Rigour and specialisation at Progression step 5 prepares learners for further studies.
  • Develops a sense of heritage and place through their cynefin, Wales and as part of the wider world.
  • Encompasses past, present and future, including the role of learners as citizens.

The rationale for change

  • Autonomy, flexibility and creativity leads to authentic learning.
  • Interdisciplinary approach supports development of knowledge and skills.
  • Connecting experiences, knowledge and skills brings rich opportunities.
  • Incorporates business and social studies.
  • Religious education in the curriculum allows for parity.

How is it different?

  • Holistic and interdisciplinary.
  • Disciplines more visible from Progression step 4.
  • Greater importance on authentic experiences.
  • Focus on global citizenship and participating in social action.
  • Earlier engagement with business studies and social studies.
  • Balance between local, Welsh/British and global studies.
  • Religious education included and statutory for learners aged 3 to 16.

What Matters in Humanities?

These what matters statements are linked and are not intended to be taken in isolation.

  • Developing an enquiring mind enables learners to explore and investigate the world, past, present and future, for themselves.
  • Events and human experiences are complex and perceived, interpreted and represented in different ways.
  • Our natural world is diverse and dynamic, influenced by physical processes and human actions.
  • Human societies are complex and diverse, and are shaped by human actions and beliefs.
  • Informed, self-aware citizens engage with the challenges and opportunities that face humanity, and are able to take considered, ethical and sustainable action.



Vision and philosophy

  • A celebration of languages and cultures, embracing a bilingual Wales in an international context.
  • Bringing together Welsh, English and international languages and literature for all.
  • Develop ambitious, capable and confident language learners who communicate effectively using both Welsh and English as well as international languages across a variety of media.
  • Stimulated learners developing knowledge, skills, positive attitudes and motivation through meaningful contexts.

The rationale for change

  • The citizens of modern Wales speak various languages reflecting diverse cultures; we want to celebrate and build on this.
  • Exploring identities and cultures through languages can connect learners with people, places and communities in bilingual Wales and the multilingual world.
  • Reverse the decline of modern foreign languages through positive, motivating experiences at a young age.
  • Language skill sets promote understanding and development in all languages.
  • Remove artificial distinction between Welsh and Welsh second language so all learners are able to use Welsh as per the four purposes of the curriculum.
  • Differentiated achievement outcomes reflect the different pace and depth of learning, allowing learners and teachers to recognise progression pathways.

How is it different?

  • Focus on the importance of learning about languages, and the way they relate and reflect our cultures and identities.
  • By the end of primary school, learners will experience different languages and make progress in Welsh, English and at least one international language.
  • When learners leave school, they will be able to use Welsh, English and their other languages in a meaningful way.
  • Oracy, reading and writing have equal prominence.
  • Literature for all learners: opportunities to explore and create a range of literature in Welsh, English and international languages.

Which achievement outcomes do we follow?

Bilingual schools
Achievement outcomesWelsh-medium schoolEnglish-medium school Welsh stream in a bilingual schoolEnglish stream in a bilingual school
Welsh in English-mediumXX
International language(s)XXXX

What Matters in Languages, Literacy and Communication?

  • Learning about identity and culture through languages prepares learners to be citizens of Wales and the world.
  • Learners who listen and read effectively are prepared to learn throughout their lives.
  • Learners who speak and write effectively are prepared to play a full part in life and work.
  • Literature fires imaginations and inspires creativity.



Vision and philosophy

  • Mathematics is a critical part of life and for the country’s economy.
  • Mathematics and numeracy experiences must be engaging, exciting and accessible, as well as challenging.
  • To develop mathematical proficiencies, positive dispositions and the four purposes of the curriculum.

The rationale for change

  • Research about mathematics performance: – Estyn– international –  PISA.
  • Too much reliance on procedural fluency (technique/tricks).
  • Not enough conceptual understanding

How is it different?

  • Organised around five mathematical proficiencies.
  • Gives learners opportunities to use manipulatives and represent concepts in a variety of ways.
  • Use verbs such as ‘explore’ and ‘derive’ to ensure balance between ‘breadth’ and ‘depth’.

Mathematical proficiencies

These inter-dependent proficiencies used in developing the descriptions of learning are central to progression at each stage of mathematics learning. Numeracy involves applying and connecting these proficiencies in a range of real-life contexts. The five mathematical proficiencies are:

  • conceptual understanding
  • fluency
  • communication with symbols
  • logical reasoning
  • strategic competence.

A change in emphasis from ‘What’ to ‘What and How’ will influence pedagogy and result in teaching for conceptual understanding, as shown below.

Current curriculum (Product)New curriculum (Process)
Year 5

•Calculate fractional quantities,
e.g. ⅛ of 24 = 3,

so ⅝ of 24 = 15.

Progression step 3

•I have demonstrated my understanding that a fraction can be used as an operator, or to represent division.

•I understand the inverse relation between the denominator of a fraction and its value.

What Matters in Mathematics and Numeracy?

  • Learners will discover that the number system is used to represent and compare relationships between numbers and quantities.
  • Learners will come to appreciate how algebra uses symbol systems to express the structures of relationships between numbers, quantities and relations.
  • Learners will come to understand that geometry focuses on relationships involving properties of shape, space, and position, and that measurement focuses on quantifying phenomena in the physical world.
  • Learners will see that statistics represent data, probability models chance, and that both support informed inferences and decisions.



Vision and philosophy

  • Science and technology are intrinsically linked, and includes design and technology, engineering, computer science, biology, chemistry and physics.
  • Science and Technology demands a coherent framework for learning across traditional domains, reflecting real-world needs.
  • The underlying concepts of science and computational thinking enable technological advancement.
  • Science and Technology supports progression in and across subject specialisms, and prepares learners to use science and technology in their every day lives.

The rationale for change

  • Boundaries of science and technology are continuously changing.
  • Economic imperative – huge opportunities for learners.
  • Need for learners to meet twenty-first century challenges and opportunities irrespective of career choice.
  • Current learner preparation insufficient to meet needs.
  • Need knowledge and skills – contextualised through experiences.
  • Need creators of and through technology, not just competent users – hence conceptual understanding of computation.

How is it different?

  • Computation is a new element for ages 3 to 16.
  • Guided learner-led approaches and ‘thematic’ learning.
  • Better balance between knowledge acquisition and skills development through real-world learning experiences.
  • Likely to require a multidisciplinary approach.
  • More seamless transitions – with greater clarity over prior learning and next steps.
  • Outdoor learning to enhance the learning experience.
  • Emphasis on the impacts of science and technology on learners’ lives and the environment.

What Matters in Science and Technology?

  • Being curious and searching for answers helps further our understanding of the natural world and helps society progress.
  • Design thinking and engineering are technical and creative endeavours intended to meet society’s needs and wants.
  • The world around us is full of living things which depend on each other for survival.
  • Understanding the atomic nature of matter and how it shapes the world.
  • Forces and energy determine the structure and dynamics of the Universe.
  • Computation applies algorithms to data in order to solve real-world problems.