Religion, Values and Ethics replaces ‘Religious Education’ under Curriculum for Wales

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The new Religion, Values and Ethics (RVE) sits within the Humanities Area of Learning and Experience and is mandatory for all pupils from 3 -16. It has evolved to reflect the ambitions and four purposes of the Curriculum for Wales.

The most important points about planning for and teaching RVE are:

  • Planning for this new approach to RVE should follow the curriculum design requirements of the Curriculum for Wales Framework on Hwb.
  • Schools must have regard to the locally agreed syllabus for RVE when designing their curriculum.
  • It must be pluralistic, reflecting the fact that religious traditions in Wales are in the main Christian while taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Wales
  • It must also reflect that fact that a number of non-religious philosophical convictions are also held in Wales.
  • It must be provided in an objective and critical way. Teachers must take an impartial approach to teaching RVE that does not require or encourage learners to be religious or non-religious, or to accept a prescribed viewpoint.
  • Parents and carers cannot withdraw their child(ren) from RVE.

Teaching and using Welsh in an English-medium school – a thriving example

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Merthyr Tydfil might not be the first place you think of if you want to find a passion for the Welsh language and the cultural insights that flow with it.

But that’s changing thanks to the passionate team at Pen y Dre High School, who are responding to the Welsh language requirements of the Curriculum for Wales in a holistic, positive way.

Enjoy their brief case study:

Post-script: Congratulations to Mark Morgan who won the ‘Teacher of the year in a Secondary School’ award at the Welsh Government’s #TeachingAwardsCymru2022 on Sunday 10th July! See the full ceremony here: https://www.facebook.com/educationwales/videos/professional-teachingawardscymru2022/571567811016683/

Bringing the Principles of Progression to life – making connections across the areas of learning and experience – Ysgol Y Strade.

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The Curriculum Wales framework tells us that the principles of progression provide a mandatory requirement of what progression must look like for learners. They describe what it means for learners to progress, and the capacities and behaviours practitioners must seek to support, regardless of a learner’s age or stage of development.

As schools explore the ways in which the principles of progression apply to their learners across the 3-16 continuum, they can use these principles to support curriculum and assessment design along with their evolving understanding of progression.

Alun Jones

At Ysgol Y Strade, leaders and practitioners have been exploring the ways in which the principles of progression relate to their learners. Viewing learner progression through the lens of the principles of progression has allowed them to challenge their thinking around curriculum and assessment design. These principles have given them a shared and consistent language to discuss progression across the curriculum.

One example can be found within their newly introduced Lifelong Learning lessons for year 7 learners (part of the provision within the Health and Wellbeing Area), which seek to ensure that purposeful life-skills have a curriculum focus. Leaders from across the areas began by discussing the essential skills which could support this cohort early on in their secondary education; learners were also given the opportunity to offer their views as to which skills they felt needed to be developed. As a result, the provision for Lifelong Learning began with a focus on developing oral communication skills, primarily to improve learner confidence in speaking to an audience.

Josh Williams, Lifelong Learning Co-ordinator
Pupils are making natural connections across learning areas and gaining in confidence

Later in the year, as the school set about their evaluation and improvement activities, it came to light that learners were not only being supported in the development of their confidence, but were also making natural connections between their learning experiences in Lifelong Learning and their learning in Welsh and English lessons (where they were being asked to give presentations and carry out groups tasks). In discussions with learners, school leaders were told how they felt that their confidence was developing which was allowing them to make progress in their language lessons; their articulation of this evidenced their increasing effectiveness as learners. In addition, teachers within Language, Literacy and Communication noted that they were then able to focus on the refinement of language skills as learners were generally approaching the tasks with much more willingness.

The school feels that this has given them an opportunity to consider and reflect on other opportunities to support learner progress in a variety of new ways across their curriculum.  

Here is a case study from Ysgol Y Strade:

This case study has been added to a new and increasing collection of supporting materials on Hwb, designed to help schools evolve their approaches to assessment and progression.

Alun Jones,

Assistant Headteacher, currently on secondment as professional advisor to Welsh Government.

Latest updates on School Self-evaluation, Accountability and Progression

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Alongside the hectic school year, this has also been a year of announcements and updates from Welsh Government as the Curriculum and supporting reforms are legally underpinned and supported with resources. That continues this week, so below is a quick summary of what’s being published, and what it means for you.

New School Improvement Framework and Guidance

This Framework separates school self-evaluation and improvement from Accountability.

It introduces a robust self-evaluation system with schools identifying strengths as well as areas for improvement. That self-evaluation will be supported by the ‘National Resource: evaluation and improvement’ and improvement partners. The new approach encourages peer review and has learner progression and well-being at its heart.

Schools will publish summaries of their self-evaluation findings and improvement plans on their websites for parents and carers. Regional consortia and local authorities will work with all schools to agree the level of support they need, and confirm the support they will provide to Governors.

