WISERD Co-Director, Professor Chris Taylor and Dr Nigel Newton presented at an education event sponsored by WISERD and the Learned Society of Wales this week, where a new report by the Institute of Welsh Affairs on implications of curriculum reform was launched.
Following a review undertaken by Professor Graham Donaldson in 2015, the Welsh Government is designing a new curriculum for 3-16 year olds: A curriculum for Wales – a curriculum for life. WISERD Education researchers have been at the forefront of examining what curriculum reform means in reality for schools and learners, through the Successful Futures for All project.
Successful Futures for All seeks to add value to work being carried out by the Welsh Government in evaluating progress of the Pioneer Schools in developing the new curriculum. Dr Nigel Newton shared an update on this project at the event, giving a valuable insight into teachers’ hopes and fears for the new curriculum.
Our research has found that teachers have a lot of hope for the new curriculum but there are a number of challenges to work through. These include a fear of not having enough support, concerns over how assessment is measured, potential loss of subject-specific knowledge and variability between schools.
The new report, Common Purposes: Implications of curriculum reform in Wales for Further Education, Higher Education, Skills and Business, engages with communities beyond the school gates, asking representatives from further education, higher education, and skills and business communities about their engagement with the new curriculum so far.
The report also presents findings from interviews with representatives from these same communities in Scotland, where a similar curriculum reform has already taken place. It is envisaged that taking on board the experiences and lessons learned from Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence will help Wales effectively implement its own new curriculum.
Common Purposes also identifies practical steps to ensure the implementation of curriculum reform in Wales is integrated with and supported by the Further Education, Higher Education, Skills and Business communities.
It is vital that institutions beyond schools are engaged with the development and roll-out of the new curriculum to ensure it is well integrated with other areas of policy and that it provides a seamless pathway for learners as they progress from compulsory education.
At the event, Professor Chris Taylor presented a session alongside Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education for the Welsh Government. In the report, Professor Taylor explains that the development of a new curriculum for Wales is “by far the greatest reform to the education system since devolution in 1999. It will also be the most challenging.”
WISERD previously undertook an independent evaluation of the Foundation Phase early years education policy for the Welsh Government. Professor Taylor highlights that recommendations from this review, along with those set out in the Successful Futures review by Professor Graham Donaldson and his team, will be of benefit to current reforms.
The event brought together representatives from Further Education, Higher Education, Skills and Business communities in Wales and Scotland, to share their experiences so far and to discuss possible areas for action to ensure the new curriculum is as effective as possible for young people, and for Wales.