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New ‘Curriculum’ pathway for Masters in Education

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The National MA  Education (Wales) programme run by seven Universities in Wales using shared expertise, expands this September with a Curriculum Pathway.

What’s exciting about the new Curriculum Pathway of the MA in Education’ – Dr Andrew James Davies

As well as delving into theory and practice in curriculum design, it will look at implementation and models of curriculum leadership. Participants on the blended learning part-time course will also be given opportunities to improve their professional judgement, autonomy and their ability to respond innovatively to challenges.

That doesn’t happen quickly. The minimum two or three year course (dependent on prior learning) allows time to really get under the skin of different aspects of practice,  and includes modules relating to Curriculum Design and Innovation, Research and Enquiry, and Exploring Pedagogies. The blend of learning includes some face-to-face time but is mainly on-line, with twilight sessions and national conference days.

A substantial investment in the future success of the Curriculum for Wales by Welsh Government, which collaborated with our universities to develop the National MA Education Programme, means that for some applicants no fees need be paid. That makes this a rare opportunity, well worth exploring.

Recruitment is now open, and much more information from each university can be found here.

Here’s a final word from Dr Andrew James Davies about what the Curriculum pathway offers:

Ysgol Plas Cefndy Case study

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Ysgol Plas Cefndy is a pupil referral unit in Rhyl, north Wales, which provides education other than at school (EOTAS) for secondary aged children experiencing social emotional and behavioural difficulties. They also have provision for children with high levels of anxiety at their Milestones centre in Rhyl and their satellite site at Ruthin provides placements for primary aged children.

See their case study films below showing how they’ve approached developing their curriculum, from a leadership and broader staff perspective.

Leadership perspective:

Broader staff perspective:

The  Guidance for EOTAS sets out what is needed over and above what is in the Curriculum for Wales framework guidance for all learners. It refers to the following key features:

  • nurturing and strengthening the health and well-being of each learner
  • systematic collaboration between learner, parents/carers, school and EOTAS providers
  • access to an inclusive curriculum that focuses on the individual needs of each learner
  • supporting the reintegration into or transition of learners receiving EOTAS to mainstream or specialist provision, and/or enabling them to progress towards further education, training or the world of work

The films are also hosted in the resource area of Hwb.

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.

Adnodd – the future of resources to support Curriculum for Wales

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A new Company has been set up by Welsh Government to commission high quality resources. It became operational on 1st April and will begin by getting staff in place and consulting with practitioners, learners and other key stakeholders to develop an effective model for commissioning and quality assuring resources.

Owain Gethin Davies, Head of Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy, has been appointed as Interim Chair. Below he answers key questions about Adnodd and its ambitions.

So Gethin, in short what is Adnodd?

 A one-stop shop for resources for education practitioners in Wales, that will support Curriculum for Wales and new qualifications, published simultaneously in Welsh and English.

How did you get involved?

I’m passionate about the new curriculum, I want young people and teachers to have the best resources, bilingually, to help them succeed. Resources that are accessible for all learners, those with additional needs, and consider different diverse cultures.  I have worked with NGfL Cymru in the past and also authored numerous music resources for practitioners in Wales. High quality resources should be available for all practitioners and learners.

What will it do?

Commission and quality assure resources for ages 3 through to post-16. In future it may even work with other countries in sharing the resources.

What will it do for teachers specifically?

It will talk to practitioners, consult with them, research into the latest technology, latest techniques, best practice, latest pedagogy, and pull all that into the resources.

So do we know what resources we want?

The next couple of months is the starting point. It’s will be an initial process of exploration with young people, practitioners, partners etc.

How do people connect with it?

We’re going to get on the road to make people aware we exist. We’ll go to the Urdd Eisteddfod, do roadshows and education shows, work through consortia, and of course we’ll have a specific area on Hwb which is where all resources will ultimately feature. This is our email:

Under Curriculum for Wales, schools are developing bespoke curricula, will the Adnodd model work with that?

Yes absolutely. It’s been part of our thinking. Adnodd will produce tools and broader resources, won’t be too specific. To use an ancient analogy, a resource about castles would exemplify approaches that would work across any or most castles, not refer to specific ones, and could be adapted for different settings.

Will Adnodd work with partners?

Yes with practitioners and regional improvement partners, as well as publishers and the creative sector. It’s not just a commercial procurement exercise.

Any final thoughts?

I’m ambitious for Adnodd. We’re looking outward as well as within Wales to bring the best to our practitioners and learners. And it’s another step in making Curriculum for Wales the success it deserves to be.

An oral statement about Adnodd by Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, can be seen here

This Blog is Evolving

As the Curriculum for Wales heads towards full realisation, this Blog will evolve to cover wider education developments in Wales.

It will still of course include items on the curriculum and supporting reforms, but will also touch on wider school issues, Further and Higher Education, the full spectrum.

Its title will also change, becoming the Education Wales Blog.

As ever, if you have ideas or requests for items which would be useful to you and fellow practitioners, please let us know.

