Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru

Yn ôl i Chwilio

Y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg

Children, Young People and Education Committee

18/09/2019

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Dawn Bowden AC
Hefin David AC
Janet Finch-Saunders AC
Lynne Neagle AC Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Sian Gwenllian AC
Suzy Davies AC

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Claire Bennett Dirprwy Gyfarwyddwr, Cwricwlwm ac Asesu, Llywodraeth Cymru
Deputy Director Curriculum and Assessment, Welsh Government
Kirsty Williams AC Y Gweinidog Addysg
Minister for Education
Steve Davies Cyfarwyddwr Addysg, Llywodraeth Cymru
Director of Education, Welsh Government

Swyddogion Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru a oedd yn bresennol

National Assembly for Wales Officials in Attendance

Llinos Madeley Clerc
Clerk
Michael Dauncey Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Sarah Bartlett Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:30.

The meeting began at 09:30.

1. Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau
1. Introductions, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Children, Young People and Education Committee this morning. I've received no apologies for absence. Suzy Davies is going to be arriving a little bit late. Are there any declarations of interest, please? No? Okay.

2. Cynnydd Llywodraeth Cymru ar Ddatblygu'r Cwricwlwm Newydd i Gymru: Sesiwn Dystiolaeth
2. Welsh Government's Progress in Developing the New Curriculum for Wales: Evidence Session

Item 2, then, this morning is an evidence session to scrutinise the Welsh Government's progress in developing the new curriculum for Wales. I'm very pleased to welcome Kirsty Williams AM, Minister for Education; Steve Davies, director of the education directorate; and Claire Bennett, who is deputy director for curriculum and assessment. Thank you all for attending this morning, and thank you for the paper that you provided in advance to the committee. We've got a lot of ground to cover, so if it's okay, we'll go straight into questions. If I can just start by asking you what the main messages are that you've received during the feedback period on the draft curriculum. 

Thank you, Chair. If I may, I think it's important to understand what the level of that feedback has been. So, there was a concerted effort and a plan drawn up to try and ensure that there was as much engagement, knowledge and opportunity as possible. So, working through the regional consortia, approximately 120 separate events were organised, and we believe that in the region of 6,000 headteachers, teachers, governors and teaching assistants have actually had an opportunity to participate in those events. We also held a number of focus group sessions specifically for young people themselves, so that they could give us their feedback. There were 24 focus groups that were arranged for children and young people. We also held some specific events to engage with the business community.

We'll all be familiar, won't we, with the narrative of, 'Oh, we're sending people out into the world of business without the skills that we as an employer are looking for'. So we thought it was really important to engage business so that they can have their say and their input into the process. And obviously we work very hard on making it as easy as possible via new technology for people to have their say. So, Members, I'm sure, will have been aware of the specific pages on Hwb that outlined the draft curriculum, and we had 275,000 unique visits to the Hwb curriculum pages. It's really interesting to see the breakdown of the areas of learning and experience—which particular AoLEs were the most popular and were being looked at the most—with our creative and performing arts and the creativity and the expressive arts being the most popular. So that's really interesting that people really wanted to engage in the content of that particular AoLE.

What, then, have people said to us? Well, I'm really pleased that there has been broad support for the curriculum changes that we are proposing. There's real support for the need for change, because that's the first question, actually; why are we doing this, and why do we need to change? So, support for the need for change, and lots of support for the principle of a purpose-led curriculum. So, good levels of support for the four purposes, and that driving the content below it. Strong support for greater autonomy and agency for the profession—so, the ability of the profession to take a framework and then truly let them adapt it to meet the needs of the children that they are working with in their communities. Also, a great welcome of the emphasis on formative assessment and the importance of formative assessment.

In terms of some of the things that people are asking us to look again at, some of that is around some of the language used. Can we clarify, can we simplify in some areas, are there things that are repeated in a variety of AoLEs? Can we use that as an overarching, rather than repeating ourselves? Can we simplify it and clarify some of the language? Also, in some areas—. It's interesting; in some areas people want it simplified and cut down, but in other areas, people say, 'Well actually, in this bit of it, we need a bit more detail, and a bit more depth and clarity'. So we'll be reflecting on all the feedback that we've had. That process has already started, but considering that this is a massive change, I have been hugely encouraged, actually, by the high levels of engagement and support for the broad principles of what we're doing.

09:35

Okay. Thank you, Minister. You said that you're reflecting on the messages that you've received. Are you able to give the committee any early indication of what level of change you anticipate making to the guidance?

I think what's really important and what has been the strength of the process to date is that we are not doing this to our profession, we are doing it with our profession. So, in the spirit of co-construction, the reflection on the feedback will continue to be primarily led by the existing infrastructure that we already had that got us to this stage at present. So, Members will be aware that we've slightly changed the model. We had our pioneer school model and we have slightly refined that now. Pioneers were asked if they wanted to continue in that process and to put themselves forward, and we've narrowed that down now to a smaller group of innovative schools. But above and beyond the innovative schools, we looked at individuals who have specific expertise in subject areas, and they're the first part of that process. So, they met last week to begin looking at the feedback, and we'll continue to use the processes that we have to reflect and refine. Are there big changes to the concept? No. Opportunities to do things better, explain things better, simplify where possible, where we've been told that that needs to happen, provide greater depth where we've been told that needs to happen—absolutely. We're definitely very alive and very willing to engage in those, but in terms of the overall concept, then no, no significant changes.

Okay. Thank you. And what are the steps now before the final curriculum is published in January 2020?

Okay. So, the quality—. We call them—it's not a very nice name—quality improvement practitioners, the QI practitioners. So, these are the subject specialists. They met last week to begin this process. In October, there will be a number of workshops lasting three days at a time where those practitioners will continue that process of feedback with our curriculum and assessment group and all those people involved. By November, we would expect the QI groups to have completed their work and would want them to be in a position to hand over the refinements to an editorial process, and that has to be done in both languages. I think it's really important that we don't do it in English and then we simply translate it into Welsh. So, the editorial process will then be engaged to draw up the final example. It also, then, hands over to the publication team to do all the work on the publication, our website team will then be working on it, and then we would expect final publication in January—am I right, Claire?

Okay. Thank you. We've got some specific questions now on the legislation from Siân Gwenllian.

Rydych chi wedi cyffwrdd ar y ffaith bod yna rywfaint o newid yn mynd i fod, a rydych chi wedi sôn yn eich papur i ni bod agweddau penodol pellach ar fframwaith y cwricwlwm yn mynd i gael eu cynnwys yn y ddeddfwriaeth sylfaenol. Rydyn ni eisiau gwybod beth ydy'r agweddau hyn a beth sydd wedi gwneud i chi newid eich meddwl.

You've touched on the point that there's going to be some sort of change, and you've mentioned in your paper to us that further specific aspects of the framework of the curriculum are going to be included in the primary legislation. We want to know what those aspects will be and what has made you change your mind.

The original proposal that we began working on was, in the legislation, to provide for the four purposes—so, the four purposes would be set out in the legislation—as well as putting in law the areas of learning and experience that you'll all be familiar with. Then, below that, we were going to legislate for a number of the cross-curricular aspects—so, the literacy, the numeracy and the digital competency—as well as some elements where we had already said that we were going to make that statutory, so, for instance, above and beyond what Graham Donaldson would have put in his original reports. A good example of that is relationships and sexuality education. I've already made an announcement that I was going to put RSE on the face of the Bill.

