Y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg - Y Bumed Senedd
Children, Young People and Education Committee - Fifth Senedd24/09/2020
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Dawn Bowden AS|
|Hefin David AS|
|Laura Anne Jones AS|
|Lynne Neagle AS||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|Sian Gwenllian AS|
|Suzy Davies AS|
Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol
Others in Attendance
|Eithne Hughes||Cymdeithas Arweinwyr Ysgolion a Cholegau Cymru|
|Association of School and College Leaders Cymru|
|Laura Doel||Cymdeithas Genedlaethol y Prifathrawon Cymru|
|National Association of Headteachers Cymru|
|Mary van den Heuvel||Uwch-swyddog Polisi Cymru, Undeb Addysg Cenedlaethol Cymru|
|Wales Senior Policy Officer, National Education Union Cymru|
|Neil Butler||Swyddog Cenedlaethol Cymru, Cymdeithas Genedlaethol yr Ysgolfeistri ac Undeb yr Athrawesau|
|National Official Wales, National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers|
|Rebecca Williams||Is-ysgrifennydd Cyffredinol a Swyddog Polisi, Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru|
|Deputy General Secretary and Policy Officer, Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Lisa Salkeld||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|Sarah Bartlett||Dirprwy Glerc|
|Tanwen Summers||Ail Glerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:17.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 09:17.
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to this virtual meeting of the Children, Young People and Education Committee. In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I have determined that the public are excluded from the committee's meeting in order to protect public health. In accordance with Standing Order 34.21, notice of this decision was included in the agenda for this meeting, which was published on Monday. This meeting is, however, being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, with all participants joining via video-conference, and a Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. Aside from this procedural adaptation relating to conducting proceedings remotely, all other Standing Order requirements for committees remain in place. The meeting is bilingual and simultaneous translation from Welsh to English is available. If we become aware that there's a problem with the translation, I'll ask you to pause for a moment while our meeting technicians reset the system.
Can I ask if there are any declarations of interest from Members, please? No. Okay, thank you. Can I also, then, for the record, remind everybody that if, for any reason, I drop out of the meeting, it's been agreed that Dawn Bowden MS will temporarily chair while I try to rejoin?
Item 2 this morning, then, is our sixth evidence session on the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill. I'm very pleased to welcome Eithne Hughes, director of the Association of School and College Leaders Cymru, and Laura Doel, director of the National Association of Headteachers Cymru. Thank you both for your attendance this morning. We're very much looking forward to hearing what you've got to say, and we'll go straight to questions from Laura Jones.
Thank you, Chair. I just wanted to start off by saying that, if this Bill is passed, it would fundamentally change the education system in Wales. We've been used to a curriculum now that's been England and Wales-based since the 1980s. Do you agree with the Welsh Government that the current curriculum is no longer fit for purpose and that a complete overhaul of what and how children and young people are taught is essential? It obviously means a lot of adapting and a massive overhaul and change for headteachers, but do you think it's needed? Do you think this new curriculum is necessary—that it is so necessary to be different here in Wales?
Who would like to start? Laura, and then Eithne.
Thank you, Chair. NAHT Cymru shares the Welsh Government's desire for curriculum reform. Indeed, we were heavily involved in the evidence that led to Professor Graham Donaldson's review, and in shaping the recommendations in 'Successful Futures'. When it was announced that all 60 recommendations of that review were to be accepted in June 2015, we stated, at that time:
'Successful Futures provides permission for the profession to take the lead and is the blueprint that should now shape the work of all interested parties'.
The high-level vision of the new curriculum, as expressed in 'Successful Futures', will mean a significant cultural shift for the profession, especially those employed post 1988, who will only have ever worked with the national curriculum. Having said that, we believe that the founding principles of the Bill, outlined within, mirror the desire of the profession to breathe new life into the education system. So, yes, we are fully supportive of the reform, and we believe it is much needed.
Thank you. Eithne.
Again, I would echo those points. As far as we're concerned, as an association, we too had quite a lot to do with Donaldson's reforms. We saw that it was entirely necessary—that the current curriculum, which we see to be outdated, fragmented, disconnected, and it doesn't actually give our children or our teachers the richness of experience that they do need in order to engage and to teach to the very best of their ability—. I think the current curriculum is based on a linear, and, as I say, disjointed set of learning experiences, where connections are extremely difficult for children to make. You have got experiences that are within individual silos, and that approach really isn't helpful to our learners because learners find it very difficult to box off those separate events and make connections that are useful to them. It's also stale. It doesn't really adequately prepare learners for a very rapidly shifting world, and it really doesn't serve the needs of people in Wales or, indeed, our children more globally as citizens further than this country.
I would argue that the current crisis in COVID has really again underscored how out of date the current curriculum is. So, for us, the purpose-driven curriculum, it reminds us exactly why we should be doing what we're doing, and not only solely focus on what it is that is being done, although that is obviously important. But it washes back into the why, fundamentally, that debate is significant in ensuring engagement from our learners and for the teaching profession.
Thank you. Laura.
Thank you. Well, you've obviously made clear that you're in favour of the new curriculum. And you've said it's outdated, and obviously you agree and support the massive flexibility that's involved with the new curriculum. Is the Bill's purpose-led approach, which you touched on, to the new curriculum and relative lack of detail on the face of the Bill the right approach in your view, then? Do you agree with the four purposes, the six areas of learning experience, the three cross-curricular skills and the four mandatory elements, or is there anything missing in your view?
Who'd like to start? Eithne, and then Laura.
I welcome the fact that the Bill is phrased as it is, because it gives sufficient structure, and the sufficient structure that is reflected in the framework that was published in January. There's a good structure there, but you have also got—. I think it covers sufficient ground for it also to allow for flexibility in interpretation and avoiding prescription.
We've had prescription in the curriculum that we now deem to be outmoded. This will allow for much greater flexibility without it being a free-for-all. It gives the balance, I believe, between those two polar opposites.
Laura, anything to add?
Yes, I suppose—
Oh, sorry—wrong Laura. [Laughter.]
Oh, sorry, yes. [Laughter.]
Sorry. Confusing. [Laughter.]
Very confusing. Sorry. [Laughter.] Just, I suppose, to echo what Eithne's already said, but, yes, broadly speaking, we believe the Bill is the right approach. In previous consultation responses in relation to the Bill, we have stated that we support the need for legislation to deliver what the Bill is trying to achieve. We recognise that legislation is a tool, something that can be carried out to regulate what can be carried out, and to regulate that activity. But we believe, because the Bill is such a cultural shift from the current curriculum, that legislating will ensure the consistency across Wales and give the significance of such a change the credibility it deserves.
One reservation we have with the current approach of the framework for the new curriculum is grounded in a commitment to research-based practice. This element possibly needs to be reinforced within the legislation, just to ensure that other factors don't steer schools' own development off track, and the fear that they may revert to their old working ways.
Probably another area just worth noting, which is not mentioned significantly within the Bill, is the need for a collaborative response. In discussions with Welsh Government, it was announced that a consultation process is currently taking place on the wider sector involvement, which aims to address what the wider education sector, including local authorities, consortia and Estyn are going to do to support the development and delivery of the new curriculum. We have submitted feedback previously that we were concerned that the responsibility of the curriculum was going to fall just on school leaders, and we are pleased to see that that's been taken on board.
Okay, thank you. Laura Jones.
I share your concerns on that, about teachers and headteachers being supported on the delivery of it, because it's such a seismic change in the way that we do things. Do you worry at all that, because of the flexibility, which has a lot of pros—do you think that, because of that, it's going to increase the inconsistencies between our schools, ,so the better schools are going to achieve and be able to adapt more easily and in a better way than those schools that are struggling a bit? Do you think that's just going to help widen the gap because they haven't got that degree of, 'You must teach this, this and this'? Because of the flexibility, do you think that's going to get worse, or do you think it's going to get better because of that?
I think schools will be dealing with this differently, but I don't see that—. Given that we've got the six areas of learning and experience, we've got a very strong structure and a very strong framework, which has already been published, and has been very much a part—it's been grown by the profession and with academics, using international research. The framework that is there gives underpinning concepts and principles around knowledge, skills and understanding. And I think those underpinning concepts are absolutely crystal clear. What this does, however, is it allows headteachers, it allows leaders, it allows governors, and it allows local authorities, to consider local contexts when delivering the bedrock of the framework, which has already been described in significant detail. Now, I see that to be a positive rather than a negative, and I see that to be something that is wholly absent from the current system, which basically shoehorns everything into the same space. This way round, while we can't underestimate the challenge—the challenge is significant—I believe that it does allow for a framework, if you like, to be translated at local level. But it won't create massive variation, where you've got hundreds of schools doing hundreds of different things, because you have already got that framework, which is clearly outlined in the implementation document and the planning, which, as I say, has been done with the profession.
Okay, thank you. Laura Doel, anything to add?
The only thing I would probably add—and I echo everything Eithne's already said—is that, on the question on whether it will widen the gap, I suppose I would say maybe we have to have some confidence in the profession, and maybe not assume that schools that are not doing so well with the current curriculum won't—. It's not necessarily the case that they then won't also thrive in the new curriculum. And I think, as Eithne said, the framework is there, so they have a foundation on which to work from. And I think, certainly from speaking to our members, it's that flexibility and freedom that will allow schools to thrive.
Okay, thank you. Laura Jones.
Thank you. I was just playing devil's advocate and wanted to know whether you thought the framework was there for schools to be able to achieve in that way. I have every confidence in our teachers, obviously—we're very lucky, we've got very good teachers.
I agree with the localisation element, with what Ms Hughes just said—I think it is a really good part of the new curriculum. I just wanted to ask you both: are you content in the light of the recent disruption and additional challenges to education because of COVID-19 that the timescale for implementing the new curriculum, although not specified in the Bill itself, remains September 2022 onward? Will schools be ready for this because of all the disruption, or have your headteachers and teachers raised concerns?
Eithne and then Laura Doel.
I would say that it really must be kept under review—it really must be kept under review. At the moment, headteachers, teachers and leaders are absolutely flat out in crisis management and crisis leadership, and I think if we were to pretend that nothing had happened, it would potentially derail what is an excellent curriculum piece, which we feel could bring the country forward significantly. If it's pushed into a date, basically because the date sits there and isn't kept under review, I really worry that we will lose what is a terrific piece of policy. It has to be kept under review. It is not a small matter. At the moment, we have lost planning from March through to today and it is not at the front of leaders' minds at the moment.
However, what I will say is that some of the benefits, if you like, from the current situation, if there are any, is that what you've seen is the profession move significantly along the digital delivery, looking at blended learning. People are again in different spaces with that, but it's become much more foreground of thought and that has become something that is significant and will also support the delivery of the new curriculum, as well as the emphasis on health and well-being, where that fourth week that the Minister wanted to put in to have catch-up sessions and focus on that was very much welcomed by, I think, both of our associations. I don't want to speak for Laura, but that's where we were with this one. So, those two, I think, are bonuses from it, but I think the reality on the ground is that it's more than a distraction—COVID is more than a distraction at the moment and we do not know how long this is going to last.
Laura, is there anything you want to say?
Yes, just to add to that. We have concerns that, although there is still the appetite within schools for the new curriculum, and that remains strong amongst school leaders, the timing is possibly ambitious given the pressures that schools are under at the moment. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that school leaders in particular are struggling to cope with the demands that are on them. The school working day at the moment is completely different to what it looked like at the beginning of the year. Maybe a more prudent approach would be to work with stakeholders to consider, firstly, the impact of the pandemic to see how that's going to affect schools in terms of their ability to perform their statutory requirements, for example, and look at whether the timetable is realistic. I would probably suggest that, at the moment, it would be too difficult to say, but while we are dealing with the current crisis, I agree: I think that pinning our hopes on a date, just because that date has been set, is probably a bit unrealistic.
Okay, thank you. Suzy, you had a supplementary.
Yes, thank you very much. I'm relieved to hear you say what you have said. I was a bit worried that this was going to get bulldozed through a little bit.
What I wanted to ask you is: because of COVID, how have your members, as school leaders, dealt with their ability to try and track down professional learning opportunities? I'm assuming that it's just as much of a struggle for them themselves as for their own staff.
Yes, absolutely. I'm happy to come in on that. You may have heard me say this before—I've certainly said it in Welsh Government meetings—that the priority at the moment for school leaders is getting their schools open, keeping them open and keeping pupils and staff safe. I think it's fair to say that all other elements of what they would normally do have been put on the back burner. You've only got to talk to school leaders—significant amounts of our members spend hours every day on the school grounds just making sure that the children come in safely, that they leave the building safely and that they get off transport safely. I think it's very difficult for them to focus on anything else at the moment, given the circumstances, and, of course, they're changing daily. We've got local lockdowns in schools—local lockdowns in local authority areas that do impact schools. Because even though schools are open, we've still got the parents, the confusion of, 'Should we come in, should we not come in?', and all the other added, associated issues that come with that. And I think for them to start thinking about professional learning, it's just not on their agenda right now.
