The Welsh Government have been told to include “explicit references” to Welsh history, BAME history, diversity and identity in the guidance that underpins the new Welsh curriculum bill.
The recommendation was made by the Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee.
They said that the importance of learning about history, identity and diversity had been a “key theme” in the evidence they had received during their scrutiny of the curriculum.
Under the Bill, the Welsh Government is proposing a new ‘Curriculum for Wales’ for 3 to 16 year olds, replacing the existing national curriculum which has been in place since 1988 in England and Wales.
“More broadly, matters relating to BAME history, identity and diversity have been a dominant feature of public discourse globally over the last 12 months,” a report by the committee said.
“We believe it is essential to ensure that our children and young people are taught and learn about their history and the histories of Wales, including BAME history, as well as matters relating to diversity and identity.”
They said that they were “on balance” happy to wait and see what findings were brought up by a new working group set up to improve the teaching of themes relating to Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities on the school curriculum, and work by Estyn on teaching Welsh history.
“This, however, is predicated on the desire to have further assurances from the Minister that these
matters are secure within the curriculum now and in the future,” they said.
The committee said they had concerns that all school children in Wales receive the same opportunities and experiences from their education.
While they said that they supported the general principles of the Bill, they were concerned that this flexibility carries considerable risk if safeguards are not put in place to ensure children and young people in all parts of Wales receive a sufficiently consistent education.
In particular, the Committee wanted to know how the Welsh Government intends to ensure that all settings and all learners will thrive under the new curriculum and that existing inequalities are not exacerbated. Members have asked for assurances about how this will be monitored.
“We agree with the Welsh Government that the current curriculum is not fit for a modern Wales,” Chair of the Committee, Lynne Neagle MS, said.
“The opportunity this Bill presents for schools to shape their own curriculum, based on pupils’ needs, is bold and ambitious, and has the potential to make a significant difference if implemented successfully.
“Our concerns are around the practicalities of how this curriculum will be rolled out effectively; whether there is enough time to train staff to effectively deliver it; and how the Welsh Government will ensure it contributes to raising standards as well as providing pupils with the same opportunities and experiences from their education.
“This is the biggest change to our education system since the dawn of devolution. We need to ensure that the right balance is struck between local flexibility and national consistency, not least to avoid any risk of existing inequalities getting worse rather than better.
“We recognise that the new curriculum will not be uniform across all schools but it must be consistent.”
The Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill will be debated by the Senedd on Tuesday, 15 December before a vote to decide whether it should move to the next stage of the Senedd’s law-making process.