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Camau i’r Dyfodol – Steps to the Future: Co-constructing Learning Progression in Wales

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The Camau i’r Dyfodol – Steps to the Future project, involving the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the University of Glasgow, brings together the expertise and experience of the education sector to co-construct a shared understanding of progression for all learners that is meaningful, manageable, and sustainable.

The transformation in our schools brought by reform brings inherent challenges and exciting possibilities for change – whether that’s deeper, more engaging learning experiences for learners, more relevant learning tailored to their needs, or more creative and innovative teaching methods.

Learning progression is central to Curriculum for Wales. The guidance emphasises this, outlining how learners should develop to reach their full potential, regardless of their background or needs. Camau i’r Dyfodol is working with the system to foster a better understanding of learning progression, and how to support it in practice, across Wales.

Changing our thinking

Over the past 18 months, we have had the privilege of working with practitioners, leaders, and partners in the wider education system. This work has shown us that change is not easy. It required sense-making and knowledge-building among all stakeholders. It invites a shift in how people think about learning, assessment, and progression, towards more holistic, developmental, and learner-centred approaches. And importantly, it requires coherence in understanding as we work to translate policy into practice.

These are significant changes, which make having spaces and support for sense-making and knowledge-building essential.  By creating opportunities to share experiences, learn from each other, and build shared understandings, we can support better collaborative working for progression.

Camau i’r Dyfodol has sought to provide these spaces, and forms a very different type of project than has previously taken place in Wales.  This means that we bring together the complementary expertise of teachers, policymakers, researchers, and educational partners from across the system to develop knowledge and approaches that help realise Curriculum for Wales.  This is a unique approach for Wales that seeks to engage with the complexities of educational change as it happens, and therefore moves away from descriptive surveys, evaluation research, or delivering a pre-specified programme of professional development.  Instead, it is designed to be responsive, build upon existing expertise, and support practitioners in the forms of professional sense-making and shared knowledge-building necessary to support sustainable change. 

What we have learned so far

We are excited to share our progress so far. In Phase 1, we held discussions with different people across the education system to get a sense of where people were and how they were thinking about curriculum reform.  We explored what was understood in the literature about the relationships between curriculum, assessment, pedagogy and learning progression.  We also developed an approach to co-construction which sees it as a disposition to learning that allows people to work through the ‘knotty’ issues of translating policy into practice.

You can find the full findings of this work in our Phase 1 report. Our resource for schools sets out what schools can do to apply these to their own context.  

Following Phase 1, we brought together practitioners, educational partners, and researchers to form a professional Co-Construction Group. This group identified priority areas and opportunities for advancing practical understandings of learning progression. By scrutinising and incorporating evidence from research, policy, and practice, the group collaboratively devised approaches and resources to support the whole system with developing progression in schools and settings in Wales.

Everyone involved has brought valuable knowledge and understanding to the table, and everyone’s contributions were equally valued. The group has met regularly, online and in-person, to collaboratively challenge each other’s thinking and develop shared approaches and resources for realising practice. As researchers, our own thinking has continued to evolve as we have learned with others.

The priority areas for support the group produced have been refined to reflect national priorities, and focus on practical understandings of learning progression, designing learning experiences that create progression, and articulating and communicating progression.

As part of this work, we offered mediated seminars and discussions to support the development of a suite of resources in ways that address issues of consistency and coherence while still allowing for flexibility and agency across schools.

The thinking and ongoing work of the group was shared and further informed by broader discussions with the wider profession through four different National Network  Conversations that we led over the past year which focused on different aspects of building practical approaches to learning progression. Additionally, within this phase of the project we sought evidence from international experts to learn from other national reforms in order to further inform the realisation of Curriculum for Wales.

Looking forward – new resources

We are thrilled with what we have achieved so far with Camau i’r Dyfodol, and excited to keep working with you to advance practical understandings of learning progression. In September, we will be publishing new, practical, and co-constructed supporting materials on progression.

We will also publish discussions with international experts to learn from other national curriculum reforms, and how we can apply the lessons to developing progression in Wales.

The success of this collaborative effort is a testament to the diverse expertise and experiences brought forth by individuals occupying various roles within the Welsh education system and beyond. We are grateful for the contributions of all involved, and we look forward to continuing our work together to create a better future for education in Wales.

Further information on the project including the Phase 1 report and other supporting materials can be found on the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and University of Glasgow websites.

Principle Investigators Camau i’r Dyfodol

David Morrison-Love (University of Glasgow)

Sonny Singh (University of Wales Trinity Saint David)

Kara Makara Fuller (University of Glasgow)

And the Camau i’r Dyfodol Team.

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