Schools should already be conducting self-evaluation as part of their regular school improvement cycle.

Accountability and Inspections

National Categorisation has ended, and accountability will be maintained through school governance and more regular Estyn inspections. From September, Estyn will inspect schools under their new framework which supports the new Curriculum, with plans to increase the number of inspections from September 2024. 

Estyn has made changes to its inspection approach in schools and pupil referral units, including the presentation of inspection reports which will see the removal of summative gradings and the addition of a key overview of findings focussed on a school’s strengths and areas for development.

Assessment Arrangements – updated guidance reflects changes in the legislation

In line with the new curriculum, the legislation to come into effect in September 2022 set out how arrangements to assess progression must be designed alongside the curriculum, with requirements on schools that include for every learner: ongoing assessment throughout the school year to assess progress; identification of next steps in progress; and assessment of the learning and teaching needed to help bring about that progress.

Requirements relating to on-entry assessment, developing a shared understanding of progression, transition from primary to secondary school, and sharing information with parents are all included in the new legislation.

The Supporting Learner Progression Assessment Guidance and the Summary of Legislation guidance on Hwb has been updated to reflect the legislative changes.

Supporting materials for curriculum, assessment, and evaluating learner progress

New supporting materials have been published to support curriculum and assessment design in schools and settings. They build on the Curriculum for Wales guidance and new school improvement guidance, and set out practical support for curriculum development, quality assurance, and self-evaluation.

New project to bring long-lasting support for Assessment and Progression

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As the Curriculum for Wales rolls out in our schools, all practitioners will need a deep understanding of progression and assessment.

Now a new three-year project, Camau I’r Dyfodol, will help practitioners grow that  meaningful understanding, helping it evolve as the curriculum evolves. Launched this month by Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, it fulfills a commitment to make ongoing national support available for developing progression and assessment.

Jeremy Miles MS

The Camau i’r Dyfodol – Steps to the Future project, involving the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the University of Glasgow, will bring together the expertise and experience of the education sector to co-develop a shared understanding of progression for all learners that is meaningful, manageable, and sustainable.

National Network conversations, which create spaces for practitioners and partners to reflect on progression and assessment in the context of their own practice and share experiences and approaches, will be a key part of the project’s work. The first set of conversations began last month, and these will continue into the new academic year

The project will:

  • Bring together all educational partners, from schools and settings to Estyn, to share experience and learn from each other as they build an understanding of progression
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Testing new approaches to assessment and progression – Ysgol Bontnewydd

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Assessment and Progression will look very different under the new curriculum. With the removal of key stages and testing against them, the new world will see a range of assessment methods being used.

It’s a culture change for many, a journey of experimentation and development.

Ysgol Bontnewydd has been working at it for some time, and change in many ways has been welcomed!

Find out about their journey so far in our brief case study:

The case study will also be added to a new collection of resources on Hwb in late June, designed to help schools evolve their approaches to assessment and progression.

Launched and all yours: The National Resource: Evaluation and Improvement

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It was ‘one for all and all for the Resource’ on 11th May when the resource that’s designed to help schools with self-evaluation and improvement was launched.

Several schools, the regional school improvement consortium GWE, the West Wales school improvement partnership Partneriaeth, and Estyn all contributed to and supported its launch

Regional briefing events will be now be held, and training of regional School Improvement Partners to support use of the Resource have also been arranged.

Examples of supporting videos used at the launch are below. A full viewing of the 40 minute launch event can be seen here.

Owen Evans, Prif Arolygydd Estyn / Chief Inspector for Estyn encourages schools to use the National Resource: Evaluation and Improvement and describes how Estyn supported its development:

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The crucial role of Governors in supporting curriculum development

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School Governors have a crucial role in supporting their school’s development of a new curriculum.

Scrutinising, encouraging and informing, they bring an external perspective built on an understanding of how their school operates.

In this film, Parent Governor Leanne Prevel gives her perspective of curriculum development at Pembroke Dock Community School, with contributions from pupils and fellow parents.

Pembroke Dock Community School – our approach to developing curriculum

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These honest, insightful videos show how Pembroke Dock Community School has been developing its new curriculum. All schools need to adapt their approaches to respond to local context, but for Pembroke Dock a national issue brought to their doorstep was a particularly strong catalyst.

Headteacher Michele Thomas

In these three films we see: The management team on the overall approach to developing curriculum, including engagement and enquiry; a whole school perspective featuring leaders, teachers, a governor, parents and pupils; and an explanation of how the cluster worked together.

The management team on the overall approach to developing curriculum:

A whole school perspective:

How the cluster worked together:

Pembroke Dock Community School are on their journey. But theirs is just one approach to curriculum development that works for their catchment, their cluster and themselves. Other approaches will depend on the location and context of your school.