Headteachers from across South Wales took part in a study visit to Canada for an insight into one of the world’s leading education systems.

A delegation led by Yr Athrofa, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Institute of Education, spent four days in Toronto as part of its Global Leadership Programme funded by the British Council.

Members met with senior officials from the Ontario Ministry of Education, the Ontario College of Teachers and the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).

A packed itinerary included visits to local elementary, middle and high schools, where delegates were given the opportunity to chat with principals, teachers and pupils.

Tegwen Ellis, headteacher of Ysgol Cynwyd Sant, in Maesteg, Bridgend, said: “It was a great opportunity to see first-hand how Canada’s system, and in particular Ontario, supports schools to provide an engaging curriculum for its pupils.

“Ontario’s system, which supports professional learning to a high level, is clearly important in ensuring good quality teaching which in turn impacts learning and standards.

“However, some of Wales’ practices and processes, for example school-to-school work and network practice, are far more developed.”

Rhian Morgan Ellis, headteacher of Ysgol Gyfun Cymer Rhondda, in Porth, Rhondda Cynon Taf, said: “It was an invaluable opportunity to learn how Ontario has created a vision and set about implementing it on all levels – for pupils, teachers, parents, system leaders and those responsible for education on a provincial level.

“Being given an opportunity to observe, analyse, compare and reflect has been so valuable. Diolch yn fawr iawn.”

Headteachers from the EAS, ERW and CSC regions were hosted by the University of Toronto’s prestigious Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).

The delegation included senior representatives from the Welsh Government’s Department for Education.

Professor Peter Rabbett, Deputy Director of Yr Athrofa, said: “Ontario has sharpened our understanding of what makes an effective education system. We have been inspired by the ambition and consistent high expectations of everyone we have met in Toronto.

“Although Ontario is valued internationally as a high performing system, there is widespread understanding of the need for further improvement and the challenges they will face in the future.”

Gareth Evans, Yr Athrofa’s Executive Director of Education Policy, said: “Members of the study visit were given a fascinating insight into one of the world’s leading education systems.

“A common sense of purpose and shared responsibility to better the life chances of young people was prevalent throughout.

“But while Canada excels in many areas, it was evident that colleagues in Ontario can learn from Wales as well.”

A full report of Yr Athrofa’s visit to Canada will be published online.

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