Headteacher conference: Curriculum for Wales and School Improvement

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A tightly-packed 90 minute conference explored curriculum implementation and the evolving approach to school improvement on March 23rd.

Opening addresses by Minister Jeremy Miles and Estyn’s Owen Evans were followed by a vibrant panel discussion featuring three headteachers: Owain Gethin Davies from Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy, Edward Jones from Pencoed Comprehensive School, and Michelle Jones MBE from Lansdowne Primary School; along with Professor Graham Donaldson and Professor Dame Alison Peacock.

See the full recording below:

And see the resource page from the day here.

Publishing a Curriculum Summary – useful examples

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Once a school has developed its Curriculum for Wales, by law it must publish a summary for interested parties to see.

Each school and setting’s context is different and so there are no fixed templates, no absolute rules about how summaries should be presented. As to content, currently the recommendation is that they show:

  • how practitioners, learners, parents, carers and the wider community have been engaged to inform the curriculum’s development
  • how the curriculum meets the required elements set out in the national Framework, starting from the four purposes
  • how the school is approaching learning progression and its arrangements for assessment
  • how the curriculum will be kept under review, including the process for feedback and ongoing revision

Being inventive and responding to differing contexts, colleagues have used various ways of presenting curricula. With wholehearted thanks to them and the education partners who forwarded their examples, we’re pleased to share them below.

Ysgol Gymraeg Gwenllian (Welsh medium primary) – combines Welsh Government context with an engaging video story of the four purposes brought to life through the story of Gwenllian, and encourages a feedback cycle to inform their iterative design.

Ysgol Pen Rhos (Dual langauge primary) – a rounded example that shows how the curriculum is put together, describes assessment and ongoing review with stakeholders to make sure the curriculum is working.

Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr (Welsh medium secondary) – the clear structure shows section by section how the curriculum blends the school’s vision for pupils with mandatory requirements, including Assessment.

Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Gellionnen (Welsh medium primary) – thorough and clear, with the clickable options to look deeper, showing the four purposes in full.

Heronsbridge School (Special school) – a thorough introduction to the curriculum in a school that has learners with a wide range of additional learning needs including a centre for pupils with autism. More detail available behind accessible top-level slides.

Coety Primary School (English medium primary) – a brief clear introduction offers the option of a PDF with a detailed but accessible overview of the school’s approach across each aspect of the curriculum.

Corpus Christi High School (English medium secondary) – the School isn’t introducing the Curriculum for Wales until September, but this shows the thought processes about curriculum and assessment design as they plan for introduction.

Ysgol Iolo Morgannwg (Welsh medium primary) – engaging and clear, this summary shows how stakeholders have been involved in shaping the curriculum, and how local aspirations have been blended with the national framework.

Ysgol Nantgwyn  (English medium all-through school) – Clear and easy to understand, from engagement and priorities through to curriculum, this also describes a 3-16 curriculum where some pupils are experiencing Curriculum for Wales whilst some older pupils remain on the previous curriculum.

Chepstow school (English medium secondary) – Chepstow has chosen a six minute video featuring teachers and pupils to describe their curriculum. It relates mandatory elements to the school’s context and exemplifies learning in curriculum Areas.

New case study films: curriculum, transition, assessment, progression…

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Even as the curriculum resource review work continues at pace – see our recent blog post – some great new material is being added.

Below, Jubilee Park Primary School describe their approach to transition. Fitzalan school explain their approach to curriculum design, progression, assessment, pupil progress meetings and quality assurance.

See the case study area on Hwb or use the links below.

Developing our approach to transition at Jubilee Park Primary School

How has curriculum design been developing at Fitzalan High School

Developing a shared understanding of progression at Fitzalan High School

Read more

See the case study area on Hwb or use the links below.

Developing our approach to transition at Jubilee Park Primary School

How has curriculum design been developing at Fitzalan High School

Developing a shared understanding of progression at Fitzalan High School

Read more

Updates to the Curriculum for Wales Guidance – and Hwb resources page

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The Curriculum for Wales Guidance has been updated. The changes are mainly additions or amendments to existing sections.

Future updates will be made each January, so practitioners can be sure that it is completely up to date all year. January has been chosen to fit best with curriculum planning cycles in schools and settings.

This year’s updates include:

  • A revised ‘Journey to Curriculum roll-out’ section to reflect that the curriculum is now being implemented
  • Some clarifying narrative on Welsh histories in the Humanities Area
  • Corrections to some definitions and hyperlinks
  • More clarity through minor amendments to narrative – in response to feedback

The ‘last updated’ date at the bottom of each page will reveal whether a change has been made.

Alongside this, a new Hwb Resources and Supporting Materials page has been published to make resources specific to the Curriculum for Wales easier to find. A project to review all Hwb resources to align them with the curriculum and identify resource gaps is also underway, as featured in this previous blog post. Practitioners are warmly invited to take part in the resources review work, with training, support and compensation provided to schools of those that do. Contact the team at: