By Kirsty Williams AM, Cabinet Secretary for Education,
Michael Gove, a name I am sure you are familiar with, once famously questioned the merit in following the evidence and listening to “experts”. That is not a view I share. I believe all decisions made by governments must be based on sound evidence.
For well over a decade, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) has been at the forefront of providing the very best international evidence available. That’s why I recently took the opportunity to visit their headquarters in June.
A series of meetings, with Andreas Schleicher, Director of the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills and others, reinforced why we absolutely must focus on giving our youngsters meaningful skills for life, including digital of course.
As Andreas says: ‘In the past, education was about teaching people something. Now, it’s about helping students develop a reliable compass and the navigation skills to find their own way through an increasingly uncertain, volatile and ambiguous world.’
I’m keen for our current approach in Wales to align with OECD thinking. My predecessors invited them to benchmark what we do in Wales in 2014 so that we could compare ourselves with international best practice. It is not good enough to limit our ambitions to simply looking across the border, we must strive to be up there with the best in the world. So when I met the OECD, I asked that they advise me on whether we now have the right strategies in response to their 2014 Review.
They will see our reforms at first hand when they visit next month, including the development of the new curriculum, as led by our teachers. And for me that last point is crucial; those closest to the task of giving our children the skills they need are leading the development work.
I put my faith in teachers. I value their skills and it is my mission to celebrate their professionalism and keep them first and foremost in developments.
The new curriculum is due to be made available in 2018 for full implementation by 2021, and I am convinced that it will win the confidence of parents, pupils and the OECD alike. The first element, the Digital Competence Framework, was made available in September. In the videos below I endorse its importance; better still you can hear first hand from Lauren and Amelia at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Edern about the benefits just this new element will bring.