Beyond Covid: ‘National Conversation’ report now available

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In March a ‘national conversation’ was held for practitioners across Wales, to share experiences and learning, and help shape the national approach to moving beyond Covid.

The podcast and resources from the event featured recently on this blog, but now analysis of the feedback from the sessions, including the nature of the conversations, the themes and conclusions, is available in this report.

Talk Pedagogy – a great place to explore teaching practice

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The new curriculum brings new opportunities to re-visit our teaching approaches. It’s an exciting time but can feel challenging too. So ‘Talk Pedagogy’ has been created as a friendly space to share and learn about pedagogical approaches. It’s part of the wider support for professional learning.

Matt and Lucy explain how ‘Talk Pedagogy’ works for them:

Opportunities to join in

Talk Pedagogy started with small group discussions in the Autumn Term, since when it has grown and begun to diversify to meet different interests and needs. Part of this growth has included regular live events that provide opportunities to hear from colleagues and engage in conversation with others from across Wales.

To get involved, simply click on Talk Pedagogy. Once in, the General Channel is used to keep you up to date with up and coming activity and you will automatically receive invites to new events. You can also ‘catch-up’ on previous presentations and conversations that have been recorded and placed in the relevant channel. If you have any problems joining the channel, which should look as below, email FordM44@hwbcymru.net .

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Beyond Covid: Learning in the next phase; new podcast and resources!

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In March a ‘national conversation’ was held for practitioners across Wales, to share experiences and learning, and help shape the national approach to moving beyond Covid.

These valuable, personal conversations were very honest. To help share the essence and outcomes there’s now a podcast and supporting videos.

Podcast:

Apple podcasts 

Spotify

Spreaker

Videos by leading educationalists

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Revisions to the Curriculum Guidance – Consultations

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The curriculum guidance published in January 2020 was created in partnership with schools, supported by experts, over several years. It was also informed by an extensive consultation exercise in 2019, whose feedback pointed to the need for additional guidance and some amendment in key areas.

Over the last year, practitioners, stakeholders and partners have been co-constructing that additional and revised guidance, which is now being published for consultation.

Eight areas are open for consultation, which will run for eight weeks until 16th July. Once the feedback has been analysed, the curriculum guidance will be updated and published in two tranches – September and December – this year.

The consultation titles are:

And covering subordinate legislation:

National Museum reaches out with rich resources

Gweler neges debyg yn Gymraeg

In a ‘normal’ year, over 200,000 pupils in Wales and beyond would engage with Amgueddfa Cymru’s learning offer. In 2020, with our museums closed for periods of time, we had to think about how to ensure that every child in Wales had access to us and how best to support the Curriculum for Wales ‘remotely’.

We invested in equipment that would enable us to connect with schools through Teams and ensure access to our collections. We developed content that would encourage enquiry skills and inspire curiosity, focused on the Curriculum for Wales.

In just two months, over 4,000 pupils had taken part in one or more of our virtual sessions and the response to them was overwhelmingly positive. Here is teacher Laura Luxton’s response to a session on the Celts:

This year, after many years in Foundation Phase, I have moved to KS2. I was really excited by this prospect, until I realised that we would be teaching “The Celts”! I was undeniably petrified. Having never learned about them in school myself, I had no topic knowledge or experience in teaching it. I ordered several books online and read those, I ‘googled’ and researched all that I could. I was still very nervous. I was unsure of how to start the topic or where to go with it. I was keen to do it justice, especially as the emphasis on the new curriculum promotes children to become ‘ethically informed citizens of Wales’. “In contemporary and historical contexts, investigation and exploration of the human experience in their own localities and elsewhere in Wales, as well as in the wider world, can help learners discover their heritage and develop a sense of place and cynefin. It can also promote an understanding of how the people of Wales, its communities, history, culture, landscape, resources and industries, interrelate with the rest of the world.”

I mentioned to Leisa, from the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, that we were about to start teaching the Celts. Within minutes she had sent me links and posters to online workshops about…The Celts!!!! I read the information and it sounded amazing, I have visited St Fagans before and always had a great time so would welcome, and trust, anything from Amgueddfa Cymru! I mentioned it to the rest of the Key Stage Two staff and all of them were keen to be involved. As per the easy instructions on the links Leisa sent, I sent a quick email to Rachel. The same day we were offered dates for workshops, given more information, a bond was formed and the confidence was growing! I felt empowered to start the topic, knowing I had experts on my side.

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Health and Well-being – for pupils and staff at St Illtyd’s Primary School

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Health and well-being is always important, but never more so than during the current challenges we face as professionals. We have pupil groups and staff members away from school with symptoms of Covid or self-isolating, and an expectation to adjust to ever-changing climates. So well-being has to be our paramount priority for staff, learners and our communities.

In our case, like many of the experiences of schools across Wales. We have had to navigate our way through three pupil group class closures, engaging with distance learning and a high proportion of our core members of staff away from school due to the variety of challenges that accompany responses to Covid. It’s a recognised challenge for the whole profession at this time.

