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Education

‘Pause button’ pressed on new curriculum

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Teaching unions: Welcome change of plans

KIRSTY WILLIAMS has listened to concerns expressed by teaching unions and opposition parties and elected to roll out a new curriculum in a phases, as opposed to one ‘big bang’.

Publishing the revised action plan on Tuesday ​(​Sept 26​)​, The Education Secretary revealed details of a plan that aims to continue to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and public confidence.

Objectives also include introducing a new accountability model and ensuring strong and inclusive schools committed to excellence and well-being.

​PHASED ROLL OUT

The new curriculum will be introduced from nursery to Year 7 in 2022, rolling into Year 8 in 2023, Year 9 in 2024, Year 10 in 2025 and Year 11 in 2026. All schools will have access the final curriculum from 2020, to allow them to move towards full roll-out in 2022.

Kirsty Williams said: “We are entering a fast-changing world that is increasingly competitive, globally connected and technologically advanced. Schools have to prepare our young people for jobs that have not yet been created and challenges that we are yet to encounter. Education has never been more important and, working with the teaching profession, we will continue our national mission to raise standards.

“Our plan is aimed at ensuring every young person in Wales has an equal opportunity to reach the highest standards and their full potential. We can’t achieve those ambitions if we just stand still. Teachers and educators across our system are working together to raise standards and reduce the attainment gap. It is an exciting time to be involved in education in Wales.

“We all share a responsibility to inspire and challenge the next generation. That is why we will support teachers with continuous learning and development, better support and identify our leaders, and reduce class sizes so that we can raise standards for all.”

Commenting on the new curriculum, she added: “Since becoming Education Secretary I have visited schools across the country, spoken to a range of teachers, parents and experts and held talks with unions.

“It’s the right decision to introduce the curriculum as a phased roll-out rather than a ‘big bang’, and for that to start in 2022. This approach, and an extra year, will mean all schools have the time to engage with the development of the curriculum and be full prepared for the changes. As the OECD have recommended, we will continue our drive to create a curriculum for the 21st century.”

​MILLAR AGREES BUT STILL MOANS

In December, Darren Millar AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Secretary, called on the Welsh Government to “push the pause button” on the proposed changes.

Mr Millar has now welcomed the delay, but also predicted “major chaos” if teachers will be expected to teach two separate curriculums at the same time.

He said: “The extra 12 months to prepare for these major changes will be welcomed by schools and I encourage the Welsh Government to use this time to engage with teachers so that they are fully abreast of the transitions afoot.

“My major concern, however, is that under these plans two curriculums will be running side by side for a period of around six years.

“This has the potential to cause major chaos for teachers who are essentially being asked to juggle the demands of two syllabuses, and so Welsh Government will need to explain how it intends to manage this so that learning is not adversely affected.”

​MOVE WELCOMED

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education Llyr Gruffydd said: “Finally, the Cabinet Secretary has accepted what we have been warning for several months – the new National Curriculum should not be rushed through.

“Teachers and experts have expressed their concern that the Welsh Government has continued to attempt too many reforms at the same time without ensuring that the system has the capacity to implement them. It was naïve of the government to think that it can push through reforms to unrealistic timeframes.”

UCAC, the Welsh teachers’ union has welcomed the Plan.

Rebecca Williams, UCAC’s Policy Officer said​:​ “This action plan is a breath of fresh air. It strikes a refreshing balance between ambition and realism, setting out plans for deep and far-reaching reform, but also outlining realistic methods of working and timeframes.

“The plan emphasises progress through co-operation, support and respect for everyone at every level of the education system, in contrast to some of the more threatening methods of the past. This is clearly a joint project, with shared responsibility.

“UCAC very much welcomes the clarity about the introduction of the new curriculum. We believe that the timetable as set out in the action plan will allow sufficient time for design and testing, for training and familiarisation, and for forward-planning of any consequential reforms to qualifications.

“The attitude towards assessment and accountability, with its emphasis on ‘assessment for learning’ rather than artificial comparisons between schools, is another positive step.

