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Curriculum Implementation report shows progress – with challenges

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Curriculum implementation is being monitored through a research project being conducted by Arad Research, and the report from the first wave is now available.

It’s broadly positive, leaders mainly content with the progress being made, but highlights areas where challenges have arisen and more work is needed.

64 senior leaders from across Wales and all types of school and setting were involved in the research between November 2022 and January 2023. 16 had previously been involved in research about preparations for Curriculum for Wales.

Curriculum Planning and Implementation shows a broadly positive picture, with leaders content with progress made in designing and implementing their curriculum. Some had been concerned about the task ahead but now felt they were making good progress. Pedagogy and collaborative working were increasing, with practitioners taking ownership of implementation. Challenges were mentioned in relation to staff capacity and time, particularly in planning to meet the curriculum requirements.

Equity and Inclusivity for all learners is also benefitting from these new approaches, the more learner-centred approach to curriculum design seen as helping schools to reflect society better and support all their learners appropriately. 

RSE is reported as progressing well, concerns from parents and carers not often arising despite sometimes being anticipated. Concerns raised were managed through open and transparent communication. Some leaders expressed a desire for more centralised support for RSE curriculum design, with concerns raised about potential costs of external materials.

Assessment arrangements: new approaches are being developed to assessment, with an increased focus on formative, day-by-day assessment. However many leaders are unclear and concerned about the assessment data they will be required to provide for accountability. Some are still using external assessment tools alongside new assessment methods.

Progression plans are reported as developing across Areas, indicating that the principles of progression are incorporated into curriculum design. It was recognised that the new approaches to learner progression being adopted require a change in practitioner mindset, likely to take some time to embed.  Concerns were expressed in relation to a perceived risk of divergence as schools and clusters adopt different approaches to recording and reporting progression; and the time required to develop and review approaches to progression. Schools also talked about the new ways they were sharing information on learners’ progress with parents and carers.

One of the schools involved in the research, Ysgol Merllyn in Flintshire, spoke about their approach to sharing information on progress with parents and carers through new types of report, and learner-led sharing days.  See their case study video below.

Another wave of interviews, as well as fieldwork with learners, will result in a follow-up report later in 2023.

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