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Y Pwyllgor Plant, Pobl Ifanc ac Addysg

Children, Young People and Education Committee

08/10/2020

Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Dawn Bowden MS
Jack Sargeant MS Yn dirprwyo ar ran Hefin David
Substitute for Hefin David
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

Aled Roberts Comisiynydd y Gymraeg
Welsh Language Commissioner
Dr Sarah Witcombe-Hayes Uwch-ymchwilydd Polisi—Cymru, NSPCC Cymru
Senior Policy Researcher—Wales, NSPCC Cymru
Gwendolyn Sterk Pennaeth Cyfathrebu a Materion Cyhoeddus, Cymorth i Ferched Cymru
Head of Public Affairs and Communications, Welsh Women’s Aid Cymru
Heledd Morgan Ysgogwr Newid, Swyddfa Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol Cymru
Change Maker, Office of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales
Iestyn Wyn Rheolwr Ymgyrchoedd, Polisi ac Ymchwil, Stonewall Cymru
Campaigns, Policy and Research Manager, Stonewall Cymru
Jane Houston Cynghorydd Polisi Addysg, Comisiynydd Plant Cymru
Education Policy Adviser, Children’s Commissioner for Wales
Kelly Harris Arweinydd Datblygu Busnes a Chyfranogiad, Brook
Business Development and Participation Lead, Brook
Professor Emma Renold Athro Astudiaethau Plentyndod, Ysgol y Gwyddorau Cymdeithasol, Prifysgol Caerdydd
Professor of Childhood studies, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University
Professor Sally Holland Comisiynydd Plant Cymru
Children’s Commissioner for Wales
Sophie Howe Comisiynydd Cenedlaethau'r Dyfodol Cymru
Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

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
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 09:18.

The committee met by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:18. 

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

Good morning, everyone. Can I welcome you 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 the meeting, which was published on Monday. We are, however, broadcasting this meeting live on Senedd.tv, with all participants joining via video-conference. As usual, a Record of Proceedings will be published following the meeting.

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 is available. If we become aware that there's 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 I'm very pleased to welcome Jack Sargeant, who is substituting today. Can I ask Members if there are any declarations of interest, please? No. Okay, thank you. Can I just then finally remind you that if I drop out for any reason, it's been agreed that Dawn Bowden MS will temporarily chair while I try to rejoin?

09:20
2. Bil Cwricwlwm ac Asesu (Cymru): Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 8 gyda Chomisiynwyr Statudol
2. Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill: Evidence Session 8 with Statutory Commissioners

Item 2 this morning is our eighth evidence session on the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill, a session with our statutory commissioners. I'm very pleased to welcome Sally Holland, Children's Commissioner for Wales; Jane Houston, education policy adviser for the Children's Commissioner for Wales; Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales; Heledd Morgan, who is a change maker in the future generations commissioner's office; and Aled Roberts, the Welsh Language Commissioner. Thank you all for joining us this morning. We've got lots to cover, so we'll go straight to questions and the first questions are from Laura Jones. Laura.

Thank you. And thank you, commissioners, for coming in today. I'm going to start off with some general questions, and then my fellow MSs are going to dig further into the detail individually with you, if that's okay. I just want to know whether you think, and do you agree with the Welsh Government, that the current curriculum is no longer fit for purpose, and that a complete overhaul of what and how children are young people are taught is essential, and why. Thank you.

Thank you. Yes, I do agree that the current curriculum is no longer fit for purpose. It goes all the way back to 1988, 32 years. This is my sixth year as children's commissioner, and throughout that time, children and young people have told me that the curriculum is not fit for purpose. They've waited quite a long time and they will continue to wait for it to be fully implemented, but it's quite clear and there's broad evidential support as to how at the moment it restricts children's learning in many ways, so the short answer is 'yes'.

Yes. Thank you, Lynne. Yes, I'd agree with what Sally has said there in terms of focusing on the sorts of skills that children and young people will need in the future, both in terms of the world of work and in terms of their own personal well-being and having a life well lived. I do think that the current curriculum and ways of teaching are outdated. I think that the four purposes within the new curriculum broadly reflect the sorts of aspirations that we should be looking for in the future, and take into account future trends around that kind of world of work and the way in which we will live.

I think perhaps we'll say a little bit more about it as we go on to the questioning, but I think that the devil will be in the detail in terms of how this is implemented, because whilst the principles, I think, are sound, we could all write a set of principles that we all agree with on paper, but actually the implementation of that is a much bigger challenge.

