Councillor criticises ‘back to front’ school curriculum

‘My concern is that teachers have less time doing what they are supposed to be doing, which is teaching children’

By Elgan Hearn   |   Local democracy reporter   |
Thursday 21st July 2022 4:00 pm
(Cllr Iain McIntosh )

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Teachers should teach rather than having to “figure out” what should be taught, a councillor has said.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Learning and Skills committee meeting on Friday, July 15 councillors and lay-members were given a presentation on the new Secondary School Strategy for the county, by head of education Georgina Bevan.

Ms Bevan explained that work on the strategy had started in 2019, but had been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic,

And the strategy follows the September 2019 highly critical Estyn report.

“Improve standards in secondary schools, and especially the performance of more able learners,” was one of five key recommendations that Estyn, the education standards watchdog in Wales expected Powys to implement.

Ms Bevan told the committee that the strategy would be based on partnerships and a “cluster approach” which will see secondary schools work together and share good practice so that they can all improve.

Cllr Iain McIntosh (Yscir with Honddu Isaf and Llanddew) said: “We seem to be doing it the wrong way round.

“My concern is that teachers have less time doing what they are supposed to be doing, which is teaching children,

“Rather than trying to figure out how they are supposed to be teaching children.

“From my view we should have a curriculum suitable for all schools and they are told to get on with it – it seems back to front.”

The new Welsh Curriculum which has a greater emphasis on schools producing their own bespoke version to teach, comes into force in primary school from September.

But its implementation in secondary schools has been delayed until September 2023 when it starts with years seven and eight.

By 2026 all pupils from the age of three to 16 will be taught the new curriculum.

Ms Bevan said: “The curriculum for Wales does enable a more localised learning which is really important and gives the children a connection to their environment and Wales.”

“It’s not that people are being taught to teach, things have evolved and changed.

“There are significantly better ways to teach elements of maths now that didn’t exist when I trained as a maths teacher 20 years ago.”

She added that this it was expected that this type of work is done and that it’s also good for teachers own professional development.

Ms Bevan said: “All teachers are leaders of learning and skills.

“From the conversations we’ve had with them when we visit, our teachers know that very clearly

“The work is not in addition, if you are a leader you get extra time built into your working week.”

The aims of the strategy which is supposed to drive “sustainable school improvement” are:

Develop excellence in teaching and learning and ensure practices are embedded across all secondary schools.

Ensure effective, secure, and sustainable leadership across all secondary schools.

Encourage collaboration, professional learning and innovation across the secondary sector based on developing each school as a learning organisation.

Secure short-term interventions for improvements in those schools that require immediate improvements.

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