Policy Forum for Wales

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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Next steps for implementing the new curriculum in Wales

All day, Wednesday, 22nd September 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will be a timely opportunity to examine the key issues surrounding the implementation of the new school curriculum in Wales.

It follows the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act having received royal assent earlier this year, and the publication by the Welsh government of an implementation plan for transitioning to delivering the new curriculum in 2022.

Sessions in the agenda bring out latest thinking on:

  • implementing the new curriculum in the wake of COVID-19
  • adjusting to the new pedagogical approach, and best practice in thematic teaching and curriculum design
  • the role of teacher training and reskilling staff to effectively implement the new approach
  • incorporating new priorities for the Welsh curriculum and priorities for improving inclusivity
  • inspections under the new curricula

This conference will also be an opportunity to examine the ongoing implications of the pandemic for schools and teachers as a result, and how this may impact the rollout of the curriculum, as well as how the new curriculum might be harnessed to combat other challenges, such as sexual misconduct, digital skills shortages and improving ethnic minority inclusion in education.

The agenda in summary:

  • Key priorities for implementing the new curriculum
  • Transitioning into the new framework post-pandemic:
    • what support is needed
    • balancing workload
    • dovetailing with addressing post-pandemic catch-up studies
  • Adjusting to the changing pedagogical approach:
    • the six areas of learning and experience
    • best practice in curriculum design and thematic and cross-subject teaching
    • supporting holistic learning
  • What teachers need to effectively transition into the new framework
  • Teaching workforce skills:
    • assessing the need for reskilling teaching staff in light of the new framework
    • impact on recruitment
  • Incorporating emerging curriculum aims and improving inclusivity:
    • tackling sexual misconduct
    • driving up digital skills
    • carbon literacy
    • mental health and wellbeing
    • ethnic minority inclusion
  • Insights from international practice in curriculum design
  • Harnessing the curriculum to improve attainment and skills levels, help in meeting economic needs, and support the recovery from the pandemic
  • Key priorities in preparing for inspections of the new curriculum

Key areas for discussion:
Implementing the new curriculum in the wake of the pandemic:

  • Post-pandemic pressures:
    • impact on capacity to implement the new framework
    • what specific support might be necessary for the effective roll-out of the new curriculum in this context
  • teacher workload and wellbeing:
    • evaluating recent calls from unions for a delay in implementation
    • ways to reduce workload, and facilitate a smooth transition to the new framework
  • catch-up studies:
    • how to dovetail the transition to the new framework with the provision of post-pandemic catch-up studies
    • considerations for balancing between holistic and thematic learning and targeted catch-up tutoring for addressing educational losses in key subjects

Adjusting to the changing pedagogical approach:

  • thematic learning:
    • outlook for adjusting to the six areas of learning and experience
    • best practice in cross-disciplinary learning and possible ways to effect knowledge exchange and learn from pedagogical specialists in Welsh universities
    • what support might be needed for students to help them get used to the new ways of learning, especially for:
      • older students with experience of the prior approach
      • supporting students with different styles of learning 
  • designing curricula:
    • the experience with putting into practice recommendations from the Government’s implementation plan
    • the role of partnerships between schools
    • lessons that can be learned from pioneer schools and ways to improve the sharing of best practice to staff in schools about to start teaching the new curriculum
  • teacher skills:
    • ensuring teachers have the necessary competencies to deliver thematic teaching to a high standard
    • the role of reskilling and ways to effectively integrate the new approach into teacher training

Harnessing the curriculum for supporting recovery post-pandemic:

  • improving attainment:
    • assessing what is needed for harnessing the new curriculum for supporting students to catch up on their learning
    • balancing between core learning in key subject areas, and supporting wider thematic learning under the new curriculum and the areas of learning and experience
    • ways to ensure targeted approaches for disadvantaged students
  • skills shortages and economic recovery:
    • assessing how the new skills-oriented curriculum can promote wider economic recovery in Wales
    • ways to target areas with significant skills gaps, such as technical fields
    • priorities for ensuring smooth progression to further or higher education and employment

Incorporating new priority areas into the curriculum:

  • sexual misconduct:
    • assessing the use of RSE for improving institutional cultures
    • encouraging healthy and respectful relationships, and addressing sexual misconduct amongst students
    • developing a coordinated approach that takes account of broader issues in this area, such as the role of teachers and school safeguarding practices
  • digital skills:
    • exploring creative and engaging ways to integrate digital skills education into school curricula through activities such as gaming
    • experience with recent educational initiatives, such as the Microsoft skills programme
    • next steps for deepening co-operation between schools and employers in this area, to ensure students are equipped with digital skills needed in the workplace
  • ethnic minority inclusion:
    • expectations on the impact of teaching more inclusive content under the new curriculum on supporting ethnic minority rights
    • implementing recommendations from Professor Charlotte Williams’ Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, Contributions and Cynefin in the New Curriculum Working Group report
    • practical steps for ensuring ethnic minority concerns are integrated across the board in curriculum development
  • child mental health:
    • harnessing the integration of health and wellbeing in the new curriculum for supporting mental health recovery in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic, as well as in supporting students to manage their mental health in the long term
    • considering the involvement of organisations such as Public Health Wales in helping to shape this new area of learning
  • carbon literacy:
    • ways to incorporate education on sustainability and the natural world into school curricula in Wales and under the new framework
    • options for building on the OCR proposal for a Natural History GCSE

Inspections of the new curriculum

  • considering how the inspection process will develop alongside the curriculum, with a new inspection framework anticipated to be released by Estyn in September 2021

Data bank: a scan of relevant developments:

  • the new Curriculum for Wales - set to begin being taught from September 2022, and with schools and teachers being given more freedom to design their own curricula under the new framework, which features:
    • thematic and integrated learning - with the Framework’s six areas of learning and experience aiming to:
      • promote cross-disciplinary learning and understanding of the connections between subjects
      • move away from traditional boundaries between subjects
      • encourage the integration of creativity and innovation into teaching to promote meaningful learning experiences
    • learner-centred education - by adapting learning to learners’ diverse needs, and promoting continuous development and progression amongst pupils through holistic and deep learning
    • promotion of civic engagement - including encouraging schools and teachers to view the new curriculum as an opportunity to promote the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and help students develop an understanding of their rights
    • mandatory studies in Welsh, relationships and sexuality education, as well as religion, values and ethics
  • Curriculum for Wales: The Journey to 2022 - the implementation plan from the Welsh government providing guidance for schools in designing their curricula under the new framework, and including considerations on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on implementation
  • currently underway consultations from the Welsh government - seeking views and feedback to form an updated Curriculum for Wales Framework expected to be released in autumn 2021, and following the release of draft statutory guidance and codes, including the following:
    • Guidance on the design and delivery of mandatory Religion, Values and Ethics (RVE)
    • Curriculum for Wales guidance and code for Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE)
    • Curriculum for Wales guidance for Careers and Work-related Experiences (CWRE)
  • calls from teachers’ unions for the 2022 rollout of the curriculum to be delayed - including a warning from NASUWT concerning the strains that the pandemic and issues around educational catch-up may put on implementing the framework
  • Qualified for the future - a recently concluded series of consultations from Qualifications Wales that sought views on:
    • what qualifications should be on offer under the new curriculum
    • feedback on proposed new GCSEs in areas such as Engineering and Social Studies
    • how qualifications can be aligned to support the aims of the curriculum, as well as the needs of key sectors of the economy
  • Achieving the New Curriculum for Wales - a report from the OECD assessing progress made since 2016 with the new curriculum, and including recommendations for the Welsh education sector and government to:
    • develop resources for schools and local communities to work together in designing their curricula and ensure they reflect the aims of the framework
    • ensure teachers have the capacity to act as the main drive of curriculum realisation in schools by investing in their professional and skills development
    • guard against the rise of educational inequalities by guaranteeing equity in access to professional development and resources needed for curriculum design
  • the final report from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, Contributions and Cynefin in the New Curriculum Working Group - chaired by Professor Charlotte Williams OBE, the report includes recommendations on educational resources, workforce training and professional development, and school-level actions, such as:
    • for schools to monitor their curriculum development and ensure it aligns with aims to promote race equality
    • for each area of learning and experience to be matched with resources on minority ethnic contributions through an online guide
  • other recent relevant developments in the UK:
    • recent discussion surrounding sexual abuse and misconduct in schools
    • the focus on the role of school staff, education and institutional culture in responding to cases amongst students in English schools including the Everyone’s Invited initiative and the Ofsted review into sexual abuse in schools
    • proposals for a GCSE in Natural History - the proposal by OCR for the DfE to introduce a GCSE on Natural History and deepen students’ understanding of the natural world and sustainability issues
  • Explore the Digital Future - the recent Microsoft skills programme seeking to help boost 11-16 year old students’ digital skills and qualifications, support future employability, and help to meet the needs of the economy and employers

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of the Senedd Cymru and Welsh Parliament and senior officials from the Welsh Government, and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from awarding bodies, schools and teaching professionals, regional skills partnerships and employers, colleges, representatives of trade unions and local government, groups representing parents and students, specialist academics and charities, mental health professionals, environmental groups and campaign groups, together with reporters from the national and trade media based in Wales and elsewhere.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Romane Viennet

Education Policy Analyst, Policy Advice and Implementation, Directorate for Education and Skills, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Alan Edwards

HM Inspector, Estyn


Senior speaker confirmed from Teach the Future Wales

Finola Wilson

Director, Impact School Improvement

Soraya Cordle

Co-Founding Director, I’m Representing Inclusive Educational Curriculum Consultancy

Kojo Hazel

Head of Vocational Education, Treorchy Comprehensive School

Professor Eithne Hughes

Cymru Director, Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL)

Professor Louise Hayward

Professor of Educational Assessment and Innovation, University of Glasgow

Hayden Llewellyn

Chief Executive, Education Workforce Council

Gareth Evans

Director of Education Policy, Yr Athrofa: Institute of Education and Humanities, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Jackie Parker

Headteacher, Crickhowell High School

Jessica Dunrod

Co-Founding Director, I’m Representing Inclusive Educational Curriculum Consultancy (IECC)

Tracey Handley

Head of Wales, Parentkind

Ruth Thackray

Senior Lead - Curriculum for Wales, GwE

Sarah Stone

Executive Director for Wales, Samaritans