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Written Statement - Introduction of a Digital Competence Framework

Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

Standards in our schools are rising – driven by our reforms and our relentless focus on introducing rigour and challenge across the system so that our young people have a world class education. 

I will be updating Members before the Summer recess on my full response to Professor Graham Donaldson’s exciting Review of Curriculum and Assessment in Wales. In his review, Professor Donaldson highlights that digital competence will be central to a young person’s success in life. His recommendation to make digital competence a cross-curriculum responsibility would provide a step-change for learners and practitioners alike and, if adopted, the essentials of good teaching will change considerably as digital skills become increasingly integral to learning.

Throughout the review, Professor Donaldson worked closely with the members of the Independent ICT Panel to ensure that his recommendations complemented their work and suggested the best possible approach for education in Wales.  In his review he makes a compelling case for changes to the way we approach digital competence, similar to our approach in developing the Literacy and Numeracy Framework.

After considering this report alongside the findings of the independent ICT Review Panel in 2013 and the early findings of the Great Debate on Welsh Education, I have decided that the introduction of an effective, consistent approach to teaching digital competence is too vital for our young people and our economy to delay in any way.  So I’m pleased to announce that I’m going to task my officials to work with leading schools, regional consortia and experts from higher education and industry to build a Digital Competence Framework to be available for schools by September 2016. 

This will ensure that schools who are already at the forefront of embedding digital competence into their teaching and learning can share their best practice whilst enabling others to learn from them. 

I know that there are already schools that have grasped this agenda and are leading the way in Wales.  To harness the work of these leaders, I am asking our regional consortia to identify a small group of practitioners and their schools who are already leading this agenda in Wales to design and develop the new Digital Competence Framework – drawing on their own experiences and international best practice.  The final decision on awarding of Pioneer status will be taken by a national panel of experts.
Together, we have a real opportunity to work in partnership with our schools to build a world class approach to digital competence in Wales, which will underpin our place on the international digital stage.  I am therefore going to ask Digital Pioneers and their schools to work alongside businesses and educational leaders including representatives from our National Digital Learning Council and leading digital employers such as Microsoft and our ICT Sector Panel.  I will also be looking to higher education – from the UK and internationally – to undertake rigorous quality assurance of the new framework. I am committed to ensuring that Welsh schools are leading the way in this field and will draw on expertise from across the world to make this happen.  I am also delighted to be able to announce that we are working closely with the British Council in developing new professional learning experiences and international opportunities to support teachers in Wales. From next academic year, practitioner focussed programmes will be available to a number of schools across Wales to support the teaching and learning of digital competence and wider skills across the curriculum.

As a Minister I have already made clear in the announcement of the ‘New Deal’ that I want to support our education professionals through the wider curriculum changes we will be embarking on over the next few years.  This new Digital Competence Framework will be exciting, but it will need us to think very carefully about how we can support professionals in schools to deliver it effectively in the classroom.  It will mean thinking carefully about the sort of quality professional development that will be needed in schools and I will be working closely over the next few months with partners, such as the Open University, to ensure that we are utilising the skills and knowledge we already have in Welsh education to deliver on the exciting vision of digital competence that Graham Donaldson has outlined.