ASSEMBLY GOVERNMENT Education minister, Huw Lewis, announced this week that his government would be accepting the Donaldson report recommendations in full. Donaldson’s ‘Successful Futures’ proposed radical change in the Welsh curriculum, and after a consultation period with the public and academic bodies, the Welsh Curriculum is now set for a complete overhaul.
Speaking about the changes Mr Lewis said: “Successful Futures provides the foundations for an ambitious, engaging 21st Century curriculum shaped by the very latest international thinking. Together, we now embark on the next stage of the journey. I was heartened by how the people of Wales engaged with the Great Debate that followed the publication of Successful Futures. They understand how crucial this moment is for the future of education in Wales and there is enormous appetite for change. That’s why, after consulting with them, I am accepting Professor Donaldson’s recommendations in full. The teaching profession must now play a central role in delivering the new curriculum. Pioneer Schools will be asked to work closely with a range of partners but they will lead on the design and development of the new curriculum.”
He went on to state that the curriculum that embraces four key purposes, supporting children and young people to be:
- Ambitious, capable learners ready to learn throughout their lives;
- Enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work;
- Ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world; and
- Healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.
He was keen to express what these changes would mean to the profession, saying: “I appreciate we are asking much of our teachers, lecturers, leaders and support staff. But I know the commitment exists within the workforce to deliver the very best for our young people and we will support them on this challenging, exciting journey. Our New Deal for the Education Workforce provides teachers with the opportunity to access high quality professional learning at every stage of their career. It has been developed with the requirements of the new curriculum in mind so it enables us to prepare the workforce for the changes that lie ahead. It’s crucial too, that we ensure new teachers are fully equipped to deliver the new curriculum. Professor Furlong’s report clearly and convincingly articulated the implications of the new curriculum on initial teacher training and I’m delighted he has agreed to support Professor Donaldson on the Independent Advisory Group.”
The Minister finished by saying: “Change on this scale is too important to rush but the process will evolve with purpose and momentum. We have a clear blueprint but I am not setting a timetable for implementation. We will take views from the Independent Advisory Group and others, as part of our continuing Great Debate and I will report back in the autumn.”
Commenting on his report’s acceptance, Professor Donaldson said: “I’m delighted the Minister plans to take forward the recommendations of Successful Futures but it is only one stage in a very long and important process. What we’ve done is to make clear what our aspirations are and set some sign posts for how we should move forward. The critical thing is to turn those aspirations into reality and that depends on everyone across Wales engaging in that process. We need to ensure the way in which the review was conducted, with a strong sense of inclusion and ownership of the direction we want to go in, is maintained.”
However, Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Minister, Angela Burns AM, added a note of caution, stating: “An overhaul of Welsh education is long overdue – but significant questions remain over its implementation.Those reforms will inevitably mean increased workloads for teachers. Given the amount of hours lost to stress-related illness, it’s absolutely crucial that appropriately training and re-skilling staff is top of the agenda. Labour has held the reins of Welsh education for 16 years – and standards have fallen dramatically. There are too many young people beginning secondary school unable to read and write properly – and too few who are sufficiently literate and numerate when they leave full-time education. I now hope to work with the minister on a system of implementation that keeps disruption to both pupils and staff to a minimum.”
Plaid Cymru’s Mid and West AM Simon Thomas said of the radical overhaul: “Plaid Cymru welcomed Donaldson’s recommendations for a more agile and flexible curriculum that sets out objectives rather than overly-prescribing content. While welcoming that the Minister has accepted Donaldson’s review in full it is disappointing that this was announced on the BBC rather than to Assembly Members in the Senedd. The Party of Wales has called for a simple and understandable curriculum that allows teachers to deliver the objectives set out by the government. We have called for more freedom for teachers to be flexible and to challenge pupils in the classroom. A less prescriptive curriculum allows teachers more freedom and gives them more responsibility. We therefore need to build the capacity of the education workforce. It is hoped that, following recent recommendations on teacher training, the Welsh Government will professionalise the education workforce and trust the education professionals to improve education standards.”
