A New Curriculum for Wales!

First and foremost, the post is my own opinion and does not reflect the views of anyone else.  I believe that it is an exciting time in Wales, we have the opportunity to adopt a Curriculum that has been designed for the present and the future.  On listening to Professor Donaldson in his webinair chat, it became clear that we have the possibility to make a difference, to become leaders in the field and inspire generations of pupils to success.  When deciding to write this post, it was difficult to chose where to begin and I have therefore chosen to focus on a few areas of interest.  His first recommendation is

The school curriculum in Wales should be defined as including all of the

learning experiences and assessment activities planned in pursuit of

agreed purposes of education.

The key words are learning experiences and assessment in the same sentence. What is the difference? Well a learning experience can not always be measured in simple terms sometimes it is the experience that is important however an experience that is enriching to the lives of pupils will often lead to a positive impact on pupil standards.

A learning experience has many implications both within and outside the Classroom.  What is essential is how we make that experience relevant to the pupils.  If we walk 5 000 steps whilst taking a walk along a coastline, is it the measuring of the steps that count or the view, the plants, the animals etc.  Obviously the answer is the experience.  Perhaps this more than anything, although not revolutionary brings education back into the realms of common sense however I do not believe that Professor Donaldson is stating that there is no room for assessment, if anything he wishes it to be more closely aligned with the experiences.

What is being measured?

Well from my understanding of his discussion, we are looking at achievement rather than attainment.  This would be a massive shift in direction that would require the support of the Politicians and Estyn.  Pupils achieve constantly and often in small steps by responding to effective feedback.  Effective ‘Assessment For Learning’ procedures will mean that pupils can improve on a daily basis, achieving new goals that can continuously change according to the needs of the pupils.

Attainment will not totally disappear.  The National Tests for Literacy and Numeracy will remain and the GCSE’s are also here to stay .  Measurements of steps will therefore exist but achievement will hopefully be recognised as the primary focus when mapping learning experiences in the Classroom.  The emphasis is on creating a continuum,

The new national curriculum should be organised as a continuum of

learning from 3 to 16 without phases and key stages.

11. Progression should be described in relation to a continuum of learning in

each Area of Learning and Experience from when a child enters education

to the end of statutory schooling.

12. Progression should be signalled through Progression Steps at five points in

the learning continuum, relating broadly to expectations at ages 5, 8, 11, 14

and 16.

13. The initial Progression Steps should take full account of guidance on

Routes for Learning, which should be reviewed in the new curriculum

context.

14. Progression Steps should be reference points, providing a ‘road map’ for

each individual child and young person’s progress in their learning and

not universal expectations of the performance of all children and young

people at fixed points.

15. There should be a duty on schools to provide a curriculum that enables

most children and young people to reach, or go beyond, each Progression

Step within the broad three-year window.

›››

Achievement Outcome recommendations

16. Achievement Outcomes should be developed for each Progression Step in

each Area of Learning and Experience, spanning the components within

the Area of Learning and Experience and addressing the Cross-curriculum

Responsibilities and wider skills.

17. Achievement Outcomes should contribute clearly to the four curriculum

purposes and should have an emphasis on achievement in a broad sense,

rather than only narrower measures of attainment. They should include

references to relevant experiences which contribute to the curriculum

purposes and to which children and young people should be entitled.

18. Achievement Outcomes should be described from the learner’s point of

view, using terms like ‘I have…’ for experiences and ‘I can…’ for outcomes.

19. All children and young people should make progress along the same

continuum, regardless of any additional learning needs they may have,

although they may reach and move between Progression Steps more

slowly or more quickly than others.

20. There should be a clear brief for the development of the Achievement

Perhaps what we need to do is accept that whether it is steps, levels or outcomes consistency from school to school will have to be of paramount importance.

I hope that the continuum will also break down the walls that levels have created as pupils transfer from each Key Stage to the next.  Transition should be progression and therefore the steps taken and achieved by pupils should clearly indicate to Year 7 teachers the next goals in their education.  This should allow us to make effective transition that will begin at the pupils level rather than questioning levels.

Ultimately, the recommendation below demonstrates clearly the importance of formative assessment as a tool to support the needs of the pupil and to assist teachers in their planning,

Assessment arrangements should give priority to their formative role in

teaching and learning.

What is the purpose of the Curriculum?

The purposes of the curriculum in Wales should be that children and

young people develop as:

Chapter 3: Purposes of the Curriculum

ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives

enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work

ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world

healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued

members of society.

