Changes to how schools are assessed and improved professional learning critical to the success of education reforms in Wales, a study concludes
18 May 2023
Changes to how schools are assessed and improved professional learning are critical to the success of education reforms in Wales, a study concludes.
Researchers at Cardiff University interviewed policymakers and those who hold a strategic role in designing and implementing the Health and Wellbeing aspects of the Curriculum for Wales, which was rolled out in schools from September, as part of a series of projects to measure its long-term success.
The findings suggest the reforms to the education system require changes at multiple levels to achieve the bold aspirations and goals of the Curriculum for Wales.
Dr Sara Long, a research fellow at the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), said: “Schools are operating in a climate of limited resource, with them having to organise their actions around ensuring performance against measures for which they are held accountable, perhaps to the neglect of measures which actually matter for young people.
“The need for increased school and practitioner-level autonomy and freedom was discussed at length throughout interviews and this will undoubtedly be key to the success of the new curriculum. But with such radical changes to how young people learn, giving those in the education profession the knowledge, skills and tools to implement the curriculum, as well as health and wellbeing outside of the curriculum, is also going to be vital.”
Interviews for the study included senior members of government and schools with a remit in either design of the curriculum or professional learning, Estyn and those with a multidisciplinary remit in health and education.
The curriculum in Wales has experienced major reform with a substantially increased emphasis on Health and Wellbeing. It is now one of six Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLE) alongside Expressive Arts; Humanities; Languages, Literacy and Communication; Mathematics and Numeracy and Science and Technology.
Dr Long is leading a four-year research fellowship, which explores the impact of curriculum reform in Wales and is funded by Welsh Government.
The paper, School health and wellbeing and national education system reform: A qualitative study, is published in the British Education Research Journal (BERJ) and is available to view here.