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Written Statement - Announcement of Pioneer Schools

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Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

On 22 October, I published A Curriculum for Wales, a curriculum for life, my plan for taking forward Professor Graham Donaldson’s recommendations set out in Successful Futures. The plan sets out how we will build our new broad, balanced, inclusive and challenging curriculum together, with the four purposes at its heart, to give all our children and young people the opportunity to become:

  • Ambitious, capable learners who are ready to learn throughout their lives.
  • Enterprising, creative contributors who are ready to play a full part in life and work.
  • Ethical, informed citizens who are ready to be citizens of Wales and the world.
  • Healthy, confident individuals who are ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.

Today, I am delighted to announce the first tranche of schools who will be part of our Pioneer Schools Network.  They will work alongside the Pioneer Schools who are already developing the new Digital Competence Framework, to design and develop our new curriculum for Wales, support schools in preparing for its implementation and provide practitioners with professional learning opportunities throughout their careers. As part of their work, Pioneer Schools (New Deal) will also consider workload issues in our schools. Over time the Pioneer Schools will come together to support all our schools to implement the vision set out in Professor Donaldson’s report.

Our Pioneer Schools have been drawn from across Wales and represent a range of different schools including rural and urban settings; English-medium and Welsh-medium; primary, secondary and special schools, schools with a religious character, and a range of school sizes. The names of these schools are attached as an annex.

As part of this approach Owain ap Dafydd, Headteacher of Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni, has already brought together a network of over 30 Welsh-medium schools who will form a key element of the wider Pioneer Network, designing and developing the new curriculum and supporting the implementation of the New Deal. Consequently, whilst some of our Welsh- medium schools are already included in the list I am publishing today; others will be identified as part of ongoing discussions with Owain and the regional consortia - building on his emerging network - over the coming weeks. In order to lead this, Owain has indicated his intention to step down from his role as a member of the Independent Advisory Group.  

All members of the Pioneer Schools Network, whether their initial focus is on digital competence, curriculum design and development or the New Deal, will work closely together and with their own clusters, networks and wider stakeholder groups, to ensure that as many of our schools as possible are engaged in this exciting agenda from the outset. Over time, the three strands will come together to ensure that all practitioners are supported to realise this ambitious and exciting future for our education system - and for all our children and young people here in Wales.


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