“We look forward to being part of the project, as a critical friend, over the next four years and beyond.”

NEU ​PRAISES STATEMENT

The National Education Union Cymru has also praised the statement by the Cabinet Secretary for Education, which it says recognises the concerns raised by the union over the last year.

David Evans, Wales Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “This announcement will be welcomed by the teaching profession and shows that the Cabinet Secretary is listening to the concerns that have been raised and is acting on the best advice and evidence available to her.

“There is a true consensus behind the new curriculum. The sector is on board with the Welsh Government’s vision but we must all make sure we are not risking that good will by rushing its implementation. The new timescales offer a better opportunity to develop the rigour of the system. At the same time changes to the way it will be introduced, moving from a big bang approach to a phased roll out, will make for a much smoother transition process which better supports school staff and pupils.

“The National Education Union have warned that the delivery of the new curriculum was not going to work under the old timeframe and so we are certainly delighted that the Cabinet Secretary has taken our views on board and has set in place a more realistic and promising strategy.”

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Education

Into the Looking Glass

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Selfie culture: Becoming one with the screen

A FILM about the future of selfie culture produced by two Aberystwyth University’s media lecturers has been shortlisted for the British Universities Film & Video Council’s Learning on Screen Awards 2018.

Into the Looking Glass​ ​- how selfie culture is preparing us to meet our future selves​ -​ has been produced by Dr Greg Bevan and Dr Glen Creeber from the University’s Department of Theatre, Film & Television Studies.

The 24​ ​minute video essay takes a close look at the future development of selfie culture and its proliferation via smart technology.

The British Universities Film & Video Council’s Learning on Screen is a charity whose members are experts in the use of moving image in education, delivering online academic databases, on demand video resources, training, information and advice.

Dr Bevan said: “Video essays as academic outputs are still a fairly new idea. It’s a way of engaging with your audience more imaginatively, and also of introducing theories and concepts to new and non-academic audiences who might never ordinarily read a journal article.

“We also hope the video essay will be a useful teaching aid in the fields of digital media, digital culture, media and communications, and beyond​.”​

The film explores the idea that the screen is coming increasingly nearer to the viewer – from the village cinema to the living room. Now it is carried in the form of a tablet or phone; but what lies beyond the likes of VR sets and smart watches? Could eye and brain implants lead to the screen disappearing altogether? Will the viewer eventually become one with the screen?

Dr Creeber said: “The ideas explored in this film affect almost everybody in society today, and in future societies. Not only is the screen coming physically nearer, but we are increasingly seeing ourselves reflected in it.

“We are no longer passive spectators watching the screen from a distance; we are now active participants. Rather than taking a typically pessimistic view of this technological change, the film suggests some ways in which these developments could in fact be of benefit to humanity.”

The original score for the film was composed by Dr Alan Chamberlain, a Senior Research Fellow at the Mixed Reality Lab, Department of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham.

Dr Alan Chamberlain said: “It’s exciting to see the importance of this collaboration being recognised at a national level and nominated for an award. Working with Aberystwyth University has allowed us to show the impact that cross-disciplinary research across universities can have.

“This project brings together the Arts and Sciences in a way that it is both interesting and innovative. Aberystwyth University is one of the creative powerhouses in the academic landscape of Wales and it’s been a great experience to work with people there, we’re already working on our next project.”

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the BFI Southbank, London on April 26.

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Education

Lampeter Masterclasses open for all

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Lifelong learning: Lampeter offers the opportunity

THE UNIVERSITY of Wales Trinity Saint David has officially launched a new ‘Lampeter Masterclasses’ programme and brochure.

