Y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg - Y Bumed Senedd

Children, Young People and Education Committee - Fifth Senedd

17/09/2020

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Dawn Bowden MS
Laura Anne Jones MS
Lynne Neagle MS Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Sian Gwenllian MS
Suzy Davies MS

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Claire Morgan Cyfarwyddwr Strategol, Estyn
Strategic Director, Estyn
Claire Protheroe Rheolwr Cenedlaethol Cymru, y Gymdeithas Broffesiynol ar gyfer Gofal Plant a'r Blynyddoedd Cynnar Cymru
National Manager for Wales, Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years Cymru
Dave Goodger Prif Swyddog Gweithredol, Blynyddoedd Cynnar Cymru
Chief Executive Officer, Early Years Wales
Eleri Griffiths Rheolwr Polisi, Mudiad Meithrin
Policy Manager, Mudiad Meithrin
Emyr George Cyfarwyddwr Polisi a Diwygio, Cymwysterau Cymru
Director for Policy and Reform, Qualifications Wales
Meilyr Rowlands Prif Arolygydd Ei Mawrhydi, Estyn
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Estyn
Philip Blaker Prif Weithredwr, Cymwysterau Cymru
Chief Executive, Qualifications Wales
Sarah Coates Rheolwr Polisi a Phartneriaethau Strategol (Cymru), y Gymdeithas Genedlaethol Meithrinfeydd Dydd
Policy and Strategic Partnerships Manager (Wales), National Day Nurseries Association

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Lisa Salkeld Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Llinos Madeley Clerc
Clerk
Masudah Ali Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Michael Dauncey Ymchwilydd
Researcher
Rhiannon Lewis Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol
Legal Adviser
Sarah Bartlett Dirprwy Glerc
Deputy Clerk
Tanwen Summers Ail Glerc
Second Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu'r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:15.

The committee met by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:15. 

1. Cyflwyniad, Ymddiheuriadau, Dirprwyon a Datgan Buddiannau
1. Introductions, Apologies, Substitutions and Declarations of Interest

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to this virtual meeting of the Children, Young People and Education Committee. In accordance with Standing Order 34.19, I have determined that the public are excluded from the committee's meeting in order to protect public health. In accordance with Standing Order 34.21, notice of this decision was included in the agenda for this meeting, published on Monday. This meeting is, however, being broadcast live on Senedd.tv, with all participants joining via video-conference. As usual, a Record of Proceedings will be published. Aside from the procedural adaptation relating to conducting proceedings remotely, all other Standing Order requirements for committees remain in place. The meeting is bilingual and simultaneous translation from Welsh to English is available. If we become aware that there is an issue with the translation, I'll ask you to pause for a moment while our meeting technicians reset the system.

I've received apologies for absence from Hefin David and there is no substitution. Can I ask Members if there are any declarations of interest, please? No. Okay, thank you. Can I remind everyone again, then, that if I drop out, it's been agreed that Dawn Bowden MS will temporarily chair while I try to rejoin? And as we're at the beginning of this new term, I'd like to welcome Laura Jones as a new committee member and place on record our thanks to Janet Finch-Saunders for her work on the committee previously. 

2. Bil Cwricwlwm ac Asesu (Cymru): Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 4 gyda Chynrychiolwyr yr Arolygiaeth a'r Rheoleiddiwr
2. Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill: Evidence Session 4 with Representatives from the Inspectorate and Regulator

We'll move on, then, to item 2, which is our fourth evidence session on the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill. I'm very pleased to welcome Philip Blaker, chief executive of Qualifications Wales; Emyr George, director for policy and reform at Qualifications Wales; Meilyr Rowlands, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, Estyn; and Claire Morgan, strategic director at Estyn. Thank you all for joining us this morning. We've got a lot to cover, so we'll go straight into questions from Siân Gwenllian. 

Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd. Bore da. Diolch ichi am ymuno efo ni y bore yma. Mae fy nghwestiwn cyntaf i yn un cyffredinol ynglŷn â'r angen am gwricwlwm newydd. Ydych chi'n cytuno nad ydy'r cwricwlwm presennol yn un addas i ddiben—geiriau Llywodraeth Cymru ydy'r rheini—a bod angen ailwampio llwyr, fel sydd yn digwydd yn y Bil yma? Dwi ddim yn gwybod pwy sydd am ddechrau. Efallai Estyn. Rydych chi angen agor y meic, Meilyr. 

Thank you very much, Chair. Good morning. Thank you for joining us this morning. My first question is a general one with regard to the need for a new curriculum. Do you agree that the current curriculum is no longer fit for purpose—the words of the Welsh Government there—and that there's a need for a complete overhaul, as takes places in this Bill? I don't know who wants to start. Estyn, perhaps. You need to unmute, Meilyr. 

Dwi'n meddwl bod addysg wedi symud ymlaen dros y 30 mlynedd diwethaf ac mae angen cwricwlwm sy'n adlewyrchu'r ddealltwriaeth newydd sydd gyda ni o sut mae addysg yn gweithio. Buaswn i'n hoffi cymryd rhyw ychydig o amser peth cyntaf i esbonio beth dwi'n meddwl ydy prif nodweddion a manteision y cwricwlwm newydd sydd gyda ni.

I gychwyn, mae e'n fwy deinamig, mae e'n cynnwys hyblygrwydd ar ddwy lefel. Egwyddor sylfaenol y cwricwlwm i Gymru ydy bod ysgolion yn cynllunio eu cwricwlwm eu hunain, ac mae hynny'n eu galluogi nhw i ddiwallu anghenion dysgwyr penodol, yn seiliedig, wrth gwrs, ar fframwaith cenedlaethol. Felly, mae'r cwricwlwm newydd yn fwy tebygol o ysgogi dysgwyr, oherwydd ei fod e'n ystyried eu hanghenion a'u cyd-destun lleol, penodol nhw. Mae hefyd yn fwy tebygol o ysgogi athrawon, achos mae e'n rhoi perchnogaeth iddyn nhw o'r hyn maen nhw'n addysgu. Mae yna hefyd hyblygrwydd statudol ar lefel genedlaethol, sy'n galluogi llywodraethau'r dyfodol i addasu a diweddaru'r cwricwlwm.

Hefyd, mae'r cwricwlwm, fel rŷch chi'n gwybod, yn seiliedig ar ddibenion. Mae e'n seiliedig ar weledigaeth fwy eang o addysg na'r cwricwlwm blaenorol. Mae ysgolion yn gwneud mwy na jest trosglwyddo gwybodaeth; maen nhw'n helpu disgyblion i ennill sgiliau ac agweddau, yn dod â nhw'n ddysgwyr gydol oes annibynnol, maen nhw'n cefnogi iechyd a lles, maen nhw'n helpu i'w tyfu nhw i fod yn aelodau o gymdeithas, ac yn y blaen. Dyna beth a olygir gan y pedwar diben, ac mae'r ysgolion gorau yn gwneud hyn. Felly, mae'r cwricwlwm newydd yn adlewyrchu, mewn gwirionedd, beth mae ysgolion yn ei wneud yn barod. 

Hefyd, mae'r cwricwlwm newydd yn canolbwyntio ar yr hyn sy'n bwysig. Mae'r ffordd mae'r cynnwys wedi ei strwythuro yn fwy soffistigedig ac yn seiliedig ar y ddealltwriaeth ddiweddaraf o sut mae disgyblion yn dysgu. Mae e'n cael ei strwythuro o gwmpas beth sy'n bwysig ar gyfer y meysydd dysgu, gan adeiladu map o gysyniadau, y prif syniadau, sut mae'r rheini'n cysylltu gyda'i gilydd a deall pam maen nhw'n bwysig ac yn werth astudio. Ac maen nhw felly, yn y pen draw, yn cyfrannu at y diwylliant ehangach. 

Y peth arall sy'n bwysig am y cwricwlwm sydd gyda ni nawr ydy sut cafodd ei ddatblygu. Fe gafodd ei ddatblygu gydag athrawon, gydag arbenigwyr, gan gynnwys ni'n hunain a chithau. Mae'r broses yma yn adeiladu tir cyffredin a dealltwriaeth gyffredin, ac mae'n cymryd amser ond mae'r cydadeiladu yma yn bwysig iawn, achos mae e'n fwy tebygol o arwain at gwricwlwm o ansawdd uchel. Mae bob cam dyn ni'n ei gymryd yn gwneud y system yn well. 

A'r pwynt olaf byddwn ni'n hoffi ei wneud ydy bod cwricwlwm i Gymru yn rhan o system o ddiwygio addysg sy'n fwy eang na jest newid y cwricwlwm. Mae e'n bwysig, wrth gwrs, bod nid yn unig y cwricwlwm yn newid ond bod gyda ni system o ddiwygio addysg sydd yn cymryd i ystyriaeth addysgu, dysgu, asesu, arweinyddiaeth, dysgu proffesiynol, gwerthuso, gwella ysgolion, ac yn y blaen. Ymddiheuriadau am gymryd cymaint o amser i esbonio hynny, ond y pwynt ydy bod dealltwriaeth o addysg wedi symud ymlaen yn 30 mlynedd diwethaf, ac mae'r cwricwlwm newydd yn adlewyrchu'r newidiadau hynny. 

I think that education has moved forward over the past 30 years and that there is a need for a curriculum that reflects the new understanding that we have of how education works. I would like to take a little bit of time initially here this morning to explain what I think are the major characteristics and benefits of the new curriculum that we have.

To begin with, it's more dynamic, it includes flexibility on two levels. The fundamental principle behind the curriculum for Wales is that schools plan their own curriculum, and that enables them to meet the needs of specific learners, based, of course, upon a national framework. So, the new curriculum is more likely to encourage learners because it considers their needs and local context. It's also more likely to encourage and inspire teachers, because it gives them ownership over what they teach. There's also flexibility on a statutory level, on a national level, which allows future governments to adapt and update the curriculum.

The curriculum, as you know, is based on purposes and it's based on a wider vision of education than the previous curriculum. Schools do more than just transferring information; they assist pupils to develop skills and attitudes, to turn them into independent lifelong learners, they support health and well-being, they help to grow them to be members of society, and so on. That's what is meant by the four purposes, and the best schools do this. So, the new curriculum reflects, truth to be told, what schools are already doing. 

Also, the new curriculum does focus on what matters. The way that the content has been structured is more sophisticated and is based on latest understanding with regard to how pupils learn. It's structured around what matters for the areas of learning, and builds a map of concepts of the major ideas and how they link up, and then, understanding why they're important and valuable in terms of study. They then contribute to the wider culture. 

The other thing that's important about the curriculum that we now have is how it was developed. It was developed with teachers, with specialists, including us and you. This process builds on common ground and common understanding. It takes time, but this co-production is very important because it's more likely to lead to a high-quality curriculum. Every step that we take along the way makes the system better. 

And the final point that I would like to make is that the curriculum for Wales is part of a system of education reform that is more wide-ranging than just changing the curriculum. It's important, of course, that it's not just the curriculum that's changing, but that we have a system of educational reform that takes into consideration teaching, learning, assessment, leadership, professional learning, evaluation, school improvement, and so on. So, apologies for taking so much time to explain that, but the point is that the understanding of education has moved forward in the past 30 years, and the new curriculum reflects those changes. 

09:20

Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am hynny. Felly, croeso cyffredinol i'r Bil yma, dwi'n cymryd, o hwnna. 

Thank you very much to you for that. So, a general welcome for this Bill, I take it, from your response. 

Ie. 

Yes. 

Mi wnaf i jest ofyn i Cymwysterau Cymru: oes gennych chi unrhyw beth rydych chi'n anghydweld ag o yn yr hyn mae Estyn yn ei ddweud, neu unrhyw beth yn ychwanegol rydych chi'n ei weld sydd angen ei ddweud ynglŷn â'r agwedd gyffredinol yma am yr angen am y Bil? 

I'll just ask Qualifications Wales whether you have anything that you disagree with in terms of what Estyn say, or anything to add that you see that needs to be said in terms of this general approach and attitude towards the need for the Bill. 

Nothing, really, to add to what Meilyr said, except to emphasise the last point that he made. I think our general view would be that the curriculum in itself is probably unlikely to have a big change or big impact on education as a whole, certainly if it's looked at in isolation. But it is this all-system approach that Welsh Government is adopting, which includes all of the things that Meilyr said, but just to add to that, the reforms that we're looking at for qualifications for 16-year-olds that will really make the difference. So, we really welcome the new curriculum being a catalyst for change across the whole system. 

Iawn. Mi ddown ni at rai o'r pwyntiau mwy manwl yna, ond jest i gadw at yr agweddau cyffredinol jest am ychydig bach eto, felly, dwi'n cymryd eich bod chi yn cytuno efo'r pedwar diben, y chwe maes dysgu a phrofiad, y tair sgil drawsgwricwlaidd a'r pedair elfen orfodol, neu oes yna rywbeth yn fanna, yn y manylder yna, rydych chi'n anghytuno efo nhw, ac oes yna unrhyw beth ar goll? Jest yn fyr, Meilyr, a wedyn Cymwysterau Cymru ar hwnna, cyn i ni ddod at y cwestiynau eraill.

Right. We'll come to some of those more detailed points later on, but just to keep to these general principles for a little while longer, I take it that you agree with the four purposes, the six areas of learning and experience, the three cross-curricular skills and the four mandatory elements, or is there anything in that detail that you disagree with? Is there anything missing? Just briefly, Meilyr, and then Qualifications Wales on that particular point, before we come to other questions. 

09:25

Na. Ar y cyfan, mae'r ddarpariaeth statudol yn edrych yn synhwyrol. 

No. On the whole, the statutory provision looks sensible. 

Ocê. A Cymwysterau Cymru yn cytuno?

Okay. And Qualifications Wales, do you agree?

Yes, absolutely. We think the focus on the key concepts and the fundamental essence of learning, and the purposes within the curriculum, seem entirely sensible, and the structure seems logical to us. 

Beth am y feirniadaeth sydd yn dod gan rai athrawon yn benodol bod yna ddiffyg manylder ar wyneb y Bil, ac y gallai hynny greu problemau bod yna ddim digon o arweiniad, a bod hynny yn mynd i fod yn rwystr i rai yn y proffesiwn wrth geisio cyflwyno'r cwricwlwm newydd?

What about the criticism from some teachers specifically that there is a lack of detail on the face of the Bill, and that that could create problems that there is insufficient guidance, and that that could be a barrier to some in the profession in terms of introducing this new curriculum?

Dwi ddim yn siŵr pa mor eang yw'r feirniadaeth yna. Dwi'n credu cafodd y math yna o feirniadaeth ei wneud yn gynnar yn y broses, ond dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf sydd wedi eu cymryd i ddatblygu'r cwricwlwm, dwi'n meddwl bod y feirniadaeth yna wedi diflannu i raddau helaeth. Mae maint y cwricwlwm a'r gwaith statudol byddwch chi'n edrych arno ar hyn o bryd yn awgrymu bod yna gryn dipyn o arweiniad yn bodoli yn y cwricwlwm beth bynnag. Felly, beth sy'n cael ei drio ei wneud fan hyn yw cael cydbwysedd rhwng cael digon o ryddid, a hefyd bod yna rywfaint o bresgripsiwn hefyd. Ac, ar y cyfan, dwi'n meddwl bod y cydbwysedd yna yn iawn. 

I'm not sure how wide-ranging that criticism is. I think that kind of criticism was made early on in the process, but over the past few years that have been taken to develop the curriculum, I think that criticism has disappeared to a great extent. The scope of the curriculum, and the statutory work that has gone into it, that you will be considering at the moment, suggests that there is a great deal of guidance in the curriculum. So, what we're trying to do here is to strike a balance between having sufficient freedom, and that there is an element of prescription as well. And, on the whole, I think that balance has been struck in the right way. 

Iawn. Mi wnaf i ofyn i Cymwysterau Cymru y cwestiwn nesaf, felly, ynglŷn â dilyniant priodol. Dyna mae'r cwricwlwm yn ceisio ei ddarparu—hynny yw, i fod yn addas ar gyfer plant o wahanol oedrannau, galluoedd a doniau, a bod eisiau iddo fo fod yn eang a chytbwys. Ydych chi'n credu bod yna unrhyw beth sydd ar goll, yn enwedig pan rydyn ni'n edrych ar adrannau 21 i 23 o'r Bil?

Right. I'll ask Qualifications Wales the next question with regard to the appropriate progression. That's what the curriculum is trying to provide—that is, being appropriate to children of different ages, abilities and aptitudes, and that it must be broad and balanced. Is there anything missing, particularly when we look at sections 21 to 23 of the Bill?

Ydych chi'n gofyn i fi?

Are you asking me?

Na, dim byd arbennig ar goll. 

No, nothing in particular missing. 

Ocê. Mi wnawn ni symud at yr—. Os nad ydy Cymwysterau Cymru eisiau dod i mewn ar hwn. Unrhyw beth ar goll, o ran yr agwedd yma o edrych ar y plentyn, a'r cynnydd o fewn y plentyn yn unigol?

Okay. We'll move on to—. Unless Qualifications Wales want to come in on that. Anything missing in terms of looking at the child, and the progression with regard to that individual child?

Just one thing to add, really, which isn't within the Bill, but it's in our thinking, which is really trying to think about what the range of qualifications should be for 16-year-olds, thinking about our work in particular. So, part of that is thinking about what a broader offer is, that maybe would be GCSE at the core, which is what we've consulted on, but also thinking about an appropriate range of qualifications that meet the principles that we've already consulted on, which would mean that there's a suitable offer for all. So, we don't think there's anything in the curriculum Bill itself, or in the curriculum, that prevents us in doing that work. Actually, the way that progression is described within the curriculum is quite helpful.

Ydy'r cyfnod olaf yma, a'r cyfnod COVID, a'r drafodaeth ynglŷn â defnyddio asesiadau athrawon—ydy hyn yn dylanwadu ar eich ffordd o feddwl chi rŵan? Hynny yw, oes yna unrhyw beth sydd wedi newid yn y cyfeiriad roeddech chi yn mynd ynddo fo pan roeddech chi'n ymgynghori ynglŷn â'r TGAU ac yn y blaen? Oes angen cymryd tipyn bach o gam yn ôl oherwydd beth sydd wedi digwydd yn y cyfnod diweddar yma?

Has this recent period, this time of COVID, and the discussion with regard to using teacher assessments—does this influence your thinking now? Is there anything that has changed with regard to the direction that you were pursuing when you were consulting on GCSEs and so on? Do we need to take a little bit of a step back because of what has happened in these recent times?

The nature of the curriculum means that we were already looking at the way that qualifications were assessed—so, thinking about this notion of more of a local curricula model. We already knew that we wanted to build in some more flexibility into the qualifications and the way that they're assessed—so, thinking about things like teacher assessments, thinking about things like project work, which would allow the local curricula to come to the fore in the way that things are being assessed. Without doubt, the recent experiences with COVID, and thinking ahead about how we make the qualifications system more resilient, have played into our ongoing thinking. There are a number of things that we would like to progress. These are things that we were already thinking about, but maybe they should be accelerated in the thinking. Simple things like digital assessment—online assessment through tests that are delivered on screen, can be delivered remotely, can be delivered in schools, can be delivered on demand, so that you don't have the logistical issues of trying to get 200 young people into a room with computers at the same time—are all things that we're starting to think about in a more concerted way. And they're things that we'll be looking to consult on next year.

09:30

Diolch am hynny. A jest cwestiwn olaf gen i, Gadeirydd, ynglŷn â'r amserlen efo cyflwyno'r Bil a gweithredu'r cwricwlwm newydd. Ydy'r amserlen yma yn heriol rŵan oherwydd y cyfnod rydyn ni ynddo fo, efo'r pandemig, neu ydych chi'n hapus bod pethau'n symud i'r cyfeiriad y mae'n nhw a'r amserlen sydd wedi ei dynodi?

Thank you for that. And just a final question from me, Chair, with regard to the timetable for the introduction of the Bill and implementing the new curriculum. Is that timetable challenging now because of the times that we're in, with regard to the pandemic, or are you content that things are moving forward in the right direction and according to the stated timetable?

Wel, mae'n amlwg bod COVID wedi cael effaith. Mewn ffordd, mae yna ddwy elfen wrthgyferbyniol o ran COVID. Ar y naill law, mae'r argyfwng, wrth gwrs, wedi cymryd amser ac egni ac adnoddau o ddiwygio'r cwricwlwm, ac mae'r amser ar gyfer cynllunio a pharatoi wedi ei golli, does dim os am hynny. Ac wrth gwrs dydyn ni ddim yn gwybod beth fydd yn digwydd yn y dyfodol. Ond mae posib dadlau bod agweddau allweddol sy'n berthnasol i ddiwygio'r cwricwlwm wedi cyflymu oherwydd yr argyfwng. Mae hynny'n amlwg iawn o ran cynhwysedd digidol—o ran staff a dysgwyr. Ond mae'r canolbwyntio sydd ar iechyd a lles dysgwyr, er enghraifft, sy'n elfen allweddol o ddiwygio'r cwricwlwm, wedi ehangu a chyflymu, a'r cyfathrebu gwell gyda theuluoedd. Ac mae yna nifer o ddatblygiadau tebyg. Felly, ar y cyfan, dwi'n meddwl bod y ddau beth yma yn cydbwyso, ac mae hi'n ddichonadwy ein bod ni'n gallu cadw at yr amserlen bresennol.

Well, it's clear that COVID has had an impact. In a way, there are two contrasting elements with regard to COVID. On the one hand, the crisis has taken up the time, resources and energy from reforming the curriculum, the time allocated to planning and so on has been lost, there's no doubt about that. And of course, we don't know what will happen in future. But it could be argued that the key aspects of curriculum reform have been accelerated as a result of the crisis. That's very clear in terms of digital content—for staff and learners. And the focus on the health and well-being of learners that is a key element of the curriculum reform has also been expanded and accelerated at this time; better communication with families has also come to the fore. And there are a number of similar developments that have taken place. So, on the whole, I think these two things are in balance, and it is feasible that we can keep to the current timetable.

Thank you. Suzy, were you indicating just before that?

Yes. It was just to pick up on a point that Philip raised about the possibility of online assessments. I don't think it comes up later in questions, so I just want to deal with it now. I think the select committee, very recently, weren't so keen on Ofqual's ideas that final exams could be done online. Does that mean that you've already dismissed that as a possibility, or is it still part of the thinking?

Certainly in terms of thinking ahead to the future, just thinking about this in the very broadest of terms, there will probably be a time not in the too distant future where the only time that young people sit down and write for more than an hour is when they sit down and do an exam. And with more digital learning, which would be encouraged through the current situation with COVID, and as we move forward, we think that there is a place for digital assessment. Now, there's a wide range of things that can be done. It needs careful implementation, we need to make sure that it's manageable for schools, but we do see the opportunity in the future for digital assessment.

Thank you. I've got some questions now for Estyn on school improvement and raising standards. The Welsh Government has said that the new curriculum will lead to school improvement and a raising of standards. What do you think the evidence is to support that?

I think it's important to make the point that what we've got currently is modest incremental improvements in standards linked to modest improvements in provision. And I've said this before: if we want to see significant improvements in standards and in outcomes, you need to see substantial change—a step change in provision. And I think that is the case for education reform, that you need that step change, and that's the whole purpose of education and curriculum reform. 

As I said in my opening words, it's taken quite a long time to get to this point. It's taken time to co-construct this. We started in the last Government, it's gone through this Government and it's going to go on to the next Government. So, it was important to build that consensus nationally, and there is this consensus internationally as well that the education reform programme in Wales is going in the right direction. So, I think we can be confident that the curriculum that's being offered here is better. We've seen some small modest improvements already and we've seen some improvements in the Programme for International Student Assessment as well. So, I think we can deduce from that that the general direction is right. Obviously, you can't really say what will happen in future and it'll be our job to gather the evidence in future to advise Government on realising the hoped for improvements.

09:35

Okay. Thank you. And in your written evidence, you've welcomed the freedom and flexibility and the high-level approach the Bill gives to schools and to teachers to meet the needs of pupils, but you've also highlighted inconsistencies in the quality of teaching and learning as a barrier to successful implementation of the curriculum. I'm sure that members of the committee also realise that you've told us every year now that the quality of teaching, as far as you're concerned, is the weakest part of the system in Wales. So, on that basis, how can we be assured that all children and young people are going to get high-quality provision and particularly that learners in more disadvantaged areas aren't going to lose out?

Yes, it's a good question. I think what we're saying is that the current curriculum hasn't helped to reduce variability and that's partly due to the lack of ownership or flexibility that teachers and pupils have. Teachers and pupils react differently to the current context and I think that's why it needs to be replaced. That's an argument for change really. The new curriculum is based on the latest research. It allows for more varied teaching and learning approaches and that doesn't mean greater variety in quality necessarily. It should lead to improved teaching and learning. The less prescription allows greater freedom to meet the needs of particular groups of learners and that should lead to more consistent and better outcomes, particularly because disadvantaged pupils, the research shows us, benefit from improved teaching and learning—disproportionately so.

Okay, but you've said 'should' a few times there, which is a qualified word really and what we're looking for is assurances that this is going to deliver high-quality provision for pupils. How can we be assured that the quality of teaching then is going to be stronger than what you've highlighted in successive annual reports?

I can't say here that there's a guarantee because I can't foresee the future. All I'm saying is that we've taken, as a country, a long time to co-construct this curriculum and the education reform that's around it, and it's designed specifically to do those things and it would be very disappointing if all that international research, all the input of practitioners in this country had got it really, really wrong. I think it is about improving the teaching and learning experiences and all the research shows that actually that helps disadvantaged learners disproportionately. It helps them more than anyone else if we increase and improve the teaching and learning.

I just think the design is—. Every aspect of it—it's not just the freedom, it's the 'what matters' part of the curriculum—it shows how the different elements of knowledge are linked together to form a whole culture and I think that broad cultural understanding is about widening horizons for learners, opening up a range of opportunities for them and that contributes to better life chances for them. 

09:40

Okay. Suzy, did you have—? Before I bring you in Claire, did you have a supplementary or are you all right, Suzy?