So, the two main new areas that we are now working on to include within the Bill are to ensure that there is breadth within the curriculum for everybody—. So, we will make a statutory provision for the 'what matters' statements. So, we're bringing it a step lower again. Rather than simply, in law, leaving it at the AoLE level, we'll be bringing it down again to the 'what matters' statements within that, again, providing greater certainty and greater clarity about our expectations at a national level. We'll also be looking to include in the legislation provision for a statutory framework setting out our approach to progression in each of the AoLE areas. So, there has been in the Chamber—I can see Suzy is writing this down—Suzy has asked me questions about, 'How do you create a national expectation around progression?' We've reflected on that and our conversations with other people outside during this process, so we would look to have a statutory framework where our expectations of progression at a national level would be laid out.

As I said, we are proposing those changes because of responses that we've had. One of the consistent worries that some people have had, whilst being very supportive of the overall aims, is how do you get that balance between individual autonomy in the school, but also ensure that there is some national expectation and that the variation on these important things is not so great as to cause concern. So, we've reflected on that. I set up a process—this was an open process, and we were open to listening to people. So, I think those will be the two main areas where we hadn't originally thought that we would legislate for, but that we will now legislate for.

09:40

Okay. Great. That's very helpful. I haven't got the 'what matters' statements in front of me—

Well, if you remember, we have the four purposes, and then we have the areas of learning and experience, and then, below the areas of learning and experience are the broad concepts that we would expect to be delivered in each of those areas of learning and experience. So, we're going to be refining some of those. Some of the feedback that we've had is that—

Adding is not necessarily—no, not adding. But, for instance, the children have given us some interesting feedback about what they feel really matters in those areas of learning and experience. So, they'll be refined, but not added to, and then we will legislate for them, and that hadn't been the original intention.

Well, the area of learning and experience for well-being is already there, and underneath that area of learning title, there are the broad concepts of what matters, what we believe matters, in that area of learning, and it is that that we will now actually put into the legislation. Sorry, I'm not helping, because I haven't got them with me either to read them out. 

They are in the annex to the paper, Siân, and, obviously, mental health is in there. So, just to clarify, then, that would mean that every school would have to teach mental health by law.

Yes, because the 'what matters' states very clearly the broad concepts in health and well-being. It refers to both physical and mental health, and we intend to legislate to ensure that the 'what matters' statements are a set given in the system.

Yes, the 'what matters' are the articulation of the big ideas. These are the essence of the core content. So, the idea is to make sure that those are consistent, and then that still leaves huge flexibility underneath as to how to approach those, which particular topics to select in how to actually teach them. But the concept that you might not do one 'what matters'—it was never what was intended. They were always intended to represent, as a whole, the learning that every learner should get. They won't be literally in the Bill, because, obviously, you might want to change the emphasis, so that'll be provided for in subordinate legislation, but the provision will be there, and they will have the status of something that's not optional, basically, for a school.

Therefore, it's not going to be on the face of the Bill—the mental health aspect, for example. And there are other matters that we've raised here. This is what I'm not clear about. You're saying that it's subordinate, but then you're saying—

09:45

So, on the face of the Bill, we will make provision to say that the 'what matters' statements have to be delivered. Over time, the 'what matters' statements might change. So the actual wording of the 'what matters' statements will be in secondary legislastion; the need to deliver and the requirement, the legal requirement to deliver the 'what matters' statement, will be on the face of the Bill. 

So, for instance, education is changing all the time. If I think, if we had sat here 20 years ago, we probably, in a 'what matters' statement on health and well-being, wouldn't have referred to mental health, 20 years ago, because our understanding as a society, our willingness as a society to engage in that—. So, if we had drawn up a 'what matters' statement even a decade ago, I suspect we wouldn't have talked about mental health. So, the concept of having to deliver the 'what matters' statement will be in the primary legislation; the actual wording, because otherwise if you wanted to change it you'd have to go through the entire process—. So, the wording of the 'what matters' statement will be in secondary legislation. The actual need and the compulsion, the expectation that you have to do that, will be on the face of the Bill.

Just on this question of the distinction between primary and secondary legislation. The point you've made is one that Government has made with other legislation prior to this, but can I just ask you to consider the worthiness, if you like, or the good purpose of actually putting the wording of the 'what matters' statements, the first round of those, in the primary legislation on the basis that they can be amended through affirmative procedure secondary legislation when they need changing in due course? The reason I ask this is just to explain to the population of Wales that there is certainty at the first step, bearing in mind that it will change over the years—I completely accept that. But when you're amending primary legislation, you don't have to go through the whole process again—you can do it via secondary legislation provided the correct powers are put in the primary legislation to do that. So, I'm just asking you to consider that.

Yes, as I said, I think we've demonstrated that we're listening to people, that there has been concern expressed about certainty and having a national approach on some of these issues, and we have taken steps to address that and we'll continue to reflect, but, crucially, we'll continue to reflect with our partners who are co-constructing this with us. And I think the important thing to remember is that it's not Ministers or civil servants that are necessarily drawing up these 'what matters' statements, it is practitioners themselves, guided by experts in the field that are not teachers, that have come up with these things.

Okay, thank you. Obviously, the Bill will presumably come to this committee—

I symud ymlaen, felly, at faes addysg grefyddol ac addysg cydberthynas a rhywioldeb, dwi'n deall eich bod chi wedi cael llawer iawn o ymatebion i'r Papur Gwyn ynghylch y maes penodol yma. Beth oedd y prif bwyntiau oedd yn cael eu codi a sut ydych chi'n bwriadu ymateb i'r hyn sydd wedi cael ei ddweud?

Moving on, therefore, to the religious education and relationships and sexuality education, I understand that you've had numerous responses to the White Paper surrounding this particular area. What are the main points that were raised with you and how do you intend to respond to what's been said?

Well, these two areas certainly have ensured that lots of people have responded. It's interesting that people are far more interested in what we may or may not do about these two subjects than maths, English, Welsh, science, but there we go; I guess it's the nature of the areas that we're talking about.

With regard to religious education, we had a significant number of people that have expressed concerns about our approaches towards RE that were set out in the White Paper. I think amongst the things that people have objected to were—. There were very mixed views on the inclusion of a range of faiths and world religions included in that area of learning. Many people said that there needed to be a much clearer and stronger—and in some cases exclusive—focus on Christianity, as opposed to including other world religions and, indeed, non-religious views. So, secular views or spiritual—spirituality rather than organised religion. There were people who thought that RE shouldn't be compulsory at all and therefore our proposals to ensure that RE was compulsory, people objected to that, on the other—. And there were many responses that were concerned about and emphasised the need to respect parents' views. So, if a child's parents have certain views, those are to be respected. Of those respondents that agreed that RE should be a compulsory part of the curriculum, or were neutral—didn't express an opinion either way, but were neutral on the question—the issues that they were bringing forward were: a need for learners, as they saw it, to be prepared to be part of a diverse and multicultural society. So, they wanted RE to be much more broad-based and encompassing of world views and world religions. They felt that that was an important part of preparing a young person to live in a world that is, as you say, diverse with people of different views living in it. There is certainly a need to modernise RE; some people perceived the current curriculum as a bit old-fashioned. And also there was much feedback on making sure that the profession was ready to deliver a renewed, modernised RE curriculum. So, those are the issues around religious education—

09:50

Can I just—? Before you go on to the next section—is there evidence that this was a co-ordinated lobby to present a particular view and what is your response going to be to this? Obviously, there are always going to be lobbies presenting particular viewpoints. Our role, as politicians, is to lead, obviously, isn't it?

