Resources and supporting materials guide
Guidance to support the specification and design of resources and supporting materials for the Curriculum for Wales.
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It is essential that all learning and teaching resources suitably reflect the principles and rationale of the Curriculum for Wales. To support consistency, parity and equity for resources used in schools and by other providers, an agreed criteria is needed for use across the education system in Wales. This guide supports the specification and design of resources for the Curriculum for Wales, recognising the role of practitioners as curriculum designers. For the purposes of this guide the term resources includes supporting materials.
This is a non-statutory guide for anyone involved in the development and production of resources in support of the Curriculum for Wales.
Giving due consideration to the principles outlined in this guide should ensure quality resources that are fit for purpose to support learning and teaching for the Curriculum for Wales and its qualifications. This guide is for practitioners in schools and other providers as well as third sector, not for profit, private sector, and public sector organisations. It is relevant to resources developed by practitioners which are to be shared nationally, as well as commercially available resources.
This guide has been developed in partnership by practitioners, education stakeholder organisations and Welsh Government. It reflects feedback provided by the profession through the National Network conversations on resources in autumn 2021.
On 3 March 2022 the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language announced that a bilingual educational resources company will be established in 2023. In due course this company will oversee the provision and commissioning of bilingual resources and materials to support the Curriculum for Wales and its qualifications. This initial guide will be updated as the new organisation becomes operational.
Developing resources for the Curriculum for Wales
Curriculum for Wales: differences
The Curriculum for Wales is explicitly and fundamentally a purpose-led curriculum. This means that everything that is learned and taught should:
- have a clear purpose
- contribute to learners developing in the ways described in the four purposes of the Curriculum for Wales
Learners should understand why their learning matters and how it connects to their wider learning. It should help them to become more ambitious and capable; ethical and informed; enterprising and creative; and healthy and confident. It is not simply enough that learners acquire knowledge and develop abilities. These four purposes give a shared vision and shared aspirations for every child and young person.
The Curriculum for Wales aims to ensure all learners make meaningful progression in their learning. Progression means learners’ developing and improving their understanding and ability over time based on evidence, rather than simply covering different topics. Schools and other providers are required to ensure learners progress in the ways described in the principles of progression. Assessment in the Curriculum for Wales is about understanding how learners are progressing and what their next steps should be.
The Curriculum for Wales also places the role of developing a curriculum with the school or other provider. This recognises that the schools and other providers themselves are best placed to make decisions about the needs of their learners. The national framework guidance includes the curriculum requirements set out in legislation and supporting guidance. This is intended to ensure that curricula developed by schools and other providers focus on what matters most and on progression in learning, rather than planning disparate activities or aiming to cover certain topics. All learning should contribute to learners’ broader understanding and progression.
An integrated approach to learning is a feature of the Curriculum for Wales. It supports learners to make connections to their prior knowledge, skills and experiences as they develop wider and more sophisticated knowledge and skills, and approach new experiences.
Co-construction allows practitioners and other relevant individuals or organisations to work together and share ideas, experiences and expertise, rather than being presented with a finished product. This is supported by a culture of enquiry, where questioning, evaluation and review enable resources to be further developed and adapted to suit individual contexts and used to support authentic learning experiences.
Learner voice is central to supporting the realisation of the four purposes. The involvement of learners is an important consideration throughout the curriculum design process. An understanding of learners’ needs, and where they are in their learning, informs all learning. The learners themselves hold the key to understanding these needs. While developing their curriculum, schools and other providers draw on learner voice and respond to learners’ needs, experiences and input.
The purpose of resources for the Curriculum for Wales
The purpose of resources is to support practitioners’ curriculum design and pedagogical approaches which enhance the quality of learning and promote learner progression. For both curriculum design and pedagogy, resources can support schools and other providers to:
- ensure all learning has clear purpose which engages learners in realising the four purposes
- ensure all learning enables learners to progress
- understand the progress learners have made
Within the Curriculum for Wales, schools are curriculum designers: the role of resources is to support this process, rather than to provide practitioners with products to adopt. Schools and other providers have the flexibility to design resources that meet the needs of learners.