The ‘good news’ part of this story is that we have been able to continue our focus and draw upon our engagement in developing Health and Well-being as one of the Areas of Learning and Experience. This has been a sustained, collectively recognised priority for our school and we have continued to embed new practices through exploring the new curriculum during this time. Well-being has been the driver in this provision with the accompanying AoLE supporting our aim with a firm focus on the cross-curricular skills.

For us, the momentum to embed a rich well-being provision grew in 2018. We established a professional learning community (I’ll call it the PLC from here on) including volunteers from members of the school community at various levels.

Why is Well-being so important at St Illtyd’s Primary?

From our robust needs analysis, our learners were deemed to be lacking in resilience, motivation and effort – linked to interruptions in their well-being.  How do we know? Our robust evaluation and knowledge of our learners and their context, told us we needed to work particularly hard to develop a good sense of well-being in all our children. Drawing on this local knowledge and relational information, the aims and vision for the PLC were captured in a collaboratively-shaped vision statement (see later), for enhancing the well-being for the community at St Illtyd’s Primary. We used this information to form a learner based profile known as the ‘Well-being Web’, explained later in this post.

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Curriculum and Assessment Bill passed by Senedd

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The Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill has completed its final stage in the Senedd before being passed into law. Following Royal Assent, anticipated in April, the Bill will become the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021.

The Curriculum for Wales is due to be introduced from September 2022. 

Last year, the Minister published an updated action plan setting out the next steps in Wales’ reform journey, ahead of the introduction of the new Curriculum for Wales.

Alongside the updated Our National Mission action plan, the Welsh Government also published a document setting out shared expectations of what curriculum realisation means for practitioners and schools from 2022. Curriculum for Wales: the journey to 2022 has been created to help schools prepare for designing and implementing their curriculum.  In January, the Welsh Government published the Curriculum Implementation Plan which will steer our work with partners to deliver the Curriculum for Wales. 

The passage of the bill means that schools and teachers can now grasp the opportunity to design their own curricula to support their learners’ own development and learning journeys, working with parents and communities, within a nationally consistent framework. 

Parallel reforms to support introduction have also continued, notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic. New ‘Accountability, Evaluation and Improvement’ guidance is under consultation, and professional learning to support development of school-level curriculum continues apace with Consortia-led learning and useful interactive on-line sessions and resources:

Schools as learning organisations – Hwb (gov.wales)

National professional enquiry project – Hwb (gov.wales)

National pedagogy project – Hwb (gov.wales)

Georgina Haarhoff,

Deputy Director, Curriculum, Welsh Government.

Practitioners look beyond Covid and test a ‘national conversation’ model

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This Spring, the first ‘national conversation’ of its kind will see practitioners discuss lessons learned during the pandemic; how to support learning in the next phase; and how to ensure their learners progress. Experiences will be shared, and findings will help to inform national policy.

Short films to spark the conversations will feature leading academics Robin Bannerjee, Graham Donaldson, and Louise Hayward, along with Mike Griffiths, a former practitioner deeply involved in the development of the Curriculum for Wales.

The potential and opportunities offered by the new curriculum to inform approaches to teaching and learning in the next phase will be a sub-theme throughout.

A representative from every school and setting will be able to attend. That person does not need to be a senior leader, but will be capable of instigating similar conversations back at their school, and feeding back from the event. Booking is via Regional Consortia, which will fund each participant for 2.5 hours for attendance, and importantly to share the learning with colleagues in school.

Inevitably held online, practitioners will join virtual discussion groups – bringing together ideas and perspectives in sessions led by fellow practitioners.

These ‘national conversations’ will also be a useful test-bed for work to develop a national network of practitioners and stakeholders to take curriculum realisation forward. The sessions will give useful insight into the reach and accessibility that virtual events can offer, and how a “hybrid” model of face-to-face and virtual events could provide a template for a national network.

An extract below from the facilitator briefing on the ‘conversations’ provides more insight into what these events hope to achieve:

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British Sign Language as part of the Curriculum for Wales – Consultation

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New guidance has been developed to help schools use British Sign Language (BSL) in their curriculum design. It is available to view now in draft, and the consultation on its contents runs until 29th March.

BSL could be taught as a third or subsequent language, like French or German,  as part of a school’s curriculum for all children, as well as BSL provision for deaf and hard of hearing children.

As featured on this blog in December, the guidance will:

‘ …show how BSL can contribute to learners’ development towards all four purposes of the curriculum. It can, for example, encourage learners to step beyond familiar cultural boundaries and develop new ways of expressing and negotiating meaning in an inclusive deaf and hearing global society, addressing issues such as disability rights, minority languages, recognition of BSL and communication through technology. The additional guidance offers an opportunity to develop provision in the context of wider education reforms in Wales, such as equity, well-being, teaching and leadership.’

Your views are welcomed.

A BSL version of the consultation is available on YouTube.

Also see: Instructions for submitting BSL consultation response.