Wales’s largest education union has called on the Welsh Government to ensure that arrangements are put in place for intensive training and development to support education professionals with curriculum design and pedagogy with enough well-resourced and funded professional learning time during the school day for all staff. The National Education Union also wants more clarity as to what each student will be expected to achieve at the end of each progression point in the new Curriculum.
David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union Cymru, said:
“The new Curriculum 2022 here in Wales will see a massive change, and it is heartening to see our members welcome the vision which Professor Donaldson outlined in ‘Successful Futures’. But they are right to highlight the impact on workload and the need for adequate funding and professional learning for education professionals.”
“The new Curriculum is a huge step change for education here in Wales, but more detail is clearly needed on the Progression Steps and assessment arrangements, to ensure they are not only able to be joined up across Wales, but also so that education professionals can start to plan for the proposed changes.”
The text of the motion to conference on this issue was as follows:
Motion 10. New Curriculum
Conference Cymru recognises the implications of adopting the new curriculum based on the recommendations of Professor Donaldson. There is an awareness of the possible workload implications whilst trying to implement this new curriculum. (e.g. Formative assessment, particularly useful for Additional Learning Needs (ALN) students is ‘admin’ heavy; so not only should the adult to pupil ratio be reduced to 1:6, there should be sufficient admin support so that educators are not distracted from engaging with pupils).
Conference Cymru broadly welcomes the new curriculum and the flexibility afforded teachers in delivering a new curriculum. Conference Cymru also notes that there is insufficient clarity as to what each student will be expected to achieve at the end of each progression point (P scale). Are colleagues going to be given enough time or extra training to plan, construct and implement the new curriculum?
Conference Cymru also notes that planning a completely new scheme of work/curriculum could negatively impact on staff workload possibly leading to increased stress levels and recruitment and retention issues.
Conference Cymru notes with concern that there is still a lack of clarity regarding the new curriculum. There is some indication that schools are rushing to implement structures and ways of teaching under a “Donaldson” umbrella that are neither necessary nor based on fact.
Conference Cymru is concerned that by grouping subjects into Areas of Learning and Experience (AOLE) individual subject expertise and teaching may be lost, to the detriment of pupils and subjects and to the detriment of highly qualified staff.
Conference Cymru believes that the Donaldson Report ‘Successful Futures’ on the Curriculum marked a welcome return to teaching and learning, based on local knowledge, original thought and pupil self-expression. Among its strengths are the increased trust in teachers, the ending of overprescribed factual knowledge and the end of judging schools on limited summative assessment of children.
However, we believe that it has been very badly prepared for thus far:
1. There has been limited involvement of those whose job it is to support teacher development. Consortia and Higher Education Institutions have delegated their responsibility for strategic development to seconded class teachers.
2. Development has been largely restricted to pilot schools, which do not reflect the diversity of school types and teacher expertise therein.
3. Pilot schools have been given limited areas to research, with far too much emphasis on information technology and vanishingly little on teaching and learning – which should have been the main point.
4. Curriculum and assessment planning has been put in the hands of teachers, with limited non-contact time and resources, and insufficient support from professional educationalists. This conflicts with the original strength of curriculum development, assisted and enhanced by such bodies as the Nuffield Foundation and the Assessment of Performance Unit.
We note that the draft curriculum was published in April 2019 for comments by July 2019. However, this was during a very busy period for schools. We believe that the schedule for the responses to the consultation on the draft was too short and the timescale for implementation is unrealistic.
Conference Cymru instructs the Executive, through the Wales Committee to:
i. Seek clarification from the Welsh Government as to what the outcomes should be for students at the end of each ‘P’ scale.
ii. Request that a workload impact assessment be conducted to determine the effect of implementing the new curriculum.
iii. Negotiate and campaign to ensure that, whilst curriculum design may be down to individual schools, there should be parity for pupils across Wales to ensure that a child who moves from one part of Wales to another is not disadvantaged in any way by local curricula.
iv. Continue to campaign for ongoing increased funding to support the new curriculum – a one off sum of money is not going to go far. There needs to be a commitment to continued funded curriculum development over the whole period of implementation and beyond.
v. Gather information about the impact of school reorganisation on staffing under the “Donaldson” approach, sharing information with local officers as well as using it as the basis for negotiations with Welsh Government.
vi. Lobby the Welsh Government to ensure that arrangements are put in place for intensive training on curriculum design and development, with sufficient well-resourced and funded professional learning time during the school day for all staff.
vii. Put pressure on the Welsh Government to ensure that the new curriculum in Wales reflects the spirit and vision of ‘Successful Futures’.
viii. Provide resources and professional learning opportunities to support education professionals in Wales with curriculum design and pedagogy.
i.) Add a new sentence at the end of viii:
“Ensure that individual schools have ringfenced funding in order to provide the necessary resources and professional learning opportunities within the 1265 directed time duties hours to prepare for the implementation of the new curriculum.”