Yn gyffredinol, rydym ni'n cefnogi cyfeiriad y Bil, a dwi fel y lleill yn meddwl ei bod hi'n amser i ni ddiweddaru'r cwricwlwm i bob pwrpas, ond yn amlwg mae yna rai agweddau o'r Bil rydym ni'n anfodlon efo nhw, ond hwyrach y bydd gennym ni'r cyfle yn nes ymlaen i wyntyllu'r rheini.

Dwi hefyd yn meddwl bod yna gydnabyddiaeth gan y Llywodraeth bod yna rai elfennau sydd angen eu newid, felly dwi'n awyddus iawn i gymryd cynnig y Gweinidog i fyny o ran trafodaethau cadarnhaol, lle erbyn hyn mae pawb, dwi'n meddwl, yn teimlo bod yna rai pethau sydd angen eu newid.

Ond yn gyffredinol yn gefnogol, a dwi'n dweud hynny fel rhywun oedd yn lywodraethwr ysgol am 30 mlynedd. Dwi'n meddwl bod llwyddiant mawr wedi bod o ran y cyfnod sylfaen, ond dydy hynny ddim yn mynd drwodd i'r ysgolion uwchradd, lle dwi'n meddwl bod yna agwedd mwy traddodiadol a lle mae angen i'r cwricwlwm newid.

In general, we support the direction of the Bill, and like the others, I think that it is time for us to update the curriculum, but clearly there are some aspects of the Bill that we are not content with, but perhaps we'll have an opportunity later on to air some of those details.

I also think that there is a recognition from the Government that there are some elements that need to be changed, so I'm very eager to take up the Minister's proposals in terms of positive discussions, and I think that by now everybody thinks that there are some things that need to be changed.

But in general, we are supportive, and I say that as someone who was a school governor for 30 years. I think that there has been a great deal of success in terms of the foundation phase, but that doesn't carry through to the secondary schools, where I think there is a more traditional attitude, so the curriculum does need to change.

Thank you very much for those answers. Yes, we've all been through the old process ourselves, haven't we, as have all the teachers? So, it's going to be a big change for everybody, particularly them.

As Sophie's already touched on now, is the Bill's purpose-led approach to the new curriculum, and the flexibility being provided to the schools, the right approach in your view? And do you agree with the main organising principles, as Sophie does, for the new curriculum—the four purposes; the six areas of learning and experience; the three cross-curricular skills and the four mandatory elements—or is there anything missing, in your view?

09:25

Thank you. Thank you, Laura, and I do support, overall, the approach of the curriculum, the broad set of duties to set up entitlements and a national consistency, but also that it enables practitioners to use some creativity, which they say—[Inaudible.]—and their own professionalism. I also strongly support the fact that children and young people will have a role in shaping and designing their learning through this, although I do think it could go further in that regard, and all of the four principles have my strong support.

The purpose-led nature of the curriculum, I like the fact it will be purpose led, unlike the current one, and the purposes themselves, which are consistent with the broad definitions of education, the broad aims of definition, as set out in article 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

There are two particular areas of the curriculum where this reform is really urgent, actually, to protect the rights of our children and young people. One of those is the health and well-being AoLE, which this committee has heard over and over again how strongly important that is for our children for it to be included. Well, I expect that to be backed by the statutory guidance that's currently under consultation at the moment, for a whole-school approach to well-being. This will give the learning bit of it, but it should be seen within that wider whole-school culture, which will have a statutory basis, which I'm very pleased to note.

The second area that is absolutely urgent is to enable all children to learn the relationships and sexuality education element of the curriculum. That is an urgent need, and without all children experiencing that at the moment, some children do not get to experience their rights, and, of course, it needs to be done better than it is at the moment.

But there is one huge thing missing—one very important part missing—from the current Bill for the new curriculum. I suspect I'll get more chance to talk about this further during this session, but I just want to note that the principle of enabling children's human rights under the UNCRC does not appear anywhere in this legislation, and it must be addressed through the inclusion of a due regard duty to the UNCRC. Without it, we cannot guarantee that children will have their human rights through education, through this new curriculum. And also, without it, in fact, I would be asking the committee to make scores, or dozens at least, of very detailed amendments to every section of the Bill. I still think there will be some other sections of the Bill that will need amending, but with the due regard duty, we would be avoiding doing some very, very detailed ones, would be what I would argue.

Okay, thank you. Would anybody else like to come in on this? Sophie.

Thank you. Again, I agree with the points that Sally has made, but wanted to add a few more of my own. I think that the approach of the Bill in terms of giving that kind of flexibility for teachers to use their professional experience and judgment is a sensible approach, with the heavy caveat around this implementation support. We can see from other systems—the Finnish system, for example—a very big emphasis on that kind of teachers' judgment and teachers leading the development of the curriculum with children and young people and others, but I don't think we can underestimate how significant a change that is from the current system into this new system. And, again, perhaps I can talk a bit more about this implementation gap a bit later on, but there is quite a pattern here of Government policy and legislation where the resources required and the amount of time required for implementation, culture change and so on, is under-resourced, and I'm not seeing anything in the regulatory impact assessment that gives me much comfort as to whether that's being addressed in this instance.