What resources should do
Resources may focus on a particular aspect of learning or theme; or they may focus on curriculum design and development more generally. This may include:
- supporting understanding of how key curriculum principles can be used in school curriculum planning, organisation and structure
- supporting the processes of curriculum development and planning, including:
- how to select and integrate: knowledge, skills and experiences, pedagogical approaches and assessment activities
- selecting and using knowledge, skills and experiences which will clearly support progression in the concepts, skills and dispositions required by the mandatory statements of what matters
- supporting the engagement of learners in their learning in a way that allows flexibility for schools and other providers in how that is realised
- supporting the development and planning of progression in learning:
- over both shorter and longer timescales
- within and across areas of learning and experience and within and across statements of what matters
- in the mandatory cross curricular skills
- supporting understanding and skills relating to the use of assessment and to inform progression in learning
- approaches to addressing issues specific to particular areas of learning and experience
Principles for designing resources
Set out below are key principles to guide your development of resources for the Curriculum for Wales. These should be used if you are reviewing existing materials as well as in your development of new resources, particularly if you are planning to make them available nationally through the Hwb education platform. These principles support the practical ‘toolkit’ set out in the next section of this guide.
The development of resources should meet the principles below.
Be consistent with the principles of the Curriculum for Wales
It is essential that resources reflect our purpose-led curriculum concept to facilitate learner progression along the 3 to 16 learning continuum. The four purposes of the curriculum are the starting point and aspiration for all learners. They are not meant to be learning objectives. Developers need to be clear how the learning outlined within a resource helps learners to realise the four purposes. A holistic approach to the curriculum starts with the learner. Resources, reflecting cross-curricular skills and cross-cutting themes, including the effective use of local, national and international contexts, will support practitioners in designing and developing effective curricula.
Have a clear learning rationale – the why, not just the what
It is essential that resources have clear intentions for learning based on the needs and aspirations of learners. Having a clear aim for learning is critical to understanding how the resource supports the four purposes; what knowledge, skills and experiences are included and what progression could look like for these. Resources should be underpinned by explanations of why the learning aims are important and how they contribute to the overall purpose of the learning in a given aspect of the curriculum. This helps avoid the resource focusing on covering topics or activities without a clear sense of why they matter and their contribution to broader learning.
Support practitioners to design and develop learning rather than do this themselves
A key purpose of resources is to help schools and other providers to develop aspects of their curriculum and to implement learning and teaching through their curriculum. This recognises that practitioners are best equipped to make decisions on how they design, plan or organise learning to meet the specific needs of their learners; reflecting the principle of subsidiarity that has helped guide Curriculum for Wales development. Resources and their developers, should support practitioners to develop learning, not create curriculum content through prescriptive lessons, series of lessons or schemes of work designed to be used off the shelf.
Support appropriate and research-informed approaches to learning and teaching
Resources should help practitioners to make informed judgements on how they apply materials in their teaching. Where there is research that suggests particular approaches to teaching are more effective, the resource should highlight those to assist the school or other provider’s cycles of enquiry. In that way, the resource can support practitioners to understand the potential impact of a resource’s learning intention.
Involve a process of co-construction
The development and availability of resources should reflect the needs of schools and other providers as part of their curriculum design and development work. This is best achieved through engagement with current practitioners working with the Curriculum for Wales, as well as with appropriate external stakeholder and community organisations, experts and learners. Collaborating with practitioners in its development can help ensure your resource is more effective, can meet needs and therefore may be used more widely. Resource developers will have certain expertise that can be augmented by wider inputs and collaboration. The process of co-construction means bringing those together to create resources of quality.
Plan and develop Welsh and English-medium resources
The availability of resources should reflect the needs of schools and other providers in all language categories, to ensure timely access to high quality and diverse resources. This is a key requirement when being shared across schools and other providers.
Be accessible to all learners
Developers need to consider how resources can be accessed by all learners and practitioners and they should be developed in accordance with accessibility guidance.
Below are some things to think about when developing resources; they will inform your thinking, planning and evaluating. These lists, although not exhaustive, aim to support you in the process of collaborative resource development.
