14 to 16 learning under the Curriculum for Wales – a need to ensure that the interests of learners are being met


This month, Welsh Government is consulting on 14 to 16 learning under the Curriculum for Wales. Here, Coleg Cambria Chief Executive, Yana Williams, shares her thoughts on how we can improve the opportunities available to this age group.

The draft guidance: 

  • explains the legal requirements for a school’s curriculum for 14 to 16-year-old learners under the Curriculum for Wales; 
  • supports schools in designing a curriculum offer which meets those requirements; and 
  • states Welsh Government’s priorities for learning and teaching in year 10 and year 11. 

As things stand, the college sector believes that the 14-16 learning pathways available in schools don’t currently include enough information around all the options available to learners to provide them with meaningful access vocational education. While the FE sector welcomes the recommendation within the consultation for schools to 'undertake a balanced options analysis for post-16 pathways, ensuring that learners are fully advised and able to make informed decisions', it’s not a mandatory requirement meaning schools can choose not to accept this suggestion.  

As a sector, we strive to put the long-term needs of learners at the heart of everything we do, so we’re keen for all colleges to have strong and effective relationships with schools in their areas, however, the landscape is varied. If all 14 to 16-year-olds are to receive a full picture of their options post-16, then schools must engage meaningfully with colleges to really ensure that the interests of the learners are being met. 

The introduction of VCSEs has the potential to help guarantee greater choice in Years 10 and 11 by adding additional GCSE level qualifications that provide an opportunity for a diverse range of learners to achieve in different ways, but ultimately, we believe the route to offering high-quality vocational options rests on genuine partnerships between schools and colleges. These partnerships can provide meaningful routes that would better support progression into vocational pathways and apprenticeships.  

Additionally, when thinking about progression into vocational pathways, we strongly reiterate our call for Welsh Government to develop a Vocational Education and Training Strategy. From the age of 14, learners should be given the opportunity to access vocational experiences that are delivered by qualified, dual-professional, specialist teaching staff with facilities that give learners the full vocational experience and a genuine insight into the world of work. If this isn’t the case, there’s a real danger that young people may not fully appreciate the opportunities and challenges that a particular career path provides and ultimately will be put off from considering a vocational education, choosing instead a different pathway which may not be suitable for them in the longer term. 

The FE sector is committed to working with the Commission for Tertiary Education and Research as well as Welsh Government to provide the best opportunities and learning experiences for all learners in Wales, and believes that meaningful engagement between schools and colleges will underpin this commitment. 

Further Information 

Welsh Government Consultation 
14 to 16 learning under the Curriculum for Wales 
May 2024

ColegauCymru Consultation Response
14-16 learning under the new curriculum
8 May 2024
Welsh Government Report  
A review of vocational qualifications in Wales  
Sharon Lusher, September 2023   

Amy Evans, Policy Officer 

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