Minister for education – Professional Learning Entitlement must be ‘consistent and of the highest possible quality’

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I am in no doubt that the quality of an education system depends on the quality of its workforce. And on that basis, I am extremely proud of the dedicated workforce we have here in Wales.

When talking to practitioners, I am often told of the excellent professional learning (PL) available, but I am also told of the difficulties some have in finding the ‘right’ type of PL for them. I have listened, and acted, on those concerns.

I am pleased today to launch the new National Professional Learning Entitlement.

This brings together a package of professional learning for all practitioners, so that everyone, wherever they may be based, can benefit.

Not only will the Entitlement make it easier for practitioners to access programmes and experiences, but importantly, it sets clear expectations about what all education professionals in Wales must be entitled to. If that entitlement is not currently in place in a particular area, we will work at pace with partners to improve the offer. It will be a ‘live’ document – refined and improved upon as we continue to make progress.

I am clear that our national offer must be consistent and of the highest possible quality. We will therefore shortly introduce a new validation process to ensure all national professional learning is quality assured and recognised.

A new cross-regional website was also launched this week. The creation of this website is significant – it shows that we are breaking down barriers to collaborative working.  The site will continue to develop, providing universal access to further opportunities and professional learning resources.

The new validation process and the new cross-regional website are important steps towards a consistent, verified, highly regarded and available offer to all.

The world’s highest-performing education systems have vibrant, engaged practitioners who are committed to continuous learning. The Entitlement we are publishing today is a further step in our efforts to support our practitioners to be lifelong professional learners that enhance their own practice in order to motivate and inspire learners across Wales.

Finally, it’s important to me that I hear directly from as many of you as possible.  Every month I host a roundtable with heads and leaders in the education sector.  If you haven’t participated, I’d very much like to hear from you. Email dysg@gov.wales

Using data and information to support self-evaluation, accountability and transparency – your last chance to comment on draft recommendations

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We at Social Finance have been commissioned by the Welsh Government to carry out research into the data and information needs and uses in the school system in Wales. We have been speaking to stakeholders across the school system, to understand how these needs differ across stakeholder groups, for the three main purposes of self-evaluation and improvement planning, accountability and transparency. Our goal is to provide the evidence needed to help build a balanced system, in which quality data and information is available and used effectively – in a way that works for schools and wider stakeholders’ own unique settings and contexts.

The project will support the implementation of Welsh Government’s new framework for Evaluation, Improvement and Accountability, as set out in the School Improvement guidance.

So far we have engaged with a wide range of stakeholders including; headteachers, learners, parents, Local Authorities, Diocesan Authorities, Careers Wales, Welsh Government policy teams, Regional Consortia, Estyn and Qualifications Wales, amongst others.

We are now in the final stages of this research and have developed a draft set of recommendations to test with key stakeholders including, importantly, schools.

We would therefore like to invite your school to share its views about our draft recommendations via a live Webinar.

We are inviting those working within schools and alternative provision in Wales to one of our live ‘Data Ecosystem Webinar’ sessions to give their feedback. This is open to headteachers, others in strategic and leadership roles including governors, and teaching staff across all maintained settings in Wales.

We will be holding two 1-hour virtual webinar sessions in September, where we will present our recommendations. These will run:

  • Session 1: 28/09/22 from 17:00-18:00
  • Session 2: 30/09/22 from 10:00-11:00

During the session, for each recommendation we will outline:

  • The purpose of the change, including the introduction of any new data or information type
  • Any changes this may have on how you currently collect, analyse, and communicate data at the local level

After each recommendation, we will pause to gather feedback through a live poll. We will also ask you to complete a survey following the webinar session to capture any further thoughts.

The closing date for the follow-up survey will be 19:00 30/09/22.

Once we have finalised our recommendations, a final report will be presented to the Welsh Government and will be published on the Welsh Government research web pages. They will consider our recommendations and, in due course, will set out for stakeholders how they will be responding to our findings.

If you would like to join a webinar then please visit the Events page on Hwb and log in to sign up. Admittance to the event will only be granted to those who have registered. Please note that these sessions will run bilingually.

With thanks for the comment below, can we emphasise that users need to log in to Hwb in order to ‘see’ these events in the event listing and sign up!

Camau i’r Dyfodol Co-construction Group – Recruitment opens (20 Sep)

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As the new academic year begins, the Camau i’r Dyfodol project enters phase 2 of research and evidence gathering. Key to this new phase of activity is the formation of a co-construction group, consisting of schools from across Wales and wider education sector partners, with support from researchers at University of Wales, Trinity St David, and Glasgow University.

The group will draw upon the experience of schools and partners to co-develop evidence-based approaches and resources that will enhance understanding of learning progression within the context of the new curriculum. This will include shaping future National Network Conversations on progression and assessment.

We are looking for around 30 schools, representative of the sector here in Wales, to participate in the group. All schools are welcome to apply.

See full details on the group, its activities and the benefits of joining in the FAQ section below. If your school would like to participate, please complete this electronic form.

Recruitment for the co-construction group will close on 30 September. 

Co-Construction Group – FAQs

What is the Camau i’r dyfodol project? 