Planning a resource
1. The reasons for producing this resource
Resources need to have clear intent. This is critical for a number of reasons. It will sharpen the focus of development; it will draw out links with the Curriculum for Wales and, most importantly, practitioners’ and learners’ understanding of the purpose supports more effective learning and teaching.
- What is the intent of the learning at the heart of your resource? Why is this learning important from the perspective of children and young people as part of their learning across the curriculum?
- How could the resource enable the development of the skills integral to the four purposes? How will this support learners to realise the four purposes?
- What fundamental concepts will the resource help learners understand?
- What experiences, knowledge and skills do you wish to explore through the resource? Why are these important?
- What kind of contexts or topics can support learning in this aspect? What makes these important and useful contexts or topics?
- What are the principles that underpin the selection of contexts or topics in this area?
- How can you ensure the intent of this resource is explicit and well explained?
- How does your resource offer flexibility to support learning in local contexts?
2. How your resource supports the Curriculum for Wales
Having defined a clear intent and a range of experiences, knowledge and skills that support this, it’s then critical to understand how this can be explored through the Curriculum for Wales:
- How will the resource support progression in learning, setting out experiences, knowledge and skills rather than only prescribing specific activities?
- How do the experience, knowledge and skills support progression in learning in relation to the concepts included in the statements of what matters?
- Are there appropriate links being made with different areas of learning and experience?
- How does the theme of the resource link with and build on the concepts and considerations outlined in the Designing your curriculum sections of the curriculum guidance?
- If you plan to share the resource, have you considered carefully how you will develop Welsh and English language versions of equal quality, relevant to the intended audience and available concurrently in both languages?
- Has consideration been given to the local and national context and Cynefin in developing the resource?
- Will your resources be accessible and inclusive to all learners and practitioners?
3. How the resource supports schools and other providers to develop learning progression or child development
Being clear about the intent of learning and the experiences, knowledge and skills that are critical to this can support practitioners’ understanding of learner progression. Resources should support practitioners to understand what progression looks like in the relevant aspect of learning by considering the following:
- How can the experiences, knowledge and skills identified be developed to support learners to progress in the ways described in the principles of progression? What does it mean to progress in this aspect of learning?
- Building on the principles of progression, how might you expect a learner to develop their knowledge and skills in this aspect over time? How should their experiences change? Resources may want to give practitioners an indication of this. The descriptions of learning are a reference point: they indicate broad expectations for learner progression at different points in their learning journey. These can be used to help consider appropriate next steps in learning at different points. Resources should not seek to develop activities to ‘meet’ or ’achieve’ descriptions of learning.
- How can the resource support all learners to progress, while reflecting differing learning needs, aptitudes, dispositions and abilities?
- Having understood what progression may look like, what are the different ways in which practitioners might develop a wide range of different approaches to assess that progression?
- What should a practitioner be thinking about when they plan the next steps for learners?
4. How this thinking can be used to support schools and other providers to design their curriculum and develop learning and teaching
As outlined, the purpose of resources is to support schools and other providers to develop their curriculum and to develop their approaches to learning and teaching. It is not to provide a ready-made curriculum to adopt. You should consider the following.
- How well does your resource support flexibility for schools and other providers in their curriculum design and planning within their own context?
- Are there research informed pedagogical approaches that can support schools and other providers in their use of the resource?
- What are the key elements and likely impacts of the pedagogical approaches and how the concept or topic is taught? Why?
- How can the 12 pedagogical principles be reflected in this aspect?
Producing your resource
5. How to plan to develop your resource
- How are you planning to use co-construction in the creation of the resource?
- How are you engaging with practitioners currently working with the Curriculum for Wales in the planning and development of the resource?
- How can your development facilitate shared approaches and ensure quality assurance if adopted by multiple schools and providers?
6. How you will ensure your resource is of high quality
- As part of your development and quality assurance process, are you engaging practitioners and learners for their input and feedback?
- Is the language and terminology (Welsh and English) clearly aligned with the Curriculum for Wales framework guidance? For example, the descriptions of learning for relevant statements of what matters
- How do you evaluate the effectiveness of the resource?
