Q: Why are we having education reforms?
A: The young people of today are entering a fast-changing world. Schools are having to prepare them for jobs that may not yet have been created and challenges we are yet to encounter. So we must update what we teach them and the way we teach them. Our reforms focus on higher standards of literacy and numeracy, as well as digital skills, so that we improve the knowledge and skills of our young people.
We want to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver and education system that is a source of national pride and confidence.
Q: What are the reforms?
A: The new curriculum for children aged 3-16 is at the heart of the reforms. To ensure the system improves as a whole, there are four key areas which support this: a high qualify education profession, inspirational leaders and leadership, inclusive schools focused on equity, excellence & pupil well-being, and robust assessment, evaluation and accountability at all levels.
- A new Curriculum: Teaching children to think, communicate, be digitally and bi-lingually competent, and work together better as well as learning about subject areas
- Developing a high-quality education profession: changing the training of new teachers and helping current ones to update their skills
- Inspirational leaders working collaboratively to raise standards: introducing a new leadership academy to improve the way leaders are developed
- Excellence, equity and well-being in inclusive schools: creating a culture of respect and challenge where all are ready to learn, including expanding the Pupil Development Grant, better supporting our ‘more able’ learners and supporting and measuring well-being.
- Robust assessment, evaluation and accountability arrangements supporting a self-improving system: new methods of assessing progress at pupil and school level that fit with the new curriculum, plus a new approach to collaboration and sharing of best practice between schools
Q: Why are so many things changing at once?
A: New curriculum and assessment arrangements are at the heart of the changes, but they will not on their own succeed in raising standards. That’s why we are focusing on four key areas (enabling objectives) to support to delivery of the new curriculum.
The reform programme is a coherent and connected approach. Each strengthens the other as we focus on raising standards and reducing the attainment gap.
Q: When will the new curriculum be available and how will it be phased in?
A: The first part, The Digital Competence Framework, was fast-tracked to be made available in September 2016. The new curriculum will be available to schools in 2019 for feedback, and finalised by 2020. Schools will then have a period to get ready and used to it. It will be introduced across nursery to year 7 classes in 2022 and then roll out to years 8 – 11 between 2023 and 2026
Q: Will it mean more paperwork for teachers?
A: No. If anything it will mean less. The reforms aim to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy,by providing clarity of what is and isn’t required in the classroom. The Cabinet Secretary’s recent announcement of £1.2m to improve the use of business managers in schools, will help headteachers focus on teaching and learning rather than budgets and contracts.
Q: Will there be support for teachers/practitioners?
The quality of the teacher at the front of the classroom is the most important part of an education system. We will establish a Wales-wide approach to teacher learning and development, introduce new standards, reform teacher training, revise the qualification for headteachers and better support and identify future school leaders.
Q: How will schools be supported to implement changes?
A: The four regional education consortia will be working closely with Welsh Government and schools in their regions, communicating updates, offering practitioner development, and supporting school to school collaboration as the reforms happen and beyond
Q: Will new teacher training change?
A: Training for new teachers will change in 2019 with stronger university-school partnerships.
Q: Why do we have new teaching standards?
A: To help practitioners become lifelong professional learners, more confident in managing their development and more able to take the new curriculum forward. These focus on what is essential for successful teaching, so that we raise standards for all pupils.
Q: Will qualifications change to suit the new curriculum?
A: GCSEs will remain. However they will be reviewed by Qualifications Wales from 2020, and teaching towards the revised GCSE’s will begin in 2024
Q: Will accountability change?
A: Yes, a new Assessment and Evaluation Framework will be introduced, supporting the realisation of the four purposes of education as set out in the new curriculum.
Q: Are Estyn involved in developing the new curriculum?
A: Yes, they have been fully involved. Professor Donaldson, who has helped in reforming the curriculum, is currently undertaking a review to ensure they can better align their work with the new curriculum and assessment arrangement when introduced