|View from our workshop room|
For the first hour, the Welsh Government delivered a presentation on the background to the draft curriculum. Much of what was outlined is already in the public domain, but it was helpful to hear the details again and will certainly help to form a background to subsequent meetings or courses I provide to schools. Consistent messages are definitely helpful for schools. Delegates then broke off in workshops focused on a particular area of learning and experience (AoLE).
Science & Technology AoLE Workshop
If you have read my previous blog post, then you will know that I have many unanswered questions about the draft curriculum in WM6 (computation) specifically. I imagined that this workshop would be the WG representatives introducing what they had done and possibly explaining their thinking behind the proposed content, with stakeholders asking questions and debating points. If I'd have thought through this properly, this was never going to be the approach as we only had a couple of hours and there would be too much to go through. However, it was still a very interesting and hopefully worthwhile session, even if I did leave a little none the wiser in some ways, but at least was able to communicate my thoughts and ideas. Tom Crick (Professor of Digital Education & Policy at Swansea University) and Pat McCarthy from the Welsh Government, led the session. The workshop was basically centred around working with colleagues sat in your group, completing several feedback forms on different aspects of the AoLE. I made sure that all the concerns I had, were written down during these paper-based tasks.
But we did also get a chance to talk to Tom and Pat about a couple of things:
DCF / WM6 overlap - I mentioned that I couldn't really understand why current DCF skills, from Data and Computation Thinking primarily (although there are other examples too) were also being highlighted in WM6. I wanted to get to the bottom of this because I was beginning to think that I had misunderstood what was trying to be done in WM6 and that they could enlighten me on what I had missed. But no, the verbal feedback was very much that the group were aware of this and were already working on it. Also that I should make sure that I fed back my concerns to WG. I was also able to speak to another colleague who had worked alongside the pioneer schools in writing this section, who said something very similar.
Terminology - by it's very nature, science and technology is full of words and phrases, that to the average person, may find difficult to fully understand. There was some discussion around the language used, specifically whether it was understandable to many non subject specialists in the primary phase. The potential problem as I see it, is in the 'unpacking' of exactly what is meant by the word or phrase. I provided a fairly long list of statements at PS3 in my last post that I felt would challenge most Yr4, 5 and 6 teachers. Firstly "what does this mean?" and when fully understood, "how do I teach it to my class?" I don't think we really got to the bottom of this, although I did make the point that a lot of work would be needed in supporting teachers and providing suitable age related teaching resources. A very experienced Yr6 teacher did say at one point that she was having difficulty in understanding the language in the document.
So, as far as I could gather, the main point of the afternoon was for the Welsh Government to collate our thoughts on each AoLE. I obviously can't speak for the other AoLEs, but in our Science & Technology group it was good that both Tom and Pat were actively encouraging feedback, however large or small. I think I got my points across, both verbally and in writing...but who knows? Let's see if they listen to the concerns around terminology, content and the DCF related skills. I can't be the only one thinking that these are concerns at WM6? We'll now only know when the new curriculum is finally released in January 2020.
Final thought - It's interesting that the DCF overlap is something that the pioneer group were already aware of. If they were aware of it at this relatively early point after launch, why did they release this peculiar version? Were things not quite finished and there a touch of panic to get something out? Are we going to see WM6 in the final curriculum looking considerably different? If so, have we really had a chance to consult on that? Just a thought.....