It wasn't a campaign in the sense of it being completely consistent, but, certainly, I think people with a particular interest in this issues felt galvanised to respond to the White Paper on this issue—on this one and on relationships and sex education.

And my response: well, clearly, Siân, I need to consider those responses, and both for RE and RSE, I shall be making a statement in the near future of our intentions on how to respond to these issues.

With regard to RSE, the key messages, again, are focused on whether children should be taught RSE at all and that this should not be in the curriculum and it shouldn't be a compulsory part of the curriculum—that this was not an area where the school system and the education system should be involved, and that it should be alone the preserve of parents to teach children about issues around relationships and sexuality education. There were some issues raised about potential challenges with staff in talking about issues that they perhaps personally did not agree with with regard to this curriculum. So, those were the main areas that people were concerned about.

With regard to guaranteed access to a full curriculum, there were strong views that, again, it should be parents, and parents alone, that made decisions about whether their children should have access to the entirety of the curriculum rather than schools or the state setting those rules. So, I have to reflect on what has come back as part of the consultation exercise. I think these are really important aspects of our curriculum. I think if we are to achieve the four purposes, and that's how we have always got to think about it, and if we agree that those are the kind of people and individuals we want leaving our compulsory education system—how do we achieve those purposes? How are they healthy, confident individuals? How are we to prepare our children to be ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world? So, we will reflect on what has come back to us, but I do believe that these are important aspects of the curriculum, if we are to achieve the four purposes.

Ocê, diolch. Dŷch chi wedi sôn y bydd drafft terfynol o'r cwricwlwm ddechrau blwyddyn nesaf. Beth ydy'r amserlen ar gyfer y Bil ei hun ac ar gyfer ceisio Cydsyniad Brenhinol?

Okay, thank you. You've also mentioned that there will be a final draft of the curriculum at the start of next year. What is the timetable for the Bill itself and for seeking Royal Assent for that?

Okay, so, as I said earlier, the expectation is that we will publish a final version of the curriculum in January 2020, so schools will then have the opportunity to be really engaging in it. I have to say, I'm in schools most weeks, and many, many, many schools are already taking the opportunity, even on the draft, to begin to think about planning and, indeed, changing what they're doing in schools. I'm overwhelmed, actually, by the enthusiasm of the sector to embrace what is a massive change for them. So, that's January. We would expect to introduce the Bill following the Easter recess.

09:55

And I think what's really important is that we get the actual curriculum out in January itself, because that's the bit that schools are really concerned about, and then we will have the process here to underpin it.

Okay, thank you very much. We've got some questions now on potential unintended consequences, and other matters relating to that, from Hefin David. 

Can I ask what value you place on the work done by the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods and the presentation so far and the paper to be presented by Dr Nigel Newton?

I always—and Welsh Government are big supporters of WISERD and the work that they do, and, in fact, we need more research into Welsh education, not less. Therefore, I find their papers really helpful and help us to inform our work. I think what's really important in perhaps this piece of work is to say that I hope that, in the time where I've had an influence to influence over Welsh education, either as a backbencher or now as a Minister, equality and principles of equity have always driven what I've tried to achieve. And I would never undertake a policy reform that I thought would lead to less equity in the Welsh education system. Closing the attainment gap is a core element of the national mission for education in Wales and we would not proceed with anything that we thought could lead to an exacerbation of an achievement gap.

Okay. And how do you respond, then—? I mean, it's a balanced paper, it looks at pros and cons and there's a mixed picture from it. How do you respond to the specific statement that Dr Nigel Newton said that the curriculum could exacerbate segregation within schools between different groups of pupils?

Well, I think what the paper acknowledges is that there is no evidence that that will happen. These are 'coulds' and 'maybes' and things that we need, as a Government, to take into consideration as we plan this journey. There can't be any empirical research done at the moment because the curriculum isn't being delivered, but I understand, and we need listen to—. If there are concerns out there in the field that these are unintended consequences that we may fall into—that is the value of that piece of research that helps inform us.

I have to say, though, the curriculum in itself is neither going to necessarily on its own hugely enhance equity nor detract from equity, in the sense that the curriculum is what's taught in our schools. There is an opportunity, I believe, that empowering teachers to be able to be more flexible in what they teach their children actually gives us an opportunity to deliver lessons that could be much more engaging and much more relevant to some of our schoolchildren than what they have at the moment.

What will make the curriculum a success for all of our children, and I believe will have a bigger impact on children who are in danger of being left behind, are the four enabling purposes of the curriculum. So, the curriculum on its own can play a part, but it will only be as good as the four enabling elements that surround it. And that is strong leadership of our schools that ensures that there is no segregation, that has high expectation of all of our children, and delivers a curriculum within that setting that meets the needs of the children there. Secondly: excellent teaching. In the end, no education system, whatever its curriculum, can exceed the quality of the people who stand in front of our children day in, day out. So, the curriculum can be the most exciting, wonderful—and I think it is exciting and I think it's wonderful—it can be the most exciting, wonderful thing in the world, but if teachers can't teach it effectively, if their pedagogy is not excellent, then the content itself—it won't work.

Then we've got issues around assessment and accountability. So, how do you assess how children are doing in your new curriculum? How do you understand how that pupil, who has, you know—who could be vulnerable for a whole host of reasons, usually reasons outside of the school—? That pupil is vulnerable. How can you assess how that pupil is and move their learning along in an appropriate fashion?

And then, finally, the well-being of the child. People sometimes say, 'Oh, you're going soft—typical, going soft'. But what we know is that we cannot expect children to learn unless we address issues around their well-being. But we also know that poor achievement is also detrimental to a child's well-being. There's been lots and lots of research done, not in a Welsh context but in other systems, where children are kept behind for a year. That has a massive impact on their well-being. So, good achievement leads to good well-being, but good well-being also leads to good achievement, and you can't separate the two.

So, the curriculum on its own will not be enough. It is the four enabling objectives that sit around it, and we have to be cognisant of the WISERD's research, of course we do, to ensure that, as we're doing our professional learning, as we're planning well-being for our children, as we think about assessment methods and how we develop a culture of strong leaders in our schools—and we have some, we have many, but we need to do more to support them—it is that that will make the biggest difference, not just the content of the curriculum on its own. Although I do believe the flexibility that we're allowing people will, I think, lead to a curriculum and more meaningful lessons for some children in schools who are in danger of disengaging because they don't understand why they're being asked to learn what they're learning, they don't see the relevance of what they're learning to what they may want to do or how their lives are, or they don't see themselves reflected. So, for some of our communities, they don't see themselves reflected in the curriculum that we're teaching at the moment. And, again, international research would suggest that, if you want a child to thrive, they have to see themselves and their community reflected in what they're learning in schools. 

10:00

What the WISERD research suggests is that the senior management teams—the management teams—would certainly buy into what you've just said, but the classroom teachers would be a little bit more skeptical. 