The Camau i’r Dyfodol project (Steps to the Future) is a 3-year joint project of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the University of Glasgow in collaboration with Welsh Government. The project is designed to develop new knowledge and support the realisation of Curriculum for Wales by working with teachers and educational partners across the system to co-construct project outputs that will advance practical understandings of learning progression. Change led by those at the heart of the system provides the best opportunity for sharing expertise, building confidence, fostering coherence across the system and for supporting the different people and organisations who matter in education in Wales.    

Camau i’r Dyfodol is a research project that will look to develop understanding of learning progression which will feed back into the Welsh education system and contribute to national and international understanding.

As part of this you will be invited to participate in research activity as part of your involvement in the Co-Construction Group. Your decision to be part or not be part of research activities will be free and informed and will have no bearing upon your participation in the Co-Construction group.

The Camau i’r Dyfodol project has been designed to take place through four phases and the co-construction group will begin the work of Phase 2 during the 2022-23 academic year. 

What is the purpose of the co-construction group? 

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Our journey of learning

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The end of a university year is much like the end of a school year: a time of farewells and of feeling proud. Whether in a nursery or a higher-education setting, being able to look back and reflect on your learners’ development over the past year is one of the pleasures of being an educator.  My reflections this year, as an initial teacher-educator, have led to a sense of wonder. Without a doubt, education in Wales has come a long way since I trained as a teacher, and it is such an exciting time for this newest cohort of beginner teachers to enter the teaching profession.

Across Wales, our student-teachers have completed their PGCE or BA Education with QTS courses at a landmark moment. Although Curriculum for Wales has been in different phases of realisation for a number of years, from this month the new curriculum will be ‘official’, just as these student-teachers become ‘official’ teachers, so to speak.

For these beginner teachers, Curriculum for Wales has a strong sense of familiarity. Their teacher education has been based on curriculum pillars such as the ‘Four Purposes’, ‘Statements of what matters’ and ‘Descriptions of learning’. In many ways Curriculum for Wales has always been a part of what they do and think. Without a doubt, Welsh education can benefit from their perspectives. 

For example, what has been fascinating as a university tutor supporting this cohort, is hearing the discussions around the implementation of Curriculum for Wales in schools. Naturally, schools are at different points along the scale of embedding Curriculum for Wales into their everyday planning and teaching. Schools are also carving different pathways along that scale. This has led to rich university seminar discussions and a collaborative sharing of ideas and experiences.

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Religion, Values and Ethics replaces ‘Religious Education’ under Curriculum for Wales

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The new Religion, Values and Ethics (RVE) sits within the Humanities Area of Learning and Experience and is mandatory for all pupils from 3 -16. It has evolved to reflect the ambitions and four purposes of the Curriculum for Wales.

The most important points about planning for and teaching RVE are:

  • Planning for this new approach to RVE should follow the curriculum design requirements of the Curriculum for Wales Framework on Hwb.
  • Schools must have regard to the locally agreed syllabus for RVE when designing their curriculum.
  • It must be pluralistic, reflecting the fact that religious traditions in Wales are in the main Christian while taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Wales
  • It must also reflect that fact that a number of non-religious philosophical convictions are also held in Wales.
  • It must be provided in an objective and critical way. Teachers must take an impartial approach to teaching RVE that does not require or encourage learners to be religious or non-religious, or to accept a prescribed viewpoint.
  • Parents and carers cannot withdraw their child(ren) from RVE.

Teaching and using Welsh in an English-medium school – a thriving example

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Merthyr Tydfil might not be the first place you think of if you want to find a passion for the Welsh language and the cultural insights that flow with it.

But that’s changing thanks to the passionate team at Pen y Dre High School, who are responding to the Welsh language requirements of the Curriculum for Wales in a holistic, positive way.

Enjoy their brief case study:

Post-script: Congratulations to Mark Morgan who won the ‘Teacher of the year in a Secondary School’ award at the Welsh Government’s #TeachingAwardsCymru2022 on Sunday 10th July! See the full ceremony here: https://www.facebook.com/educationwales/videos/professional-teachingawardscymru2022/571567811016683/

Bringing the Principles of Progression to life – making connections across the areas of learning and experience – Ysgol Y Strade.

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The Curriculum Wales framework tells us that the principles of progression provide a mandatory requirement of what progression must look like for learners. They describe what it means for learners to progress, and the capacities and behaviours practitioners must seek to support, regardless of a learner’s age or stage of development.

As schools explore the ways in which the principles of progression apply to their learners across the 3-16 continuum, they can use these principles to support curriculum and assessment design along with their evolving understanding of progression.

Alun Jones

At Ysgol Y Strade, leaders and practitioners have been exploring the ways in which the principles of progression relate to their learners. Viewing learner progression through the lens of the principles of progression has allowed them to challenge their thinking around curriculum and assessment design. These principles have given them a shared and consistent language to discuss progression across the curriculum.

