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Written Statement - New deal for the education workforce

Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

Our strategic document ‘Qualified for Life’ sets out an ambitious policy agenda to drive a step change in learner outcomes across Wales. At the end of February, Professor Graham Donaldson proposed a set of exciting and radical changes to the Curriculum for Wales to equip our learners more effectively for their future lives.

This month, Professor John Furlong has suggested ways to strengthen initial teacher training and education in Wales. This will attract the best candidates to become teachers, ensure that they are ready to deliver the best teaching to our learners, and is crucial in our aim of raising the status of the profession.

Delivering our ambitions for learners in Wales will also need the full commitment of a highly skilled and professional workforce. Today, following my statement in June 2014, I want to provide some more detail about how the ‘New Deal for the Education Workforce’ will support and enable our existing practitioners to plan, develop and renew their practice to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead.

The concept behind the New Deal for the Education Workforce is very simple. We know that excellent teaching and leadership has an extremely powerful impact on raising learner outcomes. We also recognise that teaching is a complex professional role and, as Dylan William says, ‘Teaching is such a complex craft that one lifetime is not enough to master it’. But the evidence tells us that teaching and leadership practice can be significantly improved if practitioners are given the opportunity to engage, both individually and collectively, in career long reflection upon and development of their practice through evidence based professional learning activities.

Through the New Deal, I would like to offer teachers and support staff in Wales a structured entitlement to access world class professional learning opportunities to develop their practice. These opportunities will enable them to develop their practice in the ways that are most valued by practitioners and evidence shows will be the most effective ways to improve outcomes for their learners.

In exchange, I will ask all practitioners to seize these opportunities to develop their own professional practice, to share this practice and contribute to the development of others.

The New Deal will also ensure that the wider education system is focussed on facilitating opportunities for schools and practitioners. We will describe clearly how the changes ahead will impact on the workforce and change expectations for pedagogy, leadership and the development of practice. We will also set a timetable for change to enable schools and practitioners to identify priorities for professional learning and leadership development, target resources and plan effective implementation.

We will establish a clear, agreed framework for school development planning which is linked to the identification of individual and collective learning priorities through the performance management process and against a clear backdrop of renewed professional standards. We will ensure that practitioners are able to identify their professional learning needs and access their entitlement to professional learning at whole school and individual practitioner level. This will ensure that practitioners are able to access high quality professional learning opportunities to enable them to meet their teaching objectives within a changing environment.

We will establish career long development pathways so that practitioners are able to take greater ownership and responsibility for their professional learning. In addition, we will work with Consortia, our leading schools and other providers and stakeholders to ensure that there are high quality programmes, development opportunities and support available for schools and practitioners to enable the career long development of pedagogy and leadership. We will ensure this support provides opportunities for school to school and peer to peer professional learning which we know is valued by practitioners and is highly effective.

The new Masters in Continuing Educational Practice and Masters in Education Leadership will form the backbone of our professional learning opportunities and be designed to support all practitioners, whichever career pathway they choose to follow. It will be based on the principles of effective professional learning and will enable us to bring the latest academic research on the most effective practice to the heart of classrooms in Wales.

Leadership development will be core to the New Deal. It will be essential for us to work in partnership with Consortia and practitioners to develop new, innovative approaches to leadership - from aspiring leaders through to headteachers, executive headteachers and leaders of the education system. It is essential that we recognise the importance of leadership, not only in creating the conditions within our schools to ensure that professional learning is facilitated and supported, but to successfully lead the education system through this coming period of development and change.

To capture teachers’ skills throughout their career, I am pleased to announce today that I have asked that, from April, the Education Workforce Council will take the lead on the development of a Professional Learning Passport. This passport will underpin practitioners’ career pathways and will support them to record, reflect on and identify the most appropriate professional learning opportunities so that they continue to develop and deepen their practice at every stage of their career. This will be the first time in Wales that all practitioners will be able to record their professional learning in a single place, and will enable them to develop a detailed, online portfolio capturing all of their professional learning.

We will work closely with practitioners and, through Social Partnership, with unions and employers to ensure that the New Deal is shaped, implemented, quality assured and evaluated ‘by practitioners for practitioners’.

Today we have updated the Learning Wales website with a range of video case studies and Learning Packs which illustrate the principles of the New Deal and provide practical examples of ways that schools in Wales have already embedded these ways of working into their practice. I want us to build on this practice so that all practitioners in Wales are able to develop their practice to ensure they are supported, prepared and confident to deliver the exciting changes ahead of us.