As I said, classroom teachers are absolutely crucial to this, which is why, first of all, we've taken the difficult step to delay the implementation of the curriculum to give us the time that we need to make sure that it's not just school leaders but it is individual classroom practitioners who have the skills that they need to make the most of the opportunity that the curriculum allows them. 

So, if we look at some of the statements that were in the presentation by WISERD at the seminar two comments jump out: 'We'll end up'—this is from classroom teachers—

'We'll end up with a different accountability framework to the aims and objectives of the new curriculum.'

and

'there will be no consistency'.

And consistency is the one I'd particularly like to focus on:

'there will be no consistency across all schools in how the new curriculum is delivered which could effect outcomes'. 

Well, first of all, we've just talked, haven't we, about trying to ensure that there is greater consistency and that's why we're changing our approach to the legislation around the Bill. So, in terms of progression steps, there will be a statutory framework to ensure that progression is the same wherever you are in Wales. So, as I said, we're using this report, we're using this feedback, to inform decisions going forward. In terms of—. Read the first bit again. Was it—[Interruption.] Accountability, yes. 

Yes:

'different accountability framework to the aims and objectives of the new curriculum.'

Okay. So, as always, in education, teachers—understandably, because this is the regime that they have been a part of—immediately don't think about their pedagogy, they think about, 'How are judgments going to be made upon me as an individual?' And what we're trying to do is ensure that we are developing another accountability regime that is indeed in line with the purposes of the curriculum and doesn't work against the purposes of the curriculum. So, I understand why teachers are concerned. They spend a lot of time thinking about accountability and how they're going to be held accountable for their practice, but, again, what we want to do is provide reassurance that we are devising an accountability regime for our system that is in line with the purposes of the curriculum and puts us in line with the mainstream thought and reform process across the world of progressive education systems. 

It was the segregation bit I was particularly interested in and the response with regard to disadvantaged pupils and pupils of lower attainment. 

I don't—. I do not believe that any changes—and I would not pursue any changes that—would lead to a segregation. 

Okay. And with regard to the connection between Welsh Government and local government and the concerns that the Welsh Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Education Wales raised, what progress has been made on bridging the gap between—? Whether it's a perception gap or a practice gap, what progress has been made on that?

10:05

Well, I think the last time we had this conversation in the committee I said that I think the comments that the WLGA and ADEW had made were reflective of an old piece of work and were not current and up to date, and I think progress had been made in that time, and I'm pleased to report the significant progress that's been made—

Bridges have been—. Well, from my perspective, the bridges were always there. But we've got renewed, energetic engagement from the WLGA and ADEW in all the arrangements that we have for the development of the curriculum and my understanding is that they have said publicly and in writing that they're very supportive of what's going on.

I'm sure they're watching and nodding vigorously now on Senedd.tv.

And I will be with them tomorrow night and Friday morning and I'm sure if they've got any other views they'll let me know.

And the final question: there is a process, a model for this, which is Scotland. What kind of lessons are being learned from the introduction of their curriculum?

Okay. So, I think the first thing to realise is that our curriculum is not a copycat of the Scottish curriculum, but it is always useful to reflect on how other systems have undertaken curriculum reform in their nation and to learn from any issues that have arisen. So, I think it's fair to say—and I spent time with some delegates from Scotland just this weekend at the Atlantic Rim Collaboratory conference that Wales hosted this year. Unfortunately, Minister Swinney was not able to attend at the very last minute because of Brexit preparedness work that he was involved in, but certainly their teaching union and their equivalent of the EWC in Scotland joined us as well as representatives from the Scottish Government, although not John himself, and they were very frank about some of the challenges that they had faced in introducing their curriculum. Part of that is about assessment and they had not really thought—. They spent all their time thinking about content and spent no time at all thinking about assessment. Assessment has been a crucial part of the process that we have been involved in. Professional learning, ensuring that the profession was properly prepared for the changes, I think they would agree that that wasn't necessarily—. The middle tier, which they don't have to the—. Well, they've got local authorities and regions, but whether they were truly engaged in what they were doing. So, I think we've learned—. Although our curriculum isn't a copycat, as I said, we have been able to learn from, and we've had people who have been deeply involved in the Scottish experience as part of some of our curriculum and assessment groups and some of the advice that we've had in terms of developing coherence. But, Steve, I don't know if—. You speak to your Scottish colleagues quite a lot.

As I said, they're very forthright in sharing their learning and I think one of the critical elements was the extent to which assessment was considered at the outset alongside the curriculum content. So, that was critical, but we've embraced experts who were involved in that process who were part of our curriculum assessment group. So, they feed in throughout—not 'don't do this because Scotland has done it', but they feed some of that learning into the system. As the Minister said, we had seven other countries from across the world giving us feedback and input over four days as to where we can continue to look at what we're doing but also checks and balances against some of their experiences with this area of reform.

The particular focus of this year's conference was on the issue of assessment and we were joined by colleagues from Scotland, from Ireland, from Iceland, from Finland, from Saskatchewan, from Nova Scotia and from Uruguay.

Okay, thank you. Suzy. You've got a whole section on assessment, I don't know—

So, on the basis that this is not about assessment, you mentioned that one of the lessons learned from Scotland is that they said they spent too much time on curriculum content rather than assessment. Can you tell me a little bit about what you've learned about how they quality control the content, even though the content, of course, will be completely different in Wales?

Yes, the content would be completely different. When I said they spent too much time, I said that the focus had been in their work about just talking about content and, actually, the assessment arrangements were bolted on at the end of the process. So, the curriculum was all designed and developed, it was sent out to schools, and then the question was raised: 'Oh, actually, what assessment methods—? How are going to assess how children are getting on?' But, Steve, you would have more details of their exact experience of quality control of the content—

10:10

Of the content, because every school is going to be very different at this.

In terms of developing the guidance and the curriculum going out in January is concerned, I think—again, I don't want to be overly critical, but one of the findings was that they encouraged schools to go forth and multiply in terms of the materials and ideas and concepts that were coming through. What we learnt was to actually—the pioneer movement was to get a smaller group to develop those materials and look to engage through cluster groups. So, we had pioneers who worked with clusters to test the development of that concept before we were looking for schools to go away and develop a larger amount of content. So, in terms of the staging and measuring of bringing together the curriculum and the associated guidance, I think the time we've taken to actually get there and the strategy of using pioneer schools, external experts, back to pioneer schools, back to regions, or engaging regions in that, has been more measured and planned against a planned timescale, where everyone from the outset—with the exception of the extension of the one year—was clear on when we were going to be producing materials that would allow the profession to then take it and use it. I think—. Claire, do you want to add to that, or—?

I think, as we move forward, that kind of cluster approach remains really important. So, it's, as schools then think about, 'What am I going to do in my school?', that they're doing that in clusters together. When colleagues from the regional consortia were sharing their thinking with the curriculum assessment group last week, they were talking about the very specific and differentiated, I suppose, professional learning support that they would be offering to schools that have already done quite a lot of thinking and are quite far down this journey and then the kind of different sorts of approaches they would offer schools that are just starting out. Their emphasis was very much on this peer-to-peer sharing and support, so people aren't just going off in isolation.

The other thing that will also help in that process will be the national network. So, there'll continue to be a focus for each area of learning and experience, bringing together the professional learning and the ongoing curriculum development, bringing together practitioners and experts and colleagues across the middle tier to give a bit of strategic direction and to be able to identify if there are areas where more support is needed. 

