How we helped build the Professional Learning Entitlement – and why

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The National Professional Learning Entitlement is a Ministerial commitment to professional learning for all practitioners, but importantly it has come about through co-construction between those closest to, and involved in professional learning.

Two of those co-constructors, Dan Davies, Professional Learning Lead Partner from the Education Achievement Service (EAS) and Clara Seery, Managing Director of Central South Consortium (CSC), explain their role in developing the Entitlement, why they feel it’s important, and what they think it can achieve.

Clara Seery

What was CSC’s contribution to co-construction?

We facilitated stakeholder groups with Welsh Government to ensure that the voices of schools in our region were heard and used to shape the Entitlement.  We were keen to ensure that the entitlement would support leaders, teachers, TAs and consortia to improve outcomes for all learners. CSC, as all regions, was able to consider carefully roles and responsibilities of the middle tier. 

Why is it significant for school leaders?

The PLE gives leaders the mandate to realise what we know about the importance of professional learning.  It supports professional conversations around what professional learning could look like and how it might be best to engage.  It promotes a culture of continuing professional learning for all in line with developing our schools as learning organisations.  It also ensures that leaders themselves are considering their entitlement along with those who they support to access professional learning.

How will it affect the approach of regions and partnerships?

We will continue to speak to school leaders and practitioners to provide a broad and balanced professional learning offer that offers bespoke packages of support to enable schools to engage with what they need. We will make sure that all of our staff are aware of the PLE and promote this way of working in schools with leaders and staff at all levels.

How will it make a real difference?

The power of any policy change is in the implementation.  We all have a part to play in this.  If we want a system where transformational professional learning is the norm, the entitlement, and the expectations that sit with this, will support the system to realise the aspirations of the reform

Dan Davies:

What was your role in helping to develop the PLE?

As a region we worked collaboratively to co construct the professional learning entitlement with Welsh Government. We were part of the initial thinking behind the entitlement and offered feedback on early drafts. We have also been part of sharing the thinking with schools in our region and beyond. I think it’s a key driver in realising the ambitions set out in Curriculum for Wales.  

Why is it significant for regional partnerships?

The document is significant because it sets clear expectations for individuals, schools, and regions. It highlights the importance of professional learning for all within our system and supports our regional offer. It challenges us to change some of our thinking around professional learning, rather than it be something that is done to us, we have a responsibility to lead our own professional learning. This I believe will have a positive impact on practitioners wellbeing and sense of fulfilment within their work. 

What does it mean for practitioners, including teaching assistants?

This is without doubt a positive for all within the education system. It sets out clearly what professionals are entitled to and what this looks like when professional learning is highly effective. It also challenges to actively pursue professional learning opportunities, we are agents of our own learning. I particularly like the word entitlement or hawl as it gives gravitas to the importance of professional learning.

What do you hope it will achieve?

I remember a few years ago a colleague said “there can be no curriculum development without people development”. This resonated with me then and resonates with me today. If we are to develop an education system that is of national pride than we must develop our education workforce. The entitlement puts professional learning up the agenda and will in no doubt support the realisation of curriculum for Wales which will improve outcomes for our learners.

See the national programme of professional learning from our regional partnerships here.

Progression and Assessment Workshop materials – ready for schools to use

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A suite of workshops to help schools and settings develop skills in the crucial area of using assessment to support progression is available on Hwb. Research and teacher expertise has been central to their development.

The workshops help practitioners improve understanding of assessment and progression and the important relationships between them. Ultimately they are designed to help develop assessment approaches which take progression in learning forward, rather than prove current learning.

The 6 workshops are organised as 3 pairs, each pair addressing a theme of central importance to assessment and curriculum design within Curriculum for Wales.

