Policy Forum for Wales

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Implementing the new school curriculum in Wales - qualifications, inspection, and support for teachers and learners

February 2021

Price: £95 PLUS VAT

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***
This conference will be a timely opportunity to examine key developments in education policy in Wales, including delivering the new school curriculum and changes to qualifications - alongside the impact of latest school closures due to COVID-19.

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from the Welsh Government; Senedd Cymru; OSSW; Estyn and the Intellectual Property Office.

The discussion at a glance:

  • implementation of the new school curriculum in Wales - examining key issues
  • the next phase for qualifications in Wales - with consultation expected to open soon on deciding what qualifications will be available
  • 14-16 qualifications - implications of curriculum reform and what should happen with GCSEs and the Skills Challenge Certificate
  • school preparations for delivering the new curriculum - and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the process
  • inspection - with Estyn now having partially suspended inspections and instead undertaking engagement visits, looking at:
    • how blended learning is working in schools
    • the impact that the pandemic has had on pupil wellbeing and learning

The agenda:

  • Delivering the new curriculum in Wales - progress so far
  • Developing a more inclusive curriculum for BAME communities
  • Supporting teachers in implementing the curriculum - content, utilising increased teaching freedom and resources, and the impact of COVID-19 on preparation
  • Supporting learner progression - assessment measures under the new curriculum
  • Qualified for the future
  • Designing and delivering 14-16 qualifications that meet the needs of students, colleges, universities and employers
  • Curriculum for Wales: engagement, inspection and evaluation

Areas for discussion:

  • support for teachers:
    • what is needed to prepare and support experienced and newly-qualified teachers, with increased freedom in the ways they are able to teach:
      • in light of the reopening of schools for all year groups
      • following concerns around clarifying what is expected of teachers and about supporting staff with the process of phased implementation
    • how can all teachers be best supported:
      • in the use of the resources and funding available to ensure effective implementation
      • on content, and the six proposed areas of learning and experience
  • assessment:
    • introduction of new arrangements alongside the curriculum, which aim to ensure effective learner progression, following:
      • publication of formal statutory guidance in January 2020
      • confirmation from the Welsh Government that annual national reading and numeracy tests for 7-14 year olds will remain in place
    • proposals to remove key stages and move toward a continued learning process with:
      • progression steps at certain ages
      • an emphasis on supporting each individual learner to make progress
    • prioritisation of formative assessment and a move away from the allocation of levels to greater flexibility for schools
    • what can be learnt from changes to assessment during the pandemic and how practice this year can support schools when assessing pupils under the new curriculum
  • qualifications and the needs of students, further education and employers:
    • examining the decisions Qualifications Wales have taken on the next steps for 14-16 qualifications in Wales following curriculum reform, including on:
      • funding and support for the new curriculum
      • availability in Welsh and English
      • changes to GCSE content, assessment and subject range
      • Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate reform
    • the future shape of qualifications:
      • how they can reflect the flexibility of the new curriculum
      • the balance between traditional subjects and the curriculum’s new six areas of learning
    • the new grading system and what it should look like - and how to design qualifications that:
      • earn confidence in Wales and internationally
      • support progression to further study and employment, particularly meeting the needs of businesses of different sizes

The context:

  • the Curriculum for Wales - published in its final form in January 2020, with initial introduction planned for 2022
  • Curriculum for Wales: the journey to 2022 - from the Welsh Government to help schools prepare for designing and implementing their curricula, including processes and expectations
  • implementation - with the recently published plan from the Welsh Government:
    • providing guidance and details on how parts of the system will contribute to curriculum realisation and support schools
    • setting out some of the expected challenges for implementation, and the planned engagement process for how to explore ways to overcome these challenges
  • the pandemic - the move to online learning for secondary schools and colleges prior to Christmas, and now all schools and colleges being closed until February half term, and the forthcoming remote learning and learning recovery plans
  • the Education Minister’s decision to cancel exams in summer 2021 - as well as accepting recently amended recommendations from the Design and Delivery Advisory Group, with schools and colleges set to award grades based on evidence such as classwork and mock exams, and WJEC quality-assuring the centres’ assessment plans, as well as deadlines around assessment removed due to the current disruption and the appeals process being clarified
  • Independent review of the Summer 2020 arrangements to award grades, and considerations for Summer 2021 - looking into lessons from last year for planning in 2021, with concerns around methods used to predict grades for students, communication and collaboration, appeals and coherence across Wales, and the extent to which results were fair for all students in 2020
  • Improving schools in Wales - the recent OECD report which has helped shape the Welsh Government’s curriculum guidance
  • update to Education in Wales: Our National Mission - including responses to the OECD report’s recommendations around implementation of the vision for the curriculum, enhancing skills for education professionals, promoting equity, and clarifying new roles for stakeholders
  • the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, Contributions and Cynefin in the New Curriculum Working Group - with their interim report recommending:
    • development of a guide on resources available from key national institutions, education groups and more widely
    • a detailed exploration of diversity in Wales as a resource
    • Estyn reviewing how well schools are delivering a broad and balanced curriculum
  • the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill - reaching Stage 2 following its introduction last July to underpin the new curriculum and assessment arrangements
  • qualifications following the introduction of the new curriculum - with guiding principles for the future published by Qualifications Wales following their Qualified for the future consultation, including:
    • to be eligible for public funding, qualifications should ideally support the new curriculum, be available in English and Welsh, and contribute to an inclusive offer
    • the GCSE name will be kept but changes may be made to content, assessment and subject range - taking into account issues such as confidence in the GCSEs, accessibility and curriculum
  • reform to the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will go ahead

Policy officials attending

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stake holders. Places have been reserved by officials representing the Welsh Government; Senedd Cymru; OSSW; Estyn and the Intellectual Property Office.
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, 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

This pack includes

  • Dropbox video recording of the conference
  • PDF transcript of the discussion, including all speaker remarks and Q&A
  • PDFs of speakers' slide material (subject to permission)
  • PDFs of the delegate pack, including speaker biographies and attendee list
  • PDFs of delegate articles