Spanning 68 separate proposals, ‘Successful Futures’ proposes vast changes to the Welsh curriculum. As a student teacher looking to enter the profession, Professor Donaldson’s report caught my attention before I even started the course. It would seem impossible for anyone remotely interested in education in Wales to not have heard of it. So, when the opportunity arose to attend a lecture led by Professor Donaldson himself I was eager to take part and find out more about the proposals.
Early on in the seminar it became clear that the reform seeks to raise the standards of the existing practice within Wales.
“The current curriculum is getting in the way of good practice, not supporting it”.
It asks teachers to be leaders and not just followers. The reform also weighs in heavily on building upon the recently implemented Digital Competency Framework (September 2016) and the Welsh Assembly Government’s vision for expanding the number of Welsh speakers within Wales.
Professor Donaldson highlighted the immediate need to be progressive, stating that “velocity is great”. Society is changing and, with that, so are the needs and wants of employers. The new curriculum seeks to “move away from what students should be learning and towards what they should become” providing learners with strong basic skills, deeper conceptual understanding and an authentic experience that they can transfer into the real world. The Literacy and Numeracy Framework has been with us for a number of years now but the Successful Futures reform will continue to drill literacy and numeracy throughout the whole curriculum, seeing both as integral to delivering that authentic experience. When I think back to my own experiences of being in school, it was those very moments of learning something useful that made you think “hey, I could actually use this” that made it exciting. Take learning about maths (money) but through role-play in a shop rather than simply text-book drilling. Sadly, we did not have the LNF then but it was through the creativity of my teacher that I was offered authentic experiences to use my developing skills. In addition, ‘creativity and problem solving’ is something that is viewed as essential for future potential employees in the wide world.
“If we teach tomorrow as we did today, we rob our children of their future”.
This quote is extremely pertinent in that Professor Donaldson mentioned several times the need for progression.
In a follow-up focus group meeting, I asked what Professor Donaldson thought would be the biggest hurdle to overcome in implementing this vast educational reform. The answer was clear and succinct: overcoming existing beliefs and dispelling the old adage that “it will just go back to the way it is”. He noted that we need to change this perception of existing teaching practitioners and their view of educational reforms. As a student teacher entering the profession at this exciting stage I am yet to have a single perception or view, simply my own childhood experiences.
I don’t know for certain what the future holds for education in Wales but what I do know is that I am looking forward to being a part of it and making a difference to children’s lives like teachers have been doing for many, many years.