Wales: A New World Of Education


Blog by Nick Lambert, Project Consultant for Ufi Charitable Trust. Monday 28th October 2019.

I recently attended an RSA event in Cardiff on skills - ‘A dawn of a new education world in Wales: what does it mean?’ 

A new curriculum for Wales was uncovered, one which is scheduled to replace the UK national curriculum there from 2022 onwards.

Recently developed and trialled in a selection of ‘pioneer schools’ in Wales, Kirsty Williams AM, the Assembly’s Education Minister, noted in her keynote that the skills which need to be cultivated among learners are of ‘adaptability, resilience, being good at creative problem-solving, and helping to make [learners] valued members of society.’

The issue was how to achieve this.

Asked what her ‘evidence of success’ in 20 years’ time will have been, the Minister suggested that success would be whether Wales will have had the right skills to build the nation.

While the event was somewhat bereft of detail, skills is key to Wales’ new approach, which will see subjects situated under broader areas of learning and experience that aim to make lessons more engaging and relevant for young learners. Some see this as a welcome contrast to the English model of an educational philosophy of knowledge under traditionalist Minister, Nick Gibb. The Welsh expert working groups and trials have sought to overhaul the national curriculum’s approach to teaching, focusing instead on stimulating learners’ communication skills, their logical and strategic capabilities, digital skills, citizenship, global awareness, health and mental wellbeing, and other skills that will better equip them for work and life after compulsory education.

Pupils to take ownership. 

The Minister talked of getting pupils to take ownership for their education, as ‘democratic participants’ in their institutions, noting that learners ‘know they need to get a job,’ hence the focus on employability in the new curricula. She spoke of creating inspirational skills training for teachers and keeping teachers mentored and motivated, so they don’t leave the profession, and noted her search for exciting blogs on uniquely Welsh skills and on creating a ‘revolution in the spirit of Wales.’

As a former Whitehall Civil Servant, I know that political spin typifies aspects of all ministerial conversations, but it was truly exciting to see such an inquisitive and socially-interested Education Minister.

Note from Stephen Hinde, Community Manager for Ufi.

Ufi funds innovative uses of digital technology that change how adults across the UK access and develop the skills they need to do their jobs. While this article relates to young learners during compulsary education it is important to remember that the better we can equip young people with skills for life, and not just knowledge, the better equipped they will be when it comes to the world of work. This should result in fewer challenges and a larger reduction in the UK skills gap.

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