Recognising that colorectal cancer cases within our local authority (Rhondda Cynon Taf, RCT) is the fourth most common cancer, and higher than the Wales average, an initial partnership was formed between Pontypridd High School and the Moondance Cancer Initiative charity in 2019. Pontypridd High worked with a range of health professionals based within the University Health Board of Cardiff and the Vale. The aim was to deliver an education programme that could support the work of health colleagues in relation to this critical, but treatable health issue. The programme would be authentic, meaningful and relevant to our pupils and adults in the local community.
A focus for the learning programme has been to improve the pupils’ understanding of cancer and in particular bowel cancer from causes to screening and recovery rates. The importance of screening as a part of this learning is crucial because early diagnosis and treatment brings much higher survival rates. Screening data shows that in some areas of the school catchment the uptake for those eligible adults is below 50% against a national average that is above 60%.
Responding to that stark statistic, pupils have used their learning to help make a difference in their community, working through the learning programme to pass on this important message to parents, carers and other family members.
Building on the successful pilot work at Pontypridd High, the project grew in 2021/22 to include six RCT secondary schools within the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board region. The partnership and collaboration between education and health professionals has been fundamental to the quality of resources and learning included in this programme and each school has been able to develop new delivery models, in their own way – in their localities.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB conducted their own evaluations of the work of the six schools and concluded there had been 115% rise in requested bowel screening kits in the local area of RCT where the six schools delivered the programme. This compared to a 22% increase in a neighbouring part of the local authority. Furthermore, they reported that there had been a 72% rise in the number of screening tests returned in our area which is a significant and the health board confirmed that the work in schools had contributed greatly to this improvement.
The impact on pupil engagement has also been clear, with each school evolving the project as it introduces Curriculum for Wales in Years 7 and 8. Lessons have developed cross-cutting skills and involved Science and Technology, Languages, Literacy and Communication, and Health and Well-being, the authentic context bringing real-world learning into the classroom.
Co-ordinator Marie Sidoli says “Pupils see the ‘why’ of learning when they work with real health statistics such as those for bowel cancer and they are highly engaged. And of course the whole project fits naturally with the four purposes.”
The Curriculum for Wales is now a reality for all our primary schools and many of our secondaries. Thank you teachers, learning support assistants, school leaders and all school staff for your help in making it a reality for your pupils.
The stock of supporting resources will continue to grow in 2023 thanks to the kindness of schools in providing playlists or welcoming our film crew to capture them in action. Some highlights from 2022 are below, but if you feel you have an interesting perspective to share, please let us know!
In response to popular demand, a terrific group of resources developed by schools, for schools, has been consolidated in an easy-to-search PDF.
Forty-eight playlists/presentations are included, covering staff professional learning, developing a whole school vision, curriculum implementation, modelling learning leadership, and establishing a culture of change.
The resources do all feature on Hwb, but this quick reference list takes most of the searching out of searching.
To learn a language is to have more than one window to look at the world. This Chinese proverb certainly rings true for us here at St Gwladys Bargoed Primary School where we are embracing language learning as a Lead Multi-lingual Primary School.
Working in the South Wales valleys in a Community First area, we have learners who may not have visited Cardiff, let alone England or even further afield; therefore, we feel that it is incumbent upon us to provide learning experiences that bring the world to our learners. The What Matters Statement 1 ‘Languages Connect Us’ of the Language Literacy and Communication Area of Learning and Experience has very much become our mantra; to embed in our school a creative and proud identity that welcomes diversity.
Integral to our delivery of International Languages, was first making sure that our learners have a strong sense of their Welsh identity and pride in their community. As part of the enquiry question: Who do you think you are? learners learn that it is far from a straightforward question as they have to really grapple with their understanding of identity. In this enquiry, learners go out into their locality and look at census data, maps and photographs to give them a good understanding of where they live now and in the past. We also look to provide learners with meaningful ways to explore topics such as migration, hiraeth and cynefin. Through learning about their heritage and their current community, learners try to make sense of who they are and their place in the world.
We know that fostering a sense of pride in our learners’ heritage, whether the same or different to their peers, is important. When introducing International Languages, therefore, we knew that we needed a clear picture of our school community so that our curriculum delivery could celebrate and reflect our families. One of the first things we did was to audit our school population to find out the range of languages spoken and reach out to families in our community to share their cultural identity with us. We discovered a range of languages spoken in the homes: Turkish, Polish, Chinese, Greek and Sinhalese and we were delighted to hear from parents and older siblings offering to teach language patterns and see presentations about their culture that were shared in class assemblies. We have a teaching assistant from Lithuania and another from the Philippines, who enrich learning in a similar way as they share aspects of their language and culture with the school.
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.
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 PLEgives 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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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: