The WISERD Education Multi-Cohort Study (WMCS) recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. The WMCS is a longitudinal study of children and young people in Wales.

It was established in 2012 by Professor Sally Power and Professor Chris Taylor to chart the progress of children and young people growing up in Wales. Under their stewardship the cohort study has provided a wealth of evidence on young people’s lives which has been used by researchers, practitioners and policymakers across Wales.

The WMCS is a unique source of evidence on children’s educational experiences and perspectives on national and international issues. Its longitudinal and multi-cohort design enables a robust basis for comparison across years and between cohorts. We now have a decade’s worth of data about young people’s views and experiences of growing up in Wales, and can see how children’s understandings and perspectives have changed over the last decade.

Since 2012 the cohort study has had a considerable influence on education and children’s policy and practice here in Wales. It was a particularly important source of evidence during the Covid-19 pandemic, as data on young people’s educational experience and wellbeing were provided to Welsh Government task groups to guide their response to the pandemic. In addition, it has been used to inform development of the new curriculum in Wales, with researchers providing evidence on young people’s perspectives to Welsh Government throughout the process.

The importance of the WMCS is likely to increase over coming years as Wales undertakes its transformation of the school curriculum. The WMCS is already recognised as an important source of data in this area. The WMCS team is currently working with the Senedd Children and Young People’s Committee’s enquiry to provide evidence on the extent to which the new curriculum is meeting its aims and regularly provides briefings to Welsh Government.

As the study moves into its second decade, I am pleased that it remains a key part of WISERD’s research programme and will continue to inform the development of policy and provide a key source of evidence on the lives of children in Wales.

Ian Rees Jones
Director of WISERD