BETT 2016 Guest Blog: Digital Learning for Wales – equipping children with the skills for employment


The next article in our BETT 2016 partner blog series comes to us from Welsh Government (or Llywodraeth Cymru, for those of you who can speak the native tongue), and looks at the overall digital curriculum in the context of meaningfully preparing student for the world or future employment, and ensuring they have all the requisite skills in order to succeed.

At the show, Welsh Government can be found on Stand D354.

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Hwb

 

Does the curriculum equip children with the skills they need for future employment?

In Wales we’re answering this question by changing the whole curriculum! “A Curriculum for Wales, a curriculum for life” is the name for the plan to have an entirely new and updated curriculum – ready to be taught by 2018.

The new curriculum is being built for the first time by those in the profession, with a ‘Great Debate’ having taken place amongst stakeholders to identify and discuss key recommendations from the review report, coordinated by Welsh Government in line with their long term vision for education in Wales that:

“Learners in Wales will enjoy teaching and learning that inspires them to succeed, in an education community that works co-operatively and inspires to be great, where the potential of every child and young person is actively developed.” 

The Pioneer Schools Network will be at the forefront of designing the new curriculum and assessment arrangements with expert advice and support, but it’s not just ‘what’ should be taught that’s been under review in Wales, but also how we ensure our teachers are best prepared and supported through changes to initial teacher training and re-shaped continuing professional development arrangements – called the ‘New Deal’.

Central to the developments has been the Learning in Digital Wales (LiDW) programme – a programme of action for improving the use of digital technology for teaching and learning in schools. This programme has delivered improved broadband services and Wi-Fi connections for schools in Wales as well as all the facilities and events that come under the banner of Hwb.

Hwb is the name of the All Wales Learning Platform and home of the National Digital Content Repository with close to 100,000 high quality bilingual resources - but is also a ‘hub’ providing teachers and learners with single sign-on into a suite of powerful educational tools. Tools include a content curation application called Playlists, self-marking Assignments and a Community area which allows teachers access to private, professional networks and peer-generated resources. Hwb gives single sign-on into the All-Wales Office 365 Tenancy which includes Outlook groups and email, Video Conferencing, OneNote Class Notebook Creator, Sway and streaming of core office apps including Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

e-Safety is a golden thread running through all of the programme and Hwb offers an e-Safety zone with comprehensive digital literacy resources for use by schools, pupils and parents/carers, as well as an award winning self-assessment tool for schools to judge and review their own e-Safety practice and provision.

Every school in Wales has been provided with an individual and customisable learning platform and a public facing website under the name of Hwb+.

An experienced Digital Leader team supports schools in adopting and exploiting the digital tools and content that is available through the LiDW programme. The Digital Leaders are drawn from the best practitioners who are using digital technology in Wales. They act as online champions of digital technology in teaching and learning. Further school support has taken the form of grants to Regional Education Consortia, computing workshops for every secondary school and a centre of excellence programme.

The National Digital Learning Council (NDLC) was established in 2012 and provides guidance to the Learning in Digital Wales programme. Membership of the Council includes education professionals from schools as well as further and higher education in Wales and other bodies with an interest in education and digital learning in particular.

A curriculum for Wales, a curriculum for life sets out what needs to happen, when it needs to happen and the roles of all involved. This is an exciting and challenging time with Wales at the fore-front of curriculum reform.  Our task is ambitious but our goals of better learning and higher standards for the young people in Wales will ensure our new curriculum equips children with the skills they need for future employment as employers or employees.

As a result of the LiDW programme, Hwb’s spur to move teaching and learning in Wales into the 21st Century had an enormous impact:

  • In November 2015, over 1.22 million pages were viewed on Hwb – with over thirty thousand new accounts activated.
  • Over half a million accounts in total have been provisioned – every teacher and pupil in Wales can log in, communicate and collaborate.

If you would like to talk to us about the scale of the project, the difficulties and the barriers we have had to overcome (and still face), please visit us on stand D354 in BETT 2016 or visit Hwb.wales.gov.uk


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