Thank you, Lynne. I think it's useful to remind ourselves, and I think we have mentioned it earlier, that there's been a whole raft of reform and we've seen changes to evaluation and improvement arrangements, changes to additional learning needs, but quite a lot of emphasis on professional learning and building capacity. And I think that in our consultation response we highlighted the importance of professional learning. So, it will be absolutely essential that all the school improvement activity provided by the consortia and local authorities continues to support these developments and we'll also be looking at how we evaluate progress as we go along as well.

We're currently preparing for our 2021 inspection framework for schools and there's a far greater focus on curriculum in our framework. But, each year, as we get closer to roll-out and as the curriculum goes through the years of secondary, we'll be reviewing our framework to make sure we raise expectations year on year to support progress with the new curriculum. So, I think we'll be providing as well that objective independent advice to you, as Members, so that you can monitor the progress as well as we implement. Thank you.

Okay, thank you. And my next question was on professional learning and obviously what you've said is key, that it's vital. Is enough focus being put on it, as far as you're concerned? And is enough resource being invested into the professional learning to deliver this reform?

I think there is considerable investment in professional learning, but it's not professional learning as we knew it in the past. When you look at the Welsh system and when we meet with our international partners they talk about two key features of the Welsh system that they see as different from elsewhere and one of those is the level of collaboration. We are seeing increasingly schools working together, with support from local authorities and consortia, to arrange opportunities to provide funding and to make some of the organisational arrangements, but certainly that is a strength and that enables our schools to share practical examples.

What we find is that even when we've been going through the COVID situation, there's been very, very helpful guidance and advice, but schools often want a practical solution, and by working together they can learn from one another. So, I think we have got a structure in place to make that happen at the moment, but I think we still just need to keep building on that.

09:45

Sorry. I share your concerns on this one, Chair, and I'd like to just challenge you slightly, Claire Morgan, on this story of collaboration. I'm not saying that schools don't collaborate, but we all know that there's a teacher shortage at the moment, and schools are working at over maximum capacity in terms of what they're asking of individual teachers. The curriculum and the place for continual professional development, CPD, in this seems to rely an awful lot on teachers having time to collaborate with each other, and I'm not convinced they're going to have that.

I think you've raised a really important point, Suzy. I think we need to think carefully about opportunities for staff to work together, but often it occurs naturally in the way they work in school, rather than always taking them away from learners. We see more and more schools collaborating in the classroom between teachers and support staff, so it doesn't necessarily have to be by taking them away from their learners. Learning can be happening whilst they're with their classes. But time, it is a difficult issue for schools. I think it's a really important point. I think it's about creating opportunities, but thinking a bit more creatively about it. And we know that some schools have managed to do this.

Diolch. Dwi'n rhannu'r pryder hefyd, o safbwynt yr anghysondeb mewn arweinyddiaeth yn yr ysgolion. Rydym ni'n gwybod bod plant mewn hanner ysgolion uwchradd Cymru yn tanberfformio ar hyn o bryd, ac mae o'n fy mhryderu i y bydd yr ysgolion rheini yn benodol, sydd yn dioddef o ddiffyg arweinyddiaeth yn aml iawn, yn methu ag ymdopi efo'r newidiadau yma, ac y bydd y plant yn yr ysgolion rheini'n cael eu gadael ar ôl. A dwi yn meddwl bod Estyn wedi bod yn bryderus iawn am yr agwedd arweinyddiaeth yn ein hysgolion ni, ac onid ydy hwn yn mynd i roi pwysau ychwanegol ar hynny?

Thank you. I share that concern with regard to the lack of consistency in leadership in schools. We know that children in half of secondary schools in Wales are underperforming at the moment, and it concerns me that those schools specifically, that are suffering as a result of a lack of leadership, will fail to cope with these changes, and that the children in those schools will be left behind. And I think that Estyn has been very concerned about that leadership aspect of our schools, and isn't this going to place additional pressure on that?

Wel, mae arweinyddiaeth yn bwysig, wrth gwrs, a dyna pam roeddwn i'n pwysleisio gynt fod yn rhaid diwygio'r system addysg i gyd—nid jest newid y cwricwlwm, ond mae angen gwella arweinyddiaeth—a dŷn ni'n gwybod bod lot o flaengareddau i wneud hynny, gan gynnwys creu'r cyrff newydd ac yn y blaen. Dwi'n meddwl mai un o'r problemau mae rhai o'r ysgolion yma wedi'u hwynebu ydy bod y cwricwlwm yn anodd iddyn nhw. Dyw e ddim yn caniatáu iddyn nhw y rhyddid i greu cwricwlwm sy’n addas ar gyfer eu cymdeithas nhw, eu plant nhw, a dwi'n meddwl y bydd y cwricwlwm yn gyfle iddyn nhw fod yn fwy creadigol ac i fod yn agosach at eu cymunedau nhw eu hunain. Mae rhai o'r pethau yna wedi milwrio yn erbyn arweinyddiaeth dda. Felly, dwi'n meddwl bod yna fanteision ar gyfer arweinyddiaeth yn y system sy'n cael ei darparu ar hyn o bryd.

Well, leadership is, of course, important, and that's why I emphasised earlier that we need to reform the whole education system—we need to not just reform the curriculum, but improve leadership—and we know that there are a great deal of innovations to do that, including creating the new bodies and so on. I think one of the problems that some of these schools have faced is that the curriculum is difficult for them. It doesn't allow them the freedom to create a curriculum that is appropriate for their society, for their children, and I think that the new curriculum will be an opportunity for them to be more creative and to be closer to their own communities. Some of those things have militated against good leadership. So I think there are benefits for leadership in the system that is being provided at the moment.

Okay. Just before we move on then to talk about qualifications generally, can I just ask Qualifications Wales if they've got anything to add on the impact on school standards, please?

I think, Lynne, just to go back to my original comment, which was: if we want to see the improvement in education that we all want to see, the curriculum in itself isn't a panacea. But it is a catalyst for this system-wide approach, and it's only if the whole system changes will we get the outcomes that we're really looking for. So, we welcome it on the basis of that system-wide approach.

Okay. Thank you very much. We're going to move on now then to questions from Suzy on qualifications, and because of the time, I'm going to have to remind Members and witnesses to give succinct answers et cetera, please. Suzy.

09:50

Oh dear. Okay, thank you. We heard from Meilyr earlier about the teaching and learning experience. I think we need to know a little bit more about the teaching and learning outcomes as well, and if we're going to believe these claims on standards they need to be evidenced in a way that has public confidence. How can Qualifications Wales examine purpose, because this is a purpose-led curriculum and you've said that qualifications are to be led by the curriculum?

Yes, so it's interesting, isn't it, because the purposes are quite high level? So, nobody can disagree with the purposes behind the curriculum because they're providing the sorts of things that we all want to see in young people at that point in their education, when they're leaving full-time education—some will; most will be carrying on to 18. But at that sort of point at 16, we want to see all of those things that come out of the purposes. Qualifications are only going to be a part of the evidence of that and will only ever be part of the evidence of it. And I think this comes down to that point around the curriculum being an important thing in itself and maybe historically there has been—or certainly, over recent years, there's become such a focus on qualification for 14 to 16-year-olds and beyond that they become the personification of the curriculum rather than something that supports the curriculum and demonstrates achievement.

So, I don't think qualifications will ever be able to demonstrate all of the purposes, but what they will be doing is providing levels of attainment against aspects of it. So, qualifications are always intended to be able to assess knowledge, skills and understanding. Maybe at the moment qualifications are focused too much on the first of those, on knowledge, so it's about content recall, which is lower order skills rather than skills and understanding, which are higher order skills. It's probably those higher order skills that are the important part of the purposes. So, actually, moving away from content recall into greater levels of evidence in knowledge and understanding will probably help to evidence the purposes. I don't know, Emyr, whether you would like to come in and add anything to that.

Yes, thank you, Philip. I think it's not necessarily a question of trying to directly assess those purposes because they are broad and they do deliberately, I think, describe the outcomes we want to see in terms of the dispositions, the characteristics of learners who have benefited from education through to 16. What they provide, I think, is a really useful focus for decisions related to education: decisions by schools about their local curriculum and decisions that we will be taking in relation to the design of qualifications. They provide a perspective, I think, on some of the detail that sits below the purposes in the curriculum framework, for example, when we've got all the different elements that we talked about earlier that make up the curriculum guidance, so they will shape decisions around the design of qualifications, as far as we're concerned, for example. So, it's less about, 'How do you assess ambition?', and rather than, 'How do you design qualifications that are intended to work in harmony with good teaching and learning to give learners a positive experience to think about the experiences that learners gain as they're studying towards qualifications and as they're covering the curriculum?' So, I think they just pull everybody back all the time rather than getting too lost in the detail of things or getting carried away with the process of things, to keep that focus on, 'What are the ultimate outcomes that we're all trying to pursue?' So, it's not so much about trying to assess the purposes directly; it's about shaping the way in which we do assessment. 

Okay. You have, as a result of consultation, already committed to retaining GCSEs. Bearing in mind what you've just said, what early steer can you give us on what GCSEs will look like, what they might be called? You know, are we going to have GCSEs in geography or are there going to be GCSEs in general humanities or creative thinking? And judging from what Philip was saying earlier, you've got plans for other forms of assessments or capturing achievements to be included alongside GCSEs, and I'm wondering if you've got a view on having a sort of portfolio at 16, and whether you see that as potentially disadvantaging learners who are competing with qualifications from around the world, or whether you think it's an advantage. Is having a portfolio going to make the GCSE elements look less important? A little bit like the baccalaureate, if you like?

09:55

So, there are a few things there, and I'm happy to try and take them in turn. So, going back to the first question about where are we going, I suppose, with our thinking on what qualifications will look like, so we're currently in the process of finalising proposals for consultation on the subject areas in which qualifications should be available in the future, and we're aiming to run that consultation in this academic year, and we've been looking and we've been working closely with stakeholders for some time now to consider the different possibilities.

Most of the engagement that we've done so far suggests that there is a pretty clear preference out there that the qualification offer should continue to be structured mainly around subject disciplines, rather than having individual qualifications that are seeking to span the whole breadth of, let's say, an area of learning and experience. The curriculum guidance itself, as you'll know, doesn't ignore or pretend that subject disciplines no longer exist; the curriculum is seeking to organise some of the knowledge and learning and experience that's expected around those areas of learning. So, we will be thinking about our proposals in relation to those areas of learning and experience, but it's likely that we're still going to see a number of proposals that feature qualifications related to subject disciplines; we don't just mean academic disciplines, but we do mean discrete subject areas that are perhaps more focused than the whole areas of learning and experience.

That said, from the engagement and from the thinking that we've done, we will also be using our forthcoming consultation to explore opportunities for consolidating some subject areas where there might be a case for doing that, based on what's in the curriculum and how it's organised, as well as looking at how we might be able to bring in some more integrated qualifications that could sit alongside those subject disciplines, to offer schools the choice, who may want to do things differently in relation to some aspects of the curriculum and to continue the more interconnected and holistic approach they might be developing within that framework, based on areas of learning. It's just that we don't think there's a demand there, as we see it, to move wholesale away from subject disciplines and all the way over to broad areas of learning, when it comes to qualification design.

Last point, just on that: the key thing for thing for us is that we want to see the right mix of qualifications, and that's what our consultation will be asking about, so that centres and learners have got a manageable choice about how they want to combine qualifications to reflect the broad and balanced curriculum that's right for them. So, there's that in the mix as well.

I will come happily come back on the point about GCSEs and other quals just to clarify briefly, if that helps.

Okay. This is my final question: bearing in mind what you said, is there a risk that there will be a narrowing in the choices of what we currently would recognise as GCSEs in the discrete subjects, and an increase of the different types of assessment and achievement? I was thinking particularly when Philip was talking about local curricula being a subject for teacher assessment, rather than something that we recognise currently. And what's the risk and what's the advantage in that mixture? I'm finished then.

And I think that plays into what I was going to try and help to explain in any event. So, when Philip was talking about different ways in which qualifications can be designed to offer more flexibility for centres and learners around the content that they choose to study, and in relation to which they want to develop their skills and knowledge, we were thinking about that within the confines of what we describe as a GCSE. So, as we said in our first consultation, we think there's considerable flexibility that we want to explore how we can use more of, about how GCSEs themselves are assessed. So, within any qualification, whether you call it a GCSE or anything else, there are always decisions to be made about the balance and the type of content that you put in there. A qualification always has to be clear about what it will assess learners on, but that doesn't mean that the qualification has to have a very prescriptive, detailed list of facts and figures. It can be really clear about the underpinning knowledge and skills that it's seeking to assess, but seek to assess that in a way that offers more flexibility for learners to select specific content, for example set works or particular sporting activities, and the like, depending on the subject area—periods of history and so on. You can still assess some of the underpinning knowledge that you're trying to get at, while allowing centres and learners some freedom to pick and choose the topics and the contexts that they develop that knowledge in relation to. So, it's not about having another set of things alongside GCSEs, it's about having GCSEs that are more future looking, more flexible and are an evolution of what we have now.

10:00

Thanks, Lynne. I think, to a degree, Emyr's just answered it, because I was trying to get my head around how you have the local freedom to teach a wide range of issues within the areas of learning experience, and how you could then develop a qualification and exam, if you like, around something that is going to be very specific to how a school chooses to teach that subject area. But I think, Emyr, what you were saying has explained that, to some degree, that it's not necessarily—I think, in my head, I'm trying to get my head around exams, and it's not necessarily exams in the traditional sense, is what you're saying, I think, as I understand it. 

It's more of a mix, perhaps, than we typically tend to think of when we think about GCSEs.

There's always a balance to be struck, as I said, between perhaps some of that more core, common, prescribed content and the more flexible elements that I've been describing. And that's why, particularly for those qualifications, such as GCSEs, that we'll be setting the requirements for, we'll be looking in detail, on a qualification-by-qualification, subject-by-subject basis, through working with stakeholders, through consultation, to agree what the right balance is, and it will depend, from one subject to the next, on how much prescription, how much flexibility and other factors, such as which assessment methods you're looking at. So, it all has to be looked at at that more detailed level, I think, in order to get the right balance, and to involve practitioners, learners and others to make sure that we're getting it as right as we can.

Mi fuasem ni'n gallu trafod hwn am hir iawn, dwi'n meddwl, a dwi'n meddwl bod angen trafod yn iawn, ac mi fuaswn i'n gofyn ichi ymgysylltu'n llawn efo pobl ifanc ynghylch y newidiadau yma hefyd. Beth sydd yn fy nharo i ydy eich bod chi'n dechrau disgrifio rhywbeth sydd yn teimlo'n wahanol i'r TGAU fel rydyn ni'n gwybod amdano fo, ond eich bod chi'n dymuno cadw'r enw oherwydd bod yna ryw ofn, efallai, o ollwng yr enw TGAU. Ond onid ydy hi'n bryd i'r cymwysterau ddatblygu i wir adlewyrchu'r cwricwlwm? Ac mae'r cwricwlwm yn gwneud rhywbeth radical iawn a rhywbeth newydd a rhywbeth gwahanol, ond eto, mae'n ymddangos i mi ein bod ni'n gyndyn i symud tuag at gymhwyster sydd hefyd yn adlewyrchu'r newid yna.

Yes, we could talk about this for a very long time, I think, and I think we do need to have that in-depth discussion, and I would ask you to engage fully with young people with regard to these changes as well. But what strikes me is that you are starting to describe something that feels different to the GCSE as we currently understand it, but that you hope to keep the name because there is perhaps a fear of dropping that title, 'GCSE'. But isn't it time for the qualifications to develop to be a genuine reflection of the curriculum? And the curriculum is doing something very radical, different and new, but it appears to me that we are loath to move towards a qualification that also reflects that change. 

Wel, mae cymwysterau TGAU eisoes yn pontio nifer o wahanol fodelau o asesu o fewn y teulu yna o gymwysterau, os hoffech chi. Ar un pegwn, mae cymwysterau dylunio a chelf, sy'n asesu'n gyfan gwbl yn ddi-arholiad, sy'n asesu drwy dipyn o waith cwrs—does yna ddim beth wmbreth o gynnwys penodedig, manwl y mae'n rhaid i ddisgyblion ei ddysgu ar gof; mae yna dipyn o elfennau ymarferol a chreadigol yn y cymhwyster hwnnw. Ac ar y pegwn arall, mae gyda chi gymhwyster fel mathemateg neu rifedd TGAU sy'n cael ei asesu'n gyfan gwbl drwy arholiad ar ddiwedd y cwrs, ac mae'r cynnwys wedi'i benodi'n gyfan gwbl. Felly, os ydyn ni'n cofio bod TGAU yn sefyll am dystysgrif gyffredinol addysg uwchradd, y gwir amdani yw ein bod ni eisoes yn gweld bod yna hyblygrwydd o fewn beth mae pobl yn deall fel cymwysterau TGAU a beth dŷn ni eisiau gwneud yw edrych i weld sut allwn ni wneud gwell defnydd o'r hyblygrwydd hynny.

Fe wnaethom ni edrych arno yn reit fanwl yn yr ymgynghoriad diwethaf. Doedden ni ddim yn gweld bod yna ryw lawer i'w ennill drwy fynd ar ôl ailfrandio cymwysterau lle mae yna dipyn o hygrededd cyhoeddus ac ymddiriedaeth allan yna. Byddai hi'n dipyn o waith i ni orfod ailadeiladu hynny, ac efallai byddai hynny'n tynnu'r sylw i ffwrdd o'r penderfyniadau pwysig ynglŷn â sut i fynd ati i asesu ac i ddylunio cymwysterau penodol.

Well, the GCSE qualification already spans different assessment models within that family of qualifications, if you will. On the one end, you have the design and art qualification that is assessed entirely without exam, so it does it through course work—there isn't a great deal of specific, detailed content that pupils have to remember and commit to memory; there are a lot of practical and creative elements to that qualification. And then on the other end, you have a qualification such as mathematics or numeracy that is assessed entirely through exam at the end the course, and the content is entirely mandated and specified. So, if you remember that GCSE stands for general certificate of secondary education, then the truth is that we already see that there is flexibility within what people understand as being the GCSE qualification and what we want to do is to see how we can make better use of that flexibility.

We looked at it in a great deal of detail in the last consultation. We didn't see that there was a great deal to gain through rebranding qualifications where there is public credibility and trust out there for them. It would be a huge task for us to rebuild that, and that might take attention away from the important decisions that we need to make about how we assess and design specific qualifications.

10:05

Thank you. Just before we move on, were you surprised that there was no mention of qualifications in the Bill?

No, in that this is the curriculum Bill, and in this notion of curriculum leading qualifications, the curriculum coming first, we think that's the right way of sequencing these things. The curriculum sets out the body of knowledge, the things that we're expecting education to deliver. Qualifications will relate to that, and we'll look at assessing a sample of knowledge, skills and understanding that are expected within that curriculum. We've got no concerns about the Bill not talking directly about qualifications.

Okay, thank you. We're going to have to move on and pick up the pace quite a bit here, I think. If I can ask some questions on specific aspects of the Bill. Firstly, on the plans to deliver immersion in Welsh for pupils up to the age of seven, the mechanism is for English to be mandatory but with schools given the power to disapply it up to that age. Is that the right mechanism, or do you think there's a better way of delivering that?

I think that most people agree that we do need the ability to have full immersion in the Welsh language, but we've said in our response to the consultation that it's worth reconsidering whether there's a better way of achieving that in legislation than the proposed opt-out. I mean, I'm not an expert in drafting legislation, but you could imagine that Welsh and English could be mandatory after the age of seven, and it could be for the school or the local authority then to choose which of the two languages was used before then. 

Okay, thank you, that's very clear. So, what particular challenges might there be in an English-medium school of working on a single learning continuum for Welsh?

I think we're back here to the issue of improving the teaching and learning. Our evidence is that the understanding of language pedagogy, not just Welsh language but also modern foreign languages, doesn't tend to be as good in English-medium schools. So, the answer is what we talked about earlier, which is greater professional development, and also resources as well in this area.

Okay, thank you. And moving on to relationships and sex education, do you have any views on the requirement that developmentally appropriate RSE is mandatory in primary and secondary schools and that parents have no right to withdraw children from its study?

We support the inclusion of RSE. We think it's a very important part of health and well-being. We're pleased that it's part of the AoLE, but there's also a cross-curricular requirement. We support it, but our feedback is that learners support this as well. It's an area of the curriculum, currently, that is quite patchy and the quality varies. So, we think by placing this in health and well-being it will help schools to plan for a co-ordinated, whole-school approach to health and well-being that includes RSE.

Okay, thank you. Just finally from me, then, on religion, values and ethics, are you content with the provision for the voluntary-aided schools to only have to deliver RVE with regard to the more pluralistic agreed syllabus on request, otherwise they'll receive RVE aligned to the school's religion? You have raised some issues about that in your written evidence.

10:10

Yes, it's quite a complex area and we've responded in quite some detail on this in the specific consultation on this issue. I think, just to summarise quickly, we think that RVE should be treated in the same way as other disciplines within the humanities area. We feel that it should be compulsory, mandatory for all children in all schools and I think we welcome the removing of the right to withdraw from this. And the way we look at it is that RVE, the pluralistic ones should be mandatory and that the denominational education should be an additionality and supplementary on top of it.

Okay, thank you. We're going to move on now to some questions from Dawn Bowden.

Thank you, Lynne. My questions are primarily for Estyn and it's in relation to how the curriculum might impact on those pupils receiving education other than at school, but I mean, please, Qualifications Wales, jump in if you've got something to add on this.

My first question, really, is whether you're happy with the proposal that pupils in education other than at school are only being taught one area of learning and experience—that's the health and well-being—and that the other areas are basically voluntary almost, or they're not compulsory, anyway. Just your views on that.

I think you raise a really important point and it's important to keep a close eye on this. I think, generally, we do feel that it is appropriate; it reflects current practice. Pupil referral units aren't necessarily set up to be able to deliver the whole curriculum; it's not necessarily what's best for the children to enable them to go back into mainstream schooling as quickly as possible. I think the flexibility that this gives PRUs and other EOTAS settings is striking the right balance. I don't know if Claire's got anything to add to that.

I think the requirements are clear, and you are right, Dawn, there are four requirements in the Bill, but towards the fourth, it talks about that where it's reasonable and appropriate the other areas of learning and experience should be covered, and it puts a requirement on the teacher in charge to design that broad and balanced curriculum. But we hope that these expectations are clear that children in EOTAS and PRUs, we expect them to make progress and we expect their aspirations to be raised. So, there is a responsibility on the teachers in charge to take those requirements and to make sure that the curriculum is broad and balanced.

I was going to say that I suppose that in an EOTAS setting it's more likely that this is going to be designed around the individual pupil rather than the school as a whole. So, that's the flexibility that you're content with, basically.

Yes. But it is about raising aspirations. We're very clear in our remit and the way we inspect in these settings that we expect the children to be making progress. They find themselves in these settings because, very often, they've become disengaged with the normal curriculum in other schools. So, often, these schools will start by building the confidence of these children, looking at their well-being and developing resilience, but we still have high aspirations for the learners.

10:15

So, that would be why, in your view, then, that RSE is compulsory, whereas English, Welsh and RVE are not, but you would see that as part of the health and well-being aspect of the education that's needed in the EOTAS setting.

Okay. Under section 44 there are powers for the Welsh Ministers to make regulations to enable headteachers to make temporary exceptions to curriculum requirements. Are you content that they provide adequate safeguards?

I think it broadly reflects current practice. It looks as if it's something that has inherent dangers to it, but there are lots of checks and balances, and the current system doesn't give us concern, so I can't see why it should cause concern in future.

Okay, so you see it as a continuation of what's already happening. A similar question, then, and this is to Qualifications Wales as well, I guess: the powers that headteachers have, under section 33, to exercise choice over teaching and learning within each AoLE, have you any concerns about that, that this could be used excessively or disproportionately?

It is interesting, because I said that we don't have any concerns currently, but going back 10 years ago people did exclude children unnecessarily from all kinds of things. There are checks and balances in the system—obviously, local authorities, region consortia have an overview, and, indeed, Estyn inspections—and over the years we've seen the use of this kind of power, this similar sort of power, decrease quite a lot because of the attention that we've given to the importance of having a broad and balanced curriculum for all children. So, I think there are sufficient checks and balances in the system.

Okay. Do Qualifications Wales have a view on that, that last point about section 33?

Nothing particular to add, except for the fact that I guess we've already mentioned this in terms of the range of qualifications that we want to make available. We want that to be as comprehensive as possible to allow as much flexibility for schools. And it isn't so much—well, it is around, partially around, what a school is able to offer, but also around what's right for individual learners. We'd like to see as much focus on the individual learner as possible, and from a qualifications-offer perspective, making sure that people have got the ability to demonstrate success at a level that's appropriate to them.

Thank you. The next questions, then, are from Suzy. Suzy, I think I missed bringing you in for a supplementary earlier on on RVE, so I don't know if you want to cover that now.

It was just, very quickly, to check that assertion from Claire Morgan that learners were keen on seeing RSE, it was, actually, in the curriculum. I don't dispute that, but most of the worry seemed to be about the very youngest children, and I'd be curious to know how you acquired knowledge about what those learners thought about all this, but perhaps that's for another day.

Can we talk about finances now? Because I think we're all a little bit worried about the impact assessment that goes alongside this Bill, because the work wasn't able to be completed on it because of COVID lockdown. I wonder if both of you could tell us whether both of you were able to get your full financial estimates into Government before the pause on this work happened.

If I start, then. I think I have to admit that these calculations, estimates, are incredibly difficult to undertake. It's partly because it's very difficult to distinguish between an activity that's directly related to the curriculum, or to a particular set of legislation around the curriculum, and more general ones. You know, we've talked about how education reform encompasses teaching and learning, assessment, leadership, professional learning. So, for example, if you look at one of our thematic reports, even the ones that are most directly related to curriculum, you will have sections in them on teaching, on leadership, on professional learning and so forth. So, it's very, very difficult to do that.

It's also difficult to distinguish between what we are doing now, compared to what we would have done anyway, because, clearly, we always have done work on things related to curriculum and subjects and so forth. So, we found it difficult even to do it in retrospect; calculating it in future is really, really difficult. For example, I don't know what my budget is for next April, and I don't know what the remit letter is for next April. So, it's quite difficult to calculate what proportion of that is going to go towards work related to the curriculum. So, apologies for a long answer, but it is really difficult to do this, and I suspect it's probably difficult for other organisations to do it as well.

10:20

Thank you. Philip, have your costs been included at all?

Yes, they have, and just to further what Meilyr has just said, whilst it feels like only very recently GCSEs were reformed, actually, by the time we're looking at implementing new qualifications for the curriculum, they'll be for first teaching in 2025 and assessment in 2027, by which point those qualifications will be starting to get quite old. So, there would be a natural element of some reform that would be going in there, but we are using this as an opportunity for potentially taking that updating further and thinking more broadly.

We've included our costs. A lot of those costs are related to the implementation timescale, so if the implementation timescale is changed because of the current situation or anything else that happens between now and then, that would have an impact on our costs. But I think the only thing that we're slightly concerned about that hasn't been included to date is the impact on awarding bodies that would be developing these qualifications, because, inevitably, there will be costs associated with their development of new qualifications. Those have traditionally been recovered through the entry fees that are charged onto schools, which then become a bit of a hidden cost. So, there may be opportunities to directly fund those this time so that those costs don't get passed on through the system over a number of years. So, we'd like to explore that, but outside of that, all of our direct costs, from what we can see at the moment, have been included. Emyr, I don't know if there's anything you'd like to add, because you've done that work.

No, I think you've covered it all there.

It's a pretty difficult situation for us on the receiving end of this, because we know, basically, we've got an incomplete impact assessment here for reasons that are completely understandable. One specific point, though, is that we understand from schools about what they need to do to comply with the curriculum and the costs associated with that. That's data that's taken from, I think, the 16 innovation schools. Obviously, we've had the pioneer schools as well, but that does leave thousands of other schools whose thoughts on this haven't really fed into the process at all, unless you can say to the contrary. It's just been a bit of a worry of mine, particularly over COVID, that regardless of earlier comments on collaboration, we know from my own party's research that there's an awful lot of people not talking to each other at the moment as well, and what would be happening in an innovation school might be quite different from a school that's even 10 minutes up the road from them. Are you just a little bit worried that that level of data may be just too narrow for us to get a genuine sense of what this is going to cost schools?

I am struggling to answer these questions, I have to admit, because a lot of it is opportunity costs. To what extent this corresponds to real money, I'm not sure. In our case, for example, we get a budget and then in negotiation with Welsh Government we decide how we spend that budget. There's not extra money. For schools, of course, it is different, because there is some extra money for specific elements of this education reform. I suppose you are right—it would be better to look at a wider range of schools than 16 schools. If that's what you're asking, then that probably sounds reasonable.

10:25

Okay, thank you. I take your point that you may not have all the information to answer this. Thank you.

Okay. Well, we have come to—in fact, we've run over, so we've gone over time. Can I thank you all for your attendance this morning and for answering all our questions? It's been a really informative discussion. As usual, you'll be sent a transcript to check for accuracy following the meeting, but thank you again, all of you, for your time this morning.

3. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i Benderfynu Gwahardd y Cyhoedd o’r Cyfarfod ar gyfer Eitem 4
3. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to Resolve to Exclude the Public from the Meeting for Item 4

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o'r cyfarfod ar gyfer eitem 4 yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the meeting for item 4 in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Item 3, then, is a motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public and to meet in private for item 4 of today's meeting. Are Members content? Okay, well, we'll now proceed in private.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 10:26.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 10:26.

10:45

Ailymgynullodd y pwyllgor yn gyhoeddus am 10:45.

The committee reconvened in public at 10:45.

5. Bil Cwricwlwm ac Asesu (Cymru): Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 5 gyda Chynrychiolwyr Sector y Blynyddoedd Cynnar
5. Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill: Evidence Session 5 with Representatives from the Early Years Sector

Can I welcome everybody back to our fifth evidence session on the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill? I'm very pleased to welcome Dave Goodger, chief executive officer at Early Years Wales; Claire Protheroe, national manager for Wales at Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years Cymru; Sarah Coates, policy and strategic partnerships manager, Wales, for the National Day Nurseries Association; and Eleri Griffiths, policy manager at Mudiad Meithrin. Thank you all for your attendance this morning. If you're happy, we'll go straight into questions, and if I can just start by asking you for your views on how necessary these reforms are. The Welsh Government has said that the curriculum is no longer fit for purpose and that a complete overhaul is needed. If that's true, is it true as much for the early years as for the rest of the age groups, please? Claire.

We understand that the findings from research and from Estyn evaluations and feedback have shown that there is a feeling that the wider national curriculum is seen as narrow and inflexible. However, we believe that there's potential for flexibility within the current foundation phase framework, so wouldn't necessarily see that as no longer being fit for purpose, especially how it's delivered in non-maintained settings. On the whole, though, I would say we agree that there are areas of change needed and are broadly supportive, really, of the move to the new curriculum.

We know there are challenges currently in relation to the recognition, really, of the importance of the early years and having that parity right across the curriculum continuum. That isn't addressed, currently, with the foundation phase being in a separate, stand-alone curriculum. We also know there are some challenges in relation to transition from the foundation phase to key stage 2 around assessment and, obviously, the digital competency, as that's become much more of a focus since the original development of the foundation phase, many years ago now. 

So, we do believe that having a curriculum that spans the breadth of learning from the age of three onwards with a new defined digital focus would be helpful. And the four purposes of the shared vision and aspiration for every child and young person I think are valued and seen as appropriate, and these will have consistent purposes, then, for all children and young people right across the new curriculum and providing that continuum, really, of learning as well. 

Okay, thank you. If nobody else has got anything to add to that, can I ask about the—? Eleri. 

Yes, I agree with everything that Claire has just said.

Os yw hi'n iawn, hoffwn siarad yn Gymraeg. Yr un peth arall i'w gofio, dwi'n meddwl, yw mai un o werthoedd mwyaf y cyfnod sylfaen oedd y pwyslais roedd yn ei roi ar ddatblygiad plant bach a'r ffaith ei fod e wedi'i ysgrifennu'n benodol. Felly, roedd e mewn ffordd yn rhoi statws arbennig i'r blynyddoedd cynnar yna. Er ein bod ni'n croesawu'r symudiad i'r cwricwlwm newydd, yr unig beth y byddem ni'n frwd i'w gadw ydy'r gydnabyddiaeth o bwysigrwydd y blynyddoedd cynnar fel y lle mwyaf pwysig lle mae datblygiad addysgiadol yn digwydd, i ddechrau'r daith yna. 

If it's okay, I'd like to respond in Welsh. The one other thing to bear in mind is one of the major values of the foundation phase was that it was written specifically with regard to those young children and it gave that special status to the early years. And even though we welcome the shift to the new curriculum, the one thing that we are eager to keep is the emphasis on the foundation and early years as the time when educational development takes place, to begin this journey.

Okay, thank you. And do you feel, then, that the proposals that are in front of us sufficiently encompass the principles and ethos of the foundation phase? Who would like to—? Eleri, and then Claire. 

Yn gyflym, dwi'n credu, yn sicr, o ran y ffordd mae'r cwricwlwm wedi'i ysgrifennu, mae ganddo'r potensial i ymgorffori pedagogy y cyfnod sylfaen trwy'r sbectrwm eang yna o addysg reit lan tan 18. Dwi yn credu o bosib y bydd angen mwy o arweiniad a chanllawiau ar ymarferwyr ynglŷn â sut mae gweithrediad pedagogy gwahanol fel hyn yn mynd i gael ei wneud. Rydyn ni mewn sefyllfa gref iawn yn y sector blynyddoedd cynnar, achos rydyn ni wedi bod yn ei wneud e'n barod gydag egwyddorion y cyfnod sylfaen. Ond yn edrych yn ehangach ar y cwricwlwm cyfan, mi fydd y ffordd yma o weithio yn newydd i lawer. 

Very quickly, I believe that certainly, yes, the way that the curriculum has been written means that it does have potential to incorporate pedagogy for the foundation phase through that wide-ranging spectrum up until the age of 18. I think that it is possible that there will be a need for greater guidance for practitioners in terms of how the implementation of different pedagogy like this is going to be done. We're in a very strong position in the early years sector, because we've been doing it already with the foundation phase principles. But looking more widely at the entire curriculum, this way of working will be new for many people. 

10:50

I think Eleri has said it perfectly. Thank you. 

Nobody else got anything to add? We'll go on to some questions from Dawn Bowden. 

Apologies; I was waiting for somebody to unmute me and I had to do it myself. Apologies for that. Okay. Can I just ask you whether you support the provisions in the Bill for Welsh Ministers to issue a curriculum for non-maintained nurseries? 

Yes, we support that. 

Sorry, Sarah. You thought I was trying to speak over you then. I wasn't. Sorry. Carry on. 

No, it's fine. 

Yes, we also support the—we think it's quite important. 

Dwi'n meddwl mai'r hyn wnaethom ni alw amdano yn eithaf cynnar yn y broses oedd ein bod ni'n cael mwy o arweiniad i'r blynyddoedd cynnar, yn arbennig o ystyried bod y cwricwlwm yn dechrau gyda camau datblygiad i blant pump oed. Felly, rydyn ni'n croesawu'r ffaith y bydd yna fwy o arweiniad ac mi fydd yna gwricwlwm opsiynol ar gael nawr i'r sector nas cynhelir. Dwi'n meddwl y bydd o help mawr i'r cylchoedd meithrin. 

I think what we called for quite early on in the process was that we received greater guidance for the early years, particularly considering the fact that the curriculum starts with development stages for children from the age of five. So, we welcome that there will be more guidance and that there will be an optional curriculum available for the non-maintained sector. I think it will be a big help for Mudiad Meithrin.  

Yes, just to echo and build on what Eleri was saying, really. I think it would be welcomed by the sector, and the key to it will be to allow the sector to grow into developing their own curriculum, or extending or altering that for their own context, as Professor Graham Donaldson was suggesting in 'Successful Futures'. So, I think in the first instance it would be very supported and widely welcomed, with the hope that it would be implemented in such a way that it will allow settings to grow and develop their curriculum offer as they move forward, and get more familiar with the new curriculum.  

And do you see that as the key reason for it, so that you can develop yourselves—?

Personally, I don't see it as the key reason, but I think it will be a useful transition and I think that would be supported and welcomed by the sector. But I hope that that ethos that Professor Graham Donaldson was suggesting about settings being able to work in their own context and provide authentic learning experiences for their learners—that there's sufficient flexibility within that framework to allow settings to bespoke that offer. Even within local authority areas, we do have to acknowledge that settings will be in different contexts—some might be very urban, some might be rural—and therefore that local connection and that local authentic learning will be different depending on those contexts. But it is welcomed.

Thank you. And would you see the majority of early years settings following the Welsh Government proposals on this, or setting their own curriculum? What would be your thought on that?

I think we would foresee that the majority of the settings will adopt the Welsh Government curriculum, but that over time they might add to it as well. So, just emphasising what Dave was saying there as well. So, it will reflect the needs of the individual learners and the settings themselves, but that's really why it's essential that we've got those sections 20 and 24 within the Bill to ensure that all providers are aware of the need to comply with the requirements, so that every child in Wales will be participating in that learning journey that meets those fundamental requirements and the four purposes. 

Okay. Siân, did you have a supplementary? No. Okay. Dawn. 

I was just going to ask about sections 20 to 24, actually. Are all those requirements appropriate, or is there anything missing, do you feel?

No. I feel that they are all appropriate and they all make up the fundamental elements of what the curriculum will be in order to meet those main four purposes. 

Again, just echoing what Sarah was saying there that section 24 gives some basic detail. I know there's some further detail as well in sections 37 and 38 around some of the specifics that I think will be helpful. We just need to be careful, obviously, that it will be open to interpretation, so the guidance that comes out around that will obviously support that journey, depending on whichever approach settings take around this. And I think, again, the confidence that will come potentially from the sector, as the non-maintained curriculum is developed in partnership with experts, including ourselves, in being really, really key partners in the development of that, will help because they'll then have a curriculum that should be fit for purpose for them and very relevant to the practice and the way that they're working. 

10:55

That's helpful. I've just got one more question, Chair, if I might. It's a question to Early Years Wales, actually. You referred in your paper to a situation where childcare settings do not provide the formal curriculum, but have regard to the principles of the foundation phase, and you suggest that that provision should be informed by the new curriculum. Is that the point you were just making? I think it was, wasn't it?

Yes. So, just to add clarity for you, the national minimum standard 7.1 asks that the principles of the foundation phase, and its seven areas of learning, are understood. So, as we move into a new curriculum, it's just trying to make sure that that parity exists, so that settings that are not offering formal education at three to five still have the ability to inform their practice. And, also, I guess in terms of futureproofing the system, that settings aren't left behind and there's a gap in the information and knowledge base that settings are working to. So, if a setting in the future would like to apply to become a formal education provider, that they've got that knowledge base that underpins them; they're not playing catch-up later on with settings that have already been upscaled through the process.

Thank you. I thought that was a good point, actually there, David, about settings potentially playing catch-up if they wanted to become part of the system later on. I do want to just try and delve into the finances and the support that you currently get, and what extra finance and support you think you may need under the new curriculum. And, I think, if you could just start off by explaining to me—. When Eleri said earlier that you need a bit more steer on these different types of pedagogies within the new curriculum and that it's changed a lot, my understanding, of course, is that the foundation phase was the big informer of this new curriculum, for the earlier years anyway. What is it that you actually need to make this difference, to get into these new changes? What are the new changes, just to give us a bit of meat on that bone?

So, I think, if I just start us off—and thank you for the question, Suzy, and for your earlier comments, really—I think that it's the ethos of the foundation phase that's really underpinning part of the new curriculum and a change in pedagogy, so we agree on that point. I think, for us, in the non-maintained sector, it's really important that there's enough support to allow our practitioners to carry on building that pedagogy, and to recognise maybe some of the changes in the new curriculum.

So, maybe some of the enhancements around Welsh language, and the commitment to working towards the curriculum for Cymraeg 2050 that Welsh Government have, maybe some of the cross-curricular themes that have been embedded into the new curriculum, and how those are mapped out, and maybe the interconnections between the areas of learning and experience are the sorts of changes that our practitioners will need to consider and reflect upon in their own practice. And, of course, in 'Successful Futures', everything was underpinned by the pedagogical section at the very end. So, it's really just reflecting on practice, making sure that, across the non-maintained sector, people are doing that sort of pedagogy-informed, authentic learning that was the driver for that new curriculum. 

In terms of actual support, in recent conversations with Welsh Government, we were pleased to hear about some of the professional learning that's being planned to support both the maintained and non-maintained sector. And, of course, coming out of COVID, the decision to make it online and accessible, without synchronous learning, and trying to bring people together is welcomed, I think. So, I think those are some of my initial thoughts. My colleagues might like to come in because they've been in the sector for longer than I have, but those are my initial thoughts in response to your question. 

Did you say 'synchronous' or 'asynchronous' just then?

Pardon, sorry?

Did you say 'synchronous' or 'asynchronous' then? I couldn't quite hear properly.

No, it was asynchronous, sorry; I stumbled over my own words. Asynchronous is what we've been informed by officers. And I think that's welcomed because it allows people the opportunity to engage in that professional learning in a way that's flexible and fits in with their own commitments in terms of time and practice. 

11:00

O edrych ar y gwaith datblygu sydd wedi cael ei wneud o fewn cyd-destun ysgolion i baratoi ysgolion, prifathrawon, ac yn y blaen—ac mae gyda chi ysgolion sy'n arloesi, ac mae gyda chi rwydweithiau proffesiynol, ac yn y blaen, sydd wedi caniatáu i ysgolion fedru dechrau ar y trywydd yma—o edrych ar hynny, ac wedyn edrych ar brofiadau yn y sector blynyddoedd cynnar, hoffwn i jest egluro eto, dydw i ddim yn dweud bod y pedagogy yn newid i'r sector blynyddoedd cynnar; nid dyna'r pwynt roeddwn i'n ei wneud. Roeddwn i jest yn dweud yn gyffredinol y byddai canllawiau pellach o bosib o fudd i'r rheini y tu allan i'r lleoliadau nas cynhelir. Achos yn y lleoliadau addysg tair oed nas cynhelir mae gyda ni'r profiad o weithredu'r pedagogy yna. 

Ond un o'r pethau sydd wedi bod yn araf yn datblygu, gyda datblygiad y cwricwlwm newydd, ydy datblygiad proffesiynol y gweithle. A dwi yn hapus i ddweud bod Llywodraeth Cymru wedi dechrau dal i fyny nawr a rhoi mesurau yn eu lle, a rhoi cefnogaeth yn ei lle, nad oedd yna ar ddechrau'r broses cwricwlwm yma. Felly, er enghraifft, mae nhw wedi helpu ariannu rhai digwyddiadau i ddod ag ymarferwyr at ei gilydd, mathau o hyfforddiant. Ond efallai mai darn o'r darlun sydd yn rili bwysig i'w gryfhau wrth fynd ymlaen ydy rôl yr athrawon ymgynghorol. Achos ym mhob awdurdod lleol mae ganddyn nhw rôl rili bwysig i'w chwarae wrth ddatblygu arfer a datblygiad proffesiynol ein lleoliadau ni. Mae'n nhw'n mynd i fewn i'r lleoliadau ac yn cynghori. Ac, fel gyda phopeth yng Nghymru, mae'r darlun yna yn amrywio o un awdurdod lleol i'r llall. Felly mae capasiti pob awdurdod lleol yn amrywio i roi'r gefnogaeth yna.

Rhywbeth arall sydd wedi digwydd yn hanesyddol yw nad ydy hyfforddiant yn y sector addysg bob amser wedi bod ar gael i ymarferwyr yn ein sector ni hefyd. Felly dwi'n falch i glywed bod Llywodraeth Cymru yn mynd i barhau i gynllunio cyfleoedd hyfforddiant ar y cyd. Gan nad ydym ni eto wedi cael y cwricwlwm arbennig i'r lleoliadau nas cynhelir, mae'n ddyddiau cynnar, felly dwi'n mawr obeithio, wrth i hwnnw ddatblygu, y bydd y gefnogaeth yno hefyd at hynny. Ar hyn o bryd, fel dŷch chi'n gwybod, dydy'r costau hyn ddim wedi cael eu hamlinellu yn y Bil, achos y datganiad ydy nad ydyn nhw'n gwybod eto beth fydd y costau yn llawn a bod gwaith i'w wneud yn y maes yna. Ond mae e'n cael ei gydnabod y bydd yna gost yn dod.

Looking at the developmental work that has been done in the context of schools to prepare schools, headteachers, and so on—and you have the schools that are innovating, and you have the professional networks, and so on, which have enabled schools to start on this journey—looking at that, and then looking at the experiences in the early years sector, I would just like to explain once again, I'm not saying that the pedagogy is changing for the early years sector; that's not the point that I was making. I was just saying, in general, that further guidance or steer would potentially be beneficial to those outwith the non-maintained settings. Because in the age three non-maintained sector we have experience of implementing that pedagogy.

But one of the things that's been slow in developing with the development of the new curriculum is professional development of the workforce. And I'm pleased to say that the Welsh Government has now started to catch up and put measures in place, and put support in place, that wasn't in place at the beginning of this curriculum process. So for example, they've helped to fund some events to bring practitioners together, for training. But perhaps a part of the picture that is really important to strengthen, going forward, is the role of the consultant teachers. Because they have a very important role to play in developing good practice and professional development in our settings. They go into our settings to advise. Though as with everything in Wales, the picture does vary from one local authority to the next. So the capacity of every local authority to give that support does vary.

Something else that has happened historically is that the training available hasn't always been available to practitioners in our sector. I'm pleased to hear that the Welsh Government is going to continue to plan training opportunities on a joint basis. As we haven't yet received the particular curriculum for non-maintained settings, these are early days, and I very much hope that, as this develops, there will be support for that. At the moment, as you will know, the costs of this haven't been outlined in the Bill, and the statement is that they don't know yet what the full costs will be, because there is work to be done in this area. But it is recognised that there will be a cost.

Diolch yn fawr am hynny. A jest i ddod i ben, roeddwn i'n mynd i ofyn am yr impact assessment yma, a pham dŷch chi ddim wedi cael eich cynnwys ar hyn o bryd. Oedd yna reswm, neu jest bod y Llywodraeth wedi eich anghofio chi?

Thank you very much for that. And just to conclude, I was going to ask about this impact assessment, and why you haven't been involved or included in that at the moment. Is there a reason, or is it just that the Government has forgotten you?

Efallai y byddai'n rhaid i chi ofyn i'r Llywodraeth. Dwi ddim yn siŵr iawn pam nad oedd yna arolwg trylwyr wedi digwydd i baratoi. Ond wrth gwrs, dydy datblygiadau y gefnogaeth i'r lleoliadau nas cynhelir ddim wedi digwydd ar yr un amserlen â datblygiad y prif gwricwlwm.

Well, perhaps you'd have to ask the Government that question. I'm not entirely sure why there wasn't a thorough analysis to prepare for this. But of course, the development of the support for the non-maintained settings hasn't happened according to the same timetable as the development of the main curriculum.

Ocê. A jest un peth olaf, a fyddai hi'n bosib i roi cost ar beth sydd ei angen ar gyfer y continwwm Cymraeg? Achos mae'n dechrau yn y blynyddoedd cynnar, ac os ydy e'n mynd mas o'i le, dydy e ddim yn mynd i weithio wedyn. Ydych chi wedi cael y drafodaeth yna, ac o ba gyllideb mae'r arian yma'n dod—addysg neu'r iaith Gymraeg?

Okay. And one final thing, would it be possible to allocate a cost to what is needed for the Welsh language continuum? Because it starts in the early years, doesn't it, and if anything goes wrong then, then it's not going to work in ensuing years. Have you had discussion in terms of what budget that funding will come from—whether it will be education or the Welsh language budget?

O safbwynt Mudiad Meithrin, rydyn ni wedi trafod, wrth gwrs, sut y mae'r arian yn dod drwodd i ni fel mudiad gyda'r Llywodraeth. Ond dwi'n meddwl bod eich cwestiwn chi'n ehangach na hynny, ac yn edrych ar anghenion Cymru i gyd, o safbwynt y continwwm Cymraeg. Felly mi fyddwn i'n tybio bod yna bobl llawer mwy hyddysg na fi yn mynd i fedru gwneud y gwaith yna. Ond hyd y gwn i, dwi ddim yn ymwybodol o unrhyw waith costio sydd wedi cael ei wneud, ond efallai y bydd angen dod nôl gyda gwybodaeth bellach ar y mater yna.

From the point of view of Mudiad Meithrin, we have of course discussed how the funding will come through to us as Mudiad Meithrin with the Government. But I think the question that you asked is wider to that, and is asking about the requirements across Wales, in terms of the Welsh language continuum. So I would suspect that there are far more well-informed people than me who could give you that answer and do that work. But as far as I know I'm not aware of any costing work that we can give you on that, but we might need to come back to you on that.

Or maybe it's a question for the English language settings, actually, because that's where the immediate need is going to be more obvious. Maybe we could have a written note on that if you've got any information, Chair.

Would that be possible? We've got time if you want to press it further, Suzy.

Well, it's a question for—not Mudiad, if that's okay. Do you think you've got a grip on what it might cost you to mainstream Welsh into the early years settings? If you don't, it's not a problem—it's just it's useful for us to know.

11:05

I was just trying to think. We probably wouldn't have on hand a figure that we could give you that would be suggestive of, 'This is how much money it would cost us to get that Welsh language development going through the early years', and it would be something we would have to do some further insight into to answer that with real clarity. I don't know—

—about other partner organisations. That's where my personal thought is right now.

Okay. Can I just suggest then—? Because collaboration has been spoken about in previous sessions and this one to do with professional learning development, if the emphasis is going to be on collaboration, then I'd certainly be very keen to know how English-medium settings are learning from the Welsh-medium settings in all this. Because we want to make it as painless as possible, if I can put it in those words. 

Thank you. That's all I had to ask, but—. Oh, have you had any indication from Government that they are including you in the impact assessment now? Have they spotted the gap?

I'm not aware of an approach on this yet. I'd need to go back and consult internally to verify that that is the case.

I'm just thinking it might be one of those points that comes up as the curriculum for the non-maintained sector is developed further—that, potentially, then, a revised regulatory impact assessment is almost happening alongside that. Once we understand exactly more around how the curriculum looks and feels, we would have a much clearer understanding then of what the impact around implementation would be and what the needs of the sector would be.

Okay. The only point I'd say on that, and just to finish, Chair, is: we're trying to scrutinise a Bill at the moment—and this is not your fault in any way—we need that information more swiftly so that we know if we can afford this Bill or not. Anyway, thank you.

Thank you, Suzy, and the next questions are from Siân.

Diolch, Cadeirydd, a bore da, bawb. Dwi eisiau edrych yn benodol, i gychwyn, ar y mater yma o drochi plant ifanc yn yr iaith Gymraeg, sef polisi sydd yn allweddol ar gyfer tyfu siaradwyr Cymraeg ac i gyd-fynd efo strategaeth y Llywodraeth wrth gwrs o filiwn o siaradwyr. Buaswn i'n gofyn i Eleri yn gyntaf, efallai: ydych chi'n hapus efo'r mecanwaith sydd yn y Bil i alluogi'r trochi i barhau, ond drwy ei wneud yn orfodol i fynd drwy broses o optio allan, neu oes yna ffordd amgenach o barhau efo'r trochi, ydych chi'n credu?

Thank you very much, Chair, and good morning, everyone. I want to look in particular, to begin with, at this issue of immersion of young children in the Welsh language, which is a policy that is vital to grow the future generation of Welsh speakers in accordance with the Government's strategy for a million Welsh speakers. If I could ask Eleri in the first instance: are you content with the mechanism in the Bill to enable this immersion to continue, by making it mandatory to go through a process of disapplying or opting out, or is there an alternative way of continuing with this immersion, do you believe?

Dwi'n meddwl eich bod chi siŵr o fod yn ymwybodol eisoes bod Mudiad Meithrin yn poeni am y fframwaith sydd wedi cael ei osod allan i sicrhau bod modd i leoliadau barhau i fod yn lleoliadau cyfrwng Cymraeg a throchi plant. Roeddem ni'n hynod o siomedig, a fe wnaethom ni lobio trwy gydol datblygiad y cwricwlwm a'r Bil fod yna driniaeth deg o'r ddwy iaith, yn amlwg, a bod pwysigrwydd trochi yn cael ei gydnabod fel y modd mwyaf llwyddiannus o greu siaradwyr Cymraeg a'n bod ni eisiau gweld ehangu yn nifer y blant yng Nghymru oedd yn cael y cyfle i ddod yn siaradwyr Cymraeg rhugl.

Yn anffodus, am ba bynnag rheswm, mae gyda ni'r drafft o'r Bil sydd gyda ni nawr. Dŷn ni wirioneddol yn poeni bod hwn yn mynd i fod yn fwy niweidiol nag o help i ni. Mae sefyllfa lle mae gosod Saesneg fel prif iaith ddisgwyliedig addysg yn rhywbeth newydd llwyr—dydyn ni ddim wedi cael hynny o'r blaen, hyd y gwelaf i, i blant o dan saith, ac nawr mae gyda ni gymal yn y Bil sydd yn gosod disgwyliad mai Saesneg ydy iaith addysg, a wedyn bod yna rhyddid i brifathro ysgol neu leoliadau nas gynhelir eithrio eu hunain rhag hynny a phenderfynu i ba raddau maen nhw'n mynd i ddysgu Saesneg, os ydyn nhw'n mynd i o gwbl, er mwyn cael bod yn lleoliadau cyfrwng Cymraeg.

I ni, mae hyn yn hynod broblematig. Ar sail egwyddor, dydy'r ddwy iaith ddim yn cael yr un driniaeth; ar sail y neges sy'n cael ei rhoi allan fel yna a'r modd y gallai pobl ddarllen hynny i feddwl, 'O, reit, wel os mai Saesneg ydy'r awtomatig, well i ni wneud rhywfaint o Saesneg achos yn amlwg dyna beth yw'r prif ddisgwyliad'. So, rydyn ni wir yn credu gallai hyn arwain at ganlyniadau anfwriadol, mae'n wir, ond dŷn ni ddim yn meddwl bod hwn yn ddatrysiad boddhaol o gwbl. 

I think that you are aware already aware that Mudiad Meithrin is concerned about the framework that has been set out to ensure that settings can continue to be Welsh-medium and have this immersion process. We were disappointed, and we lobbied throughout the development of the curriculum and the Bill that there should be a fair treatment of both languages, obviously, and that the importance of immersion was recognised as the most successful way of creating Welsh speakers and that we wanted to see an increase in the number of children in Wales who had the opportunity to become fluent Welsh speakers.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, we have the draft of the Bill that we have now. We are genuinely concerned that this will be more damaging than helpful to us. A situation setting English as the major language of education is entirely new—we haven't had that situation before, as far as I can see, for children under the age of seven, and now we have a clause in the Bill that sets an expectation that English is the language of education. And then there is the freedom for a headteacher of a school or a non-maintained setting to opt out of that and to decide to what extent they're going to teach English, if at all, in order to be Welsh-medium settings.

For us, this is extremely problematic. In terms of principle, the languages aren't treated with parity of esteem; there's the message that's set out, and people could read that as, 'Oh, right, if English is the automatic language, we should do some element of English because that's the major expectation'. So, we do believe that this could have unintended consequences, it's true to say, but we don't believe that this is a satisfactory solution at all. 

11:10

Ydych chi'n cyd-fynd efo'r awgrym a gafwyd gan Estyn yn y sesiwn gynharach? Dydw i ddim yn gwybod os glywsoch chi beth oedd eu hawgrym nhw. Eu hawgrym nhw oedd ar wyneb y Bil ei bod hi'n gwneud hi'n orfodol i ddysgu Cymraeg ac i ddysgu Saesneg yn orfodol o saith oed ymlaen. Hynny yw, newid y geiriad i adlewyrchu'r hyn sydd yn digwydd ar hyn o bryd. Rŵan, dydw i ddim yn gwybod, efallai eich bod chi angen amser i feddwl am hwnna, ond mae hwnna yn awgrym wnaed y bore yma fel ffordd na fyddai ddim angen wedyn i ysgolion sydd yn barod yn gwneud y trochi i wneud rhyw gais er mwyn gallu parhau efo hynny; byddai hynny'n gallu digwydd. Ond byddai'n ddiddorol os gallwch chi feddwl am hwnna a gweld a oes yna unrhyw fath o ganlyniadau anfwriadol yn deillio o hynny.

Do you agree with the suggestion that we've received from Estyn in the previous session? I don't know if you heard what their suggestion was. They suggested that on the face of the Bill it should be stated that the teaching of Welsh should be mandatory and the teaching of English should be mandatory from the age of seven onwards. So, the wording would be changed to reflect what does happen at present. Now, I don't know, perhaps you need time to think about that, but that is a suggestion that was made this morning as a way to ensure that there wouldn't be a need, then, for schools that are already undertaking this immersion work to apply to continue with that work; that could happen. But it would be interesting if you could think about that idea and see whether there are any unintentional consequences of that too. 

Byddai gyda ni ddiddordeb i edrych yn sicr ar y cynnig yna. O safbwynt y datganiad i roi gorfodaeth gyfreithiol ar blant i ddysgu Saesneg o saith oed, mae hwnna'n swnio i fi fel rhywbeth sydd yn adlewyrchu'r sefyllfa bresennol mewn ysgolion. Felly, mae hwnna, o bosib, yn cynnig datrysiad, a diolch am y cyfle i ddod yn ôl gyda barn bellach. 

We would be very interested in looking at that proposal. From the point of view of the statement to place a legal requirement that English should be taught from the age of seven, that seems to reflect the current situation. So, that does possibly offer a solution, and thank you for the opportunity to come back with a further opinion on that. 

Dyna ni, diolch yn fawr. A ydych chi'n credu bod yna ychydig bach o ddryswch wedi digwydd yn fan hyn ynglŷn â dysgu'r Gymraeg a'r Saesneg fel pwnc a defnyddio'r Gymraeg fel cyfrwng y dysgu, a bod hynny ddim yn helpu'r dryswch sydd yn digwydd ar hyn o bryd ynglŷn â'r geiriad yma ar y Bil? 

There we go, thank you very much. Do you believe that there is some confusion here with regard to teaching Welsh and English as subjects and using the Welsh language as the medium of learning and teaching, and that that doesn't help with the confusion that's currently in place in terms of this wording in the Bill? 

O bosib mai dyna sydd wrth wraidd y rheswm dŷn ni wedi cyrraedd y sefyllfa yma. Dwi ddim yn gwybod; gallaf i ddim ag egluro. Dydy o ddim yn gwneud lot o synnwyr i ni pam ein bod ni wedi diweddu i fyny gyda'r cymal lle mae'r Gymraeg yn opsiwn i rai yng Nghymru, yn hytrach na'i fod e'n adlewyrchu polisïau Llywodraeth Cymru ar Cymraeg 2050 a'r ffaith ein bod ni gyd wedi bod yn gweithio a Chymru i gyd wedi bod yn hapus i anelu at nod o normaleiddio dysgu Cymraeg i bawb, i blant dros Gymru i gyd. 

Possibly, that's at the root of the reason that we've reached this current situation. I don't know; I can't explain. It doesn't make a great deal of sense to us that we've ended up with a clause where the Welsh language is an option for some in Wales, rather than it being a reflection of the Welsh Government's policy on the Welsh language and Cymraeg 2050 and the fact that we've been working across Wales and we've been happy to work and to aim towards normalising the teaching of the Welsh language to everyone, to children the length and breadth of Wales. 

A gaf i jest ofyn i'r lleill os oes ganddyn nhw unrhyw farn ar yr agwedd benodol yma, ynglŷn â throchi a'r ffordd mae'n cael ei gyfarch yn y Bil ar hyn o bryd? Na, dim barn benodol mae'n rhaid. Iawn. 

Symud ymlaen, felly, i'r agwedd addysg cydberthynas a rhywioldeb. A ydych chi'n hapus bod—? Sori, Eleri.  

May I just ask the others whether they have any opinion on this specific aspect of the Bill, with regard to immersion and the way that it is being covered in the Bill at the moment? No specific opinion, no. Okay. 

We'll move on then to relationships and sexuality education. Are you content—? Sorry, Eleri. 

Sori, cyn inni symud ymlaen, a gaf i hefyd nodi ein gofid ni ynglŷn â'r ffaith bod y disgresiwn yma a'r cyfrifoldeb i optio allan i ddatgan eich bod chi eisiau dysgu drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg yn unig yn cwympo ar ysgwyddau'r ysgol neu'r lleoliad nas cynhelir, yn hytrach na bod o dan gyfrifoldeb yr awdurdod lleol? Mae perygl i hyn danseilio unrhyw fath o gynlluniau strategol fydd yr awdurdod lleol eisiau eu rhoi ar waith, achos nid nhw fydd y rhai â'r grym i sicrhau bod yr ysgol neu'r lleoliad yna yn dysgu drwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg. Ac felly, mae hynny'n broblematig i ni hefyd. 

Sorry, before we do move on, may I also note our concern about the fact that this discretion and the responsibility to opt out to state that you want to teach through the medium of Welsh only falls on the shoulders of the non-maintained setting or the school, rather than being the responsibility of the local authority? There's a danger that this will undermine any kind of strategic plans that the local authority will want to implement, because they won't have the power then to ensure that the school or that setting will teach through the medium of Welsh. So, that is problematic for us as well. 

Yn iawn. Na, diolch i chi am ychwanegu hynny fel bod hynny ar y record gennym ni hefyd. 

Ie, roeddwn i'n trafod yr agwedd addysg cydberthynas a rhywioldeb fydd yn elfen orfodol o'r cwricwlwm o dair oed ymlaen. Pa heriau mae hyn yn ei gynnig neu'n ei gyflwyno mewn lleoliadau blynyddoedd cynnar? 

Okay. No, thank you very much for adding that so that that is on the record too. 

Yes, I was talking about relationships and sexuality education, which will be a mandatory element of the curriculum from the age of three onwards. What challenges does this pose in early years settings?

11:15

I think we would see it not so much from the challenges that it poses first of all, but from the positives that we can get out of it. So, I think we'd be in favour of it being there and, obviously, the fact that it's mandatory, possibly, is the challenge that we're faced with. But we would see it as being part of the holistic delivery of the new curriculum in non-maintained settings, and I think section 38, where it states that it must be suitable for the child's age and stage of development—and that's the key fact for us—that the curriculum will be designed for the non-maintained sector between ourselves and other experts, in partnership with the Welsh Government, so, potentially, then provides a consistent approach for how that is covered within it and how that's holistically brought into the delivery.

I think partnership with parents will be key around how you promote the way and the methods that you're doing this and delivering this area to alleviate any concerns that may be there. But, in theory, we wouldn’t think there's anything significantly different to the approach that we have at the moment, where we're delivering the area of learning under the foundation phase around personal and social development and well-being and cultural diversity. Because, in theory, some of the elements of relationships and sexuality education would be picked out through the delivery of that area, where there's quality education happening.

Iawn. David, ydy'r agwedd yma—? Ydy hyn yn digwydd yn barod beth bynnag?

David, is this aspect—? Is this already happening anyway?

I would echo what Claire was saying, really. A lot of the principles and the underlying practice would be happening in settings anyway through the curriculum offer that they offer at the moment. And, again, I just think, for Welsh Government, it's considering that reassuring message to parents that at the stage and age of development of these children it's mostly around personal relationships and building that understanding of the world around them, as opposed to anything that would be more concerning to parents. So, I echo what Claire says—it's the messaging around what those children will be learning through their experiences in the settings that is the key.

I don't see the significant shift in what's going on. Maybe making it mandatory ensures, from a Welsh Government perspective, that it's happening across all settings and there's parity for those children. I completely understand and agree with that. But, again, I just think the messaging to parents, to reassure them that this is developmentally appropriate learning and is part of a child's holistic development, as Claire was saying, would be a key to making sure that it goes quite smoothly from a Welsh Government perspective at the time of implementation.

Sarah, oedd gennych chi unrhyw beth i'w ychwanegu?

Sarah, did you have anything to add to that?

No. Just to reiterate what David and Claire have said, really, it's what already happens within foundation phase, and our foundation phase practitioners are already good at delivering that in that developmentally appropriate way. So, it is, really, about those key messages that are shared as well.

Cyn i fi droi at grefydd a gwerthoedd a moeseg, ydych chi'n credu bod yna elfennau eraill sydd angen bod yn fandadol ar wyneb y Bil? Mae'r Llywodraeth wedi dewis dau faes. Mae yna feysydd eraill—llawer iawn ohonyn nhw—a dwi'n meddwl, er enghraifft, am ddysgu am hiliaeth ac amrywiaeth a hanes y cymunedau ethnig a hanes Cymru yn ei grynswth. Mae yna gymaint o wahanol elfennau. Oes yna rywbeth rydych chi'n credu ddylai fod yn fandadol yn ogystal â'r meysydd yma? Claire.

Before I turn to religion, values and ethics, do you believe that there are other elements that need to be mandatory on the face of the Bill? The Government has chosen two areas here. There are other areas—a great many of them—and I'm thinking, for example, of learning about racism and diversity and the history of ethnic communities and the history of Wales as a whole. There are so many different elements. Is there something that you believe should be mandatory as well as these particular areas? Claire.

I know that we're potentially going to come on to discuss religion, values and ethics, but I would say some of the points that you've mentioned, in the development of the non-maintained curriculum, you would like to see come through strongly in the values and ethics side of that, potentially, rather than have to mandate for additional bits and pieces and ensure then that we're futureproofing that as well. It's around what comes out under that values and ethics side of things, in our opinion, I would say.

Yn gyflym. O bosib, dwi'n meddwl, i ni yn y blynyddoedd cynnar, rydym ni'n reit lwcus, achos mae gyda ni'r canllawiau addysg. Mae hefyd gyda ni'r safonau gofynnol cenedlaethol sydd hefyd yn ein harwain ni, wrth gwrs, ar ba fath o brofiadau i'w sicrhau mae plant ifanc yn eu cael, ac yn y rheini mae lles y plentyn a llais y plentyn yn hollbwysig ac yn rhan ganolog o'n darpariaeth ni, a bydd hynny ddim newid. Serch hynny, o edrych ar y cwricwlwm yn ei gyfanrwydd, o bosib mae yna le i gryfhau, neu i wneud yn fandadol, iechyd a lles. Dwi'n sylwi bod y Llywodraeth yn y broses o ymgynghori nawr ar gael dynesiad i iechyd meddwl ar draws yr ysgol gyfan. Wel, os felly, oni fyddai e'n gwneud sens efallai i gydnabod bod iechyd a lles hefyd angen bod yn fandadol yn ein hysgolion i gyd?

Just quickly. Potentially, for us in the early years, we're really lucky, because we have the education guidance. But we also have the national standards that also lead us and guide us in terms of what experiences young children have, and in that the well-being of the child and the voice of the child are vitally important and are centrally placed in our provision. But, looking at the curriculum in its entirety, perhaps there is room to strengthen, or to place on a mandatory basis, health and well-being. I note that the Government is consulting now with regard to an approach to mental health across the school as a whole. Perhaps we need to acknowledge that health and well-being needs to be mandatory in all of our settings.

11:20

Oes gan y mudiad farn ynglŷn â hanes Cymru?

Does Mudiad Meithrin have a position on the history of Wales?

Oes, wrth gwrs. Mae hanes Cymru, fe fyddem ni'n gweld—wrth ystyried unrhyw hanes yn y blynyddoedd cynnar, dŷch chi'n gorfod dechrau gyda'r hanes lleol a hanes y bobl, y plant a'u teuluoedd nhw, ac mae hynny'n cynnwys dim jest hanes Cymru, efallai, hanes y tywysogion Cymreig ganrifoedd yn ôl, ond hanes y plant sydd yn y lleoliad yna. Felly, mae angen iddo fe fod yn lleol iawn i fod yn berthnasol i'r plant bach, ac yn hynny, mae cydnabod amrywiaeth yn y boblogaeth o blant sydd yn ein cylchoedd ni a'u hanes nhw yn rhan annatod o hanes Cymru a hanes Cymreig, ac mae'n bwysig iawn bod ein plant ni'n cael profiadau sy'n adlewyrchu'r hyn sydd yn gyfarwydd iddyn nhw fel dinasyddion yng Nghymru.

Well, yes, of course. With the history of Wales, what we see with any history in the early years is you do have to start with local history, the history of the people, the children and their families, and that includes not just the history of Wales, the Welsh princes and so on, but the history of the children in that setting. So, it needs to be very locally based to be relevant to the children, and in that regard, acknowledging the diversity in the population of children in our cylchoedd and their history is an inextricable part of the history of Wales and Welsh history, and our children need to have experiences that reflect what is familiar to them, what is around them as citizens of Wales.

Ond nid o angenrheidrwydd yn fandadol, os ydw i'n deall chi'n iawn. Ie? 

But not necessarily mandatory, if I understand you correctly. Yes?

O fy nealltwriaeth i o fframwaith y cwricwlwm newydd, byddai hynny'n golygu un ai cyflwyno rhywbeth atodol i—. Hynny yw, byddech chi'n gallu ei wneud e o dan y celfyddydau mynegiadol, byddech chi'n gallu ei wneud e mewn gwahanol ffyrdd. Dwi ddim yn gwybod sut yn union y buasech chi'n ei wneud e, ond yn sicr byddai Mudiad Meithrin yn cefnogi ymdrechion i weld hanes Cymru'n fandadol ac yn synnu pe bai unrhyw ysgol yng Nghymru ddim yn dysgu hanes Cymru. Dŷn ni'n gwybod bod yna le i wella o ran hynny, wrth gwrs.

Well, from my understanding of the new curriculum framework, that would mean either introducing something supplementary to—. That is, you could do it under the culture or the arts or you could do it a different way. I'm not entirely sure how you would do it, but certainly the Mudiad Meithrin would support efforts to see the history of Wales being placed on a mandatory basis and we'd be concerned if schools weren't teaching the history of Wales. We know there is room for improvement in that regard, of course.

Diolch i chi am hynna. Troi at yr agwedd olaf sydd gen i fan hyn rŵan, sef crefydd, gwerthoedd a moeseg: beth ydy'ch barn chi am sut mae hyn yn cael ei osod allan yn y Bil? Sarah.

Well, thank you for that. Turning to the last section here with regard to religion, values and ethics, what is your opinion on how this is being set out in the Bill at the moment? Sarah.

So, particularly when we're looking at the early years sector, which we represent, we would see that the delivery of the religion, values and ethics would be similar to that which currently happens within the current foundation phase. When we look at the personal and social development and well-being and cultural diversity, like Claire alluded to, as well as the knowledge and understanding of the world, it's already taught in that holistic way that ensures that these main elements that will come through the RVE area are delivered in the same way. So, as long as it's delivered in that developmentally appropriate way under the new curriculum, it really shouldn't be a huge shift from what early years practitioners are currently doing at the moment because they're used to delivering the curriculum holistically. 

I'd like to go back to what you said, Eleri, on mental health, if that's okay. Can I just clarify, then, and then get the views of the others here? You're saying that you don't think the Bill as it currently stands is sufficiently focused on mental health, are you? You'd like there to be further provisions on mental health in the Bill.

No, I think—.

Dwi'n meddwl bod y cwestiwn roeddwn i'n ei ateb ynglŷn â pha rannau ddylai fod yn fandadol, felly mae yna sylw teilwng i iechyd a lles fel maes dysgu yn y Bil, ond dydy e ddim yn fandadol, o fy narllediad i, ac felly efallai cwestiwn ynglŷn â tybed a ddylai hynny hefyd fod yn cael cydnabyddiaeth gyfartal a pherthynas â'r cwricwlwm ar grefydd a moeseg. 

I think that the question I was answering was, 'What parts should be mandatory?' So, there is due regard given to health and well-being as an area of learning in the Bill, but it's not mandatory, from my reading of it, so perhaps that's a question of whether that should receive parity of consideration and a relationship with the curriculum with regard to religion and ethics.

Yes, I just think—. I hear what Eleri's saying and obviously I do understand because mental health and mental well-being is at a really significant moment in time, really. The COVID period has been challenging and throughout education—. In my previous role, I was a course leader in a university and you could certainly see some students would present and an increasing trend was that people were increasingly aware of their mental health or mental health concerns. I think it's worth reminding ourselves as well, though, that the four core purposes are there to drive everything that the curriculum offers. So, if the pedagogy and the curriculum offer is right, everything should be driving towards ambitious learners, healthy and confident learners, enterprise and being ethically informed, and all of those combined should help us to deliver a curriculum that helps children to have that sense of well-being, both physical and mental, and that sense of where the ethics are for them, where their boundaries are, where their concerns are, and how to go about working through that. So, I don't know—I don't have a strong view as to whether it should be mandatory or not, and there are plenty of experts who you can have a discussion about that on. I do think that if we get the whole package right, we will be helping young people from three, all the way through their education, to understand what healthy is, to understand what ethically informed is and how to behave in a society that we'd like to build in Wales.

11:25

Okay, thank you. And if nobody's got anything to add on that, then, I'll go to Dawn Bowden.

Thanks, Lynne. I've just got a couple of questions on assessment and progression. I wonder if you could say a little bit about how you see the way in which children's progression will be assessed and supported under the new curriculum, and in particular whether you feel that the Bill provides enough detail on this at the moment.

Dwi ddim yn rhagweld y bydd y ffordd dŷn ni'n casglu tystiolaeth ynglŷn â sut mae plant yn y blynyddoedd cynnar yn datblygu yn newid rhyw lawer. Mae gyda ni bob math o ffyrdd o'u hasesu nhw. Yr unig beth sydd yn peri ychydig o her ar hyn o bryd ydy bod y camau datblygu cyntaf sydd yn cael eu gosod allan yn addas ar gyfer plant pump oed. Felly, yn amlwg, fedrwn ni ddim o'u hasesu nhw yn ddwy, tair oed tuag at sut fyddan nhw pan fyddan nhw'n bump; fyddai hynny ddim yn briodol o gwbl. Felly, mi fydd yr ymarferwyr yn parhau i gasglu tystiolaeth am ddatblygiad plant fel maen nhw ar hyn o bryd, dwi'n tybio.

Pan ddaw'r cwricwlwm newydd, os bydd yna gamau cynnydd yn cael eu nodi yn hwnnw wedyn, bydd yn fwy addas i blant o bob lefel o oedran babis i fyny. O bosib ar y pwynt yna, mi fydd yna efallai ffyrdd creadigol newydd o gasglu tystiolaeth am eu datblygiad nhw yn gallu cyd-fynd â'r dysgu yna. Ond dydy manylder hynny ddim yn ymddangos yn y Bil, wrth gwrs, oherwydd lle rŷn ni ar hyn o bryd gyda'i ddatblygiad e.

I don't foresee that the way we gather evidence in terms of how children in the early years develop will change a great deal. We have many ways of assessing them. The only thing that does pose a bit of a challenge at the moment is that the first developmental steps that are set out are appropriate for children at the age of five. So, obviously, we can't assess them at the age of two or three in terms of how they will be at the age of five; that wouldn't be appropriate at all. So, the practitioners will continue to gather evidence about the development of children as they currently do, I assume.

When the new curriculum is in place, if there are steps set out in that, that would be more appropriate for children at all age levels, from infants upwards. Then, potentially at that point, there will be a new creative way of gathering evidence about their development progression, to go along with that learning. But the detail of that doesn't appear in the Bill, of course, because of where we currently are with its development.

I was actually going to come on to that point that you've just raised, there, Eleri, about progression under the age of five, and I know in PACEY's written evidence, you made a specific submission around that. So, would it help curriculum and assessment arrangements to support progression at the earliest years, which is what I think is what Eleri is saying—that there should be something in there that supports the very earliest years? Sorry, Claire. Yes.

So, again, echoing what Eleri said, we've got to recognise the learning and development that happens before the age of five and also potentially look at where a child is on entry to the new curriculum—that's not just on entry to the school maintained curriculum but on entry to the curriculum at any point on that continuum. And that supports, then, the progress and assessment of development and learning. And it also supports the professionalisation of the role of those working potentially in the non-maintained sector in supporting children's learning and development, and gaining recognition for the work they do, because quite often it can be overlooked as in, 'Well, they'll get an assessment and be assessed once they start school', and then there's not as much taken from that journey for the child from getting to that point as a five-year-old.

So, we know that—and, again, it's back to what's actually covered in the Bill and whether that does need to be strengthened around the pre-progression steps and the potential for pre-progression steps. We know, for example, in the foundation-phase profile, where they have the bronze, silver and gold pre-outcomes that come before outcome 1—those potentially support the sector in taking a consistent approach to the assessment of a child's development in the early years, and I think this is important, again, to support consistency right across.

Now, we understand from the discussions with Welsh Government that pre-progression steps will be built into the development of the non-maintained curriculum, but, again, it's back to whether— . Potentially, this does need to be strengthened within the Bill to ensure that it's there and it's respected and recognised as a real key area of importance. And those pre-progression steps not only support children with additional learning needs potentially that might not even be meeting particular sort of progression steps that are age-related, but it's back to the conversation that we had earlier on in the hearing, and David's views around bringing those on board that are not funded for education but are providing the childcare elements, and still trying to link to curriculum requirements in some shape or form. And that more joined-up approach to support consistency with the wider ECEC, the early childhood education and care agenda—that's very, very much of a focus at the moment too.

11:30

You've finished, have you? Okay. Can I just go back to one of the earlier issues we covered, then, and ask—? I think one of you answered, but not all of you, on the issue of whether you'd see the majority of early years settings adopting the Welsh Government's curriculum or designing their own, and what factors might be taken into account in making this decision. I think Sarah answered that, but it'd be good to get the views of the rest of the panel, if that's okay. Claire.

I think that it's—. I would foresee—. Again, the majority of settings that we support are child minders, and we're working really hard to ensure that child minders can be seen as a partner of delivery of education, and we know that we still face challenges around that. But, in theory, we wouldn't ever see a child minder going off on their own, potentially, and developing their own curriculum, where one has been developed on a national level that is fit for purpose and meets their needs and has been developed in partnership with the sector. I think, as some of the other partners alluded to earlier in the conversation, it's not to say that that wouldn't be built on over time and maybe added to, to ensure that the context of the setting is sort of covered within that, especially as confidence grows around the delivery of the new curriculum going forward, and they become more familiar with it.

Okay. David and Eleri, have you got anything to comment on?