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United-Kingdom-Wales:Overview

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Overview United Kingdom (Wales)

Contents

United-Kingdom-Wales:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

United-Kingdom-Wales:Historical Development

United-Kingdom-Wales:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

United-Kingdom-Wales:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

United-Kingdom-Wales:Political and Economic Situation

United-Kingdom-Wales:Organisation and Governance

United-Kingdom-Wales:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

United-Kingdom-Wales:Lifelong Learning Strategy

United-Kingdom-Wales:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

United-Kingdom-Wales:Organisation of Private Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:National Qualifications Framework

United-Kingdom-Wales:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

United-Kingdom-Wales:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

United-Kingdom-Wales:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

United-Kingdom-Wales:Funding in Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

United-Kingdom-Wales:Higher Education Funding

United-Kingdom-Wales:Adult Education and Training Funding

United-Kingdom-Wales:Early Childhood Education and Care

United-Kingdom-Wales:Organisation of Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

United-Kingdom-Wales:Teaching and Learning in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

United-Kingdom-Wales:Assessment in Programmes for Children over 2-3 years

United-Kingdom-Wales:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

United-Kingdom-Wales:Primary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Organisation of Primary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Assessment in Primary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Organisation of General Lower Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Assessment in General Lower Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Organisation of General Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Teaching and Learning in General Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Assessment in General Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Organisation of Vocational Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Assessment in Vocational Upper Secondary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Types of Higher Education Institutions

United-Kingdom-Wales:First Cycle Programmes

United-Kingdom-Wales:Bachelor

United-Kingdom-Wales:Short-Cycle Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Second Cycle Programmes

United-Kingdom-Wales:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

United-Kingdom-Wales:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

United-Kingdom-Wales:Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-Wales:Distribution of Responsibilities

United-Kingdom-Wales:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

United-Kingdom-Wales:Main Providers

United-Kingdom-Wales:Main Types of Provision

United-Kingdom-Wales:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

United-Kingdom-Wales:Teachers and Education Staff

United-Kingdom-Wales:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-Wales:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-Wales:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-Wales:Management and Other Education Staff

United-Kingdom-Wales:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

United-Kingdom-Wales:Management Staff for Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-Wales:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-Wales:Quality Assurance

United-Kingdom-Wales:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-Wales:Educational Support and Guidance

United-Kingdom-Wales:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-Wales:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

United-Kingdom-Wales:Mobility and Internationalisation

United-Kingdom-Wales:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Mobility in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-Wales:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

United-Kingdom-Wales:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

United-Kingdom-Wales:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

United-Kingdom-Wales:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

United-Kingdom-Wales:National Reforms in School Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

United-Kingdom-Wales:National Reforms in Higher Education

United-Kingdom-Wales:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

United-Kingdom-Wales:European Perspective

United-Kingdom-Wales:Legislation

United-Kingdom-Wales:Glossary

 

News Feed United Kingdom (Wales)


 

Key features of the education system

Overall responsibility for the education service in Wales has rested with the Welsh Government since powers were devolved to Wales by the Government of Wales Act 1998 and subsequent legislation. Since devolution, education policy has been developed to meet Welsh needs and priorities.  At the same time, a number of structural features and much of the legal framework are shared with England, reflecting a common history.

Reforms in the 1980s and 1990s changed the balance of responsibilities for publicly funded education outside of higher education. Schools became more autonomous as responsibility for staffing and budgets was delegated to each school’s governing body. Further education colleges were ‘incorporated’ as fully autonomous bodies.

Although the role of local authorities was reduced by these reforms, the 22 local authorities in Wales retain their duty to ensure a sufficient supply of school places, support school improvement and support vulnerable children and young people. Some education services connected to the school improvement agenda are delivered regionally within Wales by four regional education consortia of local authorities.

Full-time education is compulsory from the term following a child’s 5th birthday until age 16. Under the Education Act 1996:

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—

to his age, ability and aptitude, and
to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Parents who wish to educate their child at home do not have to seek approval.

Creation of a truly bilingual Wales is a goal of the Welsh Government. Depending on local factors, Welsh-medium and/or or bilingual education is available alongside English medium education. In addition, and whatever the medium of instruction, all children must learn Welsh throughout compulsory education.

Accountability is based on:

  • outcome measures. For primary schools, these focus on the results of teacher assessment and attendance data; for secondary schools, on national qualifications taken at age 16 and attendance data. These performance measures are combined with moderated self evaluation indicators in a national school categorisation system to identify schools in need of support.
  • inspection of providers. Early childhood education and care providers, schools, colleges, work-based learning and adult community learning providers are inspected by Estyn in accordance with a common inspection framework. Reports are published. If inspection identifies important areas for improvement, the provider may be subject to intervention.

