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Curriculum for Wales: Implementation plan

The publication of Curriculum for Wales: The journey to 2022 in October 2020 set out the expectations for schools and settings to design their curriculum. Curriculum realisation is something that will affect schools, funded non-maintained nursery settings, pupil referral units (PRUs) and those responsible for the provision of education other than at school (EOTAS) in other settings. For all of these institutions, it will be a major challenge. We, as the Welsh Government, and our partners in the wider education system need to support these institutions and their practitioners to prepare for the realisation of Curriculum for Wales.

The purpose of this implementation plan is to:

  • set out a common, strategic vision for what curriculum realisation means in practice, as recommended by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • set out a guiding framework and ways of working that allow all parts of the education system to move towards the same goals
  • clarify the roles and responsibilities for us and our partners in terms of supporting schools and settings towards curriculum realisation
  • set out the specific steps we and our middle tier partners will take to support schools and settings as we move towards implementation of Curriculum for Wales
  • set out the challenges facing the education system in Wales in implementation, and signpost how we plan to address these in the spirit of collaboration and
    co-construction with our partners and with practitioners across Wales.

This implementation plan sets out, for the education system and the wider public, our preparations for rolling out Curriculum for Wales, building on the expectations published in Curriculum for Wales: The journey to 2022 and setting out our priority actions to support schools and settings.

In the context of COVID-19

It is crucial that we acknowledge the context in which schools and settings are operating. We recognise that in the last year, schools, settings and all education practitioners have faced one of the greatest challenges of their professional lives in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is clear that this challenge will continue, and schools and settings will face the challenge of recovery as they make decisions on prioritising learning to ensure learners are able to progress. COVID-19 has demonstrated why, more than ever, we need a new curriculum: empowering practitioners to prioritise progression in learning and giving them space to use their judgement to meet the needs of their specific learners, placing greater emphasis on well-being and digital learning.

Curriculum reform remains ambitious but achievable. We will ensure the expectations for schools and settings regarding curriculum reform set out in Curriculum for Wales: The journey to 2022 are realistic in light of the pandemic, and that they provide flexibility in their specific contexts. We recognise that schools and settings will be in different places, and the pace and focus of activity will vary.

Given this highly challenging context, we want to ensure that schools and settings are supported right the way through the implementation process, and have a clear and shared understanding of how the system will support them.

This implementation plan has been developed to set out the support we and our enabling partners will provide in this. Underpinning this is the need to sustain and expand co-construction: through the National Network – an open platform where teaching professionals, experts, stakeholders, policy makers and enabling partners will be brought together to identify and address the barriers to, and opportunities for, curriculum implementation – we will bring practitioners into the heart of policy to ensure they have a stake in decisions made nationally about Curriculum for Wales and its implementation.

This implementation plan begins to set out some of the key priorities to support schools and settings in the course of designing and implementing their curricula, and in the funded non-maintained sector, where we will be publishing a dedicated curriculum and assessment framework for funded non-maintained settings. These priorities will form the focus of our support and of the National Network.

The policy vision: what’s our overall aim and why it is so important

Improving education is our national mission. Nothing is so essential in education as universal access to, and acquisition of, the experiences, knowledge and skills that our children and young people need for employment, lifelong learning and active citizenship.

The Curriculum for Wales Framework is at the heart of our efforts to raise standards for all, tackle the attainment gap, and ensure an education system that is a source of national pride and enjoys public confidence. At the centre of this is our learners – wherever they receive their education – their mental health and well-being and their progression. Similarly crucial are our practitioners who enable learning and progression, and wider stakeholders including families and communities, to whom we look to support our schools and settings in developing their curricula under the Curriculum for Wales Framework.

The Curriculum for Wales Framework is a clear statement of what is important in delivering a broad and balanced education. The four purposes of the curriculum are the shared vision and aspiration for every child and young person. The aim of all of our reforms and of our education system is to enable all children and young people in Wales to become:

  • ambitious, capable learners
  • enterprising, creative contributors
  • ethical, informed citizens
  • healthy, confident individuals.

Centring education on these aims is critical to realising our goals as a nation as set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. It is also an important vehicle for embedding the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), respecting and upholding the rights of our children and empowering them.

What curriculum means

In our reforms, a curriculum is everything a learner experiences in pursuit of the four purposes. It is not simply what we teach, but how we teach and, crucially, why we teach it. An integral part of curriculum is how we assess learning, as it ensures that what is taught, and how it is taught, supports learners to make progress and ensures they are challenged and supported in this.

The approach set out in the Curriculum for Wales Framework depends on schools and teachers being empowered to take ownership of curriculum development, within the requirements of a national framework. In order to achieve this, we want to see a system where leaders and professionals have the support and space to design and implement their curricula. This space is essential to giving professionals the time to think about the learning that really matters and why, and to empower them to innovate using their professional skills and judgement.

Curriculum reform is an ongoing process – and striving for learners to realise the four purposes is a process that will go beyond the initial rollout of Curriculum for Wales. The education system will continue to support practitioners beyond initial implementation to ensure their curricula are enabling learners to realise the four purposes. As part of this, schools and settings will need to keep their curricula under review so that they can respond to the outcomes of professional inquiry, the changing needs of learners, and social contexts and needs.

The reform journey: where we are and what next

In January 2020, we published the Curriculum for Wales guidance. This provides the starting point for schools and settings to begin designing their own curricula, with the four purposes at the heart.

In October 2020, we published an update to Our national mission. This provided an update on progress across all areas of education reform, the steps we have taken in response to COVID-19, and the high-level commitments on how the education system in Wales will continue to move towards the effective implementation of the curriculum.

For our reforms to succeed, it is critical that they are joined up. Our national mission sets out how our enabling objectives are all critical to realising Curriculum for Wales, the centrepiece of our reforms. Our approach to implementation of Curriculum for Wales must go hand in hand with progress towards these connected objectives, and they must progress at matched pace. We will also consider how our learning through the National Network and understanding of our progress should inform and help shape our approaches in each of these enabling objectives, and how learning in each of these connected areas should inform our understanding of implementation of Curriculum for Wales.

Alongside the Our national mission update, we published Curriculum for Wales: The journey to 2022. This sets out consistent expectations for schools and settings for the process of designing their curricula and preparing to implement it from 2022 onwards, and details the steps they should take in the run-up to rollout.

This implementation plan bridges Curriculum for Wales: The journey to 2022 and Our national mission, setting out how the wider education sector will support schools and settings to achieve expectations in accordance with Our national mission commitments. This implementation plan also helps to ensure that all parts of the education system in Wales have a common direction – supporting schools and settings towards the four purposes of the curriculum, and delivering that change for learners, practitioners, and the wider public. It sets out a plan of action for us as the Welsh Government and our middle tier partners to achieve that.

In addition, this implementation plan explains how our education reforms connect and contribute to our goals as a nation, set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. It also embodies how we seek to embed the five ways of working set out in the Act:

  • long term: setting out our long-term aspirations and the changes we want to make for generations to come.
  • integration: putting the well-being goals at the heart of our desired impacts and understanding how education contributes to all of these; bringing together different organisations to understand how each supports these.
  • involvement: ensuring co-construction is at the heart of this plan and will be the cornerstone of our future approaches.
  • collaboration: setting out the unique role each organisation has in supporting schools and settings to realise reform and the steps each will take.
  • prevention: through the National Network, our approach will put processes in place to understand and pre-empt future challenges.

To realise curriculum reform, we need clear shared aspirations, and a clear understanding of how each part of the system will work individually and together to support schools and settings.

Shared aspirations for Wales’ education system

Curriculum for Wales: The journey to 2022 sets out consistent expectations for schools and settings for the process of designing and implementing their curricula. In this section, we are setting out shared aspirations – which describe what we want the education system to look like in the long-term, as a result of schools and settings designing and implementing their curricula. These derive from our policy vision, and provide a focal point for the work of the whole education system.

Shared aspirations for the education system

1. Learners will realise the four purposes of the curriculum

This is the goal for every child and young person in Wales, and is our most important objective for curriculum reform. Everything done in the system, by all partners, should drive towards these purposes. The needs and well-being of learners are a critical part of this aspiration. Keeping these concerns central to our work helps ensure not only that learners are in the best position to realise the four purposes of the curriculum, but also that they feel supported to achieve their own ambitions throughout their lives.

2. All schools will be the designers of their own successful curriculum

These should be developed in line with the Curriculum for Wales guidance, informed by their learners, communities and local contexts. A curriculum should be clear about why specific learning matters and how it will contribute to learners’ progress, with design of assessment arrangements an intrinsic part of the process of developing a curriculum. Practitioners will continually review and shape their curriculum, consistently asking ‘why’ and ‘what next’ with assessment a fundamental part of informing these discussions.

3. Every curriculum will enable all learners to progress, facilitated by appropriate arrangements for assessment

All learners should be supported to make progress throughout their education. This progression should be meaningful and appropriate, based on the approach in the Curriculum for Wales guidance. Schools and settings should collaborate to develop a shared understanding of progression, developing shared expectations of what progression looks like and the pace of progression across the continuum of learning. Assessment should be integral to the learning process and embedded in day-to-day practice. Information gathered through individual learner assessment will be for use within schools and settings only, promoting learners’ progression and supporting school curricula review for evaluation and improvement purposes, not to hold individual schools, settings or practitioners to account.

4. High-quality learning and teaching underpin every curriculum

Practitioners should have the space to develop and use their teaching, agency and creativity to help realise their ambitions through the curriculum. Practitioners should provide learners with a wide range of learning experiences. These should be supported by effective and varied use of pedagogy and may be refined to reflect inquiry-based approaches. These holistic experiences should relate to the purpose of learning and support learners’ progression. Such approaches will be facilitated and reinforced by increasing practitioner ownership of what and how they teach. Central to achieving this aspiration is improving practitioner well-being and empowerment in their roles, as well as the well-being of their learners.

5. Every curriculum will raise the expectations for learners and support equity and inclusivity for all

All learners in Wales should be challenged, supported and given opportunities to realise their full potential. Learning experiences should be inclusive and accessible. Curriculum design and school support should actively seek to address gaps in attainment. Schools and settings should have high expectations for all learners – challenging and supporting them to make appropriate progress, throughout the 3–16 continuum, and as they transition into post-16 provision.

6. At every level, there will be a shared understanding and realisation of curriculum across Wales

A curriculum should be supported by the whole education system as well as wider partners and stakeholders. Different sectors should be more connected to the process of curriculum development at a national, regional and local level while we must enable the public to clearly understand and support reform and its purpose. Schools and settings should co-construct their curriculum, working with learners, families and the wider community. Enabling partners, including Estyn, regional consortia and local authorities, will each provide distinct support for schools and settings to develop their own curriculum. They should actively remove obstacles to realising these objectives. Schools and settings should be supported to connect with national strategies and priorities so that curricula reflect changing priorities and social challenges.

Shared ways of working

We recognise that ‘how’ the wider education system supports schools and settings in curriculum realisation is as important as ‘what’ we do. We and our partners will hold ourselves to the same ways of working we have set out for schools and settings – in particular recognising the critical importance of co-construction.

  • Development through co-construction – Co-construction means sharing problems and jointly developing solutions. If we want real, sustainable change at the school and setting level, then schools and settings and their practitioners need to own this process of change. Only by creating opportunity for practitioners to own the reform process in their schools and settings, for them to feel valued and empowered by that process, and to feel motivated to contribute to its continuing development, can we ensure the long-term success of the reforms. Co-construction requires people to work across traditional boundaries: between tiers of education as well as between disciplines, schools, settings and phases, and with stakeholders beyond the education system. This allows solutions to be tested from different perspectives, drawing on different experiences and expertise.
  • Equity in co-construction – Co-construction should bring equity between different voices in a team or in the system rather than one voice giving direction. It should recognise that every voice within the process brings a valid contribution. It should be separate from management and responsibility hierarchies, allowing everyone to challenge and be challenged.
  • Space and time to think and engage – Co-constructing solutions takes longer. High-quality thinking, solutions and relationships need to be developed over a prolonged period of engagement building understanding, professional dialogue, trust and respect over time. This also recognises that curriculum design is a continuous process of refinement focusing on long-term behaviours and approaches, not rushing to deliver a product. Co-construction requires testing, experimenting and review, allowing mistakes in a safe environment. Support for schools and settings needs to be efficient: not overloading them with detail.
  • Clear understanding of ‘why’ things are learned and done – Consistently asking ‘why’ we are teaching something supports the system to make better decisions about what should be taught. Curriculum design requires us to reason why specific learning matters and what the essence of that learning is. This focuses learning on the four purposes of the curriculum and gives it rigour, rather than presenting uncoordinated activities or facts. Assessment, and how it underpins progression, is an intrinsic part of this process. The system should challenge why certain activities are carried out or required: if they do not contribute to learners realising our vision and aspirations, then are they necessary?
  • Critical engagement with expertise – Curriculum design is supported by intellectual engagement with a range of quality research, expert input and international expertise. Positive expert input should understand and share the vision for curriculum and recognise the importance of co-construction, rather than promoting a specific agenda.
  • Leadership at all levels of the education system – All parts of the system must provide leadership to enable the others to meet our vision and aspirations. School leadership should model and enable the other ways of working noted here. It should provide clear direction, challenge and high expectations, while allowing agency. This leadership also involves a culture of trust and empowerment: in the school context, practitioners should avoid developing additional material or data in order to evidence what they are doing.
  • Operating as learning organisations – Schools, settings and other organisations will need to exemplify the qualities of effective learning organisations, learning from the best in the world to continue to support schools and settings on our national reform journey.

Roles and responsibilities

As we move into the implementation phase, it is crucial that we and our strategic partners are clear with schools and settings on how we and our key middle tier partners will support schools and settings. A clear understanding of the unique contributions of each organisation will allow us to avoid overlap or duplication of effort – and most importantly not overwhelm schools and settings.

The table below sets out these roles and responsibilities, to provide a clearer understanding of what kinds of support schools and settings should expect from us, Estyn, and regional consortia as they move towards curriculum realisation.

Organisation

Roles and responsibilities

 

Welsh Government

Provide clear national expectations by ensuring a shared understanding of what ‘good’ looks like for reform across all areas, clarifying the roles of different parts of the system in supporting reform, and effectively coordinating national guidance to ensure messages are clear and simple for schools and settings.

Establish, facilitate and empower the National Network by connecting practitioners, stakeholders and experts to identify and address barriers to implementation, and opportunities, through co-construction.

Enable implementation by ensuring all our work aligns with and supports wider reform goals, facilitating the creation of any required additional guidance, considering recommendations from the National Network and providing support to take them forward, and supporting the commissioning of resources and materials to support practitioners in developing and implementing their curricula.

Oversee system-wide feedback and learning by establishing clear processes for monitoring progress towards objectives and outcomes, reporting to the Minister for Education on progress towards reform.

Estyn

Provide public accountability to service users on the quality and standards of education and training in Wales, which includes system-wide evaluation of the quality of curriculum implementation and teaching.

Engage with providers, including schools and other middle tier organisations, to publish reports, including inspection reports, national thematic surveys and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector’s (HMCI) Annual Report, that will support the development of national policy by the Welsh Government and provide system-wide evaluation.

Build capacity for improvement across the Welsh education and training system by contributing to national networks and sharing effective practice through inspection and thematic work.

Regional consortia

Provide a professional learning programme for practitioners across all leadership milestones and the wider workforce, to support the realisation of Curriculum for Wales.

Offer bespoke support for schools and settings in developing an inclusive curriculum for all learners and on the basis of identified needs in line with the vision of the four purposes of the curriculum.

Actively engage with all schools and settings to support the development and preparations for Curriculum for Wales through regular communication as further guidance becomes available.

Facilitate opportunities for schools, settings, clusters, networks and alliances to reflect on their current curriculum provision and support strategic planning for 2022 and beyond in line with system expectations.

Share emerging practice in school improvement planning to enable successful implementation and realisation of Curriculum for Wales in schools and settings.

Encourage schools and settings to share innovative and effective practice with others, creating learning communities which reflect a sense of cynefin.

Work in close partnership with local authorities to support school improvement through a holistic and integrated approach to the wider reform.

Enable networking opportunities for practitioners that provide a range of opportunities to develop a shared understanding of progression at individual school and funded settings, and at cluster level across the 3–16 continuum.

Support all schools and settings to develop as learning organisations, to be adaptive; leading and planning for change while responding to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Build capacity for professional enquiry so schools and settings can be research informed in their approach to curriculum; support practitioners to actively engage in the Qualified for the Future review and provide support in planning for implementation of future qualifications.

Collaborate with the Welsh Government and partners to develop a wider network of support for schools and settings for the development of aspects within curriculum, e.g. links to third sector organisations and businesses.

Further develop positive relationships with schools and settings to inspire them to develop their autonomy as they design an authentic, meaningful curriculum to engage and excite all learners.

Promote collaboration so that schools and settings are able to work together with increased ownership and with high trust, using effective balance of coaching and mentoring.

Contribute to equality of opportunity for all schools and settings to access professional learning across the region.

In addition to these organisations, other partners in the education system will continue to play a key part in supporting schools and settings throughout the implementation of Curriculum for Wales as noted below.

  • Local authorities, responsible for the delivery of early education in funded non-maintained settings and for the curriculum for learners receiving EOTAS in settings other than PRUs, will continue to support settings that deliver education throughout implementation of Curriculum for Wales.

  • Qualifications Wales will develop new qualifications for 14 to 16 year olds, with the first awards in 2027. In support of this, a number of consultation exercises are underway or will begin in the coming months. These qualifications will help practitioners, settings and schools plan for future assessment arrangements.

  • Dioceses, responsible for voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools will continue to support and advise schools as they realise the implementation of Curriculum for Wales. The dioceses will offer support specifically in the context of schools of a religious character as well as more generally in collaboration with regional consortia and local authorities.

Appendix A sets out the detailed steps we, Estyn, and regional consortia will take to support schools and settings on the journey to 2022.

The key challenges to curriculum reform and how we will address them

While supporting learners and practitioners through Curriculum for Wales is our end point, we know that there will be many challenges in making it a reality. International experience shows us that the greatest challenge of curriculum reform is in its implementation. This experience also shows us what we need to do to make these reforms a success. In particular, it is vital that:

  • at all schools, settings, and other parts of the education system there is a shared understanding of what we want to achieve and what ‘good’ looks like
  • we sustain and expand co-construction at a national level, so practitioners are equal partners in decision-making at the highest level
  • schools and settings have enough space to think and make changes
  • government and enabling partners have a clear and shared understanding of the challenges schools and settings face
  • guidance and support developed by government and enabling partners is efficient and empowers schools and settings to overcome specific challenges.

Schools and settings will face a number of substantive challenges in preparing for and implementing their curricula. It is critical that we identify these challenges and work closely with the profession and support partners to help overcome them through co-construction. We have begun to identify some of these issues, which we have categorised into the following broad themes:

  • Design principles for curriculum, including progression and assessment
  • Co-construction and building understanding
  • Maintaining the voice of the profession in national policy
  • Detailed curriculum structure and content
  • Support needed for schools and settings
  • Ensuring equity in curricula
  • Understanding national progress towards implementation.

Within these areas are questions and challenges that will guide the initial focus of the National Network. Some important examples include (but are not limited to):

  • learning and applying lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic in curriculum implementation
  • understanding the role of assessment as part of curriculum, and its relationship with progression
  • the process of curriculum design
  • how resources can be used to best support realisation of Curriculum for Wales
  • developing a curriculum accessible to all
  • understanding how Curriculum for Wales reflects the Welsh language continuum and how to implement this
  • understanding the impact of curriculum reform on learner and teacher well-being.

A more detailed breakdown of the key implementation challenges, which will guide the initial focus of the National Network, is included in Appendix B.

There will be further challenges – and opportunities – that we will encounter as we move towards implementation. The National Network, driven by the input of practitioners and our wider stakeholders, will be key to identifying these challenges and opportunities, and, through co-construction, will help to identify solutions.

A National Network for implementation

The role of the National Network is to bring together teaching professionals, experts, stakeholders, policy makers and enabling partners to identify and address the barriers to, and opportunities for, curriculum implementation. It will be an open platform, with opportunity available for all interested practitioners in Wales to be involved in. The National Network will:

  • gather and share understanding – bringing together different views, perspectives and expertise nationally to understand how we are progressing, what the challenges are, and how people are responding to these
  • co-construct approaches – together, we will work out what teaching professionals, stakeholders, enabling partners and government can do to overcome these challenges
  • connect people – allow people to network and develop relationships, between teaching professionals, education experts and stakeholders who can help schools and settings directly
  • drive change – conversations will help support and drive implementation at all levels.

For each of the challenges we face, the National Network will hold one or more national ‘conversation(s)’, in which any practitioner can participate. These conversations will be planned, led and facilitated by practitioners. We will use a mix of in-person (as appropriate over time) and virtual meetings to allow everyone who wants to contribute to be a part of this. They will give teaching professionals an opportunity to be part of a national approach to these challenges, and give them time and space to think and engage. These conversations will aim to develop, for example:

  • approaches and ideas that practitioners can take back to their schools, settings and communities
  • recommendations for the commissioning and development of specific resources to support schools and settings with their curricula
  • recommendations to shape professional learning
  • analysis of the views, challenges and feedback raised in the conversation(s) to inform government policy and enabling partners’ approaches.

Throughout, we will support practitioners involved in conversations to take their learning back to their schools, settings and clusters to explore issues in greater depth and support change locally. Practitioners involved in these conversations will also have the opportunity to be involved in follow-up work as appropriate.

We will begin this engagement through a series of conversations with practitioners about reform and recovery in spring 2021. We will look to step up this engagement from summer 2021 onwards. The timeline at Appendix C provides an indication of how we want engagement to develop through the National Network over time.

Further support

The National Network will be in addition to the support that we and our enabling partners committed to providing in Our national mission. In particular, that includes specific actions, set out in that document, to support curriculum realisation through the four enabling objectives:

  • Professional learning
  • Leadership
  • Equity, excellence and well-being
  • Evaluation, improvement and accountability.

The National Network will both complement and inform this support by supporting practitioners to:

  • use their experiences to tackle implementation issues as part of a national conversation
  • help shape the nature of future support by informing professional learning priorities.

What impact do we want our reforms to make?

The ultimate aim of our reforms and the shared aspiration of our education system is to enable all children and young people in Wales to become:

  • ambitious, capable learners
  • enterprising, creative contributors
  • ethical, informed citizens
  • healthy, confident individuals.

Children and young people across Wales realising the four purposes of the curriculum will, in the long term, have deep and far-reaching impacts on Welsh society. It is critical that we try to understand what these impacts will look like, so we know what we want to achieve as a nation and can see how we are making progress towards these.

These impacts contribute directly to our goals as a nation, securing the well-being of future generations. Education transformation is a key part of contributing to the achievement of the seven well-being goals set out in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

Well-being goal

Long-term outcomes of Curriculum for Wales

A prosperous Wales

More employable school and college-leavers with access to decent work.

More engaged, capable citizens.

A resilient Wales

More sustainable behaviours, ethical responsibilities, and a better environment.

A more equal Wales

Reduced poverty and increased social mobility.

Closing the attainment gap.

A healthier Wales

Healthier citizens conscious of their own physical and mental well-being.

A Wales of cohesive communities

Stronger, more cohesive communities, with deeper links between schools and local communities.

A Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language

Citizens with greater appreciation for their own and other cultures.

Greater use of Welsh language

A globally responsible Wales

More self-aware citizens that make better decisions and demonstrate sustainable behaviours

These impacts describe the anticipated benefits to wider society as learners embody the four purposes of the curriculum more and more.

Across all of these outcomes is our long-term objective of raising educational standards for all across Wales.

How will we know if the reforms are working?

As Curriculum for Wales is rolled out, we need to understand what progress we are making as an education system and as a nation. This is vital for building confidence in the reforms and maintaining our focus on making them a reality.

The long-term evaluation and monitoring programme will be organised around two fundamental questions about processes and impacts:

  1. To what extent is the system realising the reforms, the shared aspirations and the ways of working?
  2. How are the reforms affecting society, and contributing to the well-being of future generations?

This evaluation, research and evidence will be vital to identify required support, improve implementation and maintain momentum.

This long-term curriculum evaluation and monitoring programme will take a whole-system approach to understanding progress and impact. It will not focus on holding individual schools and settings to account. Rather, it will draw together evidence and perspectives from across education, considering impacts on learners, schools and settings as well as wider systemic trends to demonstrate, and inform, progress towards the broad goals of the reforms.

How will we gather understanding about our progress?

The evaluation approach will be guided by the following principles:

  • holistic – combining multiple types and sources of evidence from across the education landscape and from multiple perspectives to provide a balanced and inclusive picture

  • reflective – spotting emerging trends, strengths and challenges and sharing timely information to ensure we are working together effectively

  • long-term – connecting evidence on early successes and challenges to the realisation of long-term goals.

We will act as a focal point for commissioning and collating the research and evidence needed for the long-term evaluation programme. The programme will draw on existing, planned and new monitoring of policies and activities in the sector.

As the inspectorate, the work carried out nationally by Estyn will form a critical part of understanding the system’s progress. For example, system-wide evaluation of the quality of curriculum implementation and teaching, inspection reports, national thematic surveys and HMCI’s Annual Report will all provide important information on progress. This information, as well as evidence from the work of other strategic partners, will contribute to our broader assessment of our progress as a nation towards reform.

The long-term evaluation and monitoring programme will also need to consider new information about the reforms. This combination of new and existing information will ensure that the programme is informed by a range of sources, including evidence and perspectives on, for example:

  • curriculum design and delivery
  • school improvement
  • professional learning opportunities and uptake
  • assessment and its impact on teaching and learner progression
  • the impacts on learners, schools, settings and communities
  • attendance, absences, subject enrolment and other administrative data
  • health and well-being indicators for learners and the education workforce
  • Welsh language teaching availability, uptake and competencies
  • the impact on education provision in non-maintained nursery settings.

Further details of the specific information the evaluation programme will draw on will be set out in the Evaluation Strategy in 2021/22.

That evidence will be discussed and explained in the context of the perceptions and experiences of a wide range of stakeholders. These perceptions will be drawn from the National Network and other research activities to understand the views of, for example:

  • learners
  • parents and carers
  • practitioners, schools and settings
  • local communities
  • employers
  • further and higher education sectors
  • our delivery partners
  • the general public.

Lastly, in order to show just how impactful the curriculum reforms have been, the evaluation evidence will paint a long-term picture and present the findings alongside other factors that have affected progress towards our wider goals as a nation as described in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

Timeline

The evaluation programme will be phased over short-, medium- and long-term timeframes with regular reporting milestones to ensure we have timely and relevant information. It will complement the phased implementation of Curriculum for Wales, providing practitioners and the public with a clear picture of progress.

2021–22: Readiness and scoping

As part of implementation preparations, we will be engaging with a wide range of schools, settings and practitioners to understand the different levels of readiness in the sector. This will involve conversations with practitioners, surveys, interviews and evidence gathering through our delivery partners. This will enable us to update our cost estimates, develop and target vital guidance, and promote wide engagement with the reforms as schools and settings build on learning from the COVID-19 pandemic and move closer to reform.

A detailed plan of exactly how we will monitor and evaluate progress over the medium term will be published in 2021/22. This will include a review of evidence gathered to date (e.g. on readiness and curriculum design work) and a research plan to address the main questions of the evaluation. This structured approach will ensure that we can draw on a wide range of evidence sources to produce robust and insightful evaluations of all aspects of the reform.

2022–26: short- to medium-term

Once the evaluation strategy is finalised, we will undertake new research activities and will coordinate the analysis and synthesis of a range of evidence sources.

‘State of the nation’ publications will showcase the achievements to date, reporting on overall progress towards the shared aspirations. They will also address the shared ways of working, highlighting challenges and opportunities for the education system as a whole and providing case studies and insights into successful implementation at all levels of the system.

In 2025/26, the first cohort of learners will be completing Year 9. This will be a good moment to take stock and reflect on the early years of implementation. We will begin to consider the extent to which we are seeing the embodying of the four purposes of the curriculum and the intended wider societal impacts.

In 2026, five years on from Royal Assent of the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill, we will produce a review of the anticipated costs and benefits set out in the Explanatory Memorandum.

 2026 onwards: medium- to long-term

By this time, we will be able to share lessons learnt from the early phases of implementation and show how they have been taken on board. We should also be able to see emerging impacts at the national level and can begin reporting against the high-level indicators associated with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

As secondary schools roll out their new curricula, we may need to revisit aspects of this implementation plan and ensure the evaluation programme strategy is still gathering the necessary information and views.

In 2027/28 the first cohort of learners will have finished Year 11. This will be an opportunity to review their experiences of Curriculum for Wales and assessments in primary and secondary, and the continuity along the learning continuum.

This appendix sets out the detailed steps we (as the Welsh Government), Estyn, and regional consortia will take to support schools and settings in the different phases set out in Curriculum for Wales: The journey to 2022. These are set out in accordance with the roles and responsibilities and the shared ways of workings in this implementation plan.

Engagement (1–2 terms)

Welsh Government

  • Begin engagement with schools and settings on curriculum reform through a series of conversations with practitioners about reform and recovery in spring 2021.
  • Establish the structure of the National Network to help guide the thinking and focus.
  • Facilitate creation of any required guidance or clarification concerning national implementation issues and opportunities.
  • Ensure clear co-ordination of guidance to give clear, simple messages to schools and settings.
  • Engaging on readiness of the sector for reform, as part of the evaluation scoping work.

Estyn

  • Move the focus of engagement calls and visits towards curriculum and teaching.
  • Maintain the focus on developing effective teaching to support the development of curriculum.
  • Explore providers' plans for developing their curriculum in the long term with a view towards ‘thinking’ about the move to Curriculum for Wales.
  • Explore the opportunities providers have had to develop staff understanding of Curriculum for Wales and discuss Curriculum for Wales: The journey to 2022 and what this means for the school or setting in its own context.
  • Produce summary reports on findings from engagement phone calls and visits to summarise progress and share interesting practice.
  • Publish blogs, cameos and webinars based on the secondary curriculum thematic report to encourage engagement around curriculum.
  • Provide update training for all Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMIs), registered inspectors and additional inspectors on inspection arrangements from September 2021 and shared expectations through to 2022.
  • Through termly updates to the Minister for Education and the publication of thematic reports and Her Majesty's Chief Inspector's (HMCI) Annual Report continue to provide advice to the Welsh Government to inform policy.

 Regional consortia

  • Offer professional learning and facilitate networks that provide support to schools and settings to:
    • fully understand the Curriculum for Wales Framework
    • make provision for the realisation of Curriculum for Wales in school development plans
    • lead the development of pedagogy effectively
    • lead effectively in a culture of change
    • create a shared vision for the curriculum within their school/setting/cluster.

Design, planning and trialling (3 terms)

Welsh Government

  • Step up National Network engagement:
    • establish a core group of practitioners and enable it to begin its work planning the activity of the wider National Network
    • facilitate more and wider network conversations on the issues set out in Appendix B, as well as wider issues raised by the core group
    • support the commissioning of materials to support practitioners in developing and implementing their curriculum, making the most of opportunities – driven by ‘conversations’ in the National Network
    • take forward key issues and challenges raised by the National Network.
  • Continue work with our strategic partners to deliver against the four enabling objectives of Our national mission:
    • Professional learning
    • Leadership
    • Equity, excellence and well-being
    • Evaluation, improvement and accountability.
  • Consult on and publish additional guidance to be incorporated into the Curriculum for Wales guidance.
  • Begin publication of bilingual resources to support curriculum design in schools and settings.

Estyn

  • Restart the inspections of maintained schools and pupil referral units (PRUs) in September 2021 and ensure all inspectors understand the different phases towards Curriculum for Wales implementation from September 2022.
  • Visit providers as part of the continuation of the engagement visit strategy and thematic survey work to discuss how they are working towards actions in their development plans around trialling aspects of design, new approaches and pedagogy, and how they are using this learning to evaluate and refine their approaches.
  • Through termly updates to the Minister for Education and the publication of thematic reports and HMCI’s Annual Report, continue to provide advice to the Welsh Government to inform policy.

Regional consortia

  • Offer professional learning and facilitate networks that provide support to schools and settings to:
    • share approaches to development planning
    • understand and develop approaches to curriculum design, that are in line with the principles and philosophy within Curriculum for Wales
    • deepen their understanding of the Curriculum for Wales Framework
    • incorporate all aspects of the Curriculum for Wales Framework in to design
    • incorporate all aspects of the wider reform programme to support curriculum realisation (e.g. Cymraeg, additional learning needs (ALN) reform, etc.)
    • provide focussed professional learning support at area of learning and experience level, especially where there are new aspects of the Curriculum for Wales Framework
    • develop approaches to professional enquiry
    • review and refine, as appropriate, their approaches to evaluation and improvement so that they have an appropriate focus on the effectiveness of curriculum design and approaches to pedagogy
    • provide opportunities for practitioners to network, collaborate, learn and share practice.

Evaluating and preparing for first teaching (2–3 terms)

Welsh Government

  • Continue to facilitate conversations and support in the National Network, including:
    • co-ordinating and making sense of input from groups at different stages
    • providing logistical and organisational support for National Network ‘conversation(s)’
    • co-ordination and collation of National Network outputs
    • co-ordinating the work of the National Network with wider Welsh Government policy.
  • Continue to ensure practitioners have the room to engage with the National Network and curriculum reform more broadly.
  • Continue work with our strategic partners to deliver against the four enabling objectives of Our national mission:
    • Professional learning
    • Leadership
    • Equity, excellence, and well-being
    • Evaluation, improvement and accountability.
  • Develop and finalise the Curriculum for Wales Evaluation Strategy – setting out in detail how we will measure the impacts and progress of the reforms.

Estyn

  • Ensure, through regular communication and update training, that all HMIs, registered inspectors and additional inspectors understand the different phases towards Curriculum for Wales implementation from September 2022, and move the focus to how providers are:
    • learning from trials and testing of potential approaches, including drawing on learner voice
    • extending short- and medium-term planning and trialling to ensure approaches are inclusive of all learners
    • deepening all stakeholders’ understanding of the school’s curriculum model and assessment arrangements
    • developing approaches to enable effective and appropriate assessment as an indistinguishable part of learning and teaching
    • finalising plans, including transition planning, to ensure an effective process for the transition of learners along the 3–16 continuum.
  • Continue to visit providers as part of the continuation of the engagement visit strategy and thematic survey work to discuss how they are working towards actions in their development plans around finalising their plans for the implementation of Curriculum for Wales.
  • Through termly updates to the Minister for Education and the publication of thematic reports and HMCI’s Annual Report, continue to provide advice to the Welsh Government to inform policy.

Regional consortia

  • Building on the work in the design, planning and trailing phase, continue to offer professional learning opportunities that support schools and settings to:
    • deepen their understanding of the Curriculum for Wales Framework and approaches to curriculum design, providing provision for networking and sharing practice
    • further develop and refine their approach to school development planning
    • work in partnership with higher education Institutions to further develop and refine their approaches to professional enquiry.

First teaching and ongoing refinement (September 2022 onwards)

Welsh Government

  • Continue to facilitate and support the National Network.
  • Continue work with our strategic partners to deliver against the four enabling objectives of Our national mission:
    • Professional learning
    • Leadership
    • Equity, excellence and well-being
    • Evaluation, improvement and accountability.
  • Oversee beginning of the evaluation process of the reform, including the undertaking of research activities.
  • Establish processes for ongoing refinement of the Curriculum for Wales guidance.

 Estyn

  • Continue to identify and share interesting practice thorough our inspection activity and thematic publications.
  • Through termly updates to the Minister for Education and the publication of thematic reports and HMCI’s Annual Report, continue to provide advice to the Welsh Government to inform policy.

Regional consortia

  • Offer professional learning and facilitate networks that provide support to schools and settings to:
    • develop their strategic planning to realise Curriculum for Wales
    • adapt their monitoring, evaluation and review cycle and approaches to support the iterative development of curriculum, pedagogy and progression/assessment
    • provide opportunities that support schools and settings to further plan, develop and evaluate their curriculum design and development approaches
    • work in partnership with higher education institutions to provide support for the development of pedagogy across areas of learning and experience and further engage with professional enquiry
    • provide professional learning to support the development of pedagogy, curriculum design and approaches to assessment across the whole workforce
    • provide opportunities for schools, settings and clusters to develop a shared understanding of progression at individual school/setting and cluster level

This appendix sets out some of the key issues that we expect schools and settings to face when developing and implementing their curricula. These will guide the initial focus of the National Network, and help form the basis of ‘conversations’ – using co-construction to share perspectives and practice and problem-solve on a national level.

Design principles for curriculum (including progression and assessment)

Key aims

  • Support schools and settings in initial development of curriculum.
  • Ensure shared and deepening understanding of curriculum design principles and implications.
  • Ensure shared understanding of progression and the role of assessment.
  • Embed assessment as a critical component of curriculum and essential to progression.

Initial issues for the National Network

  • Developing a vision for curriculum design.
  • Learning and applying lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic in the curriculum context.
  • Designing a curriculum with progression at the heart.
  • Developing understanding of assessment as integral to curriculum design, progression and implementation.

Key longer-term issues for the National Network

  • Integral and cross-curricular skills; Wales and Welsh language in the curriculum, statements of what matters, areas of learning and experience and how they relate to each other, and progression.
  • How can we ensure breadth and depth in curriculum design?
  • What does good curriculum content look like and why?
  • What different types of assessment arrangements exist to support progression?
  • How do we evaluate our developing curriculum?
  • How can the curriculum support learner and practitioner well-being?
  • Qualifications under Curriculum for Wales.

Co-construction and building understanding

Key aims

  • Embed co-construction through schools’ and settings’ curriculum development.

Initial issues for the National Network

  • What should co-constructing a curriculum look like?
  • How do we develop a curriculum with learners, parents/carers, families, and wider communities?

Key longer-term issues for the National Network

  • Connecting with wider stakeholders, including key agencies that work directly to support schools, settings, employers, further and higher education institutions, and childcare and early years providers.
  • How do we enable learner transition into, within, and beyond the 3–16 continuum?
  • Connecting with local and regional communities – how is this done best and how should the Welsh Government work with partners to deliver this in a long-term and sustainable way?
  • Collaborating to support progression throughout the 3–16 continuum of learning.
  • What does good public understanding of curriculum reform look like and how do we achieve that?
  • What are the implications of curriculum reform for our understanding of learner journey within schools, and before and after 3–16 education?

Continuing development of national policy

Key aims

  • Help resolve ongoing national policy questions through co-construction.

Initial issues for the National Network

  • How do we make space for reform?
  • What are they key implementation challenges for Curriculum for Wales?
  • Refining the expectations of the Welsh continuum of learning.

Key longer-term issues for the National Network

  • Ongoing refinement of Curriculum for Wales guidance through 2021.
  • How can curricula connect better to our key challenges as a nation and be responsive to changing understandings? For example, approaches to health and social care and how the curriculum might adapt to these; significant cultural and social issues such as climate change, demographic change, mental health, political change and ‘fake news’; equalities issues.

Detailed curriculum structure and content

Key aims

  • Move beyond principles to consider the more detailed aspects of designing curricula.
  • Support ongoing development and strengthening of aspects of curriculum.

Key longer-term issues for the National Network

  • Supporting development of curriculum content, including (but not limited to):
    • mental health
    • relationships and sexuality education
    • embedding cross-curricular skills including digital competence
    • cynefin
    • progression in Welsh across the curriculum
    • inclusivity and embedding Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic perspectives in learning
    • ensuring continuing development in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)
    • international languages
    • assessment arrangements
    • religion, values and ethics
    • local, national and international contexts
    • human rights education and diversity
    • detail of areas of learning and experience: role of disciplines; what does good selection of content look like? What pedagogical approaches might this require?
  • How do we ensure increased and consistently high-quality teaching of the Welsh language?

Support for schools and settings

Key aims

  • Ensure resources and supporting materials are fit for purpose for Curriculum for Wales.
  • Ensure the National Network informs, and is informed by, wider professional learning approaches.

Initial issues for the National Network

  • How can resources best support Curriculum for Wales, and how do we go about creating them?

Key longer-term issues for the National Network

  • Development of resources and supporting materials for specific curriculum aspects, and consideration of what pedagogical materials may be needed to support teaching across the curriculum.
  • Building professional learning approaches and coordination to support practitioners.

Ensuring equity

Key aims

  • Ensure schools’ and settings’ curricula are inclusive and help address gaps in attainment.

Initial issues for the National Network

  • How do we develop a curriculum accessible to all?

Key longer-term issues for the National Network

  • Ensuring the curriculum is inclusive.
  • How do we bring together curriculum reform with reforms to our approach to additional learning needs (ALN)?
  • How can the curriculum raise standards for all?
  • How can the curriculum address gaps in attainment?
  • How do we support all schools and settings to progress along the shared expectations journey equitably?

Understanding national progress towards implementation

Key aims

  • Develop a shared understanding of how we are progressing.

Initial issues for the National Network

  • Understanding the implementation plan: what does success in our aspirations look like?

Key longer-term issues for the National Network

  • State of the nation review: how are we progressing?
  • How are our curriculum reform aspirations embedded in our evaluation and improvement framework and communications with our stakeholders?
  • How will we understand the impact of curriculum reform on learner and teacher well-being and empowerment?

Overarching considerations

There will be a number of issues that are likely to reoccur and will need to be considered across a range of ‘conversations’:

  • Assessment – What does this mean for how we design our assessment arrangements as part of curriculum?
  • Accessibility – How can we ensure learning is accessible to all, addresses gaps in attainment and raises standards?
  • Co-construction – How do we bring colleagues with us? How is this developed with partners?
  • Epistemic/ontological understanding ­– Why is particular learning important? What purpose does it have?
  • Professional learning – What implications should this have for professional learning?
  • Qualifications – What implications should this have for qualifications?
  • Evaluation – How will we know that we are succeeding?

Spring 2021

Initial engagement through series of conversations with practitioners in spring, on recovery and reform.

Summer 2021

Increased engagement and a wider rollout of the National Network, including focuses on:

  • agreeing priorities for longer-term conversations with the core group of practitioners
  • planning activities of the National Network
  • prioritisation of key ‘conversations’.

September 2021 onwards

Longer-term running of the National Network, including detailed conversations on specific topics informed by the key challenges and priorities for implementation, including under the key themes of:

  • Design principles for curriculum, including progression and assessment
  • Co-construction and building understanding
  • Support for schools and settings
  • Ensuring equity
  • Continuing development of national policy
  • Detailed curriculum structure and content
  • Understanding national progress.

‘Conversations’ will also take place on issues, challenges and opportunities that have not yet been identified. We will identify and address these in partnership with practitioners and stakeholders.