Welsh education is experiencing a time of unprecedented change instigated by a report from the OECD about the education system in Wales. The report made clear that the most important factor for improving outcomes for pupils is the quality of teaching they receive.
This led to Professor Graham Donaldson’s report on a new curriculum called “Successful Futures” (and now “Curriculum for Wales”), which outlines a radical new way of looking at how learning takes place and what young people will need to live successful, healthy and happy lives in the twenty-first century.
It has also started a shift away from strict government set guidelines that for the past twenty years have been imposed on teachers, to a system where teachers have the responsibility to design the curriculum themselves.
These fundamental changes require a profession that is:
- better informed
The foundation of these reforms comprises of new professional standards for teachers, a full review of teacher training, and support for schools to manage the change such as the Schools as Learning Organisations (SLO) approach developed in conjunction with OECD.
To further support teachers professional learning the Education Secretary announced The National Approach to Professional Learning (NAPL), in November 2018. At £9 million in this financial year, increasing to £15 million in the next financial year, it is the single biggest investment to support teachers in Wales since devolution.
This funding will give schools the time and resources they need to plan ahead for the new curriculum and ensure that changes are made in a way that will prioritise the wellbeing of teachers and minimise disruption to pupils’ learning.
Schools will also be encouraged to create, share and exploit learning opportunities with other schools and organisations as they work together in clusters. The government said it would give teachers more flexibility about how and when they learn and would include “learning outside the classroom, online learning, classroom learning, and coaching”.
In a Statement about educational leadership in The Senedd in May 2017, Kirsty Williams was clear that, “We have to move away from the old-fashioned professional learning that we’ve done in the past, where we require teachers to come, and listen to a sage on a stage for the day and go back and simply do that in that school. That simply is not inspiring for professionals themselves, nor does it have an impact in the classroom… Time is a real issue, and constrictions in budgets do make time for professional learning a real challenge. That’s why we’ve got to be much more creative about how we provide professional learning opportunities, not in the very old-fashioned way.”
On a daily basis, digital reflection and collaboration technology are having a profound effect on teacher development.
Just as digital technologies have radically impacted upon the cost of and availability of music, film, and television, teachers and schools can now benefit from personalised, on demand and effective CPD at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.
Technology-driven CPD helps to guarantee that every teacher has access to both the information they need and the higher order experiences like reflection, feedback, and collaboration that are needed to make changes where it matters most; in their classrooms. Making it more effective than traditional professional development methods.
There are numerous case studies demonstrating its effectiveness. An excellent example is Ainslie Wood Primary School where as a result of their investment in making technology driven CPD, they have dramatically reduced their CPD spend by 47% and successfully moved 95% of teachers from Ofsted Inadequate or Requires Improvement to Good and Outstanding.