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.