Reimagining GCSE qualifications

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Emyr George, Director of Qualifications Policy and Reform

Reimagining and reforming GCSE qualifications is crucial to create a new way of learning that will prepare learners for life, study and work in the 21st century.

To complement the new Curriculum for Wales, we are looking at how we can innovate qualifications to prepare learners to succeed in an ever-changing and uncertain world.

We have now agreed the subjects in which a new generation of fit-for-the-future GCSEs will be offered.

Over the coming months we will be listening and discussing ideas through our national conversation to co-create GCSE qualifications. New content and new assessment approaches are just some of the things we will be looking at as we shift to more flexible and agile ways of learning.

As part of our Qualified for the Future programme we are recruiting teachers and educational professionals to help us with this exciting challenge.  Anyone interested in joining us can apply through our website.

We want everyone with an interest in education to contribute to the national conversation so that we can meet the needs of our communities.

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New School Evaluation and Improvement Resource in Development – a Chance to find out more on 12th October

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A resource to help schools self-evaluate and improve has been developed over the past two years. It has been designed with practitioners, supported by Estyn, and has been tested by a group of 100 schools over the past few weeks. A national pilot will take place from November.

A chance to find out about the resource and get an early idea of how to use it will be open to practitioners on 12th October from 2:00-3:00pm. The ‘Policy Insight’ event will include a description of the features and how it can be used in the school context without increasing the burden of administration.

To join the session, register here. If you can’t take part in the event, the whole session will be available as an offline playlist resource and the link added to this page.

‘Policy Insight’ events are organised by teachers seconded to Welsh Government and designed to keep practitioners up to date about professional learning, especially as it relates to curriculum implementation. An overview, list of events and booking form is here.

Forthcoming events include:

Professional learning update and National Professional Enquiry Project re-launch – 11th November

Digital Professional Learning Journey update – 9th December

Additions and Changes to Curriculum Guidance – 30th September

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New content has been added, and some alterations made, to the Curriculum for Wales Framework guidance.

The changes have been made for one of two reasons: as a response to consultation feedback that pointed to a need for more information in specific areas; or as a result of the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021 Act being passed by the Senedd.

What are the main changes?

Update to the ‘Introduction’ section – changed to reflect the passage of legislation, but also to keep it up to speed with new supporting guidance, hence the ‘preparing for 2022’ element has been deleted in deference to the new  Journey to curriculum roll-out’ guidance published on Hwb on 22 September.

Statements of What Matters and Principles of Progression – updated following consultation to reflect the draft Codes covering those mandatory elements currently before the Senedd.*

Education Other Than At School (EOTAS) – this now has its own section within Designing your curriculum  that sets out considerations for curriculum design for EOTAS.

British Sign Language (BSL) – Guidance for developing a curriculum which features BSL for deaf BSL users and for other learners and a   full set of Descriptions of learning for BSL now form part of the Languages Literacy and Communication Area of Learning and Experience. The guidance for EOTAS and BSL has been developed by practitioners through co-construction, supported by other experts including members of the Deaf Community.

The curriculum guidance revisions will be followed by a second set at the end of 2021 to cover:

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What are the main changes?

Update to the ‘Introduction’ section – changed to reflect the passage of legislation, but also to keep it up to speed with new supporting guidance, hence the ‘preparing for 2022’ element has been deleted in deference to the new  Journey to curriculum roll-out’ guidance published on Hwb on 22 September.

Statements of What Matters and Principles of Progression – updated following consultation to reflect the draft Codes covering those mandatory elements currently before the Senedd.*

Education Other Than At School (EOTAS) – this now has its own section within Designing your curriculum  that sets out considerations for curriculum design for EOTAS.

British Sign Language (BSL) – Guidance for developing a curriculum which features BSL for deaf BSL users and for other learners and a   full set of Descriptions of learning for BSL now form part of the Languages Literacy and Communication Area of Learning and Experience. The guidance for EOTAS and BSL has been developed by practitioners through co-construction, supported by other experts including members of the Deaf Community.

The curriculum guidance revisions will be followed by a second set at the end of 2021 to cover:

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National Network launches for Curriculum

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The National Network has been created to help teaching practitioners in schools and settings to introduce the new curriculum for Wales, through sharing good ideas about implementation, and ways of overcoming difficulties.

In Autumn 2021, three National Network Conversations will take place on:

  • Progression – from October 19th until November 17th
  • Preparation for curriculum roll-out – from October 19th  until November 17th
  • Resources and Materials – on  Nov 23rd and November 24th

Fellow practitioners have volunteered to help steer and facilitate small groups of up to 12 practitioners and each National Network Conversation will feature case studies, videos and expert input. They will provide an opportunity to network and build relationships with colleagues, with insights from experts and regional colleagues.  There will be an opportunity for those attending to take resources to facilitate conversations in their own schools and settings. Links will also be shared through this blog.