- How are you ensuing your resource meets third party rights (including intellectual property and copyright)?
- Are you confident of accessibility requirements in respect of how your resource is being developed?
7. How you intend to publish or make your resource available
- How will you ensure your published resource is made available in Welsh and in English at the same time?
- If using Hwb, how will you ensure appropriate tagging and taxonomy hierarchy is being applied and signalled in your submission to Welsh Government (as appropriate)?
- How will you promote your resources? How will you let practitioners know what’s there and how to find it?
- How are you planning to evaluate and review your resources over a period of time to ensure they achieve what they are meant to do?
- Are you confident of accessibility requirements in respect of how your resource is published or shared?
Things to avoid
The principles set out what we want to see in the development of resources and supporting materials for the Curriculum for Wales, with the toolkit providing some key considerations as part of the development process. Feedback during the co-construction of this guide suggested it would also be helpful to set out what wouldn’t be so useful; below are some pointers.
- misunderstanding practitioners’ role in developing their own curriculum:
- in your resources avoid placing too much emphasis on what is being learned or taught (curriculum content), at the expense of why or how it should be taught
- resources should support practitioners to develop learning as part of their curriculum design – they should not constitute a ready-made curriculum, lesson plans, modules, or schemes of work
- misunderstanding how the Curriculum for Wales informs planning:
- superficial use of the four purposes in your resources is unlikely to support practitioners’ understanding
- developing content directly from the four purposes
- focusing on timetabling
- over-simplifying interdisciplinary approaches
- using descriptions of learning as standards or achievement outcomes to drive design
- overlooking the mandatory elements of the curriculum
- progression and assessment:
- using descriptions of learning as assessment criteria, or breaking them down into short tick box elements as part of a resource does not align with their purpose as set out in the Curriculum for Wales guidance
- demonstrating tasks without suitable challenge or stretch
- reinforcing perceptions (or misconceptions) about accountability and school improvement
- misinterpreting the purpose of online personalised assessments
- separating assessment from learning and teaching
- reflecting perceived or anticipated qualification requirements
- learning being addressed as discrete lessons
- subsidiarity and co-construction:
- over-simplifying the nature of engagement during development
- disregarding practitioner learning
- depending solely on leadership inputs, or other groups of contributors, therefore not gaining a balanced view on proposals
- misrepresenting the role of scaffolding as something that takes away from the role of practitioners, rather than supporting them in their work
- not allowing for reflection as part of co-constructive development
- deferring to non-teaching experts for answers
- retrofitting or off-the-shelf approaches:
- disregarding or not seeing the principles set out in this guide
- tweaking resources produced for other curricula or jurisdictions
- seeking to persuade of a resource’s quality, relevance, fitness for purpose through sales hype
- outsourcing the curriculum design process and outputs
- one-size-fits-all models
- anything that assumes there is a quick solution
- content or focus driven by qualifications, rather than supporting curriculum planning and provision that is then subject to external assessment
- presenting mixed messages in terms of focus or how it supports learning and teaching
- being inconsistent in language and terminology with that set out for Curriculum for Wales
- use of terminology that is not clearly defined
Additional considerations for third, private and public sector organisations
The key principles of the resource and the authors’ thinking should be made explicit. This allows schools, other providers and practitioners to understand its intent and to critically engage in order to understand its importance, and the impact of it for their learners. This means explaining why things are important and the choices the authors have made.
The resource should provide a range of ideas and questions to prompt practitioners’ thinking. They should avoid detailed prescription of activities or approaches. Further aspects to consider include:
- providing approaches and scaffolding that give tools for practitioners to engage with different concepts as they develop their curriculum or embed a particular aspect of learning
- using illustration and examples of practice to stimulate thinking and critical engagement rather than to prescribe replication and a single approach. Examples should express clearly and effectively the principles underpinning them, rather than relying on the practitioner inferring why they are positive examples
- ensuring that resources promote interactive and group approaches to curriculum development and professional learning. They should encourage practitioners to collaborate and work across sectors to develop their approaches
- supporting self-evaluation to inform priorities and reflect on practice. Resources should encourage practitioners to continuously improve and refine their approaches, rather than presenting adoption of the resource as a means of comprehensively addressing issues
- giving space for practitioners to draw on evidence and experience from their immediate context, ensuring that learning meets the needs of specific learners and is meaningful for learners, and reflect authentic contexts
Providing scaffolding for the process of development
- Workshop approaches can support collaborative design – consider providing a format for practitioners to talk through and develop their approach.
