An innovative curriculum led by transformative teachers


Education in Wales is changing – and teachers have been given licence to lead us through that transformation.

An open letter written by:
Professor Dylan E Jones
Dean of Yr Athrofa: Institute of Education.

For the first time in 30 years, the profession is being encouraged to innovate, try new things and think anew about what it means to live, work and learn in Wales.

Our existing curriculum arrangements, devised in 1988 before the World Wide Web, are no longer fit for purpose.

We live in a very different world; technological advancements have shifted the goalposts and the higher-level skills demanded by employers have changed.

What and how children learn has evolved, and a new national curriculum is being designed and developed in preparation for an exciting new era.

The agreed blueprint to support classroom practice moving forward is built around four purposes, namely that children and young people develop as:

  • Ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
  • Enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
  • Ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world , ready to be citizens of Wales and the world
  • Healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society

 Six ‘Areas of Learning and Experience’ (AoLEs) are being established to help schools achieve the four purposes, and span the entire age range from 3 to 16.

They promote and underpin continuity and progression, and encourage teachers to work creatively and collaboratively across traditional subject boundaries.

AoLEs, and their supporting materials, are nearing completion and include:

  • Expressive arts
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Humanities
  • Languages, literacy and communication
  • Mathematics and numeracy
  • Science and technology

The University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s (UWTSD) Yr Athrofa: Institute of Education has been front and centre during this evolution.

Our expert teaching and research staff have supported schools in developing the AoLEs and a framework designed to chart learners’ progression.

Allied to that, Yr Athrofa colleagues are currently working with teachers to identify the professional learning implications arising from the new arrangements, in preparation for first delivery of the curriculum in 2022.

No other Welsh university has had the same level of involvement in the reform process and we are extremely proud of our contributions to date.

It is often said that the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.

And it is little wonder, given the significant and lasting impact teachers have on the pupils in their care.

Teachers are the agents of change and, without them, there is little chance of Wales reaching the heights to which we all aspire.

The teachers I know are passionate, resilient and reflective and it is these qualities that will enable them to take forward purposefully the new and exciting education system we are in the process of co-constructing.

But universities also have a significant role to play and it is imperative that future and existing teachers have the requisite skills and knowledge to deliver Wales’ new national curriculum.

Improving the quality of training available, at all stages of career development, will be crucial and maintaining the status quo is no longer an option.

That is why Yr Athrofa’s new suite of teacher education programmes have been designed with Wales’ ambitious reform agenda firmly in mind.

Our new curriculum is innovative and forward-thinking, and has attracted interest from countries across the globe.

The opportunity to craft something truly different, with Wales’ best interests at heart, does not come along often.

Now is your chance to join us on that journey.

Inspire a generation – be the difference… Teach!

Note to Editor

Professor Dylan E. Jones is Dean of Yr Athrofa: Institute of Education. Prior to joining UWTSD in 2016, he worked in schools for almost 30 years including almost 20 years as a headteacher.

Picture caption : Education expert and author of the Welsh Government’s ‘Successful Futures’ report, Professor Graham Donaldson, is pictured with future and practising teachers at Yr Athrofa, UWTSD's Institute of Education. Professor Donaldson was the keynote speaker in May 2018 at Yr Athrofa’s ‘Aiming for Excellence’ conference, an annual celebration of the teaching profession and excellent practice going on in Welsh classrooms.

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