“Biggest investment since devolution” in teacher training to prepare for new curriculum

(Title Image: BBC Wales)

With the implementation of a new National Curriculum just a few years away, this afternoon the Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), announced a number of new measures to improve teacher training in what she described as the “single biggest investment in support for teachers in Wales since devolution”.

Accelerating the Pace

The Secretary confirmed a draft version of the new curriculum will be published in April 2019. The measures announced today are based on what pioneer schools have determined to be the level of professional training required to meet it.

In total, £24million has been committed to teacher training over the next two financial years.

“This investment will enable teachers, leaders and others in school to take the time that they need to make changes and refine their practice. There will be flexibility as part of the funding, allowing schools to work together in ways that suit their own circumstances. It will support teachers to develop the skills needed for new curriculum design and delivery, in line with the fundamental shift in approach required in the new curriculum.”
– Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams

Where? Why? How?

Shadow Education Secretary, Suzy Davies AM (Con, South Wales West) took a forensic approach to quizzing the Education Secretary on precisely how she came to the figures she announced.

“With regard to the specific amount of money, how did you conclude that succeeding in developing this new professional learning to the level needed to be successful, was going to cost £24 million? Did you argue with the finance Cabinet Secretary that, actually, to get this absolutely right, you might need more, but this is all he was prepared to give you?”
– Shadow Education Secretary, Suzy Davies AM

Kirsty Williams said there was recognition across government that in order for the new curriculum to be a success teachers will have to be properly prepared from the start. As for what she expected the money to be used for, it’ll be down to individual schools to decide what training teachers need and the money will be mainly used to provide cover to release staff for training.

Sian Gwenllian AM (Plaid, Arfon) also wondered whether the additional money could’ve simply gone into the core education funding and this announcement raised questions about the status of supply teachers given they were key making this work.

The Education Secretary said that ensuring supply teachers have access to professional training will form part of the new terms and conditions for teachers.

Quite Vocal

The announcement was warmly welcomed by the Chair of the Education & Young People Committee, Lynne Neagle AM (Lab, Torfaen) after the Committee had been “quite vocal” in their concerns over how prepared staff were for the new curriculum.

“Thank you, Lynne, and I’m glad that we’ve been able to use the committee’s report and the evidence that was taken to help inform and shape Government policy. As Suzy Davies said earlier, that’s one of the strengths of our system, I believe. I’m a great believer also in the principle that Government and civil servants don’t have all the answers, and it is important to use the recommendations of the committees, and the time and effort they put into those reports, to help guide policy.”
– Education Secretary, Kirsty Williams

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