Today I attended the National Assembly for Wales Children and Young People’s Committee to give them an update on progress with Curriculum reform. They play a key role in holding me as Minister for Education to account and scrutinising the development of our curriculum.
I will be publishing a report on the feedback exercise and what we propose to do as a result later in the autumn. But I want to share with you, as well as fellow Assembly Members, some early thinking.
The evidence paper to the Committee is here.
You can also watch the video of the Committee session
The development of the new curriculum for Wales 2022 is moving at pace. It was a significant milestone on our National Mission when in April we published the draft and invited feedback from practitioners and stakeholders to inform the next stage – the refinement activity.
The window for formal feedback closed on 19 July and the responses have been independently evaluated. Altogether there were 1,680 contributions from a diverse range of individuals and organisations. A significant proportion were from practitioners, teachers, senior leaders and governors. Another 116 responses were received in response to the Children and Young People’s Survey.
During the feedback period, regional education consortia held engagement events for schools to help them fully engage with the process, with 6,300 teachers attending. Twenty-five focus groups with children and young people also took place and there were specific events with a focus on equality and diversity as well as business.
We also considered detailed feedback through inquiries via Innovation Schools, Quality Improvement schools and supporting experts.
What has the feedback told us?
Overall, there is broad support for the new Curriculum for Wales. Teachers and other respondents welcomed many aspects, such as the emphasis on the four purposes, and the greater agency offered to teachers within the curriculum.
There were many suggestions for ways in which the draft guidance could be improved. The two most prominent were that it should be simplified in language and presentation, and that it would benefit from more depth in places to help practitioners understand how to implement the curriculum in practice.
The quality and detailed nature of many of the responses, particularly those from practitioners, special interest groups and public sector organisations, provided useful feedback and challenge. The refinement work and guidance will benefit significantly as a result.
How will we respond?
We are refining the curriculum for publication in January 2020, having identified key issues and themes for refinement. Quality Improvement practitioners, regional consortia (representing also WLGA and Local Authorities), Estyn and Qualifications Wales have all helped us agree the plan for refinement activity over the autumn.
Most of the refinement work is taking place in workshops between September and November, involving practitioners and our education stakeholders.
The work will be supported by a range of experts including: the Curriculum and Assessment Group (CAG), whose members have international expertise in curriculum design; bilingual editors to ensure clarity and coherence of the guidance as a whole; and area-specific experts and stakeholder organisations to help with more technical elements of the guidance.
In addition, 16 ‘Innovation Schools’ have been selected from the curriculum pioneer network to support school planning. Innovation schools are looking at the whole curriculum and developing approaches for realising it in their context. They will feed back their findings and work collaboratively to share their learning.
Qualifications Wales is working with the Welsh Government and other partners to consider what impact the new Curriculum for Wales will have on qualifications for the future. They will be consulting on their proposed approach in autumn 2019.
Sixth forms and Further Education (FE) Colleges
We have worked with Colegau Cymru during the development of the Curriculum, and representatives from FE have been involved in the development of each of the AoLE guidance frameworks.
One of the themes of the feedback from FE was the need to ensure the transition to post-16 education was supported effectively, so we will be working with FE partners on this in the autumn.
This is an exciting and intense time as the refinement work takes place at pace. I want to thank again all those who provided such useful feedback, and all those who are still supporting the work. I look forward with anticipation to publishing revised curriculum guidance in January 2020, focussed on our four purposes for learning, that brings together the combined knowledge and passion of educators in Wales in a broad and balanced whole.
Kirsty Williams A.M. Minister for Education