Following a comprehensive curriculum review, the Welsh Government has developed an exciting new curriculum that aims to create a successful and exciting future for all the children and young people of Wales.
The new curriculum is a continuum of learning for children from 3 to 16 years of age. There will no longer be ‘phases’ or ‘stages’, with all children learning along the same continuum.
The early years play a significant role in childhood as well as in shaping our futures. To ensure that all children aged 0 to 5 years have the best possible start in life, the Welsh Government have decided to place children’s well-being and development at the heart of early childhood play, learning and care in Wales.
Resources and guidance for childcare, play settings and schools on early childhood play, learning and care for 0 to 5 year olds in Wales have been developed through co-construction by practitioners, for practitioners. It is expressed from the viewpoint of the practitioner, drawing on expertise from across the 0 to 5 early childhood play, learning and care sector.
This guidance sets out a framework for ensuring quality provision for all children from birth to age 3. It focuses on what is important for children’s development and how we can best support them to grow and develop in ways that suit their stage of development. It has been co-constructed with practitioners and specialists across the education and childcare sectors.
The document uses the same language and development pathways as the ‘Curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings’ to support smoother transitions throughout children’s learning and development up to the age of 5 years.
Central to the new curriculum are the four purposes. These four purposes are the same for all learners along the continuum and underpin all teaching and learning in Wales.
The new curriculum has been developed with the intention of creating students who are;
- Ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
- Enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
- Ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
- Healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.
- Four purposes– Free NDNA Cymru factsheet.
The curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings has been developed through co-construction by practitioners, for practitioners.
What is it?
It is expressed from the viewpoint of the practitioner, drawing on expertise from across our non-maintained sector, and on the views of experts in the field of child development and early education.
It has been developed to support the work with children at the very beginning of the 3 to 16 learning continuum of Curriculum for Wales, to ensure they have the best possible start on their journey.
How does it affect your setting?
From September 2022, funded settings will be required to deliver this curriculum framework or a curriculum they have designed themselves that meet the legislative requirements.
As with the current Foundation Phase Framework, it is expected that non-funded settings will also be responsible for ensuring that the principles of the ‘Curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings’ framework are understood and applied in a way appropriate to the age, abilities and stage of development of children in their care and the nature of the provision.
The Foundation Phase as it currently is will not exist from September 2022, nor will the term be used. As it can sometimes be important to define the integral early years of a children’s learning, from September the term ‘Foundation Learning’ will be used to reflect this significant period of learning between 3 and 8 years.
This term is to be used only to help differentiate the earlier years of the learning continuum when discussing practice, pedagogy and resources. Foundation Learning should not be used to describe the curriculum that children are learning through.
This curriculum links closely to the principles of child development, as well as to the four purposes and Curriculum for Wales. It provides for appropriate breadth and depth of learning, in a range of contexts. This curriculum, along with our knowledge and experience, should be used to reflect and respond to the individual needs of the children in your setting.
Don’t be scared of the change! Learning through play and child-led learning remains, and the principles and pedagogy derive from the Foundation Phase, something that the early years sector in Wales have been doing for years.
- Download factsheet – Curriculum for Wales Terminology – Free NDNA Cymru factsheet
- Download factsheet – Curriculum for Wales Info for Parents – Free NDNA Cymru factsheet
- Curriculum for Wales: Nursery education for 3 and 4 year olds – Info video for parents/carers
These assessment arrangements have been co-constructed with key partners to support practitioners in funded non-maintained nursery settings which have adopted the curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings.
The arrangements take account of the needs of all learners and recognise that their identity, language, ability, background and prior learning, as well as the support they may need, will differ according to their particular circumstances.
These arrangements will also support settings to:
- understand progression in children’s learning
- apply the principles of progression in practice
- develop a shared understanding of progression across the setting
- use observation to inform provision that supports children to make progress
- know about and implement initial and ongoing assessment arrangements
Is there specific guidance for the non-maintained sector on implementation of the new curriculum?
The curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings is an extremely comprehensive document that has been purposely designed for the sector.
Welsh Government hopes that settings are engaging with this document and will use it to inform their planning for learning and development of children in their setting from September. It is important to remember that September 2022 marks the ‘beginning’ of implementation and settings are not expected to automatically switch from delivery of the Foundation Phase to the new curriculum overnight.
It will be a process and a time to trial what works best for practitioners and the children in their settings.
With regards to planning in the new curriculum, will there be templates like we had with the Foundation Phase?
