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Written Statement - Update on Professor Graham Donaldson’s Independent Review of Assessment and the Curriculum

Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

In March I announced the appointment of Professor Graham Donaldson to lead a comprehensive, wide ranging and independent review of assessment and the national curriculum in Wales. I have asked him to articulate a clear, coherent vision for education, from Foundation Phase to Key Stage 4, linking directly to our new Qualifications system. 
I have received an update from Professor Donaldson on progress with his review.  I know that many of you have an interest in this review, and as such I felt it would be helpful to share Professor Donaldson’s update with you at this stage.  You can access it online.

In particular, it is heartening to note the “very positive and constructive response” which Professor Donaldson has received as he has been building his evidence base through engagement with stakeholders – including head teachers, teachers, pupils, parents and the range of key organisations and individuals with an interest across Wales.  This is clearly evidenced in the 713 responses which he has received to his ‘call for evidence’ and to which I know some of you will have responded directly.  

In his update, Professor Donaldson signals that he is developing a set of principles for curriculum design which he will use both to evaluate current practice and to guide and test his emerging proposals. These are included in the annex to his update – but merit rehearsing in this context:

The Curriculum should be: 
authentic: rooted in Welsh values and culture and aligned with an agreed set of stated purposes; 
evidence-based: drawing on the best of existing practice within Wales and from elsewhere and on sound research; 
responsive: relevant to the needs of today (individual, local and national) but also equipping all young people with the knowledge, skills and dispositions for future challenges as lifelong learners; 
inclusive: easily understood by all, encompassing an entitlement to high quality education for every child and young person and taking account of their views in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and those of parents and wider society; 
ambitious: embodying high expectations and setting no artificial limits on achievement and challenge for each individual child and young person; 
empowering: developing competencies which will allow young people to engage confidently with the challenges of their future lives; 
unified : enabling continuity and flow with components which combine and build progressively; 
engaging: encouraging enjoyment from learning and satisfaction in mastering challenging subject matter; 
based on subsidiarity: commanding the confidence of all, whilst encouraging appropriate ownership and decision-making by those closest to the learning and teaching process; 
manageable: recognising the implications for and supported by appropriate assessment and accountability arrangements. 

It is clear from Professor Donaldson’s update that, whilst building on existing strengths in our system, his recommendations will have significant implications for our curriculum here in Wales and also for how we assess the progress of our children and young people in the future. I have therefore asked Professor Donaldson to include in his final report his thoughts on how his recommendations might be taken forward in the longer term, including issues around supporting and building workforce capacity, and that of the wider system.

I am very much looking forward to receiving Professor Donaldson’s final report, as I am sure we all are.  This will be with me at the turn of the year and I will look to share its contents with you as swiftly as practicable thereafter.