What You Need to Know About the Donaldson Report

Graham Donaldson is an expert when it comes to education, having spent over 40 years working in schools, universities and local and central government. Furthermore, he is a qualified teacher of History and Social Science, has taught and occupied senior positions and has worked at a national level as a curriculum developer and evaluator. In March 2014, due to his level of expertise, the Welsh Government asked Professor Donaldson to review the curriculum and assessment arrangements in schools in Wales, in order to improve them. We will now examine how Donaldson used the review to produce the “Donaldson Report”.

First things first.

Professor Donaldson and his team travelled across Wales and held meetings with schools to allow them to have their say. They had meetings with the Teachers, school managers, Headteachers, staff and other education professionals to really gain a good understanding of the changes that needed to be made. Between March and December 2014, they visited around 60 schools including nursery, primary, secondary and special schools. They made it a priority to also speak to children and young people, along with parents, carers, and business and community groups across Wales. They then went on to look at Estyn reports, Welsh Government policies and other reports. Moreover, the review also asked people to tell them what was best about education in Wales and what needed to change. Over 700 people took part and 300 of these were children and young people.

What was the response from this?

People did have a lot of positive things to tell Donaldson about the curriculum. These included the Foundation Phase, National Literacy and Numeracy Framework, Routes for Learning, the Welsh Baccalaureate, Welsh language and bilingualism. However, there were also several negatives. Teachers expressed that they would like to have more power about how and what they teach within the curriculum. Moreover, they said that assessment arrangements were not working well to support children’s learning. The children that Donaldson spoke to told him that they felt that the curriculum was outdated, especially when it comes to technology. It seemed to be a recurrent theme that they want a greater focus on life skills, personal confidence, work skills, digital skills, career advice and health and well-being. Unsurprisingly, they children also said that they want the lessons to be more fun and interesting.


From conducting the review, Donaldson established that there should be four main purposes of the new curriculum, helping to ensure that all young people are:

  • Ambitious, capable learners who are ready to learn throughout their lives
  • Enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
  • Ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
  • Healthy, confident individuals who are ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society

Putting theory into practice.

From this, Donaldson concluded that there should be six main areas of learning and experience. Each of the areas are vital in contributing to the four purposes. These are:

  1. Expressive Arts
  2. Health and Wellbeing
  3. Humanities
  4. Languages, Literacy & Communication
  5. Mathematics & Numeracy
  6. Science & Technology

From conducting the review, the Donaldson Report made some wide-ranging recommendations which will have an immediate and a long-term impact on teaching. But, don’t worry, you can familiarise yourself with details of the report by reading it here.

If you found this blog informative, why not follow our LinkedIn page to keep up to date with the latest industry news along with what we get up to here at Educate