So, I think that a huge amount of thinking, particularly in the regions, has gone on into the practical support that can be given to schools, not just in engaging with the curriculum now, but then how they take it and think about then developing it in their schools. It feels like—I think Graham Donaldson was calling it a 'slow-burn process'. You don't start in 2022—people are already doing it and there's a lot of thought going into how to support continued sharing through the next two years.

And I think that's another difference, you see—that strong middle tier and the role that the middle tier is playing in Wales, which was absent in Scotland. So, this ability to work in networks to provide support to a network of schools, that wasn't available in the Scottish system and I think that makes—I think that helps us in the way that they just simply didn't have a structure that allowed them to do that. It's not a criticism of them; it's just that we have got a structure that we can utilise to do that support so that schools are not completely left on their own and they can be working with other schools, with their regional consortia, going forward.

Yes, sorry, I completely understand.

Was one of the things that Scotland did—I don't want to use the word 'assess'—to monitor the pupil response to the curriculum as one of the means of deciding whether curricula in particular schools were working well enough?

I don't know if they—. I don't know if they did, but one of the interesting things that we were reflecting on over the weekend is that, certainly some of the Canadian systems, in particular, which we were interested in, used pupil surveys as part of their accountability regime—so, actually taking the time to ask students how they felt, not just about the content of the new curriculum, but actually how they felt their school was doing. And so we're interested in looking, as I said, at some of the practices that other countries use to include pupil voice to find out what's happening.

10:15

Yes. I mean, it's early thoughts, because we've only just heard about it ourselves. But that's the beauty of working with other countries. They found that particular useful and successful, and we're keen to see if we could do something similar. 

Thank you, Chair. Yes, just around preparations for the implementation, really. You touched on this briefly in response to some questions from Hefin David earlier on, but I'm just interested to know how the money that you announced for supporting teachers for the preparation of the implementation, how that's actually been used. What specifically have teachers been doing to prepare for its implementation? I know you've set aside about £24 million over two years. So, it's not an insignificant amount. I just wondered how that was being utilised. 

You're right, first of all, it's not an insignificant amount; it's the largest investment in professional learning since the history of devolution. So, you're right that it is not insignificant, and it was a hard-won resource, I can tell you, from my colleagues. Because, as I said earlier, the curriculum itself can be amazing, but if our teachers and our professionals are not equipped to deliver it, then all this change will be for nothing. So, investing in the profession is absolutely crucial.

That money is being made available to each and every school and has empowered headteachers to really think, 'What are the professional needs of my school and the practitioners in my school?' Because, as we've just heard from Claire, there are some schools that have been part of the pioneer process from the very beginning and therefore are further along that development chain. There are other schools that maybe are only beginning now, now that it's published, to be really engaging with the curriculum.

There is a national element to it, but we've given the money to individual schools and individual headteachers because I have no way of knowing how each individual practitioner is ready or how much additional support they're going to need. There's no way I can know that. The people who do know that are the headteachers that are running our schools. But we have worked with the National Academy for Educational Leadership to put together a programme for headteachers, and that's national. The four regional consortia are working together to have a national approach for the first level of engagement. So, actually, the beginning of their discussion is about how you would implement a curriculum. The next stages will be much more focused on individual AoLE and area-specific professional learning. So, there is a national approach in terms of leadership. The regional consortia are working together to provide consistency for classroom teachers and teaching assistants, and then the next stage of that development is for subject specifics. Claire referred to the AoLE networks, and there's an opportunity then for people to engage in that.

It's also important to say that that's not the end of the process. So, this September is the start of our new ITE courses, taught for the first time, and that's great. I'm concerned about what happens to people when they come out of ITE. So, we're looking at developing potentially a stronger set of support, again on a national basis, for those who are newly qualified, beginning their teaching career, because I don't think we've done that on a consistently good level across the country. We're also working with the regions to revisit and improve their coaching and mentoring schemes that they have across the system.

We're also involved in—and I'm sure the committee has heard about it, so forgive me if I'm going over old ground—schools as learning organisations and the OECD work to support schools to develop that culture as a learning organisation. We know from very successful education systems in other parts of the world there is a strong, strong culture of self-evaluation as a first step in their school improvement system, and we've not been very good at that in Wales, we've not been strong at that, that's not the culture that we have had. We've kind of depended on a culture where a school does its thing and then somebody comes along and tells you whether you're good or bad, rather than the school really thinking itself deeply about, 'What are we doing well and what do we need to improve on?' So, the schools as learning organisations are an important part, again, so that money is being used for schools participating in that programme with support from the OECD.

Okay. And the money that you announced for this  professional development preparation, if you like, was for two years. So, there's going to clearly be an ongoing programme of preparation development and personal development, as well as anything else. But is there likely to be any more money allocated specifically beyond the two years that you've already allocated or is that going to be a question and negotiation with your colleagues? Or do you see what you've put in as being, 'This is what we need to develop or to prepare for the implementation. The rest would be what would be normal professional development beyond that'?

10:20

The money that was agreed was for a two-year period and, clearly, I continue to have conversations with the Minister for Finance and the First Minister around future allocations for professional learning, and I'm sure this committee and, indeed, members of this committee could help me in that task.

Okay, fine. Can you tell us a bit about the innovation schools—the 16 innovation schools—and how you've made your decisions about who they might be, across which sectors, in primary, secondary and so on? So, basically, how they were selected and what you're expecting of them.

Okay. So, all of our schools that had previously been pioneers were invited to apply to morph into the next phase, which is innovation schools, and they were asked to apply and there was a discussion held both internally within Welsh Government and with the consortia about which schools were best placed to be able to do that role and to continue to work with us, going forward.

I think one of the lessons learned, and this was said in the committee, was that there was an upside to having pioneer schools, but there was a downside to having pioneer schools, and I think, at this stage of the game, we need to move away from that model and to really get the message to everybody that they all had to be pioneers now—everybody had to be a pioneer—because this is coming down the track and we don't want anybody just sitting there waiting until September 2022 and saying, 'Oh, gosh. I've got to do something new today'. Not that they would have done that, but—. So, the move away is partly to engender within the sector the fact that we've all got to engage in this now. The innovation schools have led to a very specific piece of work as we do the final refinement, and their main role is working with us on these final refinements to the content but also to the assessment issues and accountability issues. Steve.

Yes. There were 60 applicants from 170 previous pioneer schools. We've had 16—four per region. It was important that we engaged with the regions to get their view, and we've had evaluation being carried out—

Yes. So, during the first term of work, we asked them to really look at the curriculum as a whole—so, take the whole curriculum guidance and then think, 'How would I apply that in the school?, Does it make sense?, Can we work with it?, What are the issues?, What are the questions that arise for us for assessment?', and each of the schools produced a report setting out their reflections on, 'If I were putting this into practice—'. So, it's slightly different to the feedback we've had from other people, which has been more, 'Maybe you should emphasise this or change that wording' and kind of quite practical, and really about how you would realise this curriculum in a school. That's been drawn together into an overall report, drawing out the themes, by Wavehill, who are a kind of research company. It's been really useful, and the innovation schools met as part of the workshops last week. Having 16 headteachers in a room talking about how they see this curriculum and the way in which they would practically engage with it has been invaluable, in just making us think, even with all the practitioners that have been involved, 'How do we make this work for schools?', given that we've got schools and headteachers really engaging in the detail of how they would use it practically. So, it's been invaluable, and they're continuing on that work now this term to keep making sure that what we're doing is something that schools can actually realise practically.

