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Doing cynefin: Exploring ideas on belonging, connectedness and community in the Curriculum for Wales

Wales is a small country that is distinctive in its landscape, culture and language. This gives the notion of place a particular resonance in Wales and reinforces the significance of local contexts. Cynefin (pronounced kuh-nev-in) is a Welsh word that signifies attachment to place within the Welsh context. Simply defined it means ‘habitat’, but it is a word that suggests greater complexity than this and evokes the profound nature of the relationship between the individual and the land.

Cynefin has a special place in the Curriculum for Wales where it is being used to support curriculum outcomes in relation to citizenship, diversity, heritage and language. Cynefin also speaks to the approach to educational reform being taken in Wales.

This special issue of the BERA Blog is focused on education in Wales and is organised around the theme of cynefin, with contributions from Welsh academics, policymakers and practitioners to address key issues and debates framed by themes of belonging, connectedness and community.

The contributions to this special issue explore:

  • a bilingual narrative about how the word cynefin came to be included in the Curriculum for Wales
  • cynefin in relation to Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological systems model and the way in which cynefin as a concept draws together different levels of influence in children and young people’s lives
  • how the Curriculum for Wales embraces children’s participative rights through a focus on schools as learning communities and the active engagement of learners’ unique cynefin
  • recent Welsh Government policy which has cumulated in an anti-racist Wales action plan (ARWAP) and a suite of associated policies, as well as the Welsh Government organisation named DARPL (Diversity and Anti-Racist Professional Learning) 
  • the idea of cynefin as a second-generation migrant to Wales
  • a dual approach focused on of high-quality teaching and learning and community engagement, particularly for learners disadvantaged by poverty
  • the role of real-world examples in inspection reports in enhancing a sense of authenticity and trust.


Profile picture of Susan Davis
Susan Davis, Dr

Reader in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Education at Cardiff Metropolitan University

Dr Susan Davis is a Reader in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Education, within the School of Education and Social Policy, Cardiff Metropolitan University. She is the pathway leader for the professional doctorate / EdD. On the Welsh Government...

Profile picture of Carmel Conn
Carmel Conn, Dr

Associate Professor at University of South Wales

Dr Carmel Conn is Associate Professor in Inclusive Pedagogy at the University of South Wales and has led the pan-Wales Equity and Inclusion Collaborative Research Network since 2020. Her research focuses on inclusive education, additional...

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