The 6 areas of the new curriculum reflects the purpose in clearly identified areas,

Progression within the Areas of Learning and Experience

Whatever reference points are used, it is essential that these are based upon

sound understanding of how children progress in different kinds of learning and

what they need to know and be able to do in order to move to the next stage

securely. The Achievement Outcomes at each Progression Step will need to

encapsulate the most important aspects of learning, take account of the ways in

which children progress in different kinds of learning, and recognise what they

need to be able to know and do in order to move securely to the next stage. The

following are some illustrations of how Achievement Outcomes might indicate

progression in each Area of Learning and Achievement.

In the Expressive arts Area of Learning and Experience children and young

people may demonstrate progression in their learning by, for example, displaying

increasing skills and confidence in performance and extending their capacity to

use digital media in creative ways.

In the Health and well-being Area of Learning and Experience they may

demonstrate progression through increasing competence in, and taking greater

responsibility for, organising themselves, and through greater depth of knowledge

and understanding about factors affecting their well-being and that of others.

In the Humanities Area of Learning and Experience they may demonstrate

growing skill in analysing evidence and in understanding and explaining issues.

They may broaden and deepen their understanding of different beliefs and their

impact on believers.

In the Languages, literacy and communication Area of Learning and

Experience they may develop increasing mastery of techniques that will enable

them to communicate. They may demonstrate progression through the length,

complexity and accuracy of written and spoken language, and show increasing

confidence and capacity to converse about a widening range of topics in

the Welsh language. They will be able to engage critically with increasingly

challenging literary work.

In the Mathematics and numeracy Area of Learning and Experience they

will gain an understanding of quantity and number and, for example, be able

to explain increasingly abstract ideas in algebra, use increasingly sophisticated

methods to analyse and present numerical information, draw on skills they

have already learned when faced with new challenges, complete increasingly

demanding calculations in relation to personal finance, and interpret the results.

In the Science and technology Area of Learning and Experience they will

initially explore the world around them. They may demonstrate progression by

being able to explain increasingly complex scientific contexts and concepts;

analysing, presenting, interpreting and making deductions from increasingly

complex evidence; increasing in independence and confidence when tackling

challenging design tasks; developing increased dexterity and precision in practical

skills; and engaging with increasingly complex aspects of computing.

What will be crucial to the curriculum will be digital competency.  This will have equal footing with Literacy and Numeracy thus making sure that the pupils are ready to contribute to the future needs of the Country.  This should allow them to have the skills to succeed.

What we need to avoid is a sense of,

stress

and with Professor Donaldson explaining that this will take time to achieve, he has already indicated that we need to take our time to make sure that we do it right. Getting it right is essential,

Implications for nursery, primary and secondary schools

The recommended changes to curriculum and assessment made by the Review

provide a new way of thinking about the education of children and young people

throughout the period of schooling. They present primary and secondary schools

jointly with greater scope to plan and provide a curriculum and an approach to

assessment that builds progressively from ages 3–16. They offer teachers fresh

opportunities to provide interesting and challenging learning experiences for

their children and young people. Additionally, if embedded effectively, they will

provide children and young people with a deeper, more satisfying and relevant

educational experience and wider recognition of their achievements.

The aim is to provide a successful future for every child and support them on the journey.

Whether the final Curriculum will look as it is suggested in the report will be in the hands of the Politicians but what we do require is clarity as soon as possible in relation not only to areas of learning but also assessment.

The area that is often ignored is actually a central feature of the report, Pedagogy. What I admire is the focus on making all teachers to realise how important they are to the future of every child. An article in the TES reports on an article from the OECD that has identified that confident teachers are the most effective in the Classroom.  This isn’t rocket science but it is true that a confident teacher will be ready to learn from mistakes, be flexible, responds to the needs of the pupils and reflects on their skills.  In my opinion,  reflective practitioners are those that continually learn how to improve their standards, keep up to date with new ideas and take areas of progress as an essential element of professional development.

The link below will take you to the report.

http://gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/150225-successful-futures-en.pdf

Many questions still remain for education in Wales but perhaps this report can be a springboard to success.

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1 Comment

  1. Diolch Mr C. Llawer i ystyried yma a diolch am rannu dy feddyliau am yr adroddiad. Mae’n hynod bwysig ein bod ni’n ymateb yn y modd yma er mwyn datblygu y ffordd ymlaen a sicrhau bod llais athrawon a rheolwyr ysgol yn cael ei glywed..

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