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Written Statement - Curriculum Reform

Kirsty Williams AM, Cabinet Secretary for Education

My priority as Cabinet Secretary for Education is to raise the aspirations in Wales for all children and young people, broadening horizons and developing ambition so that all can achieve. Our education system must be about providing children and young people with the skills, and knowledge and attributes they need for the modern world, to enable them to compete and succeed for their own benefit and for the benefit of Wales.

I was fully supportive of Professor Graham Donaldson’s Successful Futures when it was published in February 2015 and my views have not changed. However, the profession has told me that they often feel over-burdened by new policies and initiatives.

Therefore, my focus will be to make sure that the education reform programme is implemented well. This includes making sure the workforce are at the heart of these developments and have the support they need to be able to realise the full potential of the new curriculum within their own schools and settings. I am looking forward to speaking to the profession about this exciting agenda.

I want to get the basics right and let teachers get on with teaching and enable leaders to lead. I want to work closely with the profession to help teachers and practitioners be the best they can be, while raising the standard of teaching and importantly raising the standing of the profession as a whole. Without enthused, valued and skilled teachers and practitioners we can’t achieve anything.

I also want to hear the voice of parents and children as we develop our new curriculum. The wishes of government and concerns of the profession often dominate the public debate about our education system, but I want to hear from as many parents and children as possible so their ambitions inform my agenda.

The ambition outlined in Curriculum for Wales: Curriculum for Life is that schools and settings across Wales will be using the new curriculum to support learning and teaching from September 2021. As we develop our new curriculum and assessment arrangements and accountability reforms I am determined that we will keep the child at the centre and develop a broad, balanced, inclusive and challenging curriculum.

Strong foundations have been already laid and progress is being made by our Pioneer Schools on the early stages of development. We will continue to learn from others and strike the right balance between pace and getting it right.

Improving digital competence in schools is vitally important. The Digital Competence Framework (DCF) is firmly on track to be made available to schools and settings this September and is currently being shared more widely with schools across Wales. The DCF will improve digital competence by helping integrate digital skills across the curriculum, enabling learners to apply digital skills to a wide range of subjects and scenarios. This will help young people to be informed, capable and has been designed to encapsulate the skills that will help learners thrive in an increasingly digital world.

And today over 250 teachers are gathering in Llandudno to hear about the latest developments in digital learning in Wales and its importance to teachers and learners at our annual national conference. Professor Graham Donaldson is the keynote speaker and teachers will learn more about the new DCF from Pioneer Schools who have developed the draft framework with expert support.

Together with a range of engagement activities taking place over the next few weeks, these workshops will help to shape the ongoing development of the framework to ensure that it is fit for purpose when it is made available in September and I’d like to thank the practitioners and others who have led this development.

My resolve is to fulfil our ambition of developing a world-leading curriculum. This is a rigorous agenda. It is about better learning and higher standards; our children, young people and nation deserve nothing less.