If you think of the pioneer model, pioneers were looking at specific aspects of the curriculum. So, you might have been a pioneer school because you had particular strengths in health and well-being, or you might have been a pioneer schools because you were particularly looking at professional learning needs to support the curriculum. This is about, at this stage, where we have a high degree of certainty about what it's going to look like, 'Actually, how do I as a school practically implement this in the round?', and the schools were chosen because of their ability to do that. But also we did need a mix of sector—secondary, primary—but also linguistically, to just try to make sure that this works in all the different types of schools we've got. Faith schools, as well, are involved. So, just trying the practical implementation now, now that we know exactly—not exactly— but we have a good idea what it's actually going to look like, so, 'How am I going to go about doing this?'

10:25

Okay. Siân has a supplementary. If I could ask as well, maybe you could provide the committee with a list of the new innovation schools. 

A ydych chi'n hollol grediniol bod pob ysgol ar draws Cymru yn cymryd rhan yn y broses newydd yma rŵan, achos y perygl ydy, wrth gael yr ysgolion arweiniol—? Dwi'n deall eu bod nhw'n trafod mewn clystyrau, ac yn y blaen, ond a ydych chi'n gallu rhoi eich llaw ar eich calon a dweud, 'Ie, mae pob ysgol yn rhan o'r project yma, rŵan'?

Are you confident that every school across Wales is participating in this process of change now, because the danger is, in getting these pioneer schools—? I understand that they are discussing in clusters, and so on, but can you put your hand on your heart and say that every school is participating in this project now?

I can't tell you that, absolutely, 100 per cent are definitely, totally, absolutely equally involved. The structure we've got in place across the regions is working with schools on their readiness to actually—not readiness to engage—start to deliver as we move through to the future. So, each region is a member of our operations board, which was in our governance structure. And we don't have a roll-call against all schools, but we require them, or request of them that they keep us informed of the networks. Every school is part of a network that links to it, and they gauge (1) the level of activity in it, (2) the outcomes of that work, because each of the networks, each of the clusters, produces work that the region brings together. But we've not got a monitoring system that says, 'Tick every box'.

What I would say, and it touches on the point you raised earlier and in relation to Scotland, I think if we had 22 units of local authorities trying to do this, it would be incredibly complex and very difficult to deliver. At a regional level, we require the regions to engage with all schools through the cluster model. 

I just wanted to clarify, because in your paper you talk about giving £30,000 to each, or to the innovation schools. Was that £30,000 each, or £30,000 for the project?

Each school that participates in the innovation schools programme gets £30,000. 

Okay. Thank you for that clarification.

My final question in this section is just about how we are going to deal with the issue of teachers who are not trained in Wales. So, teachers trained in England apply for jobs in Wales, but they obviously haven't been trained in the new curriculum. How are we actually going to deal with that? 

Okay. Well, you're right—we will continue to have a system where teachers trained in Wales will teach in England and teachers trained in England or who have worked in England will come across the border, as well as teachers from other parts of the world coming to teach in our schools. I think that that will continue to happen. Indeed, when I'm feeling at my most confident and bullish about these issues, I think Wales will be a really attractive place to be a teacher because of the autonomy that we will be giving to our professionals, as well as an exciting new curriculum. So, I think, actually, potentially, we will have people coming across the border to teach here because it'll be a great place to be a professional. 

Clearly, already in some ways, programmes of study are already distinctive in Wales. We have a different exam board, if you're teaching at a secondary level. So, our programmes of study are already different and that does not preclude anybody from coming across to teach in our system from a different system. I believe that that's not a barrier to people continuing to do that. Clearly, there may be pedagogical concepts in the new curriculum that perhaps somebody who had trained in a different system would not be completely au fait with, but that is the ongoing role of professional learning within our school system, because we've just talked about the two years' worth of money; in an ideal world, if I was able to make long-term plans, I think there will be an ongoing, and there should always be an ongoing, provision for professional learning in our classrooms. And this shouldn't just be about just getting people ready for the curriculum and then taking away professional learning budgets. One of the ways in which I think we can attract teachers to Wales is to send a very clear message— and actually attract people into the profession and keep them in the profession, wherever they train—that you will have a career in teaching where you will be continually supported in your practice via professional learning. So, I do not see that this is an insurmountable issue. 

10:30

So, you'll still be recruiting on the basis of skills and adaptability and so on. 

Thank you. We've got a lot of issues to cover, so I'm going to appeal for concise questions, concise answers. On to assessment, progression and accountability—Suzy.

Okay. We've set the scene. What was the feedback like with regard to the draft assessment proposals?

Okay. Well, the principles were broadly supported, Suzy. We received what I would describe as positive feedback regarding the emphasis placed on ongoing assessment that is there to support children's learning and progression. Key messages were perhaps to find a better way of expressing the purposes of assessment—we refer to a formative and summative assessment—and just being a bit clearer about what that actually means and being clear about definitions around it. But, generally, supported. 

Obviously, we're all aware now of the distinction between assessment of pupils for their own progression and the evaluation of how a school does at certain points in its life cycle as well. Presumably, the way you're looking at this is to keep these items completely separate, and that evaluation and assessment proposals will be—. They're out in a separate document; their results are going to be coming forward in a separate document—is that right? There's a thick black line between these two concepts. 

Yes, absolutely. I think some of the trouble that we've got ourselves in previously is because there has not been a clear distinction between assessment and accountability, and, when you start using assessment for accountability purposes, that's when, potentially, that assessment process gets corrupted and you have gaming. 

Can I ask, with the assessments, though, which is about pupil progression, will those results be published internally? Will parents get to see those? 

Oh, yes. And that should be the purpose for assessment. The primary purpose for assessment is for that professional to be able to know how to move that child's educational journey on, and you would absolutely expect professionals to have those conversations with parents, whether they're using formative methods of assessment or summative methods of assessment. So, absolutely, you would expect teachers to be sharing information around assessment methods, whichever type they use, with parents, to describe and to inform parents about what happens next for their child. 

Right. I accept that. Is it realistic, then, to expect parents, families, communities, not to think about that information when they're drawing conclusions about the school, notwithstanding that formal evaluation of those schools is going to be done completely separately?

Well, of course, parents will always be interested in how the overall institution is doing. But the conversations I have with parents, and I certainly feel this myself as a parent—I'm interested in how my child is doing, how my child is getting on in school, what are the issues that that child has, and, more importantly, what is the school going to do about it? So, if my child is struggling for whatever reason, what is the school going to do about that to help that child? If my child happens to be exceptionally able and talented, how are you as a school going to make the most of my child's talents and move them on to fulfil their potential? So, undoubtedly, I can't control assumptions that parents will make, but it is absolutely clear in this system, and my intention is, that teachers should share assessment methods and outcomes with parents to have that conversation about what happens next. But I am absolutely clear that we do have to make this distinction between assessment for learning and an accountability in the system, otherwise we drive—inadvertently; people don't set out to do it, but we drive a set of behaviours that has negative unintended outcomes. We only have to look at the debacle around BTEC science to know that.