One example can be found within their newly introduced Lifelong Learning lessons for year 7 learners (part of the provision within the Health and Wellbeing Area), which seek to ensure that purposeful life-skills have a curriculum focus. Leaders from across the areas began by discussing the essential skills which could support this cohort early on in their secondary education; learners were also given the opportunity to offer their views as to which skills they felt needed to be developed. As a result, the provision for Lifelong Learning began with a focus on developing oral communication skills, primarily to improve learner confidence in speaking to an audience.

Josh Williams, Lifelong Learning Co-ordinator
Pupils are making natural connections across learning areas and gaining in confidence

Later in the year, as the school set about their evaluation and improvement activities, it came to light that learners were not only being supported in the development of their confidence, but were also making natural connections between their learning experiences in Lifelong Learning and their learning in Welsh and English lessons (where they were being asked to give presentations and carry out groups tasks). In discussions with learners, school leaders were told how they felt that their confidence was developing which was allowing them to make progress in their language lessons; their articulation of this evidenced their increasing effectiveness as learners. In addition, teachers within Language, Literacy and Communication noted that they were then able to focus on the refinement of language skills as learners were generally approaching the tasks with much more willingness.

The school feels that this has given them an opportunity to consider and reflect on other opportunities to support learner progress in a variety of new ways across their curriculum.  

Here is a case study from Ysgol Y Strade:

This case study has been added to a new and increasing collection of supporting materials on Hwb, designed to help schools evolve their approaches to assessment and progression.

Alun Jones,

Assistant Headteacher, currently on secondment as professional advisor to Welsh Government.

Latest updates on School Self-evaluation, Accountability and Progression

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Alongside the hectic school year, this has also been a year of announcements and updates from Welsh Government as the Curriculum and supporting reforms are legally underpinned and supported with resources. That continues this week, so below is a quick summary of what’s being published, and what it means for you.

New School Improvement Framework and Guidance

This Framework separates school self-evaluation and improvement from Accountability.

It introduces a robust self-evaluation system with schools identifying strengths as well as areas for improvement. That self-evaluation will be supported by the ‘National Resource: evaluation and improvement’ and improvement partners. The new approach encourages peer review and has learner progression and well-being at its heart.

Schools will publish summaries of their self-evaluation findings and improvement plans on their websites for parents and carers. Regional consortia and local authorities will work with all schools to agree the level of support they need, and confirm the support they will provide to Governors.

Schools should already be conducting self-evaluation as part of their regular school improvement cycle.

Accountability and Inspections

National Categorisation has ended, and accountability will be maintained through school governance and more regular Estyn inspections. From September, Estyn will inspect schools under their new framework which supports the new Curriculum, with plans to increase the number of inspections from September 2024. 

Estyn has made changes to its inspection approach in schools and pupil referral units, including the presentation of inspection reports which will see the removal of summative gradings and the addition of a key overview of findings focussed on a school’s strengths and areas for development.

Assessment Arrangements – updated guidance reflects changes in the legislation

In line with the new curriculum, the legislation to come into effect in September 2022 set out how arrangements to assess progression must be designed alongside the curriculum, with requirements on schools that include for every learner: ongoing assessment throughout the school year to assess progress; identification of next steps in progress; and assessment of the learning and teaching needed to help bring about that progress.

Requirements relating to on-entry assessment, developing a shared understanding of progression, transition from primary to secondary school, and sharing information with parents are all included in the new legislation.

The Supporting Learner Progression Assessment Guidance and the Summary of Legislation guidance on Hwb has been updated to reflect the legislative changes.

Supporting materials for curriculum, assessment, and evaluating learner progress

New supporting materials have been published to support curriculum and assessment design in schools and settings. They build on the Curriculum for Wales guidance and new school improvement guidance, and set out practical support for curriculum development, quality assurance, and self-evaluation.

New project to bring long-lasting support for Assessment and Progression

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As the Curriculum for Wales rolls out in our schools, all practitioners will need a deep understanding of progression and assessment.

Now a new three-year project, Camau I’r Dyfodol, will help practitioners grow that  meaningful understanding, helping it evolve as the curriculum evolves. Launched this month by Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, it fulfills a commitment to make ongoing national support available for developing progression and assessment.

Jeremy Miles MS

The Camau i’r Dyfodol – Steps to the Future project, involving the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the University of Glasgow, will bring together the expertise and experience of the education sector to co-develop a shared understanding of progression for all learners that is meaningful, manageable, and sustainable.

National Network conversations, which create spaces for practitioners and partners to reflect on progression and assessment in the context of their own practice and share experiences and approaches, will be a key part of the project’s work. The first set of conversations began last month, and these will continue into the new academic year

The project will:

  • Bring together all educational partners, from schools and settings to Estyn, to share experience and learn from each other as they build an understanding of progression
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Testing new approaches to assessment and progression – Ysgol Bontnewydd

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Assessment and Progression will look very different under the new curriculum. With the removal of key stages and testing against them, the new world will see a range of assessment methods being used.

It’s a culture change for many, a journey of experimentation and development.

Ysgol Bontnewydd has been working at it for some time, and change in many ways has been welcomed!

Find out about their journey so far in our brief case study:

The case study will also be added to a new collection of resources on Hwb in late June, designed to help schools evolve their approaches to assessment and progression.