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Schools in Wales as learning organisations

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The ‘schools as learning organisations’ model for Wales supports schools to develop a professional learning culture through sharing knowledge and experience with other schools. Engagement with the model will inspire new approaches to professional learning and support schools to successfully implement the new curriculum.

What is happening?

The development of a thriving learning culture in schools and other parts of the education system across Wales is essential for the successful implementation of the new curriculum.

International research shows that, schools as learning organisations (SLO) have the capacity to adapt responsively to change and explore new approaches to improve learning and outcomes for all learners.

SLO is or has been a key component of education strategies in countries around the globe, like the Netherlands, Norway and Singapore. Developing schools in Wales as learning organisations is part of wider reforms set out in Education in Wales: Our national mission (2017–2021), our updated action plan for education.

Our ambition is to develop all schools in Wales as learning organisations. This is key to catalysing the desired change and innovation capacity and developing a professional learning culture in and across our schools to implement the new curriculum and ultimately realise our national mission for all learners.

Why is it changing?

For decades countries around the globe have been trying to adapt their increasingly complex education systems for the changing times.

Schools are nowadays urged to learn fast and teachers are to become ‘knowledge workers’ in order to deal effectively with the growing pressures of a rapidly changing environment.

We are committed to ensuring that our profession is fully supported so that all educational practitioners are ready to successfully realise the new curriculum by working in a stimulating and supportive school environment that operates as a learning organisation. 

How is it happening?

A schools as learning organisations model for Wales has been developed by a pilot group including representatives from pioneer schools, regional consortia, Estyn, the National Leadership Academy and Welsh Government with technical support provided by the OECD. 

The development work was informed by a published OECD-UNICEF Education Working Paper What makes a school a learning organisation? (external link)

The SLO model is an integral part of Wales’ education reforms. The model focuses on realising seven dimensions, highlighting both what a school aspires to and the processes it goes through to become a learning organisation. Each dimension is integral to the four purposes, with well being at the heart. 


The model provides practical guidance on how school staff can individually and collectively learn together to transform their schools into a learning organisation.

SLO provides an approach where schools can self-evaluate against seven dimensions as an integrated part of their self-evaluations and use the results to inform school development planning and evidence to support Estyn inspection.

In the future, the SLO model will form an integrated part of assessment and accountability arrangements.

Next steps

From the autumn term 2017, regional consortia and schools identified as ‘early enablers’ will raise awareness of the SLO model with the wider schools network.

Schools will also be encouraged to begin to explore the SLO dimensions to increase their capacity to understand and deliver the new curriculum within and beyond their own institution.

Key dates

Autumn term 2017

What - SLO model for Wales made available
When - Welsh Government National Education Conference 23 November
How - Raising awareness of the SLO model supported by regional consortia
Resources - Interactive schools as learning organisations model

Summer term 2018

What - Guidance and toolkit launched
When - Welsh Government International Conference in partnership with OECD
How - Showcasing exemplary SLO practice across Wales
Resources - Guidance and toolkit for schools

Autumn term 2018

All schools developing as learning organisations, supported through the transition by regional consortia and early enablers of the SLO approach.

Curriculum for Wales blog

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