10:35

Okay. I understand that. So, how—? Can you just briefly give us an indication of how you think the accountability, on both sides of that thick black line—the methodology—is likely to change with this? You mentioned that there's going to be an independent review of performance measurements coming shortly; we know that some of the existing ones have been ditched in fairly recent legislation. Without preempting the findings of such a review, have you got your top three likely expected changes?

To accountability. Well, we're moving to a system of schools as learning organisations, and a greater emphasis on self-evaluation, with external verification of that by Estyn, our inspectors.

And that will be reflected in the school categorisation system as well—will those indicators change, do you think?

Well, categorisation—again, the purpose for categorisation is not to make a judgment on a school in the sense of a league table; it's a triage process, categorisation.

Well, this is the issue, isn't it? This is the problem of designing a system where there are perfectly good reasons to introduce the system—and in this case it's a triage system to identify levels of support for a school. But then others come along and turn it into something else that it was never intended to be. And categorisation was never intended to be a way of expressing a league table of school performances; it's there to identify levels of support that a school can expect from its regional consortia. Now, we have, we have—we will continue to keep categorisation, but, since coming into office, we have tried to adapt categorisation simply away from pure data to a more formative assessment process, and categorisation will continue to evolve. The message is very clear: this is not to absolve our system of accountability. And the first level of accountability in that system has to be the professionalism of an individual member of staff—the moral purpose that I bring to my classroom today to do right by the children that are in front of me. That's the first level of our accountability, and therefore we have our new teaching standards. As a leader, we have new leadership standards. That's the first part of our accountability regime—the moral purpose our professionals bring to their work. So, categorisation will stay. Will it evolve? Yes, because it's been evolving over the last three years. This is about better accountability, smarter accountability, not less accountability.

Okay. Well, just finally on that, there may be an argument, then, for scrapping categorisation, putting something else in place. But I suppose the core question is: how are the general public going to understand all those things that you've just mentioned about the teachers being able to teach, the leaders being able to lead, and how well a school is performing against KPIs on those measures?

Well, because we will still—. We will still have inspections, won't we?

Okay. So, it's all going to go in through the Estyn reports. This is the kind of detail I'm after.

Yes, that's the ultimate, isn't it? So, the ultimate is—. The ultimate system that we're going to get to and the ultimate arbiter and the part of the system that provides public assurance and public confidence ultimately ends in Estyn. But it starts with our teaching standards and the professionalism of individual members of staff. That's where it starts, and it ends in Estyn.

I don't think I've quite followed that journey. Because I get the point of the end point being Estyn, and that's where the public assurance will be seen, but what about the public assurance at those early steps of the teaching standards and the leadership standards? Where will we see those demonstrated?

Well, you would expect to see those demonstrated in the self-evaluation that a school will provide of itself, and then Estyn—

All right, so schools will be publishing self-evaluations annually, or something like that?

The outcome of the self-evaluation is a school development plan. We expect those to be considerably enhanced.

We expect a series of priorities for a school to set itself as a result of prioritisation. We expect that to be published through the school website, so the outcomes of that. What we're looking at, in terms of what's brought to that, is not a narrow set of measures—just two measures, or one measure in a secondary school. The measures will still consider reflection on progress of children, but it'll also have reviews of mental health, well-being, how it approaches that and things that it wanted to do. It's broadening the evidence base. The school is evaluating—the outcome of that will be a development plan, annually published on the website. Within the plan, they will have a set area of priorities that they will be publishing.

10:40

And the schools' ability—whether they do that well or whether they don't do it well—will be judged by Estyn. 

Okay, as my colleague Chair Dai Lloyd would say, 'Now we're into the needing serious agility territory'. So, we've got some questions on specific areas. Firstly from me: Qualifications Wales have told us that the curriculum must define qualifications rather than the other way around. What implications does that have for the amount of time that is needed to develop qualifications that are properly aligned with the new curriculum?

Well, I'd absolutely agree with Qualifications Wales. The qualifications have to arise out of the curriculum, and the qualifications should not be dictating the curriculum. Qualifications Wales, which I met with yesterday, I think—yes, yesterday; it seems a long time ago—will begin their national conversation about reform of qualifications as a result of curriculum reform in November.

Thank you. How is awareness and understanding of human rights, including children’s rights, being embedded in the new curriculum?

Children's rights, human rights—they've been key considerations throughout the design, and this is currently set out in overarching guidance and we continue to work with the children's commissioner's office to map the rights of the child across each area of learning and experience. And I'm delighted that the children's commissioner took the time to write to me during the feedback phase to say that they were very pleased that their initial assessment demonstrates that what we're proposing is a big step forward.

Thank you. And how do you respond to the concerns expressed in the children's commissioner’s quarterly report of July 2019 that consultation materials for young people were not released until mid June, allowing just over a month for young people to engage? And they said it was disappointing that a plan was not in place at the start of the consultation period.

Well, we undertook a specific programme of engagement with children and young people, as I said at the beginning. We had over 20 events where focus groups of young children were involved and we had a number of children who took the opportunity to feed back via different mechanisms. The output of that engagement and feedback has been drawn together into a report exploring learners' views about schools and learning. It's a powerful contribution and I think will actually effect change, especially in how the 'what matters' statements are worded.

Troi at y dimensiwn Cymreig yn y cwricwlwm newydd, mae Cymdeithas Ddysgedig Cymru yn dweud bod angen cyfeiriadur o adnoddau er mwyn cyflawni’r dimensiwn Cymreig. Ydych chi'n cytuno? Fyddwch chi'n cyhoeddi cyfeiriadur adnoddau?

Turning to the Welsh dimension in the new curriculum, the Learned Society of Wales has said that there needs to be a directory of resources to implement that Welsh dimension. Do you agree with that and will you be publishing such a resource?

We have a separate programme of work that is looking at resources that are needed to support the curriculum. It's one of the conversations I had with Qualifications Wales yesterday to try to avoid the debacle that we've had previously, where we have new qualifications and the resources to support those qualifications aren't available. So, we're already having those conversations with Qualifications Wales and there is a piece of work that is ongoing to look at what are the resources that are necessary to support the curriculum. And this proposal by the Learned Society will be considered as part of that work.

Ocê. Ac, o ran y continwwm dysgu sengl o ran y Gymraeg, sut mae'r camau dilyniant a chanlyniadau cyflawniad mewn ysgolion cyfrwng Cymraeg yn mynd i weithio a sut maen nhw'n mynd i weithio mewn ysgolion cyfrwng Saesneg?

Okay. And, in terms of the single continuum of learning with regard to the Welsh language, how are progression steps and achievement outcomes in Welsh-medium schools going to work and how are they going to work in English-medium schools?

Okay. Just on the Welsh dimension, I think it's really important that whatever resources we have to support the Welsh dimension are really, really, really broad and not confined to specific areas. I was in Swansea University just this week, looking at some of their Technocamp work that they're doing to help us with coding, and we had an amazing conversation about the Welsh contribution to the computing industry. And so my expectation is that that isn't taught in a history lesson—that, actually, when children are learning about coding, they get to hear that Welsh people have been at the forefront of developing this technology. So, that's—. When I talk about a Welsh dimension, I mean right the way across the curriculum, and I think that's important.

