Curriculum for Wales has been developed by teachers for teachers. It’s imperative that we continue to develop and support Curriculum for Wales together. But how do we make sure practitioners working in different contexts across Wales have their voices heard? Through a new Practitioner Policy Group.
A series of workshops took place last summer term with practitioners who’ve been part of the National Network, the Hwb resources review, Camau i’r Dyfodol and Understanding by Design projects and other Welsh Government Curriculum for Wales co-construction groups, to establish the new Group’s terms of reference. Now a call is out for more members to join, so please complete the expression of interest form if you’re interested!*
Below, Bethan Jones talks about her nervousness about joining the first meeting, the rewards from taking part, and why she feels it’s so important that the practitioner voice is heard.
‘Okay so I will confess, when I first considered becoming a member of the Practitioner Policy Group, I was not entirely sure what it was all about, or what we would be doing during those four days in the summer term. Would they want me – a curriculum lead for a special school in rural mid Wales? What would I bring to the table?
I had not been a part of the pioneer process, or any subsequent national curriculum co-construction, and I was new to my post and my school too, so I felt somewhat inexperienced and unsure of myself. I have been supporting the facilitation of National Network conversations for a while now though, and supported my cluster in Powys as part of my seconded role as Pedagogy Lead for two years, so I knew that any opportunity that would help me to develop my understanding further was one to grab on to.
Our small group of practitioners was convened to establish terms of reference for the Practitioner Policy Group to which more practitioners will be invited during the current academic year. Welsh Government asked for our input on what this group would look like, how it would operate and what its priorities would be. This offered me the opportunity to give back, have a say, have some input into what is happening to education in Wales. I am a strong believer in the way the curriculum has been developed through co-construction, an inclusive process that included practitioners from across Wales and I am encouraged that we are trying to continue this through the Practitioner Policy Group and the National Network. But it can only be as inclusive as we make it and we need practitioners to be a part of this.
So, I put my imposter syndrome on hold, and went and gave it a go. You’ve got to play a part if you want to influence something bigger. Almost as soon as I walked through the doors of our first workshop the nerves left. Everyone was so welcoming and warm, the meeting was well planned and the intentions for our time together were so clearly laid out that I instantly felt at ease with them. Some faces in the room I knew, others were new to me, but they were all just practitioners like me. Some had been part of the pioneer process and knew each other well, and others were new to the process, but all views were considered equally. Experienced or inexperienced, everyone had a voice and our views mattered. Our schools are at various stages of curriculum reform and as such we could all contribute something of value to the group.
We came from different educational contexts: primary, secondary, special and PRU, and we came from all over Wales. There were Welsh speakers, experienced learners and beginners, giving a voice to the truly bilingual curriculum in a way that I personally have never considered before. We worked our way through the tasks as a group, each of us bringing our own perspective to the table and giving our own input as we saw it from the perspective of the children and young people we work with, our regions, our areas of expertise, and our own experiences. It was so important that there was a wide range of different people from different schools and settings bringing our views, and I look forward to seeing the group evolve with more practitioners bringing their views and voices to the table.
And yet, as I look back on the meeting workshops, I find that it is not our agreed outcome, or our collective input to Welsh Government that I value the most, but the discussion time. The time to pause, think and reflect with fellow practitioners who have become fast friends. Sharing ideas, experiences and resources has accelerated my own understanding of working within the Curriculum for Wales framework; ideas I have taken back to my own school and ideas of my own I have shared with others. It has re-energised me, re-invigorated my love for all things Curriculum for Wales. No matter where we are on our journeys, we all have something of value to bring to the table. It’s okay to revisit our earlier understanding, question it and build on it. None of us are experts and we are all refining what we know as we learn more. And it has built in me stronger confidence in this process, in my colleagues, but most importantly in myself, and my role, and this for my school is the most invaluable thing I could have brought back with me.’
* Closing date 29th October