A major research project informing a crucial aspect of Wales’ curriculum reform has presented its first findings.

Developed in partnership by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) and the University of Glasgow, the CAMAU project seeks to develop a shared understanding of ‘progression’ in the context of Successful Futures.

Professor Graham Donaldson’s wideranging review of curriculum and assessment arrangements was published in 2015 and provided the opportunity to revisit and reassert the fundamental purposes of education for the children and young people of Wales.

The resulting blueprint for curriculum reform put forward a number of recommendations that are being implemented ahead of planned roll-out from 2022.

CAMAU was established with funding from UWTSD and the Welsh Government to build progression frameworks that are evidence-informed and supportive of assessment practices that are consistent with the ‘spirit’ rather than the ‘letter’ of assessment for learning.

The first phase of the projects is concerned with the co-construction of evidence-based progression frameworks.

The second phase is designed to review and learn from trial implementation of the draft progression frameworks and the third phase will finalise these arrangements.

In all phases of the project teachers, pupils, policymakers and researchers are co-investigators with the shared aspiration of developing high quality, well-informed curriculum, pedagogy and assessment arrangements for Wales.

Staff from UWTSD’s Yr Athrofa: Institute of Education, University of Glasgow and the Welsh Government have met regularly with colleagues in pioneer schools to take forward the vision set out in Successful Futures.

The CAMAU team’s first series of interim reports have been developed into a suite of resources that have been used to support articulation of ‘what matters’ in the conceptualisation of the new curriculum across the pioneer school network.

These include reviews of research into progression in children and young people’s learning; reviews of policies on progression from other countries; and a review and analysis of progression as it emerges in Successful Futures.

Pioneer schools have been tasked with identifying what matters in order to achieve the overall purposes of the new curriculum and how progress might best be described and discerned.

Dr Jane Waters, Yr Athrofa’s Assistant Dean of Research and Knowledge Transfer, said: “Frameworks are being designed by and for the profession and, from the outset, have been developed to be fully inclusive to make sure they account for all learners.

“Bringing to bear different knowledge, skills and understandings to explore how progression might best be described and developed in relation to the Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLEs), CAMAU has an important role in the creation of our new national curriculum.

“But its work is the sum of many parts and we are indebted to the many collaborators who have joined us on this journey.

“We will look to and learn from the latest international approaches and good practice from within Wales to inform the design, development and delivery of CAMAU’s work as it progresses.”

Professor Dylan Jones, Dean of Yr Athrofa, said: “We are delighted to have been given by the Welsh Government the opportunity to support this important work and are excited by the challenge to develop, in partnership with colleagues, new and innovative assessment arrangements for Wales.

“The CAMAU project is progressing well and all key stakeholders have played their part in pulling Professor Donaldson’s blueprint together.

“The insight of school staff has been invaluable – teachers are the agents of change and it is right that they are at the forefront of innovation.

“In addition, we are extremely grateful for the support of colleagues in Glasgow, whose vast expertise has been crucial in driving forward this project.

Successful Futures is breaking new ground and there is no existing model for curriculum reform to the extent of that being currently undertaken in Wales.

“This presents a unique opportunity to craft an education system, with learner progression at its heart, of which we can all be truly proud.”

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