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Thursday, May 13, 1999 Published at 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK


Assembly to decide what children learn

Children in Wales will grow up with a new political reality

In Wales, the question of citizenship has taken on extra significance in the light of the recent National Assembly elections.

Despite a big public information campaign, less than 50% of the Welsh electorate turned out for the 6 May elections to Wales's new democratic institution, which held its first meeting on 12 May.

There is concern that more needs to be done to make sure the people of Wales make the most of the opportunity the Assembly offers.

Education is seen as one long-term solution to this, and the review of the National Curriculum provides a chance for school studies to be adapted to the new political reality in Wales.

There are plans for citizenship to be made a part of personal and social education, although it is not likely to be compulsory.

'No bias'

The new National Assembly has the last word on whether citizenship will be taught, and in what form. The Welsh Office Education Minister, Peter Hain, said the Assembly would look at plans similar to England's in the autumn.

[ image: Greater freedom for teachers is anticipated]
Greater freedom for teachers is anticipated
Geraint Davies of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers in Wales said he was confident there would be no political bias in lessons if the citizenship proposals were adopted.

This is the first time that the subjects children have to learn in school have been reviewed for five years. The plans in Wales are likely to please teachers, who hope there will more freedom for them to use their professional judgement, and less bureaucracy.

More fun

In Northern Ireland, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) recently presented the government with its ideas for producing "well-rounded, well-grounded young people who are equipped for the challenges of a rapidly changing world".

As far as citizenship is concerned, the CCEA said the Northern Ireland Curriculum "should play its part in building the peace by helping to create a culture of tolerance through education for democracy".

Another of the proposals, being consulted on in May and June, is that there should be more enjoyment for children in the classroom.

Surveys of pupils have shown that many do not enjoy their lessons. They want more practical activities and feel pressurised into studying for exams.


"Now that the link between emotion and learning is better understood, the curriculum should be developed to make it more attractive to learners of all abilities - enjoyment enhances learning," said the CCEA.

A proposal to make the curriculum more flexible has been welcomed by teachers.

The world of work is to feature more heavily in the curriculum with a view to providing employers with staff already equipped with the skills they require.

The CCEA study has also said that it may be a bad thing to start formal reading and writing lessons too early.

The aim is to implement the proposals in schools in a phased way from September 2001.

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13 May 99 | Education
Pupils to be taught 'citizenship'

10 Aug 98 | England and Wales
Curriculum and testing

19 May 98 | Northern Ireland

19 May 98 | Northern Ireland

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