The significance of context: Autonomy and curriculum reform in rural schools

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In the large volume of research on curriculum reform, very little attention is paid to the implications of geographical location, yet, this can be significant. The current curriculum reform process in Wales has presented an opportunity for schools to radically change their practice. While rural schools have welcomed this opportunity, they face challenges unrecognised by the wider educational establishment. This article presents a view of the reform process from school level, using data from semi‐structured interviews with teachers working on curriculum reform. Thematic analysis reveals enthusiastic responses to reform and the greater autonomy it promises. There are, however, challenges, including concerns about staffing, access to professional learning and learners' access to extra‐curricular learning. The research demonstrates that while rural schools face challenges unique to their location, their response to reform demonstrates a capacity for independent action in line with the aspirations of the new curriculum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-243
Number of pages13
JournalCurriculum Journal
Issue number2
Early online date27 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2020


  • Curriculum reform
  • Autonomy
  • Rural schools
  • Community engagement
  • Professional learning.
  • curriculum reform
  • autonomy
  • geographical location
  • rural schools
  • professional learning
  • community engagement


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