In short- no. A defining feature of Curriculum for Wales is not an ‘off the shelf’ programme for delivery.
The curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings has been designed for practitioners to support them in developing appropriate learning environments that respond to children’s interests and engages them further in their learning and development.
It is the responsibility of the practitioners in the setting to get to know their children and plan in a way that suits their children and staff best, trialling and reviewing different approaches within the setting.
Therefore, there are no planning templates provided with this curriculum, however, Welsh Government acknowledges that practitioners may require further support in the form of professional learning in order to deliver the planning and assessment aspects of this curriculum.
Advisory teachers and staff from local authorities and education consortia will be supporting settings with trialling and selecting approaches across the coming months.
What are the expectations with regards to assessment? What does it look like?
Under the Curriculum and Assessment Act (Wales) 2021, all providers of funded non-maintained nursery education have a legal duty to make and implement assessment arrangements to support children’s progression within their adopted curriculum.
However, the Welsh Government has co-constructed guidance in order to support settings in fulfilling this legal duty. The Assessment arrangements for funded non-maintained nursery settings looks in detail at what progression looks like for children in settings and considers the most appropriate ways for practitioners to assess and support that progression. The guidance also contains appropriate ‘intial’ assessment arrangements.
Again, there is no expectations for settings to pick up and implement these assessment arrangements immediately, however, funded settings will be expected to begin to implement these arrangements from September 2023, if they have chosen to adopt the Curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings.
This curriculum moves away from the previous outcome driven forms of learning and assessment. You may wish to start to discuss the move away from ‘tick list’ assessment with staff and peers, as this may help alleviate anxieties about the loss of the structured Foundation Phase profile.
Is this curriculum being designed to be delivered to children from 0 upwards?
The curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings has been developed to support work with children at the very beginning of the 3-16 learning continuum as well as those with additional learning needs. Predominantly this curriculum supports the learning and development of children aged 3-4 years to ensure they have the best possible start on that journey.
The Welsh Government have published additional guidance which sets out a framework for ensuring quality provision for all children from birth to age 3: Early childhood play, learning and care: Developmental pathways 0 to 3
This guidance focuses on what is important for children’s development and how we can best support them to grow and develop in ways that suit their stage of development. As with the Curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings and the Assessment arrangements for funded non-maintained nursery settings, The Early childhood play, learning and care: Developmental pathways 0 to 3 has been co-constructed with practitioners and specialists across the education and childcare sectors.
Have Estyn/CIW been involved with the creation of the curriculum? And will they receive training on the curriculum also?
CIW as well as Estyn have been involved with stakeholder engagement regarding the non-maintained sector curriculum and representatives have attended working group meetings. Welsh Government has remained in contact with the inspectorates regarding curriculum development.
As we move forwards towards the new curriculum, Estyn has shown a good understanding of the new curriculum, recognising that it is a journey for settings and practitioners. This understanding should be reflected in the inspection process.
CIW has been less involved than Estyn with the development work, however, Welsh Government has held a number of training and awareness session for inspectors, and inspectors also have access to the training modules which are available on Hwb, to support their understanding.
If you would like further support prior to or post inspection, please contact NDNA Cymru’s Early Years Education Officer, Hayley Grayson at [email protected]
My setting does not receive funded nursery education hours, should we still follow the Curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings?
Settings that do not receive funding to provide education are still encouraged under the National Minimum Standards to deliver practice in line with the statutory curriculum requirements:
“7.1 The principles of the curriculum are understood and applied in a way appropriate to the age, abilities, and stage of development of children in their care and the nature of the provision. Non-funded settings are encouraged to incorporate this curriculum into their work.” National Minimum Standards for regulated childcare, May 2023.
The Curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings and the Early childhood play, learning and care: Developmental pathways 0 to 3 provide curriculum guidance that is age, ability and stage appropriate for the learners within your setting. Therefore, non-funded settings may still choose to adopt and implement this curriculum.
For further information, please see the Welsh Government’s Schools and funded non-maintained nursery settings FAQs
Setting the scene for learning
The Five Developmental Pathways
Additional mandatory curriculum elements
If you need more support please contact the NDNA Cymru team:
NDNA Cymru members can also contact NDNA’s Early Years Education Officer, Hayley Grayson for specific queries or support through;
- Phone – 01824 707823 Ext 273
- Email – [email protected]
- 1:1 Zoom support sessions – Email Hayley to book a time that best suits you.