The ‘Lampeter Masterclasses’ programme includes a range of residential weekend and evening courses for 2018. The courses on offer will appeal to a range of different audiences, covering new subject areas such as yoga, meditation and wellbeing, alongside the University’s more traditional humanities courses and disciplines which are for the first time being offered in new and different ways. UWTSD’s Lampeter campus is nestled in the heart of Lampeter and is the oldest University in Wales, and the third oldest in England and Wales after Oxford and Cambridge. It was established by Royal Charter in 1822 by Bishop Thomas Burgess of St David’s (1803-25) as St David’s College, Lampeter, with the gift of land from the local landowner, John Harford. The college took five years to build and the first students were admitted in 1827.

The new ‘Lampeter Masterclasses’ brochure provides details of the type of courses and workshops on offer, as well as the range of subject areas and topics you can study at the University’s Lampeter campus this year.

Dean for the Faculty of Humanities and Performing Arts. Dr Jeremy Smith said: “We’re very committed to lifelong learning and education for all. Regardless of age and background, whether you are retired or in fulltime employment, studying for reasons of career development or simply for the pleasure of learning, then studying the humanities in all their breadth and sweep should be available to all.

“Our structure of delivery has been adapted to offer a more personalised approach to learning. This approach to study is one that fits in with a student’s own needs and demands. So whether you want to study on certain days of the week, or study at a slower or faster pace, or simply study for its own sake and love of subject, rather than for a qualification, then we have a course appropriate to you. In other words Lampeter offers you a wide choice of courses. These range from weekly workshops, evening courses and study at a distance, occasional or ‘drop in’ lectures, weekend workshops, day courses, larger academic conferences and weekend field trips.

“We’re very proud of what we have to offer on the Lampeter campus and this brochure will show you the variation of provision we have here throughout the year. We look forward to welcoming you to the wonderful county of Ceredigion and to our beautiful Lampeter campus.”

Jacqui Weatherburn, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the University said; “The Lampeter Masterclasses’ is a new and exciting development for the University which has seen us re-imagine the Masterclass concept. This is a unique and exciting offer from our Lampeter campus which has something for every level and interest, from Expert Lectures, to Mindfulness Retreats, Interactive Workshops and a family Mediaeval day. The Programme on offer will continue to grow as the University moves to its 200th Anniversary in 2022 and as we extend the Masterclass concept across our campuses.”

To book any of the Weekend courses listed in the brochure, please visit: www.uwtsd.ac.uk/humanities-workshops

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Education

Foundation Phase Excellence Network launched

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'A new level of professional development': Kirsty Williams introduces scheme

A NEW network which aims to improve the teaching and learning of the Foundation Phase across all schools and education settings in Wales is to be launched by Education Secretary Kirsty Williams today during a visit to Llanrhidian Primary School in Swansea.

The Foundation Phase Excellence Network brings together leading figures from across the education spectrum to ensure a more structured approach to develop Foundation Phase practitioner support for those working with children age three to seven.

With the aim of inspiring young minds together, and supported by £1millon Welsh Government funding, the network will include representation from local authority education services, schools and child care settings that deliver the Foundation Phase, regional consortia, Higher Education and third sector organisations which will work together to share expertise, experience, knowledge and best practice.

A new online community learning zone has also been established to facilitate the sharing of information, resources and research between practitioners. The zone will also host 20 new case studies including three short films which showcase effective practice in Foundation Phase.

They have been produced by working collaboratively with schools and settings from across Wales in five key areas of practice: child development, environment experiences, leadership, pedagogy, and Welsh language. The case studies will be available on the new zone during March and April.

Welcoming the launch, Kirsty Williams said: “Building on similar models to our already successful National Network for Excellence in Mathematics and National Network for Excellence Science and Technology, this new Foundation Phase network will support workforce and leadership development, boost the research capacity of the education profession in Wales and ensure that implementation of the Foundation Phase happens in a consistent and effective manner.

“Practitioners in the Foundation Phase are doing an incredible job, one the toughest but most rewarding jobs around, and they deserve all our support. This network and its supporting online resources are just the start of a new level of professional development in Foundation Phase for school settings.

“This development goes to the heart of what our national mission and the new curriculum is about – raising standards, reducing the attainment gap and delivering an education system that is a source of national pride and confidence.”

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