I suppose, a bit like Sally in terms of the critical nature of really embedding the UNCRC, I'd like to see a bit more in terms of how the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 is being considered. There's no explicit, from what we can see, requirement around applying the five ways of working in the future generations Act to how the curriculum is developed and rolled out in practice. One of the areas that is particularly missing, I think—. Some of the other areas—integration, involvement, collaboration and so on—are implicit in what's in the Bill, but we can't see any reference, really, to long-term thinking. There's a real challenge, I think, in terms of having a requirement on headteachers and those involved in developing the detail around the curriculum to be indicating how they're thinking about what they're doing in the long term. Because if we're setting curriculums, even just in the short term—because there is the flexibility for headteachers to amend and adapt—but if we're not thinking about long-term trends and scenarios such as the massive increase and trajectory in terms of mental health challenges amongst young people, such as climate change and what the world of work will look like in future and so on—if we're not considering that right at the outset, then whatever we're implementing is almost out of date before we start. So, I'd like to see some explicit reference to long-term thinking as being a key principle running through the development of the curriculum.

09:30

Jest i gefnogi beth mae Sophie a Sally wedi ei ddweud, i ddweud y gwir. Mae'r Gymraeg yn elfen hanfodol o hawliau plant yn y lle cyntaf, ac mae'r Gymraeg a dwyieithrwydd yn rhan hanfodol o ddeddfwriaeth cenedlaethau'r dyfodol, felly rydw i'n awyddus i weld hynny. Rydw i'n meddwl bod y proffesiwn ei hun yn awyddus i weld y newid yma, ei fod yn gweld bod yna gyfle yma i ddatblygu cwricwlwm, ond, eto, rydw i'n meddwl mai'r prif gwestiynau sydd yn deillio o hynny ydy capasiti'r proffesiwn i ddelio â maint y newid. Mae hynny, rydw i'n meddwl, yn gwestiwn sydd yn codi o ran hyfforddiant athrawon ar gyfer dwy flynedd a hefyd datblygiad proffesiynol yr athrawon sydd wedi bod o fewn cyfundrefn sydd wedi bod yn eithaf caeth am ddegawdau—ac rydyn ni'n disgwyl iddyn nhw newid dros nos. Felly, rydw i'n meddwl mai'r cwestiynau mwyaf sydd yn deillio o'r ddeddfwriaeth yma ydy'r gefnogaeth sydd yn mynd i gael ei rhoi i'r arweinyddiaeth o fewn yr ysgolion a hefyd i'r proffesiwn yn gyffredinol, oherwydd maint y newid.

Just to support what Sophie and Sally have said, the Welsh language is a vital element of children's rights, and the Welsh language and bilingualism are a vital part of the future generations legislation, so I'm eager to see that in place. I think that the profession itself is eager to see this change. They see that there's an opportunity here to develop the curriculum, but, again, I think that the major question stemming from that is the capacity of the profession to deal with the size and scale of the change. I think that's a question that arises in terms of teacher training for two years' time and also the professional development of the teachers who have been within a system that has been quite restricted for decades—and we're expecting them to change overnight. So, I think that the major questions that emanate from this legislation are the support that is going to be given to the leadership within schools and also to the profession in general, because of the scale of the change. 

Wonderful. Thank you, Chair. There are some important elements that you've all raised just now that will be discussed in more detail later, like RSE and health and well-being—important bits that deserve more discussion. But thank you for your answers; they were great. I just wanted go on and ask you, then—Aled's just touched on it now. I wanted to know: do you believe that introducing a new curriculum will lead to school improvement and raising of standards as the Welsh Government suggests, or do you believe there is a risk such a seismic change, as Aled's just said, will cause disruption, especially during the pandemic now, where teachers have to adapt so much to this new way of thinking? Or do you think it can have the opposite effect, leading to a decline in standards or widening of inequality? Or do you think that pupils will have very different experiences and outcomes, depending on the capacity and propensity of schools to make the best use of the flexibility the Bill gives them, as opposed to the prescribed national curriculum?

Sorry, Lynne, was that me?