The Shadow Education Minister, was keen to extol the virtues of a skills-based curriculum, adding: “Schools need to enable young people to develop the skills they need in a competitive global economy and also the skills they need for life. We have long called for digital literacy to be given equal status to literacy and numeracy and for pupils to learn how to create as well as use technology. We welcome the recognition that young people need to be equipped to become lifelong learners and that, as well as being well-qualified when they leave school. They should have an understanding of citizenship, wellbeing and health. We have called for citizenship to be taught in schools; for the development of pupils’ social and emotional skills; and for ensuring that all pupils receive good-quality physical education that is relevant to their needs and interests.”
Vital support for job seekers and employers in West Wales
TO MATCH job seekers with employers and career agencies across West Wales, a virtual jobs fair is taking place on Wednesday 9 September.
The free online event will be hosted by Working Wales, which is delivered by Careers Wales, and is in partnership with Job Centre Plus teams across West Wales and the south west and mid Wales Regional Learning and Skills Partnership.
Now, more than ever, job seekers and employers are relying on online support to find jobs and fill vacancies.
The event will run through Working Wales’ Facebook channels and will be split into two regional events covering West Wales mid and south. 10am-11amis for job seekers and employers in Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Powys and Neath Port Talbot. 2pm-3pm will focus on Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Swansea.
Attendees for the free event will have access to a wide variety of job vacancies from many sectors across West Wales as well as expert careers advice to support with job applications.
Working Wales isfunded by the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund and was launched by the Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skatesin May 2019.
Within the first year the service has directly assisted over 37,000 people across Wales. Careers Wales chief executive, Nikki Lawrence said “We are delighted to be working with our partners in the west to deliver a virtual jobs fair. Our careers advice and guidance is a vital part of supporting the economy during this pandemic, and these online events allow us to effectively and safely continue reaching and supporting our customers during these challenging times.”
To register your interest in these events, follow Working Wales on Facebook @WorkingWales. If you are an employer with vacancies to fill please also get in touch.
Available to anyone over the age of 16,Working Wales provides a one-to-one, tailored employability advice and guidance service, supporting people across Wales with job searching, CV writing, interview preparation, training and upskilling as well as with redundancy support.
For more information on Working Wales visit: www.workingwales.gov.wales or call 0800 028 4844
Virtual graduation for Class of 2020
UWTSD is looking forward to hosting a series of online events to celebrate the academic success of the ‘Class of 2020’.
With formal degree ceremonies due to be held at a later date, UWTSD organised a series of digital celebrations that will take place on Tuesday, July 21, Wednesday, July 22, and Thursday, July 2.
Providing students with an opportinuty to celebrate their academic and personal achievements, the digital events included video messages from the Vice Chancellor, the Provosts, Universty Fellows as well as staff and fellow students.
“The Class of 2020 digital celebrations allowed us to come together – as family, friends and members of the University community – to mark our students’ academic achievements,” says Professor Medwin Hughes DL, UWTSD Vice Chancellor.
“These have been very difficult times for us all and yet students have succeeded, and these digital events help us to celebrate that academic achievement. Indeed, I would like to thank our students for the way in which they’ve responded to this pandemic and the way in which they’ve worked with the University. These celebrations were an opportunity for us to wish our students well for the future and to celebrate their hard work and success.”
Gwilym Dyfri Jones, Provost of the University’s Carmarthen and Lampeter campuses, said: “These virtual celebrations were an opportunity for the University to congratulate its Class of 2020 and to show that it is thinking of each and every one of the graduates at these unprecedented time,.
“It is also an opportunity for us to share our gratitude with the students for their valued contributions to the life of the university and its various campuses during these last few years,” he adds.
“We are proud of our graduates’ achievements and relished celebrating their successes with them in a virtual environment next week.”
Professor Ian Walsh, Provost of UWTSD’s Swansea and Cardiff campuses is immensely proud of the graduates’ achievements.
“During this difficult final term, the students of UWTSD have demonstrated the true meaning of the phrase ‘the best of us’,” says Professor Walsh. “It is fitting that the University takes a moment to celebrate the striking success of the class of 2020.
“Their hard won achievements demonstrate that this generation of UWTSD graduates possess all the necessary resourcefulness, resilience and determination to overcome the most challenging circumstances. In the process they have made their families, friends and lecturers extremely proud.”
James Mills, Group President of the Students’ Union at UWTSD also acknowledges the unprecedented challenges faced by the Class of 2020 and echoes the pride felt by all at UWTSD: “On behalf of everyone here at your Students’ Union we are incredibly proud of the hard work and success of our students over the past few months under incredibly difficult and challenging circumstances and adapted well to online learning.
“We also look forward to welcoming our students back in the next year for their graduation ceremonies on their respective campuses,” he adds.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, UWTSD – like all other Universities – had to respond swiftly to the lockdown restrictions with teaching moving on-line and celebrations such as graduation, being postponed.
However, UWTSD has already announced that its campuses will be open and ready to start teaching at the beginning of the new academic year, subject to government guidelines. The University is planning a blended delivery pattern for its programmes in Wales which means a combination of online delivery and on-campus teaching, when it is appropriate to do so.
The University is working to a detailed plan which anticipates various scenarios around the coronavirus context and government directives, much in keeping with the Welsh Government’s traffic light system.
It aims to ensure the safe return of students and staff to the campuses whilst also enabling as much face-to-face teaching as possible in order to ensure that students can enjoy an academic and social programme.
BAME advisor appointed to education post
PROFESSOR Charlotte Williams OBE has been appointed by the Welsh
Government to lead a new working group to advise on and improve the
teaching of themes relating to Black, Asian and minority ethnic
communities and experiences across all parts of the school curriculum.
Professor Williams accepted an invitation from the Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, to chair the new ‘Communities, contributions and cynefin: BAME experiences and the new curriculum’ working group.
In 2007, Professor Williams was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for services to ethnic minorities and equal opportunities in Wales.
Professor Williams said: “I’m delighted and honoured to be leading the working group in advancing this step-change towards integrating Black and minority ethnic history, identity and culture into the everyday learning of every child in Wales. The goal is that the new curriculum will become a shining example of resourcing and enabling broad engagement in learning and teaching with BAME contributions past and present.
“The challenge is to ensure that Black and minority ethnic peoples have a presence across the new Welsh curriculum so that within all of the Areas of Learning and Experience we can hear the sound of their voices, know of their experience, history and contributions, past and present.
“This requires appropriate resourcing because we want all teachers in Wales to be able to rethink their materials and feel confident in the ways of delivering them to reflect this presence. It’s a very exciting prospect. In this way, our curriculum in Wales will ultimately be reflective of our common experience of a vibrant, inclusive, multicultural society.
“We have a rich history in Wales, built on difference and diversity.
“This isn’t about adding an element of Black and minority ethnic history here and there in the new curriculum, but about reimagining learning and teaching across all the elements of the curriculum so that it reflects a Wales that is, and always has been, ethnically diverse, internationalist in its outlook and progressive in its aspirations.”
The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: “Our diversity is one of our strengths as a nation and our many histories have combined to shape Wales today.
“I’m delighted Professor Williams will be leading this important piece of work and I look forward to seeing the group’s recommendations.
“The working group will complete a review of learning resources currently available to support the teaching of themes relating to BAME communities and ‘cynefin’ across all parts of the curriculum. The group will also review associated professional learning opportunities and resources. The group will be closely aligned to the review of Welsh history by Estyn, the education inspectorate.
“The Welsh word ‘cynefin’ loosely translates as ‘habitat’ or ‘place’, but also conveys a sense that all human interactions are strongly influenced and determined by both personal and collective experiences, such as through stories or music.”
The group will present their initial findings in the autumn, and a full report in the spring.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “I’m very pleased Professor Williams has agreed to chair the working group.
“I look forward to receiving the group’s recommendations on learning resources to support the teaching of themes relating to BAME communities.
“Wales is made up of a multitude of stories. We must understand and analyse our own cynefin, and make those connections across our communities, nation and the world. It isn’t just about history as a subject, it’s language, literature, geography, and so much more.”
The group will oversee the development of new learning resources in advance of the phased introduction of the new Curriculum for Wales in 2022.
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