  • Workshops 1 and 2: progression and assessment
  • Workshops 3 and 4: the learner at the centre
  • Workshops 5 and 6: integrating curriculum, assessment and pedagogy

The materials are freely available to any school or practitioner to use. Here are some useful pointers:-

  • While the six workshops are linked in series, practitioners can use any single one or group of them as they choose if the content is immediately relevant to their needs
  • If using all six workshops as a series, users can vary the amount of attention and time given to any particular activity or theme
  • Collaborative use of the workshops is recommended: collaboration can be organised within a school or setting, or across a cluster (e.g. of a secondary school and associated primary schools), or within an existing network
  • Collaboration and facilitation can be organised and supported bottom-up or fostered by external support  
  • While collaborative participation is recommended, individual practitioners can profitably use the materials for personal development

Staff within regional partnerships and consortia are ready to advise and support colleagues in using the workshop resources. Please contact:

Carms-Pembs-Swansea Partnership – Debbie Moon – DEBBIE.MOON@partneriaeth.cymru

Mid Wales Partnership – Chris Davies – christopher.davies2@powys.gov.uk/

Central South Consortium – Kath Lewis – Kathryn.A.Lewis@cscjes.org.uk

GWE Consortium – Dafydd Rhys – dafyddrhys@gwegogledd.cymru

EAS Consortium – James Kent – James.Kent@sewaleseas.org.uk

NPT Local Authority – Owain Hywett – o.hyett@npt.gov.uk

Finding the best way through the Curriculum for Wales Guidance

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The Curriculum for Wales Guidance is necessarily quite big – it covers a whole 3 to 16 curriculum. Deciding on where you should start to read, and how to navigate through it for the best effect isn’t always obvious.

This brief explainer will show you the best place to start, helping to make sure you don’t dive straight into the detail at the risk of missing the fundamentals.

Developing Curriculum and Managing Change at Morriston Comprehensive School

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Morriston Comprehensive School has applied a bold approach as it introduces the Curriculum for Wales. In this case study, leaders and staff talk about the School’s approach to curriculum development, using curriculum ‘champions’ and a change management model.

The first film shows the leaders’ summary. The second film has perspectives from a range of staff and pupils, talking frankly about the approach, some concerns, ways of taking things forward, and their optimism for the future.

Leadership perspective:

Whole school perspective:

The Welsh language in English-medium education 

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The Welsh language belongs to us all. It is one of the treasures of Wales, part of what defines us as a people and as a nation. It is integral to the new Curriculum for Wales.

As a mandatory subject, the ambition is that everyone should enjoy using Welsh, make continuous progress in learning Welsh and gain the confidence to use Welsh beyond the classroom. Every learner, regardless of their place of birth or their home language, will have a relationship with the Welsh language.

Now a new framework has been developed to help English-medium schools and settings develop genuine purpose and authenticity in learning and teaching Welsh in their curriculum.

Developed by practitioners and stakeholders, the framework can help schools plan, design and review Welsh learning and teaching in their curriculum. It sets out experiences, knowledge, skills and dispositions for each of the statements of what matters for the Languages, Literacy and Communication Area and can be found in that Area’s guidance.

The framework does not set out specific teaching resources, so a Hwb playlist has also been developed by practitioners to give a taste of resources that are currently available. Information on where to find further support is also available. Importantly though, resources and guidance will only make the biggest difference when used to stimulate conversations and prompt changes to learning and teaching Welsh for the benefit of all our children and young people.

Our learners have everything to gain from a deeper understanding of their national language and the cultures of Wales.

We would like to thank the following practitioners for their contribution to development of the Welsh framework: 

Rachel Antoniazzi

Debbie Bond

Natasha Davies-Puddy

Alyson McKay

Bethan Moore

Yvonne Roberts-Ablett

Anna Vivian Jones

The report from the consultation earlier in the year on the Draft framework for Welsh in English medium education can be found here.

And a case study film from Ysgol Pen y Dre is also available, which featured on this blog earlier in the year.

New curriculum resource films, and more on the way…

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New films are regularly being added to the case study area on Hwb. Recent additions explore transition and use of learner review meetings featuring Jubilee Park Primary School and its cluster, and how transition supports progression at Fitzalan High School. They feature below.

A transition resource has also been developed by the Fitzalan cluster. Based on research, it shows how 5 transition ‘bridges’ can be used to make transition arrangements across the 3-16 continuum coherent and comprehensive.

Resources will continue to be added to the Hwb resource area over the school year, in English and Welsh medium, but not always synchronously. That content will balance out by the end of the year. It’s always worth checking the resource pages in both languages to see what’s available in full.

Jubilee Park Primary School – developing our approach to transition:

How learner review meetings support progression:

How transition is supporting progression at Fitzalan High School:

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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