Curriculum for Wales: Additional mandatory elements

For settings that choose to adopt the ‘Curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings’ in its entirety, the curriculum will already encompass the mandatory elements, in a way suitable for children’s stage of development at 3-4 years.

The mandatory elements are embedded throughout the ‘Curriculum for funded non-maintained nursery settings’ (the curriculum).

Settings that choose to adopt the curriculum:

Settings that choose to adopt it will not be required to make additional arrangements for the below elements, however, it is viewed as best practice to understand the terms and have an awareness of how they are incorporated into early years provision.

Settings that do not choose to adopt the curriculum:

For settings that do not want to use the curriculum and wish to design their own curriculum, consideration should be made to incorporate, where appropriate, opportunities for learning and consideration of cross-cutting elements. Rather than planning for these skills separately, the whole setting should be involved and engaged in order to embed these skills across the curriculum.

The mandatory curriculum elements include:

  • Relationships and sexuality education (RSE)
  • Religion, values and ethics (RVE)
  • Human rights -including UNCRC and UNCRPD
  • Careers and work-related experiences (CWRE)
  • Cross-curricular skills- Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Competence.

Relationships and sexuality education (RSE)

RSE has a positive and empowering role in learners’ education and plays a vital role in supporting them to realise the four purposes.

Helping learners to form and maintain a range of relationships, all based on mutual trust and respect, is the foundation of RSE. These relationships are critical to the development of emotional well-being, resilience and empathy.

Settings have an important role to play in creating safe and empowering environments that support learners’ rights to enjoy fulfilling, healthy and safe relationships throughout their lives.

Welsh Government has published the RSE Code and Guidance.

The Code and Guidance set out that practitioners need to make sure that RSE is developmentally appropriate for children. Developmentally appropriate means children learn about relationships and sexuality in a way that is right for their age, experiences and understanding.

RSE in curriculum for Wales focuses on three broad strands:

RSE is best realised drawing on partnerships with a wide range of people and organisations, including parents/carers, families, health visitors, public sector charitable and voluntary organisations and others who work in partnership with settings.

Supporting resources:

Religion, Values and Ethics (RVE)

RVE guidance is situated within the Humanities Area of curriculum for Wales and incorporates a range of disciplinary approaches that can be used to engage children with a broad range of religious and non-religious concepts.

Concepts are important in RVE because they are central ideas that help children to make sense of and interpret human experience, the natural world and their own place within it.

Young children are endlessly curious; they enjoy exploring and investigating by themselves and with others, and naturally ask questions about life and the world around them. Through engaging, practical, integrated activities in the early years, they can begin to learn more about themselves, other people and the wider world.

Through play, children are able to develop their ideas, opinions and feelings with imagination, creativity and sensitivity, which can help inform their view of the world. Spending time outdoors supports children’s social, emotional, spiritual and physical development, as well as their well-being. Being outdoors also helps them to develop an awareness of the need to show care and respect for living things.

Children in the early years are beginning to understand the concept of ‘difference’. Practitioners should encourage them to share their knowledge and experiences of their own beliefs, heritage and traditions, as well as those of others (for example, through songs, stories and role play). This can help children understand more about themselves, as well as about experiences and viewpoints which may differ from their own.

A supportive, nurturing environment, where children can learn about each other’s differences and similarities, can help them to begin to develop respectful relationships and a sense of responsibility. They can begin to explore the language of rights and start to understand their right to believe different things and follow different beliefs. Through this, children from an early age can begin to identify and understand how their actions may affect others, and learn to reflect on and revise their own perspectives, as appropriate.

When designing their curriculum settings should ensure that a developmentally appropriate range of experiences relevant to RVE is provided for children. These experiences can include opportunities to:

  • Engage with religious and non-religious local communities in ways that learners will find meaningful and valuable
  • Engage in role play and participate in, or observe, activities such as celebrations or re-enactments
  • Experience and reflect on the mystery, awe and wonder of the natural world, historical locations and religious and cultural sites
  • Observe and participate in cultural activities that help learners to understand human experiences
  • Handle and explore religious artefacts and objects, including sacred and other texts
  • Visit local places of worship and other special places, landscapes and environments, including those with a significant religious and spiritual dimension
  • Meet people for whom faith and belief is important to help learners explore lived experiences.

Supporting resources:

Human rights

Human rights are the freedoms and protections to which all people are entitled. In Wales our human rights are protected in law by the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Human Rights Act 1998 outlines and safeguards everyone’s rights. This is irrespective of nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, sexual orientation or any other status. What is more, everyone is equally entitled to human rights without discrimination. These rights are all related to one another, dependent upon one another and indivisible from one another.

In addition, children and young people and disabled persons have specific human rights guaranteed under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). These two conventions also convey obligations on nation states.

The Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021 (the Act) provides that settings must promote knowledge and understanding of the two conventions among practitioners. This means, for example, that leaders must make sure that practitioners gain knowledge and understanding of human rights, as set out by these two conventions.


The UNCRC is an international agreement that protects the human rights of children and young people up to the age of 18. It covers all aspects of a child’s life and sets out the rights that all children everywhere are entitled to, including education provision.

UNCRC is one of the key principles of policy making with regards to children and young people in Wales. The principles of the UNCRC informed the development of the four purposes. Each of the four purposes enables learners to experience their human rights, which is exemplified in the mapping undertaken by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.


The purpose of the UNCRPD is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by disabled people. It is important that learners, with or without impairments, see and experience the principles of the UNCRPD in action throughout their education.

Supporting resources:

Careers and work-related experiences (CWRE)

Learning about CWRE is fundamental to developing skills for work and life. This helps children to understand the relationship between their learning and the world of work.

Effective CWRE is comprised of age- and developmentally appropriate careers education embedded across the curriculum.

It is supported by a wide range of relevant learning experiences and environments. CWRE is best realised in partnership with a wide range of people and organisations including local businesses and communities, public sector, charitable and voluntary organisations and parents/carers and families.

When thinking about CWRE, practitioners must ensure that:

  • Experiences are developmentally and age-appropriate, authentic and purposeful
  • Children connect learning to familiar contexts​​
  • Partnership engagement is vital to inform and support children’s exposure to and experiences of the world of work​. 

Supporting resources:

Cross-curricular skills- Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Competence

The cross-curricular skills of; literacy, numeracy and digital competence still exist within curriculum for Wales.

They are essential for children to be able to access the curriculum and the wealth of opportunities it offers, equipping them with the lifelong skills to realise the four purposes and thrive in the modern world.

Settings must implement a curriculum which enables children to develop competence and capability in these skills and to extend and apply them across all learning. Developing these skills is therefore a consideration for all practitioners.

Children must be given opportunities across the curriculum to:

  • Develop listening, reading, speaking and writing skills
  • Be able to use numbers and solve problems in real-life situations
  • Be confident users of a range of technologies to help them function and communicate effectively and make sense of the world.

Supporting resources: