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New practitioner group to support Curriculum for Wales’ implementation – can you help?

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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

The Curriculum for Wales evaluation plan 2023

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The Curriculum for Wales, now being used in all schools across Wales, is of course subject to extensive evaluation.

Two initial annual reports have provided a solid snapshot of progress, but as Minister Jeremy Miles announced in July, structured, long-term evaluation will be carried out – starting this year – to understand how the reforms are working and the extent to which they are having the desired impact for all learners, regardless of their background or needs.

It will also investigate areas which are not progressing as expected, and why, so that support and guidance can be provided in the right areas.

The evaluation plan sets out an extensive range of research and monitoring to be undertaken over the coming years. It will involve talking to hundreds of schools, learners and parents in a range of contexts.

Above: evidence projects contributing

As part of that, the Curriculum for Wales formative evaluation begins this autumn. The study will be at a much larger scale than previously, meaning findings will provide a representative sense of progress across Wales, whilst also identifying challenges and opportunities.  It will look at a huge range of factors affecting curriculum reform through large-scale surveys and qualitative deep dives on specific issues like the quality and suitability of professional learning provision; curriculum design; pedagogy; and approaches to equity and inclusivity.

To assess the outcomes and impact of Curriculum for Wales, findings will be gathered and synthesised from a range of sources annually. Bringing together and analysing this information will give a strong evidence base to inform future annual reports and direct priorities and funding for school support. That includes findings from Welsh Government evaluation studies and research, as well as those undertaken by academia and strategic partners such as Estyn.

The Curriculum for Wales evaluation programme is designed and led by Government Social Researchers, a profession within Government which works to standards of rigour and impartiality. The individual projects will be undertaken by independent research companies, contract managed by Welsh Government researchers.

‘Seren’ students – our state-educated stars of the future

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In 2022, 484 learners from state schools in Wales applied to study at Oxford or Cambridge Universities. 87 received offers, compared with 65 the previous year, a 33% rise and part of a rising trajectory.

The increase in applications to top universities and top university schools in Wales, the UK and abroad has been significant in recent years. That success has been powerfully influenced by our ‘Seren Academy’, which helps more able learners from across Wales from any background, economic status or personal situation, to fulfil their academic potential.

Funded by Welsh Government, ‘Seren’ works with partners to provide an extensive programme that goes beyond the curriculum, helping learners widen their horizons, and develop a passion for their chosen field of study at no cost to the learner. It is open to years 8 to 13.

Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, visiting a Seren Summer School

One of the most exciting and life-changing activities run by ‘Seren’ are the residential summer schools, which give learners a sense of what studying and life will be like at university.  The schools also aim to develop learners’ critical thinking and academic skills to support their GCSE and A level studies. They’re underway now, and Seren would like to share some great examples below:

Cardiff University School of Medicine summer school

In July, 55 year 12 learners from across Wales had first-hand experience of a career in medicine and what it’s like to be a medical student, by participating in case-based learning and communication skills workshops based on year one medical student teaching.

The highlight of the summer school was ‘Hope Hospital’, where the university set up wards for learners to manage where they had to assess and treat ‘patients’ (actors with ‘symptoms’) with the support of clinical staff and medical students.

Learner comments: ‘all of the activities were much more engaging and immersive than I ever thought they would be’…’ one of the male actors genuinely made me tear up’.

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Complete the Adnodd survey and help shape the future of educational resources in Wales

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Earlier this year, the Welsh Government established Adnodd, a new arm’s-length body to coordinate and oversee the provision and commissioning of education resources, in Welsh and English, to support the Curriculum for Wales and its qualifications. Its remit will include the commissioning of new materials and quality assurance of resources.

One of Adnodd’s core values is that it is a listening and responsive organisation. In developing a new commissioning model and quality assurance framework, Adnodd wants to hear from its stakeholders.

We are inviting you to share your thoughts on the commissioning and quality assurance of education resources for ages 3 through 19 in Wales in light of the continued rollout of the new Curriculum for Wales (CfW) and revised qualifications.

We are inviting practitioners, learners and their parents/carers, and stakeholders in the wider industry (including publishers, authors, and content creators) to share their thoughts in an online survey.

Stakeholder GroupSurvey Link
Teaching practitioners, including teachers, headteachers, teaching assistants, lecturers, tutors  (primary, secondary, special, further education colleges, in all language mediums)Link
Learners and their parents and carersLink   
Industry stakeholders, including publishers, authors, and education resources content creators  Link  

Practitioners, learners, and parents/carers who complete the online surveys will be entered into a prize draw for a £100 book token, redeemable at a range of retailers and independent bookshops across Wales. We hope these incentives are seen as a token of our appreciation for your time and energy, as it is imperative to capture key stakeholders’ views on this important topic.


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

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Curriculum for Wales: annual report 2023

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An annual report that sets out the progress and achievements of Curriculum for Wales to date, with priorities for the year from September 2023, has been published by Welsh Government.  

The wide-ranging report considers key aspects of curriculum implementation, and is published alongside a plan to undertake a rigorous and transparent evaluation of the curriculum and assessment reforms over time and the extent to which they are having the desired impact for all learners.

An introduction to the annual report from Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, sets the scene:

The last academic year has been a landmark in terms of our curriculum reforms. In the short time since the Curriculum for Wales was introduced in the majority of schools and funded non-maintained nursery settings last September, we are already starting to see reports of some of the benefits we expect the new curriculum to bring. It is still early days, yet there are some early and encouraging signs.

This second annual report provides an outline of the progress being made across our education system, areas where further focus is necessary, and priorities for support as we head into the 2023 to 2024 academic year; a year when all schools and settings will be using the Curriculum for Wales. It also includes a wide range of links and additional information to help draw together some of the key aspects of our reforms, and how they are supporting us realise our ambitions together.

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Curriculum case studies in a handy PDF and a new podcast!

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A selection of school case study films on curriculum development, progression and assessment, and transition, have been gathered together in this handy pdf with links.

Featuring primaries, secondaries and a Pupil Referral Unit, they show a range of approaches including cluster work. The full Youtube playlist can be found here, and a wide range of resources here on Hwb.

Also hear a new podcast – How the National Resource: Evaluation and Improvement is being used to benefit Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi.

Mark Jones, Professional Advisor to the Welsh Government, interviews Anthony Jones (left), Deputy Headteacher at Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi, about how the school is using the National Resource: Evaluation and Improvement (NR:EI) and the improvements it is helping to bring about. 

Listen on our channel through your chosen platform below:

Apple podcasts 



Or for any mobile phone, use this ‘magic link’

Enabling 14-16 learning under the Curriculum for Wales

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Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, made a statement today that Welsh Government will work with employers, parents and carers, teachers and learners to create a comprehensive approach to developing knowledge, skills and experiences for 14-16-year-old learners under the new curriculum. The approach will recognise the wide opportunities that schools already provide to support their learners move confidently towards employment, further education or training. 

Through engagement, guidance will be developed by Welsh Government for consultation later this calendar year, to be finalised and available for schools at the same time as final GCSE specifications (September 2024). Evolution of the Welsh Baccalaureate will be considered as part of this, to enable all learners to gain the skills, experiences and knowledge to move forward on their next steps. 

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Sharing information on learner progression with parents and carers – changes and a case study

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In September 2022 new legislation came into force for schools around providing information to parents and carers on their child’s progress.  See this section of the  summary of legislation or the formal legislation here.

Headteachers must now arrange for termly updates on how learners are progressing, including:

  • their well-being
  • information on key progress and learning
  • key progression needs, the next steps to support their progression, and advice on how parents can support that progress. 
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The ‘Connect’ network with a difference for educational leaders

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Role models in school and society are important. By seeing someone ostensibly like us, taking positive action and succeeding in life, we take inspiration, comfort and confidence.

We know it’s like that for learners in our schools. It’s also like that for practitioners, especially those who come from a minority ethnic background and who may not always have access to the support they need from colleagues, parents or peers.

The Anti-racist Wales Connect Group has therefore been created as a source of mutual help and peer to peer support, but also to inspire colleagues from ethnic backgrounds to aspire to leadership, helping to grow a diverse leadership representation in education in Wales.

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