The Committee considered a report which provided an overview of the support available to Carmarthenshire’s schools, specialist settings and Pupil Referral Units from the County Council and from the regional consortium, Partneriaeth, to facilitate the implementation of the Curriculum for Wales. In accordance with the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021, primary schools had implemented the new curriculum in September 2022, whereas Carmarthenshire secondary schools would introduce the new curriculum from September 2023.
The Committee thereupon received a presentation on the development of the new Curriculum for Wales which sought to ensure robust and effective pedagogy to meet the needs of individual pupils at all levels to enable schools to effectively progress in line with the aims of the National Mission. Accordingly, the new Curriculum for Wales had been organised around 6 Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLE) underpinned by the Cross Curricular Responsibilities of Literacy, Numeracy, Digital Competence and the Wider Skills.
The presentation detailed the nature of support provided to address the challenges faced by schools in adhering to the range of complex and mandatory elements required in the development and provision of the new curriculum. In this regard, an overview of the Partneriaeth Business Plan was provided to the Committee which had embedded the new curriculum into its strategic objectives and Professional Learning Offer, in addition to the provision of bespoke, localised support for schools.
The Committee received a synopsis of the Authority’s Education and Children’s Services department Improvement Strategy which was aligned to the Welsh Government Guidance for School Improvement and aimed to work alongside schools to reflect upon the progress achieved by pupils as a result of the curriculum provision. Consideration was also given to the Carmarthenshire Professional Learning offer for schools. The presentation concluded that the priority areas for 2022 2023 focussed upon the following areas:
The Committee welcomed the positive work being developed across the schools within Carmarthenshire, however it was acknowledged that the level of progress varied across schools.
The issues/observations raised by the Committee were addressed as follows:-
Committee considered the challenges within the context of the low uptake of professional learning offered by Partneriaeth and the perceived lack of support to schools for curriculum development. Capacity issues within schools had been identified as a key barrier to accessing training and the level of progress varied across schools. Accordingly, a bespoke Local Authority level approach had been implemented for Carmarthenshire to support the needs of schools and which focussed upon the provision of training to understand pupil progression (age 3-16years) in the Curriculum for Wales and to address the mandatory elements pertaining to the ‘what matters’ statements. It was reported that training and development sessions were available to schools by way of physical sessions provided at times convenient to schools, the recordings of which were also available online to ensure accessibility for all.
A concern was raised in respect of the pressures faced by schools in view of the significant workload on teachers and school staff. Committee was assured to note that the capacity issues had been acknowledged by both the Local Authority and Partneriaeth, with endeavours being made to address the issue. In this regard reference was made to the ‘Porth’ platform which provided central access to an array of resources for schools from Welsh Government, Partneriaeth and the Local Authority. The role of the Local Authority and Partneriaeth in information sharing and communication was emphasised to the Committee, in addition to the provision of bespoke, flexible and practical support for schools.
In response to a query from a Member, it was clarified that schools could utilise staff inset days for matters pertaining to their priorities along the curriculum, however an universal training provision was inappropriate as school clusters were at various stages of progress in the development and implementation of the new Curriculum for Wales and therefore schools required access to different training at different times, on a mixed economy approach. Furthermore, it was explained that the new Curriculum for Wales was based upon a core set of skills, ideas and the ‘what matters’ statements, but with significant emphasis on teaching within the localised context to enhance learning.
A query was raised regarding the impact on the proposed £75k efficiency saving for Partneriaeth within the 2023/24 budget. The Director of Education and Children’s Services duly clarified that Carmarthenshire’s contribution to Partneriaeth was reduced compared to others as the School Improvement Team was retained locally within the Local Authority. Furthermore, for 2023/24 the core contribution was not required as Partneriaeth would utilise reserves to meet core costs.
RESOLVED that the report be approved.