Since devolution, the Welsh Government has implemented a range of progressive curriculum reforms that have sought to foster enthusiasm for learning, to develop key academic skills and competencies and to promote a strong sense of citizenship. The Welsh Government has now committed itself to a fundamental and independent review of the national curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales. The Review, led by Professor Graham Donaldson, seeks to contribute to the development of ‘a coherent, relevant, challenging and rewarding curriculum that is first for the twenty-first century’. The Welsh Government’s approach to this Independent Review of the National Curriculum and Assessment provides an innovative and inclusive strategy for informing future curriculum policy. The Call for Evidence seeks to go beyond ‘the usual suspects’ and invited contributions and comments that has not been confined to closed responses. In doing this it is hoped that the exercise would also generate a ‘national’ debate about the future of curriculum and assessment in Wales. It therefore provides an important source of evidence alongside the other activities of the Review, including focus groups, visits, meetings and various independent task and finish reports commissioned for the Review.
The Call for Evidence involved sending out two questionnaires – an ‘Adult Questionnaire’ designed to be completed by key stakeholders, including teachers, parents/carers and organisations and a ‘Children and Young People’s Questionnaire’ which was shorter but covered some of the same general areas as the ‘Adult’ version. The Call elicited a large and varied response. There were 364 responses to the Adult Questionnaire – including many from individuals, groups and organisations throughout Wales. There were 349 responses from to the Children and Young People Questionnaire – representing learners at all key stages from the Foundation Phase to post-16 education.
In this report of their responses, we have drawn attention to the common themes that emerged and have sought to ensure that the diversity of responses is represented. Because the questionnaires were anonymous, we do not know very much about the background of our respondents and, as is always the case in surveys of this kind, we know that some voices will be under-represented. However, we do know that all sectors, regions and key stakeholders in Wales are included. And the breadth of contrasting opinions evident in the responses suggests that the evidence gathering exercise has managed to capture the perspectives of a broad constituency.