Curriculum and Assessment Group members talk about co-construction, subjects and positivity


I think the co-construction of the curriculum
involving the practitioners in the process from the very start has been one of the hallmarks
of the quality of the curriculum. It’s something that in some situations can be quite complicated,
sometimes can feel quite tortuous, but it is so important
because what we’re going to end up with is a curriculum that we own collectively.
This is something that policy makers and indeed practitioners and learners will all have a
stake in and so it’s important that they’re all involved in the creation of it. Now you’re
talking about refinement I would hope that we’re in a position where that co-construction
will feed through not just from the original conception of the curriculum but right through
to the finished product when we end up with the final curriculum. I don’t think it’s
a case of the co-construction disappearing any time soon, it’s in fact you might say,
even more important now as we reach the position of arriving at the final product and I think
the co-construction is just such a valuable part that we don’t want to let go of it.
Teachers and stakeholders are absolutely crucial to the next phase of this development. This
isn’t a traditional development where experts in darkened rooms created a new curriculum,
this is a curriculum for Wales, and it will take everyone in Wales to make the curriculum
real. It’s a bit like dropping a pebble in a pond, that just now as more and more
people become involved in the system, then they will help develop the system so that
eventually what we will have is a new education system to which everyone in Wales has contributed.
One of the myths surrounding the new curriculum is that somehow or other subjects have disappeared,
that this is a curriculum that is all generic, it’s all about skills, all about interdisciplinary
learning, that is not the case. Subjects remain a very important part of the building blocks
for effective learning inside the new curriculum and the skills of subject specialists will
be absolutely integral to the success of this programme. The only real difference in terms
of subject specialists is whereas in the past subjects defined the curriculum, we defined
the curriculum in terms of the number of subjects that young people engaged with in the course
of their career, the subjects now serve the curriculum and serve broader purposes in the
curriculum, but they remain absolutely integral to the nature of that curriculum.
Change of any kind is something which can be quite daunting, and this is quite radical
change in Wales. I think one of the testaments to the way in which the teaching profession
is thinking about this is the positivity which has come through in the consultation process.
The evidence we have is that teachers are not just reacting against things that they
didn’t like in the old curriculum but are positively looking forward to the things that
the new curriculum embodies. Quite naturally within that there will be anxieties, implications
for them for the kind of learning they’ll have to engage in, the way they have to rethink
some of the things that they have done to serve the children as well as they possibly
can, but my own belief is as we move into this new context is that one of the important
side effects for all will be to create a much more satisfying job for teachers where they
are not simply implementing guidance and instructions from outside the school, but they are directly
and intimately involved in helping to shape not just the nature of what they do in the
classroom but the purposes of what it is they are trying to achieve and engaging with that
purpose led curriculum will create a much more satisfying job for the teachers of Wales.
This is not a curriculum that’s done to people, it’s a curriculum that’s done
with people and I think for many of us who have been teachers it’s getting back to
what really matters as a teacher, that it’s about improving the life chances of young
people and making sure that teaching and learning experiences for young people not only prepare
them for the next steps in their life, but also gives them a sense of real enjoyment
and enthusiasm throughout their years in school. Moving into new territory where things are
maybe unfamiliar and uncomfortable is always going to be difficult, but this is a once
in a generation opportunity to transform the educational experience, not just for learners
but for everybody involved in the learning community, for the staff, for the families,
for the broader community and that’s why I think excitement should be the flavour of
the day.

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