With regard to—. The continuum for language will have to be contextualised depending on the setting where a child is being taught. We have to recognise—. We have to recognise that, and there will be progression points on that continuum that will be there to show progression both in Welsh language and in the English language, and they have to be contextualised. We recognise that children learning Welsh in a Welsh-medium school, their progressional on that point would be more speedy and quicker, and by the end of primary school they would be in a very different position than a child that was learning Welsh in an English-medium school. Vice versa—we've had this discussion before—if a child is going into Welsh medium, their progression in English perhaps from age three to seven would be very different from a child that was in an English-medium school, although the expectation would be that by 11 they would be in the same position. So, we have to contextualise that learning continuum depending on the medium of tuition with the school, but recognising that it is a progression. It isn't a start and never get any further.

10:45

Yr elfen meddwl yn greadigol yn PISA, dwi'n cymryd eich bod chi'n dal yn glynu at y ffaith bod Llywodraeth Cymru yn optio allan o'r profion meddwl creadigol ynghylch PISA 2020. Dwi ddim cweit yn deall hynny oherwydd mae'r cwricwlwm newydd yn rhoi pwyslais mawr ar feddwl yn greadigol, meddwl yn annibynnol. Pam ddim ymuno yn y profion?

With regard to the creative thinking element of PISA, I take it that you are adhering to the fact that the Welsh Government is opting out of the creative thinking tests with regard to PISA 2020. I don't entirely understand that because the new curriculum does place great emphasis on creative thinking and independent thinking. So, why not participate in these tests?

Because, for me, the key factor for making that decision, and I intend to stick to it, is in 2021 we will be expecting schools to be right in the middle of their preparation for the introduction of the new curriculum—

I think there could well be a different decision at a later date, but at 2021 this is not the right time to do it. Can I just say? In terms of creativity, Wales is seen as an exemplar by the OECD, especially our partnership with the Arts Council of Wales and creative learning through the arts.

I get that. That's why I don't understand why we're not actually going for it and showing how good we are through the PISA. But, I understand.

There could well be a different decision, but for 2021 we're asking enough of people at the moment and this would be an unnecessary addition to cope with. I just don't think that that should be seen as us running away from it because we're worried about a lack of creativity in our education system. The very opposite is true. We are seen as exemplars by the OECD and some of the work that's been going on with creative learning through the schools is now being shared internationally. 

Oh gosh, that shows that Siân thinks that I'll be here to make that decision. [Laughter.] That's very encouraging indeed. [Laughter.]

One very quick technical point, Chair. We have not opted out of this. Countries were offered if they wished to take the invite to come into it, and a number of countries across the world are yet to make their decision on this. 

Okay, thank you. Janet, you've got a question on physical activity.

Can you give a guarantee that all children and young people, where appropriate, will take part in physical activity under the new curriculum for Wales? Also, how much time per week will the Government expect children and young people to spend undertaking physical activity?

Yes, all children will be given that opportunity, because if they are not then that school would be in breach of the expectations that will be set out in statute. 

Well, as we've just said, ultimately, we are not getting rid of our school improvement services and regional consortia, nor are we getting rid of Estyn. So, one would expect the quality of the curriculum to be a key consideration of any visit that Estyn would make to a school.

Yes. To what extent will the new curriculum allow for the continuity of the way that the foundation phase is taught? Will there be any significant differences and have the early years professionals been involved in the development of the curriculum to date?

Yes, early years professionals have been involved in the curriculum to date. One of the advantages, I think, of the new curriculum is to take the pedagogical principles that underpin our approach to early years education actually further into children's educational journey. I'm sure, Suzy, that you've had conversations that—. We have a certain pedagogical approach until the age of seven, and then all of a sudden, at seven, it's like, 'Forget all of that now. Sit down, pick up your pen and do this.' That's been really uncomfortable for many practitioners in our primary sector. So, actually, yes, statutory and non-statutory provision have been involved in the development of the curriculum because, of course, some of this is going to be delivered in the non-statutory sector. I'm very welcoming and supportive of that, but those pedagogical principles will now be available throughout that child's educational journey, rather than the false divide we've got at the moment.

10:50

So, aside from the purposes and the AoLEs, the type of teaching is unlikely to change in the foundation phase settings.

Okay. The other end of the scale now: you report that one of the themes of the feedback from further education has been the need to ensure that the transition to post-16 education is supported so that the systems don't just clash against each other. How are you working on the sector at the moment to make sure that there's a decent dovetail?

Okay. So, that's really important. We don't want to do anything in pre-16 that stops people going on to be successful in post-16, whichever route the child or young person decides to take. FE have been involved in every single AoLE and they're a part of the curriculum and assessment group. So, colleagues in FE have been part of this process throughout. And then in the conversations we had yesterday with Qualifications Wales around what qualifications will look like, I was very keen to take the opportunity to emphasise that any changes to qualifications should be a gateway to further study in FE, whichever type of route the child took. But FE have been involved in this process from the very beginning. 

And you're confident they're geared up to accepting young people who have been educated in this way.

Yes, absolutely. FE continues to be one of the real strengths of our education system. 

Okay, thank you. We've got a question now on governance arrangements. Suzy, you're down to do that one—sorry, Siân.

I think you actually answered this at the beginning, but just to confirm that you're carrying on with the same governance set-up, the different groups that you've got, and there's nothing being added there or taken away. 

Thank you. And just finally from me, then, on pupil referral units: what arrangements will be in place to ensure that they can benefit from the new curriculum and how is that going to be reflected in the legislation?

Okay. So, we've been taking advice from Brett Pugh, who chairs the education otherwise than at school improvement group, and this has been an area where we've had to think really, really, really, really, really hard. So, what we intend to do for EOTAS and PRU is to set a minimum of what we would expect a child to receive. So, that would be around the four purposes; that would be around the cross-cutting themes of literacy, numeracy and digital competency and health and well-being. So, that would be the baseline of our expectation, that every pupil would get that. After that, then there needs to be a discussion and a focus on what is in the best interests of that particular pupil.

One of the things we know about sometimes in EOTAS is we have very able and talented students who don't get access to the range of qualifications and courses that they have the capability and the aptitude to do. We also have to consider, though, that for some children they may be out of school for reasons, and telling them that they've got to do a full curriculum may be hugely detrimental to their mental health and well-being. So, for instance, to give an example, you could have a child who's very ill, and saying to them, 'You have to carry the full load of a curriculum' could be inappropriate. So, we'll be setting a minimum standard, as I said, around the purposes, around the cross-cutting themes and health and well-being, and then there will be an expectation that in conjunction with the child and the family an appropriate addition would be put in place to meet the needs of that child, recognising that they could have very different needs. Is that clear? 

Well, yes, and it's something that we'll probably look to build on when we look at our inquiry on EOTAS, which is coming up. Thank you.

That concludes our questions. We've covered a lot of ground. So, can I thank you for attending and thank your officials for coming today? As usual, we will send you a transcript to check for accuracy following the meeting, but thank you again, all of you, for your attendance this morning.

10:55
3. Papurau i’w Nodi
3. Papers to Note

Okay. Item 3 then is papers to note. As Members will see, there are a substantial number of papers to note—23 in total, which are in a supplementary pack. As there are so many, can I suggest that we note them all together and then we've got an opportunity to return to some of them in the private session afterwards? Is that okay with everybody? Okay. Thank you.

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i Benderfynu Gwahardd y Cyhoedd o Weddill y Cyfarfod Hwn
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Item 4 then. Can I propose in accordance with Standing Order 17.42 that the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of the meeting? Are Members content?

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:56.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:56.

Archwilio Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru