CURRICULUM FOR WALES
To receive a report from the Head of Education Services on the progress made in relation to the implementation of the new Curriculum for Wales (Copy enclosed).
10.45am – 11.15am
The Lead Member for Education, Children and Families introduced the Curriculum for Wales update report (previously circulated) to Members.
The report provided an update on the progress made by schools since the Curriculum for Wales became statutory for all primary school learners and those secondary schools who opted in to start in Year 7, in September 2022. Additionally, the report offered information on how secondary schools and settings had been preparing to start teaching the Curriculum for Wales in Year 7 and 8 from September 2023 as per the national implementation rollout timescales.
The Principal Education Manager guided members through an overview of the report.
In September 2022, the new Curriculum for Wales became statutory for all leaners from Nursery to Year 6. Secondary schools were given the opportunity to start with Year 7 in September 2022. One secondary school in Denbighshire had opted in. All other secondary schools and settings would start with the Curriculum for Wales in Years 7 and 8 in September 2023.
The Curriculum for Wales was a national framework with the Four Purposes as the shared vision. The framework was based on the principles of progression for all learners and required schools to design their own local curricula based on their learners’ community.
There had been a significant amount of work undertaken by all primary schools in Denbighshire in preparation for the new curriculum. All primary schools had met the statutory requirements to enable them to deliver the new curriculum. This had been made possible by collaboration work across all schools within the region, sharing good practice and gauging a common understanding.
Collaboration work undertaken by secondary schools had also been a significant factor in supporting teachers to understand the demands of the new curriculum and the level of flexibility within it.
Curriculum for Wales focused on continuum learning for children from the age of 3 years old, allowing learners to become more involved with their education.
Many aspects of the curriculum were being reviewed such as teaching, learning and progression, and schools within the region had been very clear about where their successes had been to date.
9 Primary schools had been inspected throughout the school year and many were recognised for showing a strong vision for the curriculum and identifying where learners were thriving in that environment.
The Principal Education Manager stated that all schools within the region had worked significantly hard to embrace the new curriculum and continued to develop and refine their curriculum provision to meet the needs of all learners.
The Chair thanked the Education Manager and Lead Member for their report and questions were welcomed.
Members queried how schools were planning for the transfer of learners from Year 6 to Year 7 without any data being given.
The Principal Education Manager informed Members that Primary schools were using personalised reading and numeracy assessments to inform secondary schools of learners’ abilities. Primary schools had been working in their clusters looking at a wider more holistic range of information that could be given to secondary schools, such as attitudes towards learning and wellbeing to aid the transition from primary to secondary school.
Members confirmed their full support for the new curriculum however, they enquired if the pressures relating to the new curriculum’s implementation was influencing teachers to leave the profession.
GwE’s primary core lead for Denbighshire informed Members that there had been a significant amount of work within the Local Authority and within schools to help manage the change in preparation for the new curriculum. However, the changes may influence some teachers to change their career paths.
Members questioned if life skills were taught within the new curriculum. Officers advised that the aim of the curriculum was to teach the six areas of learning with a view to equipping all pupils with academic, social and life skills. The delivery methods for the curriculum had a strong emphasis on learning linguistic and numeracy skills through their use in everyday situations, learning in an informative, interesting, and practical way by applying the skills learned to everyday situations. GwE’s secondary core lead for Denbighshire emphasised that numeracy skills were very evident within the new curriculum. The new curriculum looked at working within authentic contexts, giving schools the flexibility to look at the life skills and learning experiences of learners within their community.
Members questioned how teachers gave their feedback on the new curriculum and how they felt about the pressures they may feel with the implementation. GwE’s secondary core lead informed Members that the team were in schools working alongside school leaders and staff in the classroom. Generic support for all schools was given however, bespoke support was given if a school had specific needs. The team were sensitive to the differing needs of individual schools. The school clusters were extremely proactive in sharing best practice and providing feedback to both county education staff and GwE with a view to supporting the delivery of the curriculum and maximising its benefits for learners and deliverers alike.
The Principal Education Manager added that there was a support plan for each school tailored to their needs. The new curriculum did not stand in isolation it was part of a far wider reform of the delivery of education in Wales, in September 2024 a new School Improvement Framework would be introduced.
The Scrutiny Coordinator asked Members if there were aspects of education that they felt needed to be brought to Performance Scrutiny Committee at a future date. Members expressed interest in receiving feedback from Head Teachers and teachers on their thoughts on implementing the new curriculum within their schools.
At the conclusion of an in-depth discussion the Committee:
Resolved: subject to the above comments and observations to –
(i) receive the information on the progress made to date in relation to the implementation of the Curriculum for Wales for all primary school learners in Denbighshire along with the secondary school who chose to introduce it to Year 7 learners during the 2022/23 academic year;
(ii) receive the information on how secondary schools have been preparing to start teaching the Curriculum in Years 7 and 8 from September 2023, in line with national implementation rollout timescales;
(iii) request that a further report detailing the progress made in embedding the Curriculum in primary schools and implementing it in Years 7 and 8 in secondary schools be presented to the Committee during the autumn of 2024; and
(iv) that the report requested in (iii) above include an evaluation of the implementation process across all key stages, the Curriculum’s impact on staff recruitment and retention, along with feedback from headteachers, teachers and school-based staff on their experiences of the implementation process and the advantages and/or disadvantages of the new Curriculum for learners.