Inspection judgements are made on three key questions, informed by quality indicators:

  • outcomes (standards, wellbeing)
  • provision (learning experiences, teaching, care, support and guidance, learning environment)
  • leadership (improving quality, partnership working, resource management).

The judgement on outcomes must take account of particular groups, including, for schools:

  • students eligible for free school meals
  • boys and girls
  • students with additional learning needs.

Grade repetition and early tracking are not features of the school system.

Broad aims for the curriculum were established by the Education Act 1944 to promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society and prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. However, there was no central control over the curriculum until the Education Reform Act 1988 introduced a National Curriculum for Wales with the aim of giving pupils an entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum and setting standards for pupil attainment and to support school accountability.

Re-enacted by the Education Act 2002, the National Curriculum for Wales specifies compulsory subjects and programmes of study. It does not aim to be the whole school curriculum and teaching hours for individual subjects are not prescribed. It sits alongside other statutory requirements for religious education, sex education, personal and social education (PSE) and careers and the world of work. A National Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) was introduced as a statutory curriculum requirement for students aged 3 to 16 following disappointing results for Wales in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2009. The new curriculum for Wales to be introduced between 2018 and 2021 will move away from traditional subject structures to six common areas of learning and experience.

Qualifications drive the curriculum from age 14. General and vocational qualifications outside of higher education are regulated by Qualifications Wales. They are provided by independent awarding organisations and, as they are external, can be taken at any age, thus providing a structure for progression from school to adult learning. Qualifications are assigned one of nine levels of difficulty on the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW). This is an umbrella framework which provides a common currency for learning achievement for learners of all ages and abilities and maintains links with frameworks used by other UK nations.

Higher education institutions are private bodies that, subject to their degree-awarding powers, are free to design their programmes and awards and to determine the conditions on which they are awarded. There is no system for the accreditation of institutions but institutions’ capability to manage their own quality and standards is judged by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), with the UK Quality Code for Higher Education as the definitive reference point. There has been a shift from direct public funding to tuition fees backed by public loans, with a new fee regime introduced in 2007.

Stages of the education system

ISCED 0

Children are entitled to a minimum of 10 hours a week free education from the term after their 3rd birthday. The majority of children attend a primary school reception class full time from the September after their 4th birthday.

The curriculum framework from age 3 to 7 is provided by the Foundation Phase, which spans pre-school provision and primary education. Settings include nursery schools, maintained primary schools, private and voluntary settings and registered childminders.

ISCED 1

Primary education consists of the Foundation Phase for ages 5 to 7 and Key Stage 2 for ages 7 to 11.

Primary schools are mixed sex. A small proportion are faith schools. In contrast to England, schools are maintained by the local authority and there are no academies.

National standardised reading and numeracy tests apply from age 7. The tests provide summative data, collected and analysed nationally and used as part of the national accountability model. They do not influence student progression.

ISCED 2

Key Stage 3 is for ages 11 to 14. It is provided in secondary schools, catering for students from 11 to 16 or 18/19. Secondary schools admit students without reference to academic criteria.

Most secondary schools are mixed sex. A small proportion are faith schools. In contrast to England, schools are maintained by the local authority and there are no academies.

National standardised reading and numeracy tests apply throughout Key Stage 3. The tests provide summative data which is collected and analysed nationally and used as part of the national accountability model. They do not influence student progression.

ISCED 3

Students normally continue at the same school for Key Stage 4, the final phase of compulsory full-time education for ages 14 to 16.

Attainment at the end of Key Stage 4 is measured mainly through GCSEs, which are single subject qualifications. Vocational qualifications may be offered alongside GCSEs. These qualifications are important for both student progression and school accountability.

At age 16, depending on the local offer and their own preferences, students may continue at the same school in the sixth form, or transfer to a further education (FE) college. Most academic routes lead to three A levels. FE colleges typically offer a wider range of vocational options. The Learning Pathways Framework aims to ensure that local authorities, schools and further education colleges co-operate to ensure that young people have access to a wider choice of options to meet their individual needs. These qualifications are important for both student progression and school/college accountability.

Apprenticeships are offered at different levels and traineeships are available for young people not ready to start an apprenticeship.

ISCED 5, ISCED 6, ISCED 7

Higher education institutions structure their programmes within a 3-cycle framework: bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral studies. Short programmes are also available.

Institutions determine their own admissions policies and there are wide variations in terms of competition for places. A levels are the most common entry qualification for young entrants to bachelor programmes, but other qualifications may be accepted. There are well-established routes, such as Access programmes, for mature learners who lack formal qualifications.


Structure of the national education system

2016 diagram UK WLS.pngSource: Eurydice 2016

Common European Reference Tools Provided by the Eurydice Network


Article last reviewed October 2016.