New curriculum for Wales scraps traditional subjects

Draft '21st-century' curriculum proposes traditional subjects will be scrapped and replaced by six areas of learning and experience

pupils at school

The Welsh government has unveiled a new draft curriculum for schools signalling the biggest change to education in a generation.

Under the plans, "boundaries" between traditional subjects will be scrapped and replaced by six areas of learning and experience (AoLEs) which will see the country break away from the "narrow and outdated" national curriculum first introduced in schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 1988.

The six AoLEs will cover mathematics and numeracy; science and technology; humanities; languages, literacy and communications; health and wellbeing; and expressive arts.

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The curriculum, proposed to be introduced to Year 7 learners in September 2022, would also see English and Welsh, religious studies and relationships and sexuality education as statutory subjects up to 16 years old.

Universities, teachers, parents and employers will now be asked to give their views on the draft curriculum, before the final version is published next year.

The Welsh government has had responsibility for the curriculum since devolution in 1999.

Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams said: "What we're publishing today is very different from what most of us will have experienced and it's a big culture change.

"We're moving away from an outdated, narrow curriculum that sets out subject by subject, topic by topic and hour by hour what pupils should be learning. This isn't a rule book.

"Using their considerable knowledge, experience and expertise, teachers in Wales have instead built a framework that sets out the fundamentals of a truly 21st-century education."

Chris Keates, general secretary of teachers' union NASUWT, said the "vast majority of teachers" had not been consulted ahead of the draft being published while Neil Butler from the union said there were concerns specialist subject teachers could be scrapped.

He said: "This could lead schools and local authorities to reduce costs by lowering teaching staff levels and undermine the sense of ownership that the teaching profession must have of these reforms if they are to be implemented successfully."

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