Andrew Thraves, Prospects’ Director of Education, spoke at the Policy Forum for Wales on Thursday 30 April at the Marriott Hotel in Cardiff. He was invited to the event having spoken at the forum’s Westminster sister organisation on a number of occasions over the past few years.
The theme of the event was ‘Curriculum reform in Wales: content, assessment, and the challenges for implementation’.
The Policy Forum for Wales brings together policymakers in the National Assembly for Wales, Welsh Government and government agencies to engage with key stakeholders to discuss national public policy issues. Andrew was on a panel discussion entitled ‘Reforming assessment to fit a new curriculum and improve standards’. Each speaker gave a five minute presentation, and then the panel answered questions from the audience.
The session was in response to Professor Graham Donaldson’s report for the Welsh Government, in which he reviewed the country’s curriculum and assessment in schools. Professor Donaldson made a number of recommendations, including six areas of learning which combine core and non-core subjects with a greater emphasis on ‘soft skills’; key stages to be replaced by a more seamless approach with primary and secondary schools working better together and embedding ‘digital competency’ in school life, with students learning to code. Read the full report here.
In his presentation, Andrew offered Wales a view from ‘across the border’, focusing on the assessment changes to schools in England, which he has been involved with as Chairman of the British Educational Suppliers Association and a member of the Expert Group for the National Curriculum, an advisory panel for the Department for Education. He also discussed the importance of having a consistent approach to curriculum assessment reform, commenting that to put more responsibility into the hands of teachers is good but is undermined by the introduction of new national testing that holds teachers to account.
Andrew recommended that schools assess pupils against a national benchmark on the following criteria:
- The teacher's professional judgement
- The child's ability
- The child's attainment
- The child's attitude to learning.
He also discussed how Prospects’ work in Wales meets some of Professor Donaldson’s recommendations, including Skills Cymru – a series of interactive careers and skills events for young people visiting from schools and colleges, which nearly 10,000 visitors attended last year – and the Youth Entrepreneurship Service – which connects businesses with schools and is in primary and secondary schools in Wales.
Andrew said: “It was great to speak with the policymakers and influencers in Wales. Prospects has a strong track record of helping young people in Wales think about their future. The services we deliver in Wales are very much in tune with several of the key recommendations made in Professor Donaldson’s report.”
For more information please email Andrew.