- Discussion prompts for curriculum designers – prepare some key questions for practitioners to help them think about their work.
- Design toolkits – offer sets of questions or approaches to take practitioners through the process of the learning.
- Ideas for topics, themes and a wide range of possible activities (building on the designing your curriculum sections of the Curriculum for Wales framework guidance, suggest topics, approaches and learning for an aspect of the curriculum, and critically, discussion of why these could be effective).
- Discussion of what progression might look like in the context of this aspect of the curriculum, building on the principles of progression and the descriptions of learning; ideas for a range of ways to identify that progression.
- Case studies (set out approaches that show positives in learning and teaching and why things have worked; reflections on process, how decisions were made and why; providing insights).
- Examples of learners’ progression (setting out in specific terms how a learner might progress in a particular aspect and the different ways that progression might be identified or assessed).
Signposting research and further information
- Further reading, thinking and evidence helpful to practitioners’ understanding.
- Providing support for practitioner enquiry (support for planning and engaging with research, evidence and expertise).
- Critical consideration of research (including how to use it in context).
- Signposting (links to wider research, evidence and consideration of an issue).
- Support for inquiry and self-evaluation:
- Questions and support for practitioner enquiry.
- Questions or approaches to support self-evaluation: to help practitioners understand needs and reflect on curriculum.
Differences to resources in the past
In the past resources have included provision of:
- detailed explanations of curriculum standards
- examples of learners’ work which illustrate attainment of these standards
- approved teaching materials explicitly aligned with the curriculum
- tests or other assessments to be used to judge attainment against curriculum standards
- guided professional-learning activities to develop practitioners’ knowledge and understanding of curriculum standards
- programmes of learning in discrete subjects, including comprehensive textbooks
- examples of ‘best classroom practice’ to be adopted by practitioners
Publishing resources on Hwb
All resources published on Hwb will be classified using taxonomy and filters to help users search and browse Hwb content. The filters and taxonomy being used for the Curriculum of Wales is shown in this spreadsheet. These may evolve in the light of user experiences, and if so will be updated in future iterations of this guide.
Developers of resources may wish to consider what filters, taxonomy and tags they consider appropriate for their resource, and signal that when submitting to Hwb for uploading.
The filters used for resources on Hwb are shown on the first tab as ‘high level’. All filters in red are required for all resources. Taxonomies for each Area of Learning Experience (Area) are shown in separate tabs.
A resource should be classified against the main curriculum Area(s) to which it relates and not other curriculum Areas where they are not the main focus of the resource.
A resource should also be classified against each level of the selected taxonomy areas. For example Humanities has 3 levels. This is to ensure that relevant resources are still displayed when a user filters down all the levels.
Tags are significant words that help practitioners and other users search for resources by a keyword search. If a resource has content which may relate to another curriculum Area beyond its main emphasis, a tag can be added.
Read the guidance for publishing resources on Hwb to ensure that your resource meets all the relevant criteria and complete the Hwb resource upload form.
'Creating accessible documents' provides detail which you need to consider when sharing resources, and specifically when publishing on Hwb.
Further guidance and resources
- A guide to accessible digital communications
- Adobe’s workflow for creating accessible PDFs
- Welsh language standards and Cymraeg clir
- Plain English guidance
- British Deaf Association - Home (bda.org.uk)
- National Deaf Children's Society Supporting deaf children (ndcs.org.uk)
Links to resources as templates
This section will be updated over time and provides space for links to resources that provide good examples, or templates.
If you require further advice regarding the contents of this guide, or have feedback on how it may evolve in its next iteration, please contact: email@example.com.