What Schools Need Now...

Turning Curriculum for Wales documents into learning

Doing What Works

In Wales, over the next 3 years, teachers will be taking the big ideas, or What Matters Statements of 6 Areas of Learning and Experience, the 4 Purposes and the Achievement Outcomes across the 3-16 age range and turning them into learning.

This will mean to teach reading for example… not only will children be taught how to read, what to read, how to feel about what they read, how to read between the lines, how to read in multiple languages, but also how to utilise reading to learn a myriad of other skills, knowledge and content. This is a truly enormous task, and this is just one element of the curriculum!

We propose that this task would be far easier for teachers if they understood how learning happens and how the human memory works. Shulman's (1987) model of teacher knowledge shows that content alone is not enough. There also needs to be an understanding of how to transform content into learning experiences for students, which Shulman called pedagogical knowledge.

We of course have the 12 pedagogical principles from Successful Futures, one of which is that teachers should use a “broad repertoire of teaching approaches”. Such a short phrase to describe the main bulk and a highly significant element of a teacher’s work in the classroom.

The success of our potentially world class curriculum, relies on teachers’ ability to understand how to turn the content of Curriculum for Wales into effective, memorable learning for each individual child.

The draft curriculum tells us “The Curriculum for Wales 2022 guidance for each area of learning and experience includes additional information considered essential to design and development of curricula in settings and schools.” This additional information makes no mention of research or of pedagogy.

We believe teachers need access to the research on the most effective learning strategies that we know of, retrieval practice, dual coding, spaced and interleaved learning or elaborative interrogation. We believe all educators should understand why and how desirable difficulties work to deepen and accelerate learning. We believe everyone working in our classrooms should understand whether inquiry-learning or direct instruction is the most effective method for their children. We believe all teachers throughout Wales should know about and be able to use the best research in order to do what works. So, we are concerned that the draft curriculum documents have very little reference to pedagogy and no mention of any of the above research. We sincerely hope that further guidance, or support will rectify this omission.

If we want Curriculum for Wales to mean children in Wales learn more and that they learn better, we need to support all of our teachers and headteachers to understand and make sense of what the research says on how learning actually works.

To find out more about the bespoke support we create for schools contact us on enquiries@impact.wales

Click here for free support for Curriculum Feedback

We have created 6 practical, user-friendly activities that schools can use as part of their INSET to complete the Curriculum for Wales feedback process. Just click to download.

A Little More About Us

Who are we? - We are Finola & Jane, Literacy & Numeracy specialists, with 35+ years of teaching, training & leadership experience between us.

Can you trust us? - We have both worked for Welsh Government supporting schools & senior leaders across Wales. We have held senior leadership posts, delivered support to strategic education advisers, and published curriculum support guidance with Oxford University Press...but if you need to know more visit our website for testimonials from schools we've worked with.

Why should you buy our support? - Put simply, because we believe in impact. We do exactly what our name suggests. Our school support is always bespoke, high quality and designed specifically for each school we work with. Our focus is on delivering measurable impact for pupils.

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