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16 October 2017

New timescales, but no time to waste as we develop and prepare for the new curriculum for Wales
On September 26th the Education Minister Kirsty Williams announced new timescales for education reform and launched the new publication Education, Our National Mission (see http://gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/170926-education-in-wales-en.pdf. ) This document, which set out the Welsh Government’s strategy for education from 2017-21 covers a broad range of government programmes from capital investment to the new professional standards.  In terms of curriculum reform, the revised timetable is as follows.

In essence, this is a slight delay from the timescales that were originally published; When ‘A Curriculum for Wales, A Curriculum for Life’ was published’ the curriculum was due to be available to schools in September 2018, however, the work of pioneer schools will need to be nearing completion by December 2018, to ensure that the curriculum can be published in April 2019. Whilst this is a slight delay, it is not quite the 5-year delay claimed in some media publications!
So, how is the AoLE development work going?

In our work with the Humanities AoLE group, we are currently in the process of developing our ‘What Matters’ (see last month’s blog for context) statements and considering how progression will be developed from Foundation Phase through to age 16. The group has commissioned papers from a range of academics to assist the group in its decision making.
The aim of the group by December is to have a first draft of ‘what matters’ statements and high levels of statements of progression for each statement. These will be detailed in a ‘strand 3’ report, which will be made publically available. A future publication of this blog will provide a summary of this development.
New timescales, but no time for delay!

The new timescales should not, however, reduce the urgency with which schools engage in preparing their staff for the new curriculum. For a successful ‘enactment’ of the new curriculum in every school, the groundwork will need to be established well in advance of the publication date. The new curriculum will require a ‘critical’ level of engagement from the workforce, to ensure that the programme of learning for each school meets the local requirements of its learners.
The crucial statement in the box above is ‘develop approaches to professional learning to ensure that all schools are better able to plan for curriculum change.’ What this means in essence is what skills/attributes do our curriculum planners and teachers need and what methods can we use to support them in their understanding?
What support/guidance is available?
Earlier this terms we released the infographic on the left, which detailed the support that was available to schools across the EAS region. There are a range of engagement strategies from engagement with pioneer schools, to updates for senior leaders and engagement resources including some of the resource set-out below.
As mentioned above, there are plenty of resources already available to support staff in engaging with the key messages emerging from the AoLE and wider curriculum design process, which raise a number of ‘critical’ questions for every teacher in Wales. In EAS we have recently established a Hwb Network entitled ‘Successful Futures’, which can be joined by navigating to the link below http://tinyurl.com/y79ydu6d); in this network there is access to a number of resources to help schools with the process of engagement with this emerging work (accessible in the ‘files’ section.)
The Strand 1 engagement resource raises questions about the Strand 1 strategic reports, the key recommendations from which are being utilised to help inform the design of the AoLEs. For example, from the Wider Skills, Welsh and International Perspectives groups a key questions for considerations are “to what extent do pupils currently have the opportunity to ‘develop and justify their responses to local, national and global matters?” and “What issues does this present from a teaching/learning and curriculum planning perspective”? A few considerations from the Enrichment and Experiences group might be “What partnerships will you need to create/further develop, to support authentic learning experiences for learners” and How well do teachers/the school currently embrace local heritage and culture in learning experiences? Further considerations in addition to the above as well as considerations from the recommendations from the Assessment and Progression and Cross-curricular responsibilities groups can be found in this engagement resource. 
The Strand 2 engagement resource provide key questions relating to the recommendations of the AoLE groups, for example the Mathematics and Numeracy AoLE recommend in their report that “The aim is to develop mastery approaches that allow pupils to acquire deep learning and conceptual understanding through problem solving.” This raises obvious questions, for example What do you already know about ‘mastery’ approaches to teaching maths? What are the likely implications for Maths teaching and professional learning in your school? The recommendations of each report are given consideration in this resource and will be a helpful starting point for all teachers.
Successful Futures TV will launch in October 2017, with a scheduled series of live broadcasts designed to help develop an understanding of the curriculum development and reform process, these will be streamed live via YouTube and be available to watch ‘on-demand’ when this best suits the viewer.
Rollout of the Curriculum – What are the key dates?

The timeline above illustrates the timeframe across the new curriculum and assessment arrangements and evolving set of (existing) KS4 qualifications will develop. What is interesting to note is that Qualifications Wales and partners will have four years to develop the new qualifications that will provide formal assessment at 16, the first set of learners that will be assessed using the new qualifications are currently (September 2017) in Year 2!
Another interesting point of note from the timeline is that when the curriculum and assessment arrangements are made available in April 2019, there will be a feedback window, to ensure a thorough testing of the framework in which all schools will participate, that will run until the final curriculum becomes available in 2020. This approach is in keeping with Graham Donaldson’s recommendations, for example, recommendation 54 states that: -
The revised curriculum and assessment arrangements should be introduced through an agile change strategy that establishes understanding and support, sets a measured pace, builds capacity and manages dependencies, particularly accountability arrangements.
When should I start to engage?
Within the next few years the new curriculum will be available for evaluation and critique. In order for a meaningful engagement and critical engagement with this work, it is vital that all teachers and leaders understand the principles and philosophies of curriculum design that are emerging from the process. If the question is when should I start engaging? The answer is that there is no time like the present!

Blog Authors

James Kent
Area Lead,
Wider Curriculum
and Pioneer Schools

Mike Cameron
Area Lead,
Professional Learning &
Regional Induction
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