We were delighted that 369 parents in Wales took the time to give their thoughts to our survey on the Draft Curriculum for Wales 2022. Our Annual Parent Survey 2018 discovered that curriculum is the top area of school life parents most want to be consulted on, with 56% positioning this topic in their top four choices. The high response rate to this survey demonstrates how important the subject is for parents and while our previous research has already shown this, being able to present this information to policy makers through your collective ‘Parents Voice’ in such numbers makes this submission significant.
What was Welsh Government consulting on?
The school curriculum in Wales will soon change. A new one begins to be rolled out in 2022. Children from nursery to Year 7 will study the new curriculum from the academic year starting in September 2022. Children in Years 8 to 11 will see the new curriculum phased in between 2023 and 2026. Ahead of a final version of the Curriculum for Wales being decided in 2020, the government put its plans out to public consultation to hear from experts and education stakeholders - which of course includes parents. We wanted to present parent voice to government as part of this feedback process.
What did parents say?
There were several areas of the consultation where we gathered evidence from parents in order to respond.
- Can the Curriculum be improved? We asked this question directly to our parents in the survey we ran, and 72% of respondents answered “don’t know”. A further 19% felt that the draft Curriculum for Wales 2022 guidance could be improved, where 7% felt that it could not be improved and 2% selected ‘other’. This informed our overall response of ‘it could be improved’. Some of the parents commented that they had, "never see it" or wanted "more info". When we asked, "If you think the draft curriculum for Wales 2022 guidance can be improved, what changes would you suggest?", parents left many comments, ranging from concern over the changes to requests for more details.
- Parental awareness of Curriculum for Wales 2022. We also asked, “Before taking this survey, were you aware that the curriculum in Wales is changing from 2022?” Over half of parents (53%) selected “I wasn’t aware of the changes” which shows there is more that can be done to ensure parents have better access to information about their child’s education. This is an important area of work for us with key education stakeholders who want to improve their communication and open dialogue with parents. Almost two thirds (65%) of parents indicated to us that they do not know where to find information about the new curriculum, and almost three quarters (74%) did not know where to find information on what the changes to the curriculum will mean for their child.
- Parents are unsure whether or not they support the new Curriculum for Wales. When we asked, “Do you support the new Curriculum for Wales?” 72% indicated “don’t know”. 13% said “yes”, 10% said “no” and 5% “other”. This response is informed by point 2: parents are currently unable to make a judgement on the new curriculum because they do not feel they have all of the details and knowledge they need to do so.
More must be done to engage parents on the new Curriculum
It is clear from our survey results, and from the supporting comments that parents have left, that in order to include parents as part of the journey to launching Curriculum for Wales 2022, further consideration must be given to engage them and seek their views. Parents supporting learning at home in a variety of ways is a major part of the academic success of each child. It’s therefore crucial for Welsh Government to target and reach parents, and to bring them on the journey to the new curriculum in partnership. Once parents have an understanding of the new curriculum and are actively consulted on their views, they can make a huge difference to their child’s outcomes, in full and meaningful partnership with their school.
Parents as part of the reporting process
There were high levels of uncertainty about the parental role in the reporting process among our survey respondents, with 95% saying that they are unaware of the proposed parental role. The same overwhelming proportion was unaware of the proposed role their child will play in the reporting process. Almost three quarters (72%) said that they do not know what information they would want to be included in reports. We suggested that for dialogue with parents to be meaningful, it is best for schools to use a formalised structure for incorporating parental engagement as a core part of their culture, such as Parentkind's Blueprint for Parent-Friendly Schools which provides best practice in parental engagement.
See our Q&A with Education Secretary Kirsty Williams (which is also available in Welsh) about the Curriculum for Wales 2022 (though please note that our survey and the consultation are now closed).
See the government’s Education Is Changing site to learn more about what you can expect in the run-up to the new curriculum.