In March 2014, The Welsh Government appointed Professor Graham Donaldson to undertake a comprehensive, independent review of the curriculum and assessment arrangements in Wales. He published his findings, Successful Futures, in February 2015. It is a report which concludes that the current arrangements ‘no longer meet the needs of the children and young people in Wales’. Donaldson says ‘the case for fundamental change is powerful’. Set against a backdrop of continuing efforts to improve school standards and the relative underperformance of Wales’s pupils, the Welsh Government accepted all of Professor Donaldson’s recommendations. This marked the beginning of a new phase in Wales’s education reform journey.
This document invited the regional consortia to identify schools whom they consider best placed to become Pioneer Schools – charged with either:
- the design and development of the curriculum framework – including content of the new Areas of Learning and Experience, progression steps and achievement outcomes and associated assessment arrangements (Curriculum Pioneers)
- laying the foundations for change by ensuring all practitioners have access to effective professional learning – enabling them to continuously develop and enhance leadership and pedagogy in practice, and supporting them to realise the new curriculum (New Deal Pioneers)
The report sets out 4 purposes of the curriculum in Wales – that all our children and young people develop as:
- ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
- enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work Ø ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world
- healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society
The new, inclusive, broad, balanced and challenging curriculum will give schools more responsibility for determining what is taught. This responsibility will sit within a curriculum that comprises:
- common Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLEs) from ages 3 to 16
- progression reference points at ages 5, 8, 11, 14 and 16
- achievement outcomes which describe expected achievements at each progression reference point
- three cross-curriculum repsonsibilities – literacy, numeracy and digital competence (The DCF was formally launched Wednesday this week)
The new curriculum will set the parameters for each AoLE. These are:
- Expressive arts
- Health and well-being
- Languages, literacy and communication
- Mathematics and numeracy
- Science and technology.
Each AoLE should include a Welsh dimension as well as an international and UK perspective.
St. Joseph’s is a Pioneer School, along with the infant school and junior school. To date, Helen Lucitt (Deputy Headteacher) has been on the group looking at The Welsh Dimension, Global Perspective and Wider Skills. Their work will inform and guide the AoLEs (Welsh Dimension and Global Perspective) and produce a continuum of wider skills progression. The skills, considered to be essential for learning, for work and for life, include:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Planning and organising
- Creativity and innovation
- Personal effectiveness
- Digital literacy (addressed through the DCF)
This work is part of Strand 1 of the Pioneer Schools’ work. In Strand 2, it is hope that Dr. John Felton (Assistant Headteacher) with representatives from the infant and junior schools will work on developing the AoLE of Mathematics and Numeracy. This work should start later this term.
The new curriculum and assessment arrangements should be finalized by 2018 and ready for implementation in 2021.