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Written Statement - Curriculum task and finish group reviews

Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

In 2012 my predecessor commissioned independent task and finish groups to review five specific aspects of the curriculum. The findings of the groups were all carefully considered by Professor Graham Donaldson during his review of the Curriculum and Assessment arrangements in Wales and were invaluable in developing Successful Futures.

I would like to express my gratitude to the many colleagues and stakeholders who contributed to these groups and their work. I am particularly grateful to the chairs of each of the groups for their contributions and comprehensive reports. This statement sets out how the conclusions and recommendations of these reviews will be taken forward through the implementation of Successful Futures.

Welsh second language

Successful Futures makes ten recommendations in relation to Welsh language in the curriculum, all of which respond directly to key recommendations from Professor Sioned Davies’ report on Welsh second language, One language for all. I issued a statement on 15 October setting out how we are taking the recommendations forward.

ICT

An independent review group, chaired by Stuart Arthur, Dr Tom Crick and Janet Hayward, explored and considered the future of computer science and ICT in schools in Wales. The group’s report set out their recommendations on a way forward including the need for ICT in schools to be re-branded, re-engineered and made relevant to now and to the future. It emphasised the importance of digital literacy from the Foundation Phase onwards and proposed that a digital literacy framework should be introduced alongside the Literacy and Numeracy frameworks.

This review informed Professor Donaldson’s Successful Futures, which recommends that digital competence should be one of the three cross-curricular responsibilities. I wholeheartedly agree that digital competence is becoming increasingly important to a young person’s success in life and, since accepting Professor Donaldson’s recommendations, I have decided to ‘fast track’ the development of a cross-curriculum Digital Competence Framework.  

13 Digital Pioneer Schools  have already been identified to lead the development process for the Digital Competence Framework. The aim is for the Digital Competence Framework to be available to schools in Wales from September 2016, enabling digital skills to be seamlessly integrated across the curriculum. As I set out in my statement on 16 July, Dr Tom Crick will be providing support and advice to Welsh Government and relevant members of the Pioneer Schools network in relation to the development of the cross-curriculum Digital Competency Framework.

Computing will be developed within the Science and Technology Area of Learning and Experience and the group’s recommendations for the development of this subject area will inform the curriculum development process.

Review of Arts in Education in the Schools of Wales

The review was lead by Professor Dai Smith and in March 2014 I, along with the then Minister for Culture and Sport, John Griffiths AM, accepted, or accepted in principle, all the recommendations included in the Arts in Education in the Schools of Wales  report.

I have committed funding for the implementation of the recommendations of the Arts in Education Review: £10m over five years, from April 2015, to take forward a Creative Learning Plan. This will match the £10m Lottery funding from the Arts Council of Wales. The Creative Learning Plan will align with and support the changes being made to the curriculum and aims to improve attainment through creativity and increase and improve arts experiences and opportunities for learners.

Professor Smith’s recommendation to include creativity in the curriculum is the essence of one of the four purposes of the new curriculum that ‘children and young people develop as enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work’. Expressive Arts will be one of the six Areas of Learning and Experience and the wider skills, including creativity and innovation, will be embedded within the Areas of Learning and Experience as they are developed.


Schools and Physical Activity Task and Finish Group

In 2013 Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson chaired the Schools and Physical Activity review established to consider how to develop the role of schools in increasing levels of physical activity in children and young people. The overarching recommendation from this group was that ‘Physical Education becomes a core subject in the national curriculum’. The group also considered that this area should be supported by a National Physical Literacy Framework.

In March 2014 I launched the Physical Literacy Programme for Schools (PLPS) which is being led by Sport Wales with funding of over £3.2m to March 2016 from the Welsh Government. The programme aims to deliver a range of activities to encourage wider engagement of children and young people in physical activity in school and community settings; available resources are being targeted at schools in deprived communities.

PLPS is focussed on bringing about a change in pupils’ attitudes towards physical activity to ensure an increase in physical literacy and physical activity amongst school-aged children in Wales – with the aim of getting them hooked on sport for life and encouraging healthy lifestyles.

As part of this work a Physical Literacy Framework has been developed and will be made available to Pioneer Schools to consider as part of development of the new curriculum and in the context of ensuring alignment with the future direction of Successful Futures.  

The promotion of wider engagement in physical activity remains a key strategic priority for Welsh Government. Physical Education will have a role in delivering one of the four purposes of the new curriculum that ‘children and young people develop as healthy, confident individuals’. One of the six Areas of Learning and Experience in the new curriculum will be Health and Wellbeing (which incorporates the current curriculum subjects of PE, PSE and nutrition).


Cwricwlwm Cymreig
Dr Elin Jones chaired the group looking at The Cwricwlwm Cymreig, history and the story of Wales. The group’s report made twelve recommendations relating to the consideration of the Welsh dimension in the development of the next curriculum and in relation to the history curriculum in particular.

In Successful Futures, Professor Donaldson recommends that the new curriculum should be structured around six Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLE). In line with the Cwricwlwm Cymreig recommendations, he affirms that each AoLE should include, where appropriate, both a Welsh dimension and an international perspective. This also applies to qualifications, some of which have already been approved for use in Wales. The group’s recommendations were also taken into account in the development of the new A level history specifications for teaching from this September and for the development of the new GCSE History for teaching from September 2016.

I would like to reiterate my gratitude to all the key stakeholders who contributed to these important reviews and to those who will be bringing their skills, experience and expertise to the Independent Advisory Group and Strategic Stakeholder Group as the recommendations in “Successful Futures” and “Teaching Tomorrow’s Teachers” are implemented.

Achieving the full benefits of Successful Futures for our children and young people will require us all to engage fully and work together. This mind-set, combined with the teaching reforms and New Deal for the Education Workforce on continuing professional development, will ensure that we have the professional capacity and capability to deliver the new curriculum for Wales: curriculum for life.