‘All change is hard at the start, messy in the middle and beautiful at the end.’ (Anonymous, or I may have made this up).
This quote accurately reflects the experience of working in the assessment group which had the job of designing assessment proposals that fulfil the ambitions set out in Successful Futures.
Our approach involved high level professional debate and had opportunities for all stakeholders to share their views through meaningful engagement with input from experts in their field. The centrality of the learner and emphasis on the four purposes were consistently in the forefront of our thinking.
Following recommendations in Successful Futures, we propose prioritising formative assessment which promotes a system whose main priority is to generate information for internal use by teachers on pupil progress and the next steps in their learning. Information that will help pupils improve.
You can see the full proposals here.
It is particularly significant that assessment will not be linked to accountability. Assessment is a complex process predicated on the relationship between pupil and teacher. It cannot be an alpha numerical metric that could become a ‘high stakes’ proxy measure of the effectiveness of a teacher, HT or school. Removing assessment from the political landscape is paramount for letting learning flourish; it means assessment will be an ongoing process that can now be truly proactive.
In terms of moderation (ensuring accuracy and consistency), it is well known by teachers, particularly those teaching end of Key Stage classes and those in smaller schools, that changes are needed to the existing system as it is a drain on time and trust. However, it has been a valuable forum for professional dialogue and sharing examples of learners’ work. Change will require a shift of mindset from a ‘best fit’ model to looking at the breadth and depth of learning in context of the work to form a holistic view of learning progression across the 4 Purposes.
Now that our proposals are available to all practitioners, it is important that they should not go unquestioned or unchallenged. Our group still wants practitioners’ views on these and other areas, such as what reporting to parents could look like. The potential you have as teachers and leaders to guide the refinement and engage in real time with the Curriculum for Wales is unprecedented.
Looking forward, it is in the classroom that we will move from a draft curriculum to the implemented curriculum and I am confident in the creativity of teachers and leaders in Wales. It is ultimately within schools that the success of Curriculum for Wales will unfold.
So I urge you all to use your experience and expertise to help shape the Curriculum for Wales, to view the assessment proposals unhindered by how it has historically been done, and provide feedback. I doubt that ours or the next generation of teachers will experience this level of freedom within our professional environment again.
We owe it to our profession and most of all to our children to use this opportunity to contribute to the development of a truly co-constructed world-leading Curriculum for Wales.
Dilwyn Jones, Head Teacher, Ysgol Bryn Gwalia, Mold