Okay. Eithne, anything to add? Because I'm really keen that we move on. Okay. Thank you. We've got some questions now on the specific implications for headteachers from Siân Gwenllian. Siân.
Diolch yn fawr a bore da. Mae gen i gydymdeimlad mawr efo'r hyn rydych chi newydd ei fynegi a gofyn am bwyllo, efallai, efo'r dyddiad penodol sydd o dan sylw ynglŷn â chyflwyno'r cwricwlwm. Ond, wrth gwrs, beth mae'r Gweinidog yn ei ddweud wrthym ni ydy bod yr ysgolion yn gwneud llawer o hyn eisoes; mae llawer o beth fydd yn ddisgwyliedig o dan ddarpariaethau'r Bil yn rhywbeth sydd yn digwydd yn barod. A fyddech chi'n cytuno efo hynny? Yntau a oes yna lot o waith cynllunio yn dal angen ei wneud, yn enwedig yn yr ysgolion uwchradd, efallai?
Thank you very much and good morning both. I have a great deal of sympathy with what you've just expressed, and asking for some delay, perhaps, with regard to the specific date for the implementation of the new curriculum. But, of course, what the Minister has said, is that the schools are doing a lot of this already; a lot of what will be expected of them under the provisions of the Bill is something that is already happening. Would you agree with that? Or is there a great deal of planning work that still needs to be done, especially in the secondary schools, perhaps?
Who'd like to start? Eithne?
I would say that pre COVID there was a huge amount of work that was already well under way—well under way—in terms of this particular reform. People could see it coming, they were welcoming of it and there were huge numbers of plans. Those plans are still there, they haven't just evaporated, but it's difficult for them to go forward for the reasons that we've already rehearsed. And yes, there's no doubt that some schools will have been further down the line than others, because when there is system change to this extent you're never going to get everybody moving at the same speed. It's just not a realistic prospect, so some will be further ahead than others.
However, the co-construction with the profession has been certainly welcomed, and it has been more easy to implement, if you like, at key stage 3 than it will have been at key stage 4, because the current qualifications system clearly isn't fitting with the aspirations of the new curriculum. That's a very obvious point, but it doesn't allow for operationalising the new curriculum when you're aiming for a different goal, if you like. At key stage 3—much more readily able to be moved into the space where the new curriculum has got much more traction within the system. Again, we welcome the fact that the roll-out begins with year 7, if you like, at 2022, or whatever the date may be, which will, as I say, hopefully be kept under review. Because that allows for that futuring, that slow development and that build towards what we're aiming for right across the piece within secondary schools and further down the line. So, I hope that makes sense.
Okay. Have you got anything to add to that, Laura?
Yn gyffredinol, felly, faint o newid mae'r cwricwlwm yn mynd i olygu ar gyfer penaethiaid? Oherwydd y penaethiaid rŵan fydd yn gyfrifol am lunio'r cwricwlwm, ar ben yr holl ddyletswyddau eraill sydd ganddyn nhw. Ond, wrth gwrs, byddai rhywun yn dadlau bod y cwricwlwm yn hollbwysig, ac mi ddylai fod yn gyfrifoldeb i'r penaethiaid, ond faint o her ydy o mewn gwirionedd?
In general, therefore, how much of a change will the curriculum mean for headteachers? Because it's headtachers who will now be responsible for designing the new curriculum, on top of all of the other duties that they currently have. But, of course, one might argue that the curriculum is vitally important, and it should be the responsibility of the headteachers, but how much of a challenge is it going to be?
I'll go to Laura first, and then Eithne.
There's no doubt that a change in the curriculum of this magnitude is going to present a host of challenges, and hopefully opportunities as well for headteachers. The new curriculum is not a one-size-fits-all model, as Professor Donaldson quite rightly said. Our schools are not franchises, so schools will have the freedom to apply their own individual school context to the programmes of learning. These will evolve, they can be organic, they will continually change to fit the needs of the school. So, this can be seen as a positive or a negative, I suppose, depending on your individual viewpoint.
A specific challenge for school leaders will be instilling the brave new working amongst staff—so, the new way of working. It's important to remember that a great many of school staff at the moment are children of the national curriculum—so, anyone who's taught or entered into education post 1988 will be a product of that curriculum—and that it was a curriculum that said to school staff, 'I'll tell you what to do, and you can do it'. So, it will be a mammoth task for some headteachers to change the mindset of some staff, to tear them away from their familiar systems that they're used to, and to free them up to be creative and to say that it's okay to make errors, because this is the new way of working and encourage them to use their own judgment. And, of course, many senior leadership teams have come through a very narrow system up to now, which will require some support from others, depending on the school.
Another challenge will be ensuring—and I think this is really important—that the accountability and assessment systems match the adaptive process taken by that school. So, the curriculum doesn't run on a single track—it runs in parallel to continuous development and individual learning. So, previous personal development systems were reactive, but this one needs to prepare practitioners for the next step, and they will need the kind of development that will instil a sense of inquiry and research-based practice. So, there will need to be the creation of a high-risk, low-blame culture that will allow teachers to think outside the box and try these new things.
We must also ensure that accountability processes are responsive enough. Are there skills in the middle tier to support this? Is Estyn going to understand what a school is trying to achieve? Our members share the ambition of the new curriculum; will that be another key driver, with the ability to promote professional development, but also to make sure that there is an accountability system that works with the school and not against the school? And I think, for the new curriculum to thrive, all these strands must operate in harmony.
Okay. Thank you. Eithne, anything to add?
Yes, I've got a few things to add with that one. I think, in terms of opportunities for headteachers, I don't think anybody, first of all, would underestimate the work that's required. Leaders don't shy away from hard work when the prize is so good, when the prize is worth fighting for, and one of the terrific opportunities, I think, that is presented as a consequence of the new curriculum is that leaders will be able to focus on instructional leadership—not just managerialism but instructional leadership, which starts at the classroom, it looks at pedagogy, it looks at the science of teaching and learning, and really focuses on the individual child and how that child can make progress right through their own continuum, and trying to get the very best out of the ambitions of each one of those children, which is what leaders do anyway, but this new curriculum allows for that instructional leadership approach, which I think is absolutely vital, and that's a significant difference to where we are today. I know that sounds bizarre, but it is.
The other issues are the engagement of parents and communities, which, again, has to happen as part of this new curriculum, because the debate and the discussion is required with those communities and with those children and parents, and with local employers as well. These are all things that are, if you like, very much embedded within the new curriculum.
At secondary level, you can forge really important department links and share excellent practice within a school, where you want to make sure that your geography teacher speaks to your history teacher and so forth as part of the delivery around the areas of learning and experience. And again, that rich discussion in a secondary school really allows for sharing of excellent practice, which I think is to be welcomed.
I'm going to just say a couple more things. I don’t want to take too much more time on this one, but it's one that you'll probably get a sense of passion from my response. It's about building subject disciplines too. That to me is vital, and that comes around professional learning offers. So, subject disciplines need to be very strong in order for anyone to build the areas of learning and experience. You need to know your own subject before you can begin to connect to another subject area, and that requires deep learning from the point of view of the children and, indeed, the profession, and that, again, is a release mechanism in the system and one that I think most headteachers would absolutely revel in.
The problems, if you like—or the possible challenges—that will present themselves, of course, are around time, which is not one of those great big flexible elastic bands; it's around money, which I know you'll come on to later; it's around high-quality professional learning, which, for my money, must start in the classroom—it needs to be evidence-based, research-based, and it doesn't always require people to be out of classes and out of lessons. It is about evidence-informed research based on the children that you have in front of you, and that, again, washes back under the professional standards and some of the other significant reforms that will support the delivery of the curriculum, because the curriculum doesn't stand on its own right, it's not a separate event: it's supported by all the other reforms that we have in the system. So, I shall finish with that one. I could go on all day, but I know time doesn't allow it. Thank you.
Siân, we've only got time for one more question in this section, I'm afraid, sorry.
Iawn. Roeddwn i jest eisiau gwybod y cysylltiad wedyn efo'r corff llywodraethu. Ydy hi'n glir, ydych chi’n credu, beth fydd y gofynion ar y corff llywodraethu o ran mabwysiadu'r cwricwlwm y bydd y penaethiaid wedi'i gyd-greu, gobeithio? Ydych chi'n gweld unrhyw densiynau’n codi rhwng y pennaeth a'r corff llywodraethu?
That's fine. I just wanted to hear about the link and the connection with the governing body. Is it clear what the requirement of that governing body will be in terms of the adoption of the curriculum that the school leaders will have co-produced, hopefully? Do you see any tensions arising between the school leader and the governing body, perhaps?
Who'd like to take that? Eithne.
I think—. I suppose, theoretically, there may be an issue. However, where the governing body is fully informed—and they will be; I know very few headteachers who haven't already brought their governing body on board on this one—they will understand the purpose of the new curriculum. They will understand the characteristics of their community; the governing bodies are made from a range of people who are from the community themselves, local councillors included, so they will understand what the characteristics of their school actually are and there shouldn't be a wrestle for power over this curriculum. There will generally be a communication that allows for each to accept the views that this interpretation would be one that serves the purposes of communities.
Okay, thank you. We've got some questions now from Suzy Davies.
Yes. Thank you very much. I think we're all aware that there's some controversy about the contents of the Bill that deals with how schools choose their medium of teaching, particularly up until the age of seven. Are you content with the mechanism in the Bill as it stands for how schools can choose to use immersion techniques for Welsh language, or do you think that there might be other mechanisms that can achieve the same aim, perhaps less controversially?
Who'd like to start? Eithne.
Yes, I think—. The immersion, I think, is welcome, because that is something that, obviously, we would want. Whether it's through—I'm not a lawyer, but whether it's through disapplication, which I see to be rather clunky, or whether it's as a consequence of a discussion between a local authority and their schools is a matter, I think, for someone else to determine, but it does seem rather clunky, because, if we want immersion, I think it's welcomed, but is this the correct mechanism? I don't know.
Okay, thank you. We have had suggestions from other sources, but I don't want to lead my witnesses on this one. So, if you had—I don't know whether your members have had ideas of their own about how this could be better achieved.
I think it's fair to say that, certainly, we've had the discussion amongst our members and I agree with what Eithne's just said: the current disapplication is—yes, I suppose 'clunky' is actually a good way of describing it, but have we come up with a better suggestion? Possibly not.
Going back to the point that was made a little bit earlier, I think by Siân, about the role of governors in this, do you suspect that there are any—? Or do you foresee any difficulties that this might be a source of tension between governors and headteachers, about whether disapplication should proceed—any concerns amongst your members about this?
I can only speak for my members, but, in the conversations that we've had about it, nobody's raised any serious concerns, then, I think that's fair to say.
Okay. So, the schools that want it will do it. You don't foresee a situation, then, where we've got a Welsh-medium primary school, for example, where there might be quite a lot of English-speaking governors who don't quite get it? I really hope that's never going to be the situation, but—.
It's probably difficult to say that that is the case. Certainly, that's not the impression that I've got from members that we have in Welsh-medium schools currently.
Well, I'm relieved to hear that. Just turning quickly to what are currently English-medium schools, what are your members telling you about their thoughts about getting to a Welsh-language continuum, starting in the schools? You've mentioned, Eithne, that all schools start in different places on all sorts of things, and this is a really obvious one where they do.
Can I start with that one, Chair? Is that okay?
Yes, that's fine.
Thank you. Again, I think, in terms of the continuum, one of the challenges is going to be about—. There's already an issue around recruiting Welsh first-language teachers, and Welsh second-language teachers, and I think that is a concern for English-medium schools, that we get high-quality teachers in the mix, who can teach to a very high standard. There are issues around resources, high-quality resources, and professional learning as well, which I will come back to again and again. So, those are our challenges. I think the will is there; certainly, I know that many of our colleagues already will make sure that Welsh is part of the curriculum already, and it's generally well taught at second-language level, but trying to find teachers to teach it is really a very, very tall order in many of our secondary schools.
Can I just expand on that point? Because, obviously, there's a drive for more teachers, not just to teach Welsh, but to teach through the medium of Welsh, and I'm not particularly clear that they're being taught at the moment to contribute to a continuum, because nobody really knows what that looks like yet, because the curriculum isn't in. So, there's a chance, isn't there—tell me if you agree—that some of our newly qualified Welsh teachers may still not be equipped to deal with a continuum, even though they may be excellent teachers?
But, again, I think that comes back to the professional learning. It comes back to making sure that you have got a very high-quality input and that you've got schools who are working together to make sure that those novices, if you like, understand precisely what is required of them within the delivery of this new curriculum, and I think that is where school-to-school support, where you will have Welsh-medium schools and English medium schools working side by side, so that you don't have the separation of skill sets—. And those are things that we can learn from each other very significantly around.
Thank you. Have you anything to add to that, Laura, before I move on?
Only to pick up on what Eithne just said about school-to-school support; talking to our members, some of our members who've been in pioneer schools have said that one of the benefits of English-medium schools working with Welsh-medium schools was described to me as the—it might be an unfortunate term, given where we are at the moment—'infectiousness' of wanting to develop their skills and wanting to embrace this new way of working, and I don't think it can be underestimated how much school-to-school support is going to help in terms of the delivery of this.
Well, so long as there's time for them to do that collaboration, of course. That's very helpful, thank you.
I'll just move on to relationships and sexuality education. Now, obviously, this is a mandatory part of the curriculum, and it's, again, causing some controversy here. How much flex do you think that heads will have in how this is delivered, and how important is it going to be in this particular part of the curriculum to have the support of the community in quite how RSE will be delivered?
Who'd like to start—Laura?
Yes, I'm happy to take this one. I think you've picked up on a really salient point there, Suzy, and this is something that is obviously a great concern to us. I think, when it comes to the delivery of RSE, NAHT has been quite clear that, although we accept the flexibility within the new curriculum, there must be some stringent guidance here on how this is going to be delivered, for a number of reasons. We need clear, statutory curriculum content outlined for every school, combined with a range of resources. We need clear direction of approach from Welsh Government in order to provide clarity and consistency as to what schools are expected to deliver and how to ensure that this is accessed by children across to the stage of their development and understanding; nationally quality-assured training to ensure that there is a consistency amongst staff in the approach, irrespective of where they are in Wales; national, translated resources materials, including online learning for parents and governors particularly, so that they understand what exactly is being taught; and also a platform—[Interruption.] Go on, sorry.
What I was going to say before I let Eithne come in is—. I mean, there is a concern about this one, as we all know, and trying to persuade everybody involved in this about what 'age-appropriate' means and so forth, so I take your point about this has to be pretty strict and clear guidance, not least to protect your own members against complaints, if you like. But what are your thoughts—perhaps both of you can come in on this—on how this can be best communicated to parents and other members of the community, let alone children themselves, where they're able to express opinions on this, in order to make sure that whatever this does look like in individual schools not only has the consistency you mentioned, but that it's got the confidence of families as well? Basically, how do we involve parents in this in a way to make them—[Inaudible.]
I think you're absolutely right; the question is very salient. There needs to be strong communication, there needs to be a strong message that's put out around the fact that this is about making—it's about tolerance, it's about entitlement, and, in fact, at the moment, Laura and myself, we should actually be in the RSE meeting, because we are part of the working group. So, we're already looking at that very carefully and looking at the 'what matters' elements, and how this can be rolled out. So, I think you're right, there needs to be a communication strategy so that we don't get the kick-back that been seen, for example, in Birmingham in some of the schools, which has placed significant pressure on those teachers and those leaders. We welcome the fact that it's mandated, but you're correct in your question.
Laura, I'll take a very, very brief supplementary from you.
I just wanted to come in on the back of Suzy and say I share the concerns that she's just raised, and you yourselves have just raised, but obviously the same applies to the sex ed one as well, because that is extremely controversial and has to be age-appropriate. So, I just wanted your thoughts on that, just whilst we were on that same thread. Thanks.
Yes, that's what we are dealing with at the moment. So, that's what we're talking about—RSE. Suzy, have you finished?
Just to reinforce this point that, if parents feel excluded from this discussion, it's nothing to do, necessarily, with faith, it's any parent, and obviously we want this to work. So, if that's included in your 'what matters', that's great. Thank you.
Okay. Thank you. Can I ask, then, about religion, values and ethics this time, and the provisions to have, potentially, a dual system in schools of a denominational character? Do you think that's going to create a—? What particular challenges is that going to create for school leaders in those schools? Who'd like to start—Eithne?
I think, again, this is a knotty issue, but, as far as I understand it, you have faith schools, clearly, who will wish to ensure that they're teaching within the tenets of that particular religion. However, if parents wish to ask that they would have RVE as part of that entitlement, then they would be able to do so. So, if you like, I think it—. And I think many faith schools will also deliver a more holistic approach, so that you have a balance of both the specific denominational elements as well as delivering more widely on the pluralistic elements that are beyond the school's own faith. So, it's a tricky area. I say those words, but I know it is a very tricky area, but the fact that both are available, I think, is also an enhancement.
Okay. Laura, have you got anything to add?
I would pose the question, and this might be an unpopular viewpoint, that in allowing these almost two systems to run in tandem with each other, are we in danger of sending a mixed message, and does that kind of undermine the principles of the Bill itself on what it's trying to achieve, which is to create and inform the young citizens of the world. If that is allowed—. I suppose I get what Eithne is saying and I think we all agree that this is a tricky one to kind of navigate around, I just think it's going to cause difficulty when it comes to the delivery in those schools, and that is a concern for us.
Okay, thank you. You'll be aware that there have been many calls for other areas to be placed on the face of the Bill for mandatory inclusion in the Bill. Are there any areas of omission that you'd like to highlight with the committee today?
Okay, great, thank you. We'll move on now then to Dawn Bowden.
Thank you, Lynne. Morning, both. Just a question around those pupils that are educated other than at school and the limitations on the curriculum in terms of what they will be taught in those settings—in pupil referral units, for instance. What are your thoughts on that?
Dawn, I don't think people can hear you. I can't hear you very well. We can hear you, but it's not enough.
Shall I stick my headphones on?
Apologies. Is that better?
Sorry. So, I was talking about education other than at school and the restrictions in the curriculum on what pupils in those settings are going to be taught in the new curriculum—it's quite limited—and your views on whether that is appropriate, whether that is adequate, and whether that is going to have—or what the potential for that to have on those pupils when they rejoin mainstream education might be.
Yes, I'm happy to take that one. I think it's emphasising, first of all, the health and well-being as, if you like, the one main entitlement, but it doesn't preclude any EOTAS setting from actually delivering the rest. But, some of the settings would find it very difficult to deliver the full range of experiences that would be offered within a mainstream sector. So, I think it does give flexibility to the PRUs, for example, as one of the settings, but it also allows for others to be covered where appropriate.
You would still expect children, obviously, to make progress within their learning. That continuum is still there and other elements of the framework are still there. You would still expect the skills to be taught in terms of literacy, numeracy and digital competency and so forth. And you would expect, if you like, for many of the children who are within those settings, for them, the health and well-being element would be the most significant and relevant to their needs.
Yes, I agree. The only thing I would kind of add would be that the requirements that are set out in the Bill specifically around PRUs, for example, must be broad enough to take into account the wide range of abilities of learners, which we think they are—you know, include the need to fulfil the four purposes, but also allow arrangements to be bespoke enough to work in line with any statements or individual developmental plans, for example.
That's helpful, thanks. Just a question on your view about section 44 of the Bill, which is the one that provides for Welsh Ministers to make regulations enabling temporary exceptions by headteachers to the curriculum requirements. Do you think that that provision is necessary, and in what circumstances do you envisage that happening?
I'm happy to take that one. Yes, we believe that it is necessary, for example, in the case of children with additional learning needs who may need an alternative curriculum, or children who have behavioural issues, for example. Other examples may be to meet a temporary need such as a serious illness or bereavement. This provision within the Bill—correct me if I'm wrong—is already in the current legislation and is only used in exceptional circumstances by headteachers.
Okay. I don't know whether Eithne has got—
No. Go on, Dawn.
Okay, I've just got one other question, Chair, which is also about powers to headteachers, really. It's section 33, the power to disapply year 10 and 11 pupils' right to exercise their choice over teaching and learning within each AoLE. Is that an appropriate provision in your view, and in what circumstances would you envisage headteachers using that power?
Yes. Again, if I can take this one, I think it is an appropriate provision. I think it will be used very sparingly and it will be used under the circumstances that Laura has already outlined; it will be in exceptional circumstances. Nobody wants to disapply children from the full range and the full provision and would do it only if there was a specific and very particular issue. I think this comes back, again, if I can say, to whatever the range of qualifications is that is determined. If the range of qualifications is broad enough and flexible enough in terms of how they're working, then I think you will see less disapplication within the system as well. So, I think that is another element that needs to be taken into consideration around this particular question.
Okay. So, you don't have any concerns about the possibility of it being used excessively; you believe that there is—no, okay, that's fine.
All right. Thank you, Chair.
Okay, thank you. Hefin.
Can I raise this question directly with Laura? It's with regard to the regulatory impact assessment and what the NAHT said about their concerns regarding the influence of the 15 innovation schools. You said that they are
'not representative of the 1,500 schools across Wales'.
They're only 1 per cent of the schools. Isn't that a major concern if they're being used to estimate costs and that schools will find themselves in quite a bit of difficulty cost-wise if they simply aren't representative?
Yes, absolutely. We've gone back to Welsh Government and questioned them on this previously and the response that we've had is that innovation schools estimated the costs at the end of 2019, so they were working from the draft version of the curriculum that was published in April 2019. So, the version that's been published in January 2020, this year, represents a significant development from the version that they were working off and basing their costs on. So, Welsh Government have said that as they substantially simplify the content and specifically refine the descriptions of learning, the Curriculum for Wales now includes extensive guidance on designing your own curriculum, and this was absent from the previous draft. So, innovation schools were planning and basing costs on having to work that process out for themselves, whereas now there's clear guidance to help schools to design that. I still remain unconvinced that 15 schools, despite the response from Welsh Government, are going to be representative of schools across Wales, and I think NAHT would call for there to be a wider review of how this would actually impact schools in terms of funding.
And, of course, we have to take into account, now, the pandemic. You know, we don't know what the impact of all of this is going to be on schools. We don't know what that's going to mean for teacher recruitment and retention, we don't know what that's going to mean for staff sickness levels, and not just sickness with the pandemic, but sickness as in associated issues.
And in fairness, the others mentioned that too. But can I just press you on what you mean by a wider review? What kind of timescale would such a wider review and what kind of review are you talking about there?
I think you'd need to reach out to a much broader group of schools and find out exactly what this new curriculum is going to mean in terms of identifying cost. I think there's—
Have we got time for that?
Well, this comes back to the time issue, doesn't it, and the, 'Are we pinning our hopes to the date that's been set for the roll-out of the new curriculum'? It comes back to a previous point that I've made that I'm just not sure that that's a realistic time frame, given the unknown that we are working in at the moment. And I think if we're going to go down the route of costs, I think we really need to know exactly how much money we're talking about, because we already know, and your committee's discussed this previously, around cost issues for schools and funding for schools, and that remains a concern for any headteacher going forward. I'm certainly of the view that 15 schools, and our members are of the view that 15 schools, are not an appropriate measure of how much this is going to cost.
Perhaps I can put the same questions to Eithne, because you've mentioned, in your evidence, that school finances are currently not healthy, and you, if anything, emphasised further the fact that current circumstances are causing these problems.
Yes. I mean, I think it's clear that the current finances are not in a healthy position and probably won't be for some period of time, and that many schools already are operating a deficit budget that is extraordinarily difficult. So, yes, and we factor COVID into that as well, and the unforeseen costs that will come as a consequence of COVID. So, funding is an issue. The funding as well, I would argue, for professional learning needs to come directly into schools in order that schools can determine exactly what it is that they wish their teachers to be learning, rather than it being a menu that is provided by a third party, if you like. So, funding can't be in ignored. Your world-class system can't be done on a shoestring; it does need to have that financial certainty about it, if there can be financial certainty during this period of time.
So, therefore, how can we possibly move forward with this? This project that you welcome, how can we possibly move forward with it, with this seemingly insurmountable barrier unaddressed?
I think, for me, the way that we can move forward with this, because I see this to be something that can be resolved; I don't see it to be terminal; I don't see it to be something that is going to completely take the curriculum off the table, and I would just lay down that very carefully. I said at the beginning that we don't need to have professional learning where people are leaving schools and getting a provider outside of school that is costly in terms of supply, in terms of—[Inaudible.]—school and all the rest of it. If school-to-school support is set up, where you are sharing excellent practice vertically, then you've actually got quite a lot of strength in the system already, which will support the delivery of the curriculum.
People are also already well on their way because beyond the innovation schools, you had pioneer schools who were already working very carefully in looking at the 'what matters' questions and looking at exactly what should be in there, and the progress. The innovation schools haven't been the only players in this; there's been significant work that has happened in advance of this, and there are a lot of schools that are well on their way with it. But funding needs to be a consideration, but not to be a massive impediment to the whole thing.
Laura, do you agree that this—? I think Eithne said that it's not terminal. Do you agree that's the case, that this is resolvable?
It certainly is resolvable. I think there needs to be the commitment there to do it, and that's what I would call for.
And what are the barriers that exist? Are there any other barriers of similar size that might also cause problems?
Go on, Eithne. Go on.
I think 'barriers'—I'm going to swap the word 'barrier' for 'challenge', if that's okay, because I think there is a will to do this. I want to be really clear: there is a will to do it; there's a desire to do it; there is a fundamental need to get to where we are with the new curriculum. And I think we will manage that, but we also need to be realistic about the support that may be needed within the system.
We also need to have—and I think I've mentioned this in my submission—qualifications that are flexible, qualifications that are not an end in themselves, but that their own shape is reflective of the curriculum itself. So, that, I would say, is a challenge and that would be co-constructed between Qualifications Wales and various stakeholders, and that again needs to be positively worked through. So, that is a challenge.
Funding is a challenge, but, again, I think that can be resolved. I'd go back to the fact that professional learning money needs to come straight into schools, because leaders are best placed to know what exactly it is they need from their own workforce, and they need to have direct control of that. We need to not have professional learning funding cut; that's vitally important. That heading needs to be protected.
So, those are challenges, but they are not insurmountable by any stretch of the imagination. There is a will to do this and a desire to do this, and I believe we will get there. I personally would like to see this in 2022; it would be wonderful if we could get to that, as well. So, I'll finish with that.
Okay. Thank you. We are out of time, I'm afraid, and we may well have to write to you with some points that we haven't been able to cover. But can I thank you both very much for your attendance this morning? As usual, you'll be sent a transcript to check for accuracy following the meeting. Diolch yn fawr to both of you. The committee will now break until 10:25, when we will go back into public. Thank you.
Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:16 a 10:27.
The meeting adjourned between 10:16 and 10:27.
Welcome back, everyone, to the Children, Young People and Education Committee. Our next item is our seventh evidence session with the teaching unions on the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill. I'd like to welcome Rebecca Williams, who is deputy general secretary and policy officer at UCAC; Neil Butler, who's the national official for Wales at NASUWT; and Mary van den Heuvel, who is the Wales senior policy officer at NEU Cymru. Thank you very much, all of you, for joining us today. We're going to go straight into questions, and the first ones are from Laura Jones.
Thank you very much, and thank you all for coming in. Obviously, the new curriculum is such a seismic change from what we've ever done here in Wales, with the old way of doing things on an England-and-Wales basis that dates back to the 1980s. Do you all agree with the Welsh Government that the current curriculum is no longer fit for purpose, and that a complete overhaul of what and how children and young people are taught is essential? Do you also believe, on the back of that, that what is being proposed in legislation now takes in all of Donaldson's aims?
Who'd like to start? Neil.
Thank you, Chair. I think there are elements of the current curriculum that are not fit for purpose, such as the assessment system. The national curriculum levelling in some subject areas has never been fit for purpose, and required overhaul many years ago. But with regards to other particular areas, no, I wouldn't agree. I think the national curriculum bedded in and has served the children of Wales well.
I do think the Bill probably contains much of what Professor Donaldson's intentions were, but I think our view is that the present curriculum has come under a lot of flak for things that it was not responsible for. I think that there are other elements in the education service that are responsible for issues and problems in terms of standards, not the current curriculum.
Okay. Mary, you said you'd like to come in next.
Yes. Our members from the National Education Union are broadly supportive of the changes that the legislation should bring about. We welcome the opportunity for teachers, actually, to set a local curriculum that works for the children and young people in their setting. We would have concerns that the funding and the training, which I'm sure we'll come to later, need to be there and need to be right in order for this to happen, but, overall, we're broadly supportive of the changes.
Okay. Thank you. Rebecca, have you got anything to add?
Mae ein haelodau ni yn UCAC hefyd yn gefnogol. Hynny yw, mae yna bum mlynedd erbyn hyn ers cyhoeddi adroddiad yr Athro Graham Donaldson, 'Dyfodol Llwyddiannus', ac roedd consensws eang ynghylch ei arghymhellion adeg yna. Ac mae yna lawer o waith—llawer o waith—wedi'i wneud ers hynny, a mwy o gonsensws, os unrhyw beth, wedi cael ei adeiladu yn y cyfamser. Felly, dwi'n credu bod nid yn unig cytundeb cyffredinol bod angen newid, ond cytundeb eang hefyd am y rhesymau dros wneud hynny a'r math o newidiadau sydd eu hangen. Felly, rŷn ni hefyd yn gefnogol o'r angen i newid.
Our members in UCAC are also supportive. Five years have gone by since the publication of the Donaldson report, 'Successful Futures', and there was a wide consensus with regard to the recommendations at that time. And a great deal of work has been done—a great deal of work—since then, and greater consensus has been built in the meantime. So, I think not only is there general agreement that there is a need for change, but also broader agreement for the reasons behind that change and the kinds of changes that are needed. So, we're also very supportive of the need for change.
Thank you. Laura.
Thank you. Due to the seismic change in the way of teaching, in the process of how this legislation has come about for this new curriculum, do you think there's been enough engagement and involvement with your members?
Who'd like to start? Mary.
I don't mind starting. I think there has been a mixed level of engagement. I think if you were in what was called a pioneer school, then you will have had a lot of engagement by now, but that's part of the reason that we think funding is so important, because there has been different levels of engagement for different professionals across Wales. So, what we think is that, for the curriculum to be right, then we do need funding and training right across the board. Some schools will be in different places, particularly because of COVID and the challenges we've seen there, so we do need to ensure that everybody gets the opportunity to plan the curriculum and time outside of the classroom to train and to speak with others. So, I think it probably is a mixed picture, but I think there are opportunities now to ensure that everyone gets that chance to plan the curriculum.
Would anybody else like to come in on this? Neil.
Yes. I think there's very little engagement with the workforce in terms of the development of the new curriculum. I was a secondary teacher in Wales for 30 years and I was also in a pioneer school. The first I knew about the new curriculum and being in a pioneer school was when the headteacher announced it in a briefing, and that was the last time I heard of it as well. And very few chalkface members of staff were involved in the development at all; any development, as far as we understand, was done, largely, by senior staff and education experts. But there was very little engagement with the profession, and it's a myth of the new curriculum to say that it was built by teachers.
Okay. Thank you. Rebecca.
Mae'r ymgysylltu wedi bod yn gymysg ac yn fylchog ar adegau, ond, dwi'n credu, wedi gwella dros gyfnod, ac roedd e wedi dod yn well cyn i'r feirws ein taro ni. Beth fydd yn bwysig nawr, wrth gwrs, yw gwneud yn siŵr bod cyfleoedd ac ymgysylltu trwyadl ar draws y system o nawr tan fis Medi 2022.
The engagement has been mixed and slightly piecemeal at times, but that has improved over time, and it had improved before the virus hit. What will be important now, of course, will be to ensure that there are opportunities for thorough engagement throughout the system from now until September 2022.
Okay. Thank you. Laura.
Thanks for those responses. There obviously is a massive degree of flexibility with the new curriculum. There are a lot of pros to that, but do you worry of inconsistencies, then, being created between schools? Do you think it will widen the gap between the schools that are performing well at the moment and those schools that are falling behind a little bit? Do you think that the flexibility side of things will widen that?
Who'd like to come in on this? Mary.
I don't mind if other people need to go first.
Oh no, you go first, you're all right, I saw you. [Laughter.]
So, I just wanted to say I don't think there is any reason why that should widen the gap in and of itself, but like I said previously, it's the funding for this, because I think this legislation does need significant investment, and we can see from the explanatory memorandum that there are predictions of a wide variety in terms of how much the legislation will cost. But I don't see any reason, in and of itself. If we get the progression levels right and children are able to move then between schools if they have a need to, then I don't see why that flexibility in and of itself would create that situation. As Neil said, though, the assessment stuff does need to be right too, and I think that's really important.
Is that me?
Yes, please, if that's—
I would say the assessment system and the new curriculum is not right, in fact; it seems to me to be a pale imitation of the old curriculum. But, look, the issue with regard to differences across schools is actually a very real issue. This is a skills-based curriculum, so what you're going to have is you're going to have, obviously, similarities in terms of approaches, in terms of dealing with skills, but you're going to have wide variations with regard to content.
Now, also, the issue in terms of good schools, weak schools, that's a red herring, because in large secondaries, you've got divisions in terms of departments within those secondaries, you'll have strong departments and you'll have weaker departments. So, you can't just colour it all as, 'That's a weak school and that's a strong school.' That's an entirely different issue. What I think you will have is in the strong departments, it will be an exciting time for them in terms of creating something new, but in the weaker departments, basically it'll be more of the same, because I think what they'll do is they will just carry on with what they were doing before anyway, because there seems to be very little incentive in the new curriculum to do that change.
But, overarching all of this, and I know this is going to come up in a question later on, is the qualifications system, because the bottom line is that teachers will teach based upon what eventually the qualifications are going to be and that will be what drives this. The fact that qualifications are separate from this is a real weakness in terms of the new curriculum in Wales.
Okay, thank you, and we will be coming on to that. Rebecca, have you got anything to add?
Rŷn ni'n croesawu'r hyblygrwydd newydd ac yn meddwl ei fod e'n beth positif, ond, wrth gwrs, mae yna rai peryglon, fel ŷch chi wedi eu hamlinellu, Laura. Dwi'n credu bydd angen rhyw fath o system o fonitro yn y dyddiau cynnar, a phan dwi'n dweud yn y dyddiau cynnar, efallai'n arwain lan at gyflwyno'r cwricwlwm, mae yna broses cynllunio hefyd, yn ogystal â'r cyfnod cynnar o weithredu. Ond dwi'n prysuro i ddweud nad unrhyw fath o system monitro haearnaidd a thrwm. Dyna'r peth olaf ŷn ni eisiau, ond dwi'n credu bod yna gyfrifoldeb, onid oes, arnom ni i wneud yn siŵr bod yr hyn sy'n cael ei ddarparu i'r dysgwyr yn unol â'r disgwyliadau cyffredinol a bod yna gefnogaeth i ysgolion yn ôl yr angen os nad yw'r disgwyliadau hynny yn cael eu cyrraedd.
Mae adnoddau addysgol i gyd-fynd â'r cwricwlwm yn mynd i fod yn bwysig iawn yn hyn o beth hefyd, dwi'n credu, i roi ychydig bach o fframwaith a sgaffaldiau, os liciwch chi, i sicrhau bod y mathau o bethau iawn yn cael eu darparu.
We welcome the new flexibility and we think that it's a positive thing, but, of course, there are some risks, as you've outlined, Laura. I think that we will need some kind of system of monitoring in the early days, and when I say in those early days, perhaps leading up to the introduction of the new curriculum, there is a planning process as well, as well as the early days of implementation of the curriculum. But I hasten to add that it shouldn't be a very heavy-handed monitoring system, that's the last thing we'd want, but I think that there is a responsibility on us, isn't there, to ensure that what is provided to learners is in accordance with the general expectations and that there is support for schools according to need if those expectations aren't met.
The educational resources to go along with the curriculum are going to be vital in this regard too, I think, to provide a framework and scaffolding, if you like, a structure, to ensure that the right kinds of things are provided.
Okay, thank you. Final question, Laura, please.
Thank you, Chair. Yes, there does need to be strong support and monitoring throughout that first stage, particularly. And on that, because of the disruption we've had from COVID-19 and, obviously, the additional challenges in education resulting from that—. Some of you had already highlighted before this that there is no realistic calculation of the time teachers will need to jointly plan for the new curriculum and obviously that is accentuated now because of COVID and what we're going through. So, in light of that, do you think that the timescale for implementing the new curriculum, although not specified in the Bill itself, remains September 2022—do you think schools will be ready for this, do you think teachers will be ready?
Who'd like to start on this? Neil.
Well, we thought the timetable was challenging before COVID-19. We now think it's entirely implausible. Would you paint a ship in the middle of a hurricane? Effectively, that's where we are the moment here. You're looking at an entire overhaul of the curriculum here at a time of a pandemic. I was in a meeting a few years ago in terms of the development of the curriculum and the Welsh Government official talked about the new curriculum as a paradigm shift in pedagogy. This is a revolutionary change. It's a change in the way teachers teach, and you're looking at doing that now? Frankly, schools and teachers have got bigger fish to fry in terms of dealing with blended learning and trying to work out how they're going to operate under the present totally changed and different conditions in schools. No, it's entirely implausible, the timetable for the implementation of the new curriculum.
Fyddwn i ddim yn dadlau ei fod yn gwbl amhosibl. Rwy'n credu mewn byd delfrydol y byddem ni yn sticio at yr amserlen, achos mae cymaint o angen y cwricwlwm newydd hwn, a chymaint o bethau positif, da ynddo fe. Rŷn ni eisiau ei weithredu fe ac mae gennym ni ddwy flynedd o hyd. Ond, wedi dweud hynny, mae'n rhaid i ni gadw golwg ar y sefyllfa, oherwydd rwy'n cytuno â Neil i'r graddau—hynny yw, does dim modd amgyffred ymdopi â hyn ar hyn o bryd. Mae athrawon ac arweinwyr ysgol reit yn ei chanol hi, yn mynd o ddydd i ddydd i gadw'r ysgolion ar agor a chadw trefn ar bethau. Felly, mae'n rhaid i ni gadw golwg ar y sefyllfa, ond rwy'n credu y dylem ni geisio cadw at yr amserlen os yw e'n rhesymol bosibl i wneud.
I wouldn't argue that it's entirely impossible. I think in an ideal world we would be sticking to that timetable because there is so much of a need for this new curriculum, and there are so many positive, good things in it. We want to implement it and we do have two years still. But, having said that, we do need to keep an eye on the situation, because I agree with Neil to the extent that there is no way to get to grips with all of this now. Teachers and school leaders are right in the middle of it, going from day to day trying to keep their schools open, to keep an even keel. So I think we do need to keep an eye on the situation, but I do think we should try to adhere to the timetable if it is reasonably possible to do so.
Mary, have you got anything to add?
Yes, I would add it is ambitious. I don't think we can get away from that. I think Rebecca and Neil have both highlighted some key points there. We are in the middle—. Essentially, I would say that teachers in schools are firefighting in terms of the day-to-day work that's happening at the moment to try and support their learners, to try and make the best of what we've got at the moment in what is obviously a globally challenging situation. I do agree with Rebecca that there is so much positive stuff within the curriculum that it would be great if we could do it by 2022, but I think a lot of things are going to have to happen in terms of training and investment, and I'm not 100 per cent confident that that's the case.
Okay, thank you. Suzy, you've got a brief supplementary.
Yes, it's very quick. On this issue of training, this is supposed to be classroom based as far as possible, and obviously COVID will have implications for that. As well as concerns for your own members' ability to have professional learning during this period, do you have any concerns at all that school leaders might be in the same position when they're trying in a very positive way to guide all members of staff through this interesting but choppy period?
Yes, absolutely, and particularly we've had feedback from our school leaders in small schools who are teaching a lot as well, so those people have been particularly up against it. They're trying to teach, they're trying to ensure that all of the rules to keep everybody safe during COVID are in place, and obviously they're trying to do planning for everything, but as Rebecca's already pointed out, it's planning for tomorrow before it's planning for a new curriculum. So I think there will probably need to be some flexibility in the system.
Anything to add, or are you happy for us to move on? Yes, okay, we'll go on now to questions from Siân Gwenllian.
Bore da. Rydych chi wedi cyffwrdd â'r angen am fwy o gyllid er mwyn i'r cwricwlwm yma fod yn llwyddiannus. Fedrwch chi ymhelaethu ar hynny? Ym mha ffordd y byddai cael mwy o gyllid yn cyrraedd yr ysgolion yn helpu i gyflawni'r cwricwlwm newydd?
Good morning. You've touched on the need for additional funding for this new curriculum to be a success. Can you expand on that? And in what way would having additional funding reaching the schools help to implement the new curriculum?
Rwy'n credu mai un o'r pethau pwysicaf y gallem ni fod yn ariannu ar gyfer cyflwyno cwricwlwm newydd yw amser rhydd o'r dosbarth i athrawon er mwyn gallu cyd-gynllunio'r cwricwlwm newydd. Mae'n bwysig oherwydd natur y cwricwlwm sy'n mynd ar draws pynciau traddodiadol, a'r angen i gynllunio ar draws yr ystodau oedran hefyd, fod hynny'n amser digyswllt ar y cyd. So, dyw e ddim yn gallu bod yn rhyddhau un ar y tro, un ar ôl y llall; mae angen i'r garfan gyfan o athrawon gael eu rhyddhau ar yr un pryd. Nawr, rŷn ni'n gwerthfawrogi bod yna un diwrnod hyfforddiant mewn swydd ychwanegol bob blwyddyn am y tair blynedd nesaf, ac mae hynny'n sicr yn help, ond dyw e ddim yn mynd i fod yn ddigon ar ei ben ei hun. Felly, o gael rhagor o gyllid, dwi'n credu dyna fyddai'r flaenoriaeth i'n haelodau ni.
I think one of the most important things that we could be funding for the introduction of the new curriculum is time away from the classroom for teachers so that they can co-produce and co-design the new curriculum. I think it's important because of the nature of the curriculum, which cuts across traditional subjects and the need to plan across age ranges, that that should be non-contact time on a joint basis. It can't be one teacher being released one after the other; the whole cohort of teachers should be released at the same time. We appreciate that there is one additional INSET training day every year for the next three years, and that is certainly a help, but it's not going to be enough in and of itself. So in having additional funding, I think that would be the priority for our members.
Would anyone else like to come in on this? Neil then Mary.
I think Rebecca touched on something there. Look at that, we have one additional training day for the next few years for a paradigm shift in pedagogy. That's wholly inadequate, and Rebecca is absolutely right that it's about time to release teachers from the classroom to get to grips with the requirements of the new curriculum. And that was the failure in terms of building the new curriculum, because at that time they would not take teachers away from the classroom. I can understand why, but that's the price you pay if you want it to be built by the teachers. So it wasn't built by teachers, and now we're in a situation where teachers are going to have to take this forward, they're going to have to take them away from the classroom to actually train them in how to do it.
Yes, I would agree, it's worth making it explicit why time away from the classroom costs, because obviously you need somebody to teach that class while that teacher isn't there. So it does involve costs to bring in supply teachers and not just leave a class without a teacher. So that's why that's additional funding for that.
I would have said additional funding specifically for training, and there'll be various levels of training need. I think I calculated roughly that the RIA allows for about £500 per teacher and support staff, and I don't think that's enough. And I do think we do need to remember to bring our support staff with us, too.
I think I would add to that, actually, that we haven't fully enacted the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 yet. Both that and this piece of legislation have the aims that children are meant to fulfil their potential and I think it cannot be said that if those two pieces of legislation don't go hand in hand—. So, if the ALNET Act doesn't actually provide proper support, then we're passing a lot of responsibility from that Act down to schools, in the same way that this is passing responsibility down to schools, and that inevitably has costs attached to it to ensure that there's support there for every learner to engage in the curriculum and fulfil their potential. Those are great aims, and I think it's right that they're there, but I think there needs to be investment to ensure that there is support there for children so that teachers can provide support for all of them.
Thank you. Siân.
O ran yr effaith ar lwyth gwaith athrawon o gyflwyno'r cwricwlwm newydd, beth ydych chi'n credu sydd angen ei wneud er mwyn helpu efo hynny er mwyn rhyddhau'r athrawon i fedru canolbwyntio ar y cwricwlwm? Yn sgil hynny, ydych chi'n credu y byddai athrawon yn croesawu mwy o ganllawiau? Ddim mynd yn ôl i ddyddiau'r cwricwlwm presennol, ond mwy o ganllawiau yn hytrach na rhywbeth eithaf niwlog. Dyna mae rhai athrawon yn dweud wrthyf i. Dwi ddim yn gwybod os ydych chi'n cael hynny gan eich athrawon chi.
In terms of the impact on the workload of teachers in introducing this new curriculum, what do you think needs to be done to assist with that workload in order to release the teachers to be able to focus on the curriculum itself? As a result of that, do you believe that teachers would welcome more guidance? Not to go back to the days of the current curriculum, but additional guidance rather than something that's quite nebulous. That's what some teachers are telling me. I don't know if you're hearing that from your teachers.
Who would like to start? Rebecca.
Dwi'n credu bydd y llwyth gwaith yn drwm, ar y dechrau yn enwedig, oherwydd y gofynion cynllunio yn y lle cyntaf a, fel mae Neil wedi cyfeirio ato fe, y paradigm shift. Mae'n ffordd gwbl newydd o addysgu, felly bydd yna dechnegau newydd a phopeth. Mae hi'n mynd i fod yn chwyldro. Felly, bydd hwnna yn cymryd amser athrawon a staff dysgu. Mi ddylai hynny ddod yn rhwyddach dros y blynyddoedd cyntaf. Ond o ran y llwyth gwaith ehangach, mi fydd hynny'n dibynnu i raddau helaeth ar yr union drefniadau asesu sy'n cael eu rhoi yn eu lle a'r trefniadau atebolrwydd. Nawr te, mae yna arwyddion da a phositif fod y trefniadau atebolrwydd yn mynd i ddod yn fwy rhesymol, ond mi fydd llawer yn dibynnu ar hynny'n cael ei weithredu yn unol â'r addewidion ar hyn o bryd. Ac i ddod nôl i'r cwestiwn ynglŷn â beth fyddai'n helpu, efallai nid canllawiau mwy penodol, oherwydd efallai byddai hynny yn rhy debyg i'r hyn rŷn ni'n ceisio symud bant oddi wrtho fe, ond adnoddau, dwi'n credu—digonedd o adnoddau, o safon uchel, sydd yn cyd-fynd yn dda iawn gyda natur y cwricwlwm newydd, sydd ddim yn cyfyngu. Bydd hynny'n rhoi llawer o help, dwi'n credu, i athrawon yn y cyfnod cychwynnol yn arbennig.
I think that the workload will be heavy, particularly at the beginning, because of the planning requirements in the first instance, and, as Neil has mentioned, with regard to the paradigm shift. It is an entirely new way of teaching, so there will be new techniques. It is going to be a revolution. So, that will take up teachers' time and that of teaching staff. That should get easier over those first few years. But in terms of the wider workload, that will depend to an extent on the exact assessment arrangements that are put in place and the accountability arrangements. Now, there are positive signs that the accountability arrangements are going to be more reasonable, but a great deal will depend on that being implemented according to the promises. And to come back to the question of what would help, it perhaps wouldn't be more specific guidance, because that might be too similar to the system that we're trying to move away from, but resources, I think—sufficient resources, of a high quality, that align very closely to the nature of the new curriculum, that don't restrict or limit. I think that would be a great deal of help for teachers in the initial phase particularly.
Thank you. Mary.
I would add that perhaps it would be useful to do a workload impact assessment to see fully what the workload implications are going to mean. And I don't think that we can talk about workload without, obviously, again mentioning the implications around COVID, online learning, and teachers and support staff trying really hard to support their learners at the moment. I would add to Rebecca's point—and, actually, I guess it answers your previous question about funding—that, actually, the added extras would be really helpful as well. This is an experiential curriculum in many ways, so if we were able to get to a place where there are trips and experiences for children and young people, I think that would be great. Unfortunately, our members tell us that, over the last 10 years, those kinds of things haven't really been happening and that parent groups, which perhaps would have provided support for those families that can't afford to go to those trips and things, are having to actually pay for other things. So, I think it is about significant investment if we're to get this right and we're to do this well.
Thank you. Neil, have you got anything to add?
Yes. Just to say, as for the word 'nebulous', I think, absolutely it's nebulous, but I think that was the point. I think the idea was that it would be built up, and I think Mary's right—if you bring in more guidance, more detail, you're just going back to where we are with the present curriculum.
And I'd also make the point, by the way—just referring back to a previous question—that that work, in terms of that building, that workload would be being done now. That building and development would be being done now. It's not being done now. Quite clearly, we all know the reasons why, so it does bring us back to the fact there's an awful lot of work to be done on this new curriculum. It's not being done now, and yet the timetable for the implementation remains the same. How can that be?
Okay. Thank you. Siân.
Mae'r cwestiwn olaf gen i yn yr adran yma yn ymwneud â'r bobl ifanc sydd yn dod o'r colegau a'r prifysgolion ac sydd yn mynd ymlaen i ddysgu yn yr ysgolion. Ydyn nhw yn cael eu trwytho yn ddigonol yn anghenion y cwricwlwm newydd? Oes yna ddigon o gysylltiad rhwng y cyrsiau a'r anghenion newydd? Ydy pethau wedi newid digon, mewn ffordd, o ran yr hyfforddiant, ydych chi'n credu?
The final question from me in this section relates to the young people coming from the colleges and the universities, who are going on to teach in our schools. Are they being immersed adequately in the needs of the new curriculum? Is there enough of a linkage made between the courses and the new requirements of the curriculum? Have things changed enough in terms of the training that's being provided, do you believe?
Rwy'n credu bod y darparwyr hyfforddiant cychwynnol athrawon yn symud i'r cyfeiriad yna, ac mae angen iddyn nhw wneud, yn amlwg, achos mae yna gyflenwad o athrawon ifanc yn dod o'r cyfeiriad yna, a gallan nhw fod bron yn helpu'r gweithlu presennol hefyd. Byddan nhw wedi cael hyfforddiant mwy dwys, os liciwch chi, yn y cyfnod yn arwain lan at gyflwyno'r cwricwlwm.
Yr hyn sydd efallai'n mynd i fod yn anodd yn y cyd-destun presennol yw efallai ein bod ni'n mynd i weld cwtogi ar eu cyfnodau profiad dysgu mewn ysgolion oherwydd COVID dros y flwyddyn i ddod, neu wahanol addasiadau i'r cyrsiau. Ond mae angen sicrhau bod natur a chynnwys y cwricwlwm newydd yn flaenoriaeth o fewn y cyrsiau hynny—a byddwn i yn ychwanegu hefyd o ran cymhwyso'r athrawon yna i allu addysgu trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg yn gynyddol, a dysgu'r Gymraeg fel pwnc ar hyd y continwwm.
I think that the providers are moving in that direction, and they need to do so, clearly, because there is a new supply of young teachers coming from that direction, and they could assist the current workforce too. They will have had more intensive training in the period leading up to the introduction of the new curriculum.
What is going to be difficult, perhaps, in the current context is that we're going to see restrictions to their teaching practice in the classroom, or other adjustments to their courses, as a result of COVID. But we need to ensure that the nature of the new curriculum is a priority in teacher training courses—and, I would add, in terms of those teachers being qualified with regard to being able to teach through the medium of Welsh, or teach Welsh as a subject as well.
Okay. Thank you. Would anybody else like to come in on this? Neil.
Well, I think the new teachers coming in may be the saving of the new curriculum, because they'll be much, much more fully immersed in the new curriculum than teachers in the classrooms have been, because of, I think, failures of professional learning, and, of course now, the pandemic. So, in that sense, they will bring a much, much deeper understanding, I think, of the new curriculum into schools. But the problem is, and I hate to repeat myself, they're hitting this brick wall of an entirely crisis situation in schools of dealing with the pandemic, and whether they can bring that fresh knowledge to bear is going to be a different matter because of where we are now.
Rebecca, you wanted to come back in briefly.
Diolch yn fawr. Roeddwn i eisiau dweud hefyd ynglŷn â'r gyfran o athrawon sydd yn dod i ddysgu yng Nghymru sydd efallai wedi cymhwyso y tu allan i Gymru ar gyrsiau yn Lloegr neu wledydd eraill. Dwi'n credu bod wir angen i ni ystyried sut rŷn ni'n eu helpu nhw i bontio i system sy'n mynd i fod yn gynyddol wahanol yng Nghymru, gyda chwricwlwm hollol wahanol a gofynion asesu gwahanol. Hynny yw, dwi ddim yn awgrymu ein bod ni'n codi unrhyw fath o waliau—mae angen athrawon arnom ni yng Nghymru—ond mae eisiau i ni wneud yn siŵr eu bod nhw'n gymwys ac yn deall y system maen nhw'n dod i mewn iddi.
Thank you very much. I also wanted to mention the cohort of teachers who are coming to teach in Wales who perhaps have qualified outside of Wales on courses in England or other nations. I think there is a real need for us to consider how we assist them to make that transition to a system that is going to be increasingly divergent in Wales, with an entirely different curriculum and different assessment requirements. I'm not suggesting that we should be building any walls—of course, we do need teachers in Wales—but we need to ensure that they are qualified and that they do understand the system that they're coming into.
Okay. Mary, have you got anything to add, or am I all right to move on?
You're okay to move on. That's fine.
Thank you. We've got some questions now on school standards, learner progression and qualifications from Dawn Bowden.
Thank you, Chair. I just wanted to start by asking you what you feel the new curriculum is going to do in terms of school improvement. Do you think it's inevitable that that will happen, or do you think that there is also the danger—the opposite view to Welsh Government, I guess—that, actually, some schools may really struggle with this new curriculum and it could see a lowering of standards in some areas?
Who'd like to go first? Neil.
Well, if you're judging standards based upon the qualifications, then we've got a problem in Wales of the tail wagging the dog in the situation of bringing in a new curriculum at a time when you haven't touched the qualifications. My understanding is that in Scotland, they did it at the same time, and they struggled there for a couple of years until it bedded in. But now we've got a situation where we've got a new curriculum, but we're only now begging to talk about how we're going to dovetail the qualifications into the new curriculum.
Now, as I say, I was a secondary teacher for a very long time, and my focus as a head of a history department was always the qualifications, and that was the priority. So, basically, I'm not entirely sure that the new curriculum will impact standards in terms of the present qualifications, because I think teachers will still have that as their focus. Whatever the new curriculum is, they will just, basically, tweak that to ensure that it doesn't disrupt the skills required for those qualifications.
The issue is going to be what are the changes going to be in terms of the qualifications. How are they going to dovetail into the new curriculum? And are we going to have a problem in terms of parity with the other UK nations in terms of their qualifications as well? Those are big questions and big problems that we're going to have to face.
Thank you. I'll come and explore that a little bit further with you in a moment. I don't know whether other colleagues have got anything to add to that at this stage.
Mae lot yn dibynnu ar sut rŷn ni'n mesur safonau, onid yw e? Rŷn ni wedi bod yn ddibynnol iawn ar gymwysterau i fesur sut mae ein system addysg ni yn perfformio, ac mae hynny'n berffaith briodol, hyd at ryw bwynt. Ond byddwn i'n gobeithio bod y cwricwlwm newydd yma'n dod â diwylliant newydd gydag e, newid system-gyfan, os liciwch chi, ac ymagwedd at addysg sy'n rhoi gwerth ar lot o wahanol bethau y tu hwnt i ganlyniadau cymwysterau yn 16 a 18 oed, gan gynnwys lles ac iechyd disgyblion. Felly, mae llawer yn dibynnu, unwaith eto, ar y system sydd gyda ni ar gyfer asesu a monitro ac atebolrwydd, a'r ffaith bod hwnna yn cyd-fynd gyda'r newid diwylliant yma.
Ond i ddod yn ôl at fesurau allanol ac atebolrwydd allanol, os liciwch chi, mi ddylai, dwi'n credu, y cwricwlwm newydd fod llawer mwy cydnaws gyda'r mathau o sgiliau mae PISA, er enghraifft, yr OECD, yn eu mesur, oherwydd eu bod nhw'n sgiliau bywyd go iawn, os liciwch chi—pethau rŷch chi'n gallu eu cymhwyso i fywyd, ac nid dysgu pethau ar eich cof a'u hailadrodd nhw.
A lot depends on how we measure standards, doesn't it? We have been very dependent on qualifications to measure how our education system is performing, and that is entirely appropriate, to a certain extent. But I would hope that this new curriculum would bring in a new culture with it, a whole-system change, and a different approach to education that places value on many different things beyond the results of examinations at 16 and 18 years of age, including well-being and the health of pupils. So, a great deal depends, once again, on the system that we have for assessment and monitoring and accountability, and the fact that that should align with this culture change.
But to return to external accountability and external measures, if you will, the new curriculum should be much more closely aligned with the kinds of skills that PISA and the OECD, for example, are measuring, because they are real-life skills, if you will—things that you can apply to life, not learning by rote and repeating them.
Okay. Thank you. Before I bring you in, Mary, Suzy's got a brief supplementary, and perhaps you could pick up on that then as well. Suzy.
Yes. Thank you. I just want to tie in this line of questioning with the previous one and those questions about newly qualified teachers. I wonder if you share my concerns that not only do newly qualified teachers have to deal with the potential new curriculum, they have to deal with the curriculum that they have to teach currently, and whether there may, at some point, be a different style or type of teaching for key stage 3 and key stage 4, as they're currently called, which, of course, the initial teacher education process at the moment wouldn't be covering. The achievements at key stage 3 and key stage 4 will be quite different, because there are still exams going to be needed at the end of key stage 4.
Okay. Thank you. Mary.
I certainly think there are going to be challenges. There are going to be challenges for all teachers teaching across the two curricula when we have differences between key stage 3 and key stage 4. I wanted to highlight something as well: one of my colleagues mentioned exams at 16 and 18 and I think it's worth remembering that this curriculum only goes up to 16, so we're yet to see exactly what that means for young people going on to sixth form or FE college or whatever their opportunities, and it would be a worry, I think, if there wasn't joined-up thinking around that. So, that's something to highlight.
In terms of school improvement, well, I really, really hope that this is a culture shift and we do move much more towards supporting those schools that, perhaps, need some more help and away from the stick and more towards the carrot sort of situation, where everybody is able to do well and where we do, as Rebecca said, take well-being into account et cetera. I think we need a full look at the qualifications and assessment process and there isn't a lot of detail within the legislation so far.
Okay. Thank you. Dawn.
Thank you, Chair. I suppose, really, what I was trying to get at—and I will come on to the qualifications in a moment—but I guess what I was trying to get at was that the high-performing schools may well grasp this challenge and run with it and other schools, particularly some of those schools in the secondary sector that we know are struggling, may not be able to grapple with this in quite the same way. That was my concern about whether that potentially then leads us to a difference in outcomes and standards and possibly even widening the equality gap and all that kind of thing. So, that was really what I was trying to get to. Sorry, Neil, you were going to say—.
Neil, you wanted to come in first on this.
I was going to come back on that. I can understand why you might think like that, but I honestly don't believe it's that simple in terms of high-performing and low-performing schools. I think it goes back to what I previously said, and maybe in response to Suzy's supplementary there as well. As I say, I was a head of department. Every year, I would be dragged into the head's office to account for standards, and standards in that school were: what were your grades for most classes, what were your qualification results. Therefore, what was guiding me was effectively—through the whole of the school in the secondary sector, from year 7 on, in terms of those children—the direction towards qualifications. Rightly or wrongly, that's the reality of the situation under the accountability regime that existed and exists. So, that was the guiding light.
Now, in terms of schools that go with this and schools that don't go with this, I'm going to refer back to what I said previously: it's departments that go with this and departments that don't go with this. But remember something else as well, effectively: because of the change to the six areas of learning, you've got now a fracture of the traditional departments being subsumed into these faculty areas. One of the things that comes into this is this idea of balance—well, where's the balance in that? I think you're going to find that some schools will look at their staff, look at the specialism, and will find that some subjects will be stronger based upon the specialists they've got and there'll be subjects that will be weaker. That's allowed in this new curriculum because of reducing these six areas of learning rather than having large numbers of departments. That should be a worry as well, by the way.
So, we've got that situation happening, but I have to say to you that, whilst you've got the qualifications being prime in terms of standards and how that's accepted by the community, by politicians—whilst that's prime, then that's what the heads of departments, who are the key people in this by the way, will work towards, whatever new curriculum comes in. They will just tweak what happens towards those qualifications. So, if we want a cultural shift, which I hear—if we want a cultural shift, we have to change that.
Mary. Sorry, Dawn.
No, that's fine.
I was just going to add that we've seen the reorganising of schools around the AoLEs that Neil just mentioned. We have seen some of that already and we would be really concerned about that, because we wouldn't want to be losing experienced staff, because you've got to have a mix, haven't you? You've got to have your NQTs who might be more experienced in teaching in the new curriculum, but they're not going to be as experienced in teaching a group of children and in all the pedagogical practices that more experienced teachers are going to have. So, I think you need that mix. So, we would be concerned about the way in which some reorganisation is already taking place.
Okay. Thank you. Rebecca, have you got anything to add?
Yn gyflym iawn ynglŷn â chymwysterau, rwy'n credu, mewn ffordd, bod y Llywodraeth wedi bod yn gywir i arwain gyda'r cwricwlwm a newid y cymwysterau wedyn, achos mae perygl, fel arall, bod y cymwysterau'n penderfynu popeth a bod hynny'n bwydo reit nôl lawr drwy'r system—felly, cael y cwricwlwm yn gywir. Ac wedyn, canlyniad hynny yw dwi'n credu bod angen i ni fod yn ddewr ynglŷn â beth rŷn ni'n gwneud gyda chymwysterau, efallai ddim yn syth bin, ond dros gyfnod, achos mae'n rhaid i'r cymwysterau gydweddu a chyd-fynd gyda'r cwricwlwm. Allwn ni ddim cael rhyw fath o fwlch diwylliannol, addysgol rhwng natur y cwricwlwm a natur y cymwysterau. Mewn ffordd, mae cwestiynau Suzy yn pwyntio at y perygl yna—rhaid i un llifo i mewn i'r llall, ac efallai dros gyfnod, bydd angen i ni feddwl am gymwysterau sydd ddim o reidrwydd mewn un pwnc unigol ac efallai sydd yn debycach i'r meysydd dysgu a phrofiad. Mae angen i ni gael y trafodaethau hyn ta beth.
Very quickly in terms of qualifications, I think, in a way, the Government has been right to lead with the curriculum and changing the qualifications later, because otherwise there is a risk that qualifications would drive everything and that that feeds right back through the system—so, getting the curriculum right first is important. But then, the result of that is we have to be brave about what we do with qualifications, perhaps not straight away, but over time, because the qualifications do need to dovetail with the curriculum. We can't just have some kind of cultural and educational gap between the nature of the curriculum and the nature of the qualifications. In a way, Suzy's questions point to that risk—one needs to lead and flow into the other, and perhaps over time, we will need to think about qualifications that aren't just in one particular individual subject and that are perhaps more similar to the AoLEs. We need to have that discussion, at least.
Sure. And it's quite interesting that we've taken evidence from various organisations and there is a different view, depending on where you come from, in terms of whether the curriculum or the exams come first. I think, Chair, we've probably covered the exam situation, unless anybody has got anything else to add to that. But it was really my questions around the exams process and whether you felt that the Bill and the discretion allowed with it is going to be a help or a hindrance in developing the exam process, really.
Okay. If there's nothing else to add—Mary.
I'd just add that we do need to seriously look at exams, given the situation that happened this summer. I think we do need a bit of a national discussion around exams and what Neil's talking about in terms of people being judged by exams. It only works to a certain extent, because exams are always subject to an algorithm that might flatten or broaden the qualifications that young people do have and I don't think that many people know that. And I do think that at some point, we're going to have to have a proper conversation and look at that.
Okay. Thank you, Chair.
Thank you. We've got some questions now on specific aspects of the Bill, starting with Suzy Davies. Can you unmute?
Thank you. As you know, there are a couple of areas, or three, actually, that are particularly controversial with the Bill at the moment. The first I want to talk about is the policy objective of maintaining immersion Welsh language education at least until the age of seven and this requirement currently to disapply mandatory English. I'm guessing we're all on the same page in terms of the policy objective, but do you think this is the best mechanism to achieve this or can you suggest some alternatives?
I know that UCAC has got some strong views on this. Rebecca.
Oes. Hynny yw, wrth gwrs, rydym ni'n cytuno llwyr â nod y polisi. Mae trochi hyd at saith oed yn hollbwysig ar gyfer dechrau dysgwyr ar y daith i ddod yn siaradwyr rhugl, ac yn arbennig, felly, i'r rhai sydd yn dod o gartrefi lle dyw'r Gymraeg ddim yn cael ei siarad adre. Felly, rwy'n cytuno'n llwyr efo nod y polisi, ond mae gyda ni bryderon difrifol iawn ynghylch sut mae hyn yn cael ei fynegi a'i weithredu yn y Bil.
Felly, beth mae'r Bil yn ei wneud yw gosod y Gymraeg a'r Saesneg yn elfennau mandadol, gorfodol, felly, yn default—yn opsiwn diofyn—a chanlyniad hynny yw gorfod wedyn creu darpariaeth i ddatgymwyso'r Saesneg o'r hyn sy'n cyfateb i'r cyfnod sylfaen, hyd at saith oed. Wel, mae hyn yn destun pryder difrifol i ni. Mae'n anghywir mewn egwyddor, ta beth, i osod y naill fel opsiwn diofyn a'r llall yn rhywbeth dŷch chi'n gorfod optio allan ohono fe, rhywbeth mae'n rhaid i chi gymryd camau ychwanegol, bwriadol i'w sicrhau. Mae hynny'n waethygiad ar yr hyn sydd yn bodoli ar hyn o bryd yn y system addysg.
Ond dwi'n credu, yn gwbl ymarferol, mae'n mynd i fod yn broblematig iawn, oherwydd beth welwn ni yw llai o ddarpariaeth trochi. Ar lefel leol, bydd penaethiaid ac arweinwyr a llywodraethwyr yn meddwl eu bod nhw'n gwneud y peth iawn, ac yn meddwl mai'r hyn sydd ei angen i greu siaradwyr dwyieithog yw darpariaeth ddwyieithog o'r cychwyn, ble mae'r arbenigwyr yn gwbl gytûn mai trochi sydd ei angen yn y lle cyntaf, yn enwedig pan dŷch chi'n sôn am iaith leiafrifol, a darpariaeth ddwyieithog i ddilyn wedyn. Felly, dyna grynodeb o'n pryderon ni ynghylch yr hyn sydd yn y Bil.
Yes, we do. Of course, we agree entirely with the policy objective. Immersion up to the age of seven is vital in order to start learners on that journey towards becoming fluent speakers, particularly for those who come from homes where Welsh isn't spoken at home. Therefore, I agree with the objective of the policy, but we do have some very serious concerns about how this is expressed and implemented in the Bill.
So, what the Bill does is set out the Welsh and English languages as mandatory or compulsory elements as a default, and the result of that is that you then have to create provision to disapply the English language from what corresponds to the foundation phase, up to the age of seven. Now, this is the cause of serious concern to us. It's incorrect in principle for us to set one as a default option and the other as something that you have to opt out of, something that you have to take additional, deliberate steps to ensure. That is a deterioration on the current situation.
But, in practical terms, it's going to be very problematic, because what we'll see is less of that immersion provision. School leaders and headteachers and governors will think that they're doing the right thing, and they think that what they need to do to create bilingual speakers is to have that bilingual provision from the very beginning, whereas the experts are all agreed that it's immersion that's needed in the first instance, especially when you're talking about a minority language, and the bilingual provision will then follow. So, that's a summary of our concerns with regard to what is in the Bill.
Ocê. Allaf i ofyn—achos dwi'n gweld y pryderon—beth fyddai eich awgrymiad amgen?
Okay. I understand the concerns. So, what would be your alternative suggestion?
Mae yna wahanol ffyrdd y gallech chi newid y Bil i ddatrys y broblem yna, ond dwi'n credu yr un mwyaf syml a mwyaf rhwydd fyddai tynnu Saesneg allan o'r rhestr o elfennau gorfodol yn adran 3 o'r Bil. Dwi ddim yn credu y byddai unrhyw sgil-effeithiau negyddol i'r Saesneg o wneud hynny, oherwydd mae'r Saesneg de facto yn orfodol yn y cwricwlwm yn y maes dysgu a phrofiad ieithoedd, llythrennedd a chyfathrebu. Ond byddai fe'n golygu byddai dim angen yr adran ynglŷn â datgymhwyso. Byddech chi'n gallu cael gwared yn llwyr â'r elfen datgymhwyso'r Saesneg wedyn.
There are different ways that you could amend the Bill to solve this problem, but I think that the simplest route would be to take English out of the list of those mandatory elements in section 3 of the Bill. I don't think that there would be any negative effects for the English language as a result of doing that, because English is de-facto mandatory in the language, literacy and communication AoLE. But it would mean that there would be no need for that disapplication section. You could get rid of that section on disapplication of English.
Ocê. Jest cyn i fi droi at y bobl eraill yma, beth ydy eich ymateb i beth mae'r Gweinidog wedi'i ddweud, sef ei bod hi'n bwysig i beidio â chymysgu'r syniad o Saesneg fel pwnc a Saesneg ffordd o gyfathrebu?
Before I turn to the other witnesses, how would you respond to what the Minister would say, that it's important not to confuse the idea of English as a subject and English as a medium of communication?
Mae'n bwysig i ni ddweud does gyda ni ddim gwrthwynebiad i'r Saesneg yn fandadol yn y cwricwlwm yn ehangach o saith oed ymlaen. Mae angen i bob disgybl yng Nghymru ddod yn siaradwr Saesneg rhugl yn ogystal â Chymraeg rhugl, ac mae'n bwysig ei fod e'n bwnc ar y cwricwlwm. Ond y gwirionedd yw, os ydych chi'n ei gyflwyno fel pwnc ar y cwricwlwm i'r plant ieuengaf, dŷch chi'n creu elfen o addysg cyfrwng Saesneg, os liciwch chi, yn eu haddysg cyfrwng Cymraeg nhw, lle, hyd at saith oed, mae'n bwysig iddyn nhw glywed y Gymraeg drwy'r dydd yn yr ysgol, ac wedyn cyflwyno'r Saesneg yn fwy ffurfiol yn saith oed.
I think it's important for us to say that we're not opposed to English being mandatory in the wider curriculum from the age of seven onwards. Every pupil in Wales needs to be a fluent English speaker as well as being a fluent Welsh speaker, and it's important that it is a subject in the curriculum. But the truth is if you introduce it as a subject in the curriculum for the younger children, then you do create an element of English-medium education, and you introduce that into their Welsh-medium education. So, up until seven, it's important for them to hear the Welsh language all day at school, and then you can introduce English more formally at the age of seven.
I've got a supplementary from Siân, and then I'll see if Neil and Mary want to come in. Siân.
Diolch. Dwi'n gweld eich bod chi yn rhoi cynnig ymarferol ar sut i ddod dros y broblem yma, a dwi'n credu ein bod ni i gyd eisiau gweld hynny'n digwydd. Wythnos diwethaf mi wnaeth Estyn, yn ystod sesiwn dystiolaeth, gynnig ffordd arall, os liciwch chi, o'i wneud o, yn wahanol i'ch un chi, sef ei fod o'n dweud ar wyneb y Bil bod y Saesneg yn fandadol o saith oed ymlaen. Ydych chi'n cyd-fynd efo'r awgrym yna, neu ydych chi'n gweld bod eich awgrym chi, mewn rhyw ffordd, yn well?
Thank you. I see that you are putting forward a practical solution for this issue, and I think that we all want to see this issue being resolved. Last week, Estyn, during an evidence session, suggested an alternative way of doing it, which is different to the suggestion that you've just made, namely that it should state on the face of the Bill that English is mandatory from the age of seven onwards. Do you agree with that suggestion, or do you see that your suggestion is, in some ways, better?
Dwi'n credu byddai'r ddau yn cyflawni'r un amcan, felly byddwn i ddim yn gwrthwynebu hynny. Dwi'n credu, efallai, y byddai tynnu'r Saesneg allan o'r rhestr yn llwyr yn symlach, ond, yn y bôn, yr hyn rŷn ni eisiau yw sicrhau nad oes unrhyw waethygiad i'r sefyllfa bresennol, a dwi'n credu y byddai cynnig Estyn yn sicrhau hynny. Ond hefyd mae angen i ni sicrhau bod yna blatfform i ddatblygu addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg hefyd yn sgil amcanion polisi Cymraeg 2050 a gwneud yn siŵr bod dim rhwystrau pellach yn y Bil fyddai'n amharu ar y gallu i ddatblygu ymhellach, mewn ysgolion cyfrwng Cymraeg ac ysgolion cyfrwng Saesneg fel ei gilydd. Mae'n bwysig ein bod ni'n trafod datrysiadau i hyn. Mae yna fwy nag un ffordd o'i gwneud hi, ond yn sicr dim gwaethygiad, dim dirywiad ar y sefyllfa bresennol.
I think that both would achieve the same objective, so I wouldn't oppose that. I think that taking English out of the list entirely would be simpler, but, simply put, what we want is to ensure that there is no deterioration to the current situation, and I think that the Estyn proposal would ensure that. But also we need to ensure that there is a platform for Welsh-medium development as a result of the Cymraeg 2050 policy objectives and to ensure that there are no further barriers in the Bill that would impair the ability to develop in that direction, in Welsh-medium schools and English-medium schools alike. It's important that we discuss these solutions, I think. There is more than one way of doing this, but we wouldn't want to see a deterioration on the current situation.
Neil and Mary, would you like to come in on this point?
I can say briefly that I do think if we're serious about the 2050 target—and we're supportive of that—then we clearly need to see training opportunities for all staff in education settings to ensure that they are able to speak the Welsh language, to support the curriculum.
Neil, have you got anything to add?
Nothing to add to what Mary and Rebecca have already said, no.
Suzy, I think we are going to have to move on to RSE.
Okay, then, because I was going to ask about continuum. Okay. For RSE—again, another controversial area of the curriculum—it's mandatory. How much scope do you see within the Bill for heads to have some flexibility about how they deliver this? What are your members' views on how the views of the community should be influential in how heads and governors decide to deliver this mandatory element of the curriculum?
Who'd like to go first? Mary.
So, we're supportive of the mandatory—. Our members voted in support of the mandatory element of relationships and sex education. I think it's worth saying that we're also supportive of the way in which it's constructed within the legislation so that it's not up to individual heads, because we wouldn't want to see a Birmingham situation where individual schools were targeted because of the way in which they're teaching RSE. We would prefer the way in which the Bill is constructed so that they are having regard to—I can't remember the exact committee that's making the decision.
I think I would only add that our concern is who's going to teach it, because there's going to have to be—again, I know it's repetition of things that we have already said—but there's going to have to be quite comprehensive training to create the specialist staff that are required for this particular area. That would be our concern with it.
Cytuno'n llwyr â'r ddau beth yna gan Mary a Neil. Cytuno â sut mae hwn yn cael ei ymgorffori yn y Bil a chytuno hefyd y dylai fe fod yn fandadol. Mae'n ddatblygiad cyffrous, a dweud y gwir, a phositif iawn.
I agree entirely with those two comments made by Neil and Mary. I agree with how this is incorporated into the Bill and I agree that it should be mandatory. It is an exciting development, truth be told, and very positive.
Would you all agree, then, that something needs to be done here for better communication with families and communities? Because this is not just about people of faith, perhaps, having objections. If this is to be something that doesn't keep cropping up as an issue, do you think that, let's say parents, need a better understanding of what's being proposed?
Ie, mae hynny wrth gwrs yn mynd i fod yn help i arweinwyr ysgol hefyd os oes rhywbeth yn dod yn genedlaethol, efallai, i helpu teuluoedd i ddeall beth yw'r drefn newydd a pham ei fod e'n bwysig i bobl ifanc a pham na ddylai teuluoedd fod yn ofni'r hyn sy'n dod. Mae'r cyfathrebu'n hollbwysig.
Yes, that, of course, is going to assist school leaders as well if something is put forward on a national basis that would help families to understand what the new arrangements are and why they're important for young people and why families shouldn't be concerned about what is coming up. The communication is vital.
I tried to bring that to an end as quickly as I could, Chair.
Okay. Thank you. Can I ask, then, about the provisions for RVE and the potential for there to be a dual curriculum in some schools? Have you got any concerns about that for the teaching profession? Neil then Mary.
Only a very quick comment from me, Chair: there just doesn't seem to have been a great deal of thought given to the manageability of this, because there are going to be significant organisational challenges involved with regards to this.
Our members believe that everybody should be able to have regard to what's decided in terms of RVE, but I would say particularly that it's a complicated area, but fundamentally everybody needs the training opportunities to ensure that they're confident to teach this across the curriculum.
Okay. Thank you. And in terms of the four mandatory elements of the Bill, are you all satisfied that they are correct and that there's nothing that should be added to that? You'll be aware there are lots of calls for things to be included on a mandatory basis in the Bill. Is the balance right, Mary?
Our Members are on board, and agree that there should be flexibility locally to set the curriculum, as we said earlier, that's applicable to the learners in their setting. They would highlight the need for there to be some more detail around the history or humanities-style curriculum around the decolonisation of that curriculum and we've seen a lot of work around that recently, so I think that's something important. But generally speaking, they feel about right to our members.
Dwi'n credu hefyd—hynny ydy, dwi wedi siarad yn barod am bresenoldeb Saesneg ar y rhestr o elfennau mandadol, ond fel arall, dwi'n credu ei bod hi'n bwysig iawn ein bod ni'n cadw'r rhestr o elfennau mandadol mor gryno â phosib, a'n bod ni'n ffeindio statws neu le arall yn y trefniadau ar gyfer elfennau eraill rŷn ni'n teimlo sydd yn bwysig—canllawiau neu adnoddau manwl. Ond dwi'n credu bod ethos y cwricwlwm newydd yn gofyn inni gadw'r rhestr o elfennau mandadol yn fyr.
I think I've spoken already about the presence of English on that list of mandatory elements, but otherwise, I think it's important that we do keep the list of mandatory elements as succinct as possible, and that we find another place in the arrangements for the other elements that we feel are important—guidance or specific resources. But I think that the ethos of the new curriculum does require us to keep the list of mandatory elements short.
Before you come in, Neil, can I just ask about mental health? You'll be aware that this has been an issue of great interest to this committee. Are you satisfied with the provisions in the Bill on mental health? Are they going to deliver the kind of step change in support that we want to see for children and young people?
Dwi'n credu bod y Bil yn cynrychioli cam mawr o ran iechyd a lles pobl ifanc, a'r gweithlu hefyd, a dweud y gwir, gyda'r maes dysgu a phrofiad, iechyd a lles, yn un o'r chwe maes dysgu a phrofiad. Dwi'n credu ei fod e'n gwbl ganolog i'r cwricwlwm nawr. Fydd dim modd esgeuluso hyn, ac mae e'n rhan o'r newid diwylliant hefyd—fframweithiau sydd yn cyd-fynd â'r Bil.
I think that the Bill does represent a major step forward in terms of mental health and well-being of young people, and the workforce too, with the AoLE for health and well-being—one of the six AoLEs. I think it's at the heart of the curriculum now, and there won't be a way to avoid taking this into consideration, and it's a part of the wider cultural change and the frameworks that align with the Bill.
Similarly, I was going to say there are the opportunities there with well-being being one of the sort of central pillars of the curriculum to support children and young people with mental health, or, in fact, if we're focusing on well-being, that's almost pre-empting, isn't it, a culture that is very reliant on a kind off cliff-edge exam system that we've already touched on? I think those opportunities are there. I think mental health is something that can't be entirely solved by this curriculum, in a similar way to the additional learning needs elements. We're going to need support from the wider system working well, and significant investment to make that all work together.
Okay, thank you. Neil, have you got anything to add?
No. I agree with those comments on the mental health, and just to reiterate the situation with regard to compulsory elements, I think Rebecca's right in terms of the ethos of the new curriculum. I think there were large numbers of groups with outstanding and very strong arguments for particular elements that they would like to see in the curriculum, but you very quickly get into a situation of overcrowding as 'this is a slotted in, that is slotted in' and the next issue is slotted in, and we're back to where we started, really. So, I think Rebecca's right on that.
The final questions are from Hefin David.
Can I direct my first question to Neil Butler? You've been very critical, and your evidence was critical, but your written evidence was critical, but you've been very critical, even more critical today in this session—do you feel the Bill should proceed at all?
I think the timetable should be amended, absolutely. I think we're probably far too far down the road in terms of the developments of the new curriculum to throw it in the bin, but what I could have wished is that, right at the very beginning of this process, politicians in Wales had looked to Scotland, which virtually mirrored, in terms of the curriculum, the changes that had been made. We went to Scotland, we took a delegation to Scotland to talk to teachers in Scotland right at the very beginning of this, and we found that, in terms of the new curriculum there that was introduced a few years—10 years, really—before our curriculum is going to be introduced, they went through a period of total chaos and confusion until it bedded in, and they learnt a lot of lessons from that, and I'm just not convinced that we have seemed to have learned those lessons, and I'm extremely worried about a few years of chaos and confusion, especially compounded now because we're going through a public health crisis.
So, I think we're in a situation whereby the Bill must continue, but I really do think you should amend the timescales to give us time to allow the training that's required, and for, basically, the workforce to get a grip with that paradigm shift I've been talking about, otherwise I think you're going to end up with the chaos and confusion compounded by COVID and compounded by the fact that we've got a separate qualifications issue. With regard to the qualifications, they should have been done at the same time as they were in Scotland.
I mean, obviously, given your evidence, you want to avoid that chaos and confusion. Can you give us some specifics about what you mean by amending the timescales? Can you be as specific as possible about the kind of timescales you'd expect to resolve these issues?
Well, I couldn't now, no, because all I'm doing is basically saying what we've got at the moment is inadequate. I could give you five years, 10 years, but that wouldn't be for me to do—I'd have to have that discussion with our policy officials. But if you wanted us to look at that and come back to you with what we think would be a realistic timescale, I'd be more than happy to do that.
I'd be interested to hear it, Chair. Chair?
Sorry. Yes, okay. That would be very useful for us to get your further-considered views on that. Sorry, Hefin.
Perhaps I should let Mary and Rebecca also respond in the same terms to the same question.
Rebecca and Mary.
Mewn ffordd, dwi'n credu y dylen ni geisio, os yn bosib, gadw at yr amserlen. Hynny yw, mae'r Bil, dwi'n credu, yn gymeradwy yn yr ystyr ei fod e'n eithaf cyffredinol, ddim yn mynd i ormod o fanylder. Felly, dwi'n credu bod angen bwrw ymlaen gyda'r Bil erbyn diwedd y Cynulliad yma, gyda'r addasiadau rŷn ni wedi sôn amdanyn nhw mewn perthynas ag addysg drochi. Ond hefyd addasiadau—efallai cyfeiriad at addysg cyfrwng Cymraeg, ac efallai bod angen cyfeiriad yn y Bil at god addysg Gymraeg. Dŷn ni ddim wedi cael cyfle heddiw i drafod y continwwm, ond mae angen llawer mwy o eglurdeb, dwi'n credu, ar draws y system addysg, ynghylch sut mae disgwyl i bawb weithredu i symud ar hyd y continwwm i wella sgiliau Cymraeg disgyblion. Ond, yn sicr, bwrw ymlaen gyda'r Bil ar yr amserlen, ceisio cadw at yr amserlen o ran gweithredu'r cwricwlwm, ond cadw golwg ar y sefyllfa. Bydd popeth yn dibynnu ar sut mae pethau'n mynd gyda'r argyfwng iechyd rŷn ni ynddo ar hyn o bryd.
In a way, I think that we should try, if we can, to adhere to the timetable. I think that the Bill is laudable in the fact that it's quite general, it doesn't go into too much detail. So, I think we need to continue with the Bill by the end of this Senedd, with the amendments that we've talked about in terms of immersion education. But also amendments perhaps to include a reference to Welsh-medium education, and perhaps a reference in the Bill to a Welsh education code. We haven't had an opportunity today to discuss the continuum, but we need greater clarity across the education system with regard to how everyone is expected to move along the continuum to improve the skills of pupils. But, yes, stick to the timetable with the Bill, try to keep to the timetable in terms of implementation of the curriculum, but also to keep an eye on the situation. Everything will depend on the health crisis that we're facing at the moment.
I would agree with Rebecca around the timetable of the Bill itself. I think we have spent a lot of work getting to this point, and I think it's important that we're able to set a direction during this Senedd term. Nevertheless, I think, as colleagues have already said, we are in the middle of a pandemic, I don't think we can get away from that, and I do think it's going to be a bit of a 'wait and see' in terms of the timescales, because it is going to massively depend on when schools are sort of back to normal, if you like. So, yes, that's what I would say about that.
Okay. And the other big barrier that might cause issues is the regulatory impact assessment being based on the 15 innovation schools, and what the NAHT said to us is they'd like a review of the costs of the Bill based on a broader array of schools, which obviously adds further pressure and time to the implementation of this. Do you think that's realistic? If we start with Mary and move across to Rebecca, then Neil.
So, I think it is unfortunate the way in which the RIA is based on those innovation or previously pioneer schools, because, obviously, they've got a very specific view and they've been within the system the whole time and working on this. Yes, they will know more of what is costs to actually entirely reshape their curriculum, and they've been working on that already, but I do think that some of our schools are going to be much further away from getting to a place where we can teach to curriculum than others. So, I think we do, probably—I don't think we can underestimate the costs of this.
Neil or Rebecca.
I'd just say, yes, we would support the NAHT with regard to that. We've had significant concerns that the costs of supply cover, for example, was assessed at much lower than the actual need. It seemed to me that there were a lot of implications that the workload of the staff was being taken for granted—that they would do that under their continuing time pressures, and you compound that with COVID, of course, and that makes the situation much worse. So, we'd agree with that position.
Wrth gwrs, mae'n hollbwysig bod yr amcanion ariannol mor realistig â phosib. Byddwn i'n rhannu'r pryderon nad yw seilio'r amcanion ar yr ysgolion braenaru yna yn gwbl drwyadl ac yn rhoi adlewyrchiad cywir ar gyfer y system gyfan. Maen nhw mewn lle gwahanol i'r ysgolion eraill i gychwyn. Felly, dwi'n gwybod bod yr amser yn dynn, ond mae angen inni wneud y gwaith yna, ac yng nghyd-destun ffaith bod ysgolion mewn sefyllfa ariannol eithriadol o anodd cyn cychwyn. Mae angen cymryd hynny i ystyriaeth hefyd.
Of course, it is vital that the financial objectives are as realistic as possible. I would share the concerns that basing those forecasts on those innovation schools and pioneer schools isn't an entirely thorough reflection of the entire system. They're in a very different position to other schools to begin with. So, I know that the timescale is tight, but we do need to do that work, and in the context of the fact that schools are in an exceptionally difficult financial position before starting this work. We need to take that into consideration as well.
Okay, Hefin? Thank you. Just before we close, then, can I just clarify one point with UCAC, please? Can I just clarify that you are only calling for English to be removed as a mandatory element up until year 3?
Dyna'r effaith dŷn ni eisiau, yn sicr, yw iddo fe beidio â bod yn fandadol hyd at flwyddyn 2—ei fod yn dechrau dod yn fandadol o flwyddyn 3. Mae beth mae'n dweud yn union yn y Bil—mae modd cyflawni hynny mewn ffyrdd gwahanol. Felly, dwi'n credu y byddai modd tynnu'r Saesneg allan o'r rhestr fandadol yn llwyr a dal cael yr effaith hynny o ei fod e'n dod yn fandadol o flwyddyn 3 ymlaen. Neu mi fyddech chi'n gallu dweud hynny'n benodol—ei fod e'n dod yn fandadol o flwyddyn 3. Mae yna wahanol opsiynau, dwi'n credu, ond effaith y newid yw'r peth pwysig—bod e ddim yn ddiofyn fandadol hyd at saith oed, a bod dim angen datgymhwyso'r Saesneg.
That is the effect that we want to see—that it shouldn't be mandatory up until year 2, and that it starts to become mandatory from year 3 onwards. What it states in the Bill—that can be achieved in different ways. So, I think that English could be taken off the mandatory list entirely and you can still have that effect of it becoming mandatory from year 3 onwards. Or you could state that specifically—that it becomes mandatory from year 3. There are different options, I think, but it's the impact and the effect of that that's important—that it isn't a default mandatory up until seven years of age, and there's no need to disapply English.
Thank you. Well, we have come to the end of our time. So, can I thank you all for attending and for answering all our questions? As usual, you'll be sent a transcript following the meeting to check for accuracy. But thank you all for your time this morning, it's much appreciated. Diolch yn fawr.
Item 4, then, is papers to note. Paper to note 1 is a letter from the Minister for housing and regeneration to all committee Chairs regarding the draft national development framework, and paper to note 2 is a letter from myself to the Minister for Education following up on our work on education other than at school.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
Can I propose, then, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42, that the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of the meeting? Are Members content? Thank you. We'll now proceed in private.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 11:32.
The public part of the meeting ended at 11:32.