Agenda item

Presentation by the Education Achievement Service (EAS) regarding the New Curriculum for Wales




To scrutinise the new Curriculum for Wales.


Key Issues:


The Joint Select Committee received a presentation from the Interim Assistant Director of the Education Achievement Service (EAS) outlining a progress update in respect of the new Curriculum for Wales.


Member Scrutiny:


·         There is now Religious Education (RE) expertise in the Humanities Area of the Learning Experience Group.


·         There will be a phased introduction of the new Curriculum. Schools will need to adapt their curricula and try the new methodologies going forward. However, this will not have a detrimental effect on young people studying the existing GCSE qualifications.


·         Qualifications Wales is a part of the development of the new Curriculum and will spend time between now and 2020 developing those new qualifications.  There will be a route to specialism provide through the new Curriculum.


·         The new Curriculum will see even more significant divergence with England which is moving further away from England’s linear model.


·         In response to concerns raised regarding the new Curriculum, it was noted that in terms of the Scottish Model it was not the design of the curriculum but the approach that was taken to preparing the workforce and professional learning that was undertaken which was insufficiently funded.  This meant that practitioners were not prepared to change so the assessment system had not been changed.  With regard to the knowledge and specialism, in an integrated system, this is more important.  The value of cross curricular working deepens pupils understanding of a range of issues.  With regard to the religious education perspective, one of the challenges that humanities groups are going to face is how they can look at the contribution of religious education to the broader Humanities but ensure that sufficient guidance is available to SACREs so that they devise their own syllabi within local authorities.


·         A new career path for teachers will ensure that they are fit to deliver the education required via the new Curriculum.


·         In response to a question raised regarding students taking GCSE examinations early, it was noted that the issue surrounding this matter is the perceived pressure and accountability.  The current performance measures are that schools are looking to maximise performance of young people.  Research indicates that if pupils stay the course for the two years of a GCSE, the outcomes are likely to be better at the end of this period.  In terms of teachers meeting the skills requirements for teaching the new Curriculum, this will have to be a professional learning exercise.  This can be supported regionally by the EAS.


·         The two schools within Monmouthshire that are taking part in the Curriculum Pioneer Network are Shirenewton and Trellech Primary Schools.  The new Curriculum aims to make the learning experience authentic and real for young people.


·         The EAS will provide funding for all schools this year which comes with the condition of it being used to support the understanding of reform.  By the time that the draft new Curriculum will be published in April 2019, all schools and practitioners have had the opportunity to see those documents and understand them within the context that they have been developed.


·         The local Authority will work closely with the EAS to ensure that it is commissioning the right types of support for Monmouthshire’s schools.


·         The position of not looking to English schools for examination comparisons is a risk as many of Monmouthshire’s young people will choose to go to an English university.


·         The legal requirements of SACREs need to be in line with the new Curriculum.  WASACRE has provided the EAS with a paper outlining the non-negotiable issues regarding RE in the new Curriculum.  This is now being used to populate the knowledge skills that young people should have. Those skills should be evident within the What Matters approach.


·         It is a key aim of the Authority to keep more of our children educated within the County.  Local communities need to be convinced that their local school is the right school for local children to be educated. A review of school catchments will be undertaken in due course to address current anomalies and to make it easier for local children to be educated within the County.



Committee’s Conclusion:


  • The Authority and the EAS will monitor progress of the two Monmouthshire schools currently taking part in the pilot, namely, Shirenewton and Trellech Primary Schools.


·         There is a need to ensure that schools embrace the new Curriculum and are ready to deliver it to students.