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.