Some topics may run across more than one term due to the nature of the conversation needing more detailed discussions; others will be completed more quickly.

Each National Network Conversation will complement the Professional Learning programmes being run by regional consortia and school improvement services, and the ‘talk pedagogy’ and professional enquiry activity led by practitioners seconded to Welsh Government.

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Jeremy Miles: Taking Curriculum Reform Forward

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The new curriculum and supporting reforms are at the heart of my ambitions for improving the education system in Wales. I absolutely believe they will bring huge benefits to our young people in preparing them for a changing world, and I’m committed to making sure all of our young people have an equal opportunity to progress.

The last year has been very challenging, and I’m well aware that you – our fantastic teachers and support staff – have done an amazing job of keeping our children’s education going in very difficult times. Thank you for your remarkable work and care.

Since becoming Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, I have been talking to practitioners in schools across the country to hear directly about how you have adapted to changing circumstances in the last year, and what more I can do to support you as we renew and reform education in Wales.

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New National Network for curriculum implementation. Can you support it?

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A new National Network is being established in autumn this year to support design, adoption and implementation of the new curriculum. It will be owned and facilitated by teaching practitioners, and right now we are looking for individuals to help plan and guide the work and workings of the Network. Expressions of interest to do so are open until 12 July.

The National Network will hold a series of national ‘conversations’ in which any practitioner in Wales can take part. Operating nationally, initially on a virtual basis, it may also involve physical meetings.

It will help practitioners:

  • connect – encourage networking and help to develop relationships between teaching professionals, education experts and stakeholders who can help schools and settings directly
  • drive change – conversations will help to support implementation at all levels.
  • gather and share understanding – bringing together different views, perspectives and expertise nationally to understand how we are progressing, what the challenges are, and how people are responding to them
  • co-construct approaches – together, we will work out what teaching professionals, stakeholders, enabling partners and government can do to overcome these challenges, including identifying resources to address implementation barriers, and professional learning

Ultimately it will help practitioners co-create workable and practical solutions to challenges, and take that learning back to their schools, settings and clusters to embed and explore further.

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Beyond Covid: ‘National Conversation’ report now available

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In March a ‘national conversation’ was held for practitioners across Wales, to share experiences and learning, and help shape the national approach to moving beyond Covid.

The podcast and resources from the event featured recently on this blog, but now analysis of the feedback from the sessions, including the nature of the conversations, the themes and conclusions, is available in this report.

Talk Pedagogy – a great place to explore teaching practice

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The new curriculum brings new opportunities to re-visit our teaching approaches. It’s an exciting time but can feel challenging too. So ‘Talk Pedagogy’ has been created as a friendly space to share and learn about pedagogical approaches. It’s part of the wider support for professional learning.

Matt and Lucy explain how ‘Talk Pedagogy’ works for them:

Opportunities to join in

Talk Pedagogy started with small group discussions in the Autumn Term, since when it has grown and begun to diversify to meet different interests and needs. Part of this growth has included regular live events that provide opportunities to hear from colleagues and engage in conversation with others from across Wales.

To get involved, simply click on Talk Pedagogy. Once in, the General Channel is used to keep you up to date with up and coming activity and you will automatically receive invites to new events. You can also ‘catch-up’ on previous presentations and conversations that have been recorded and placed in the relevant channel. If you have any problems joining the channel, which should look as below, email FordM44@hwbcymru.net .

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Beyond Covid: Learning in the next phase; new podcast and resources!

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In March a ‘national conversation’ was held for practitioners across Wales, to share experiences and learning, and help shape the national approach to moving beyond Covid.

These valuable, personal conversations were very honest. To help share the essence and outcomes there’s now a podcast and supporting videos.

Podcast:

Apple podcasts 

Spotify

Spreaker

Videos by leading educationalists

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Revisions to the Curriculum Guidance – Consultations

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The curriculum guidance published in January 2020 was created in partnership with schools, supported by experts, over several years. It was also informed by an extensive consultation exercise in 2019, whose feedback pointed to the need for additional guidance and some amendment in key areas.

Over the last year, practitioners, stakeholders and partners have been co-constructing that additional and revised guidance, which is now being published for consultation.

Eight areas are open for consultation, which will run for eight weeks until 16th July. Once the feedback has been analysed, the curriculum guidance will be updated and published in two tranches – September and December – this year.

The consultation titles are:

And covering subordinate legislation: