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Teaching of Welsh history a ‘postcode lottery’ if it isn’t mandatory in new curriculum

29 Jan 2021 4 minutes Read
Owain Glyndŵr statue in Corwen. Picture by Michael Garlick (CC BY-SA 2.0).

The teaching of Welsh history could become a “postcode lottery” for children if it isn’t included as a compulsory element in the new school curriculum, Plaid Cymru have warned.

Shadow Education Minister Sian Gwenllian MS said that not including it as a mandatory part of the new curriculum with resources and training for teachers would result in some children being taught Welsh history and others not.

The party have tabled an amendment to the bill which will be debated later today during the Senedd’s Education Committee.

Dr Dan Evans, an education researcher directly involved in the planning of the new curriculum, said that not to make the subject mandatory would result in a “patchwork delivery […] contingent on the capacity of already overstretched schools and teachers”. He accused the Welsh Government of being out of touch with the reality of teaching.

A review on Welsh history education by the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee in November 2019 raised concerns about Welsh history education, and recommended that the Welsh Government commission Estyn to conduct a thematic review of the ‘content and standard of history teaching in our schools’. It noted that ‘only once there is robust evidence of the nature and extent of the current teaching can assessments be made to inform the delivery of the Curriculum for Wales 2022’.

This review has been delayed however due to the disruption to teaching during the pandemic, and is not expected until autumn 2021.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams has previously defended her decision not to include a set Welsh history as a mandatory part of the new curriculum, saying that students would begin at the “youngest age, with the ‘Cynefin’ principle and understanding their own area – and building on that”.

‘Rejected’

Plaid Cymru Shadow Minister for Education, Sian Gwenllian MS said: “Plaid Cymru has long called for Welsh history to be a compulsory element of the new curriculum.

“Knowing and understanding Wales’ heritage and our place in the world is a right that all Welsh pupils deserve and is crucial in ensuring Welsh pupils are ‘informed citizens of Wales and the world’, as the bill advocates.

“The national story of Wales, including the history of black people and people of colour, therefore needs to be a compulsory part of the new curriculum – included on the face of the Bill and supported with resources and training for teachers. It is deeply regrettable that the Welsh Government has repeatedly rejected this notion.

“We cannot allow our children and young people to be subject to a postcode lottery when it comes to the new curriculum – an inevitability if there isn’t a mandatory, common body of knowledge for schools to teach.”

Education Researcher Dr Dan Evans said: “If Welsh history doesn’t become a compulsory element of the new curriculum, there will be limited guidance for schools on its teaching and implementation and ultimately it will be very unlikely that it’s taught in practice.

“Refusing to make teaching Welsh history compulsory means we will have patchwork delivery whereby the teaching of Welsh history will be contingent on the capacity of already overstretched schools and teachers leading to a lack of consistency.

“The Welsh Government seems to be out of touch with the reality of teaching and the limited time and resources teachers have at their disposal as a result of funding cuts over the past decade.

“We should learn lessons from the implementation of the Curriculum Cymreig, which had incredible potential of developing a civic sense of Welsh identity amongst pupils but lacked the right implementation. Teachers weren’t supported with sufficient information nor resources and its aims didn’t weren’t achieved as a result.

“Welsh history will face the same fate if it isn’t implemented properly and made a compulsory part of the new curriculum.”

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