The statement made by Jeremy Miles, the Welsh Minister for Education and Welsh Language, on 15 November 2022.
We believe that everyone should learn about and be able to critically engage with the history of our country in all its diversity. Our vision is for all of our citizens, including young people, to understand how history, language, diversity and culture have shaped Wales to become the proud and unique nation we are today. We want all our learners to understand the history of Wales including the history of the Welsh language. Moreover, we want all of our learners to feel inspired to use the Cymraeg they have, wherever they are on their Welsh language journey.
Through the statements of ‘What Matters’ Code and the Humanities Area of Learning and Experience, Welsh history is a mandatory part of the new curriculum.
The Welsh Government strengthened the statements of ‘What Matters’ for Humanities following consultation in spring 2021 to ensure the study of Welsh history is both explicit and compulsory for schools and settings. They now state:
“Through consistent exposure to the story of their locality and the story of Wales, as well as to the story of the wider world, learners can develop an understanding of the complex, pluralistic and diverse nature of societies, past and present. These stories are diverse, spanning different communities as well as in particular the stories of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people. This also enables learners to develop a common understanding of the diverse history, cultural heritage, ethnic diversity, identities, experiences and perspectives of their local area, Wales and the wider world.”
The Co-operation Agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Government emphasises the importance of Welsh history – in all of its diversity and complexity – being mandatory in the new Curriculum for Wales and commits us to reviewing the mandatory statements of What Matters Code and other supporting guidance to further strengthen this shared commitment. This will happen, following consultation, over the course of the coming academic year to provide explicit reference to the ‘history of Wales and the world’. The guidance underpinning this will also be updated to reflect and provide full support for this change. In line with Co-Operation Agreement, we will also commission the development of an overarching timeline of Welsh history and further updates will be provided in due course.
The Welsh Government held a National Network conversation on Welsh history, in all its diversity, in April 2022. This conversation gathered perspectives from schools and stakeholders to develop common approaches around the teaching of local and Welsh history and how the Welsh language and diverse communities can play a vital role in identity and belonging. We are now looking at how we can further support teachers. This will include holding further National Network conversations focused on Welsh history and culture, including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic histories and culture in Wales, and the history and current situation of the Welsh language in terms of national and local contexts.
We are also commissioning supporting materials to enable teachers designing their curriculum to reflect Wales’ diverse history and communities. This includes a specific timeline to support the teaching and learning of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic histories and contributions, plus an interactive map of Wales.
We will continue to work with stakeholders, including historians and academics, over the coming months to look at further ways of supporting teachers as we move towards the full implementation of the Curriculum for Wales. Delivering the recommendations made by the ‘Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, Contributions and Cynefin in the New Curriculum Working Group’ will be integral to the teaching of Welsh history. In June, I published an Annual Report on the progress made to date on implementation of the recommendations.
Today, I am also publishing our formal response to the Estyn thematic report on The teaching of Welsh history including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic history, identity and culture. We are addressing these recommendations as part of the implementation of the actions above. I am delighted to confirm that Professor Charlotte Williams OBE has agreed to extend her advisory role with the Welsh Government to support the embedding of the recommendations.
It is vital that we continue to promote and support the delivery of Welsh history in the new curriculum and enable our learners to become ethical and informed citizens of Wales and the wider world. It is important that young people are able to explore the diverse history of Wales, discover their heritage and understand the importance of the Welsh language, and develop their understanding of their cynefin.