Mae o'n rhan o'r darlun, yn fy marn i. Dydy newid y cwricwlwm ar ei ben ei hun ddim yn mynd i newid y sefyllfa o ran cyrhaeddiad. Rydw i'n meddwl bod yna gwestiynau ynglŷn â sut yn union mae'r cwricwlwm yn gorwedd o ran cymwysterau newydd, er enghraifft, achos mae angen newid go iawn yma. Y peryg ydy ein bod ni'n mynd yn ôl i'r hen drefn ym mlwyddyn 10 ac 11, ac er bod y cwricwlwm wedi bod yn eithaf eang am gyfnod—ei fod o wedyn yn culhau eto. 

Rydw i'n meddwl mai'r cwestiwn arall ydy mi fydd yn rhaid newid hefyd—a rydw i'n meddwl bod y Llywodraeth i fod yn deg iddyn nhw wedi dechrau ar y gwaith yma, o ran newid atebolrwydd ysgolion. Felly, ar hyn o bryd, rydyn ni yn meddwl bod ysgol yn llwyddo o ran faint o blant sydd yn cyrraedd pump A i C yn TGAU. Rydyn ni fel ein bod ni'n diystyru'r buddsoddiad yna sydd mewn rhai plant sydd yn llwyddiant llawer iawn mwy ysgubol os maen nhw'n cyrraedd gradd D neu radd C na'r rhai sydd hwyrach yn naturiol yn gallu cael A* bob tro. Felly, dwi'n meddwl bod yna newid diwylliant yma bydd yn rhaid i ni sylweddoli, hefyd.

Mae'n rhaid i mi ddweud hefyd o ran y Gymraeg, dwi yn pryderu bod yr holl sylw ar hyn o bryd yn cael ei roi at yr elfen fandadol yma, a'r ymwneud o ran datgymhwyso Saesneg a phethau felly. Fy mhrif bryder i ynglŷn â'r ddeddfwriaeth yma ydy bod cyn lleied o sylw yn cael ei roi i'r Gymraeg o fewn ysgolion cyfrwng Saesneg, lle mae'r cyrhaeddiad ar hyn o bryd yn ofnadwy o wael, wedi bod ers degawdau, ac eto dwi ddim yn credu bod hi'n deg bod y Llywodraeth yn gosod yr holl gyfrifoldeb ar ysgolion unigol ac arweinwyr unigol o fewn ysgolion. Doedd yna ddim digon o arweiniad ar lefel Llywodraeth, ar lefel y consortia rhanbarthol ac ar lefel y cynghorau o ran dweud yn union wrth yr ysgolion—dwi'n derbyn yr egwyddor yn llwyr, ond mae angen cael arweiniad. Heb yr arweiniad yna, ni fyddwn ni'n cyrraedd targedau uchelgeisiol 'Cymraeg 2050', ac mae'n rhaid i'r Llywodraeth fod o ddifri ynglŷn â hyn.

It is part of the picture, in my opinion. The curriculum change in and of itself isn't going to change the situation in terms of attainment. I think that there is a question in terms of how and where the curriculum lies in terms of the new qualifications, for example, because there is a need for genuine change in that regard. The danger is that we go back to the old system in years 10 and 11, and even though the curriculum has been quite wide-ranging for a period—that it narrows again after that.

I think the other question is that there will also need to be a change—and I think the Government, to be fair to them, have started on this job of work, in terms of the change in school accountability. So, at the moment, we perceive that a school succeeds in terms of how many pupils reach five A to C grades in GCSE. I think that we disregard that investment that there is in some children who have a far greater scale of success if they achieve a D or a C than those perhaps who would naturally be able to achieve an A* every time. So I think that there is a culture change that we will need to realise as well.

In terms of the Welsh language, I am concerned that all of the attention has been placed on the mandatory element and the disapplication of English, and so on. But my main concern in terms of this legislation is that there is so little attention given to the Welsh language in English-medium schools, where progression at the moment is particularly poor, and has been for decades, and yet I don't think that it's fair that the Government places all of the responsibility on individual schools and individual school leaders. There's been insufficient guidance at the regional consortia and council level in terms of telling the schools—I accept the principle entirely, but there is a need for guidance, and without that guidance and leadership, we won't reach the ambitious 2050 targets, and the Government has to be serious about that.

09:35

Thanks. I think it's a really good question, and the nub of a lot of the issues, in a way. So, I think in the long term this is certainly the right approach, and I think that there's generally something within public sector service delivery and policy making where often we stick with the status quo because it's a bit safer than taking the risk of moving. But I think you have to also take into account the risk of sticking with the status quo—a curriculum that is outdated and not fit for purpose—and you have to balance that risk against what are the potential challenges of moving to this new system. Again, I refer back to the points I was making around resourcing the implementation. Estyn identified that about a third of Welsh schools don't have a co-ordinated approach to literacy development, a third don't teach information and communications technology effectively, and a third don't teach numeracy well, and in some cases I guess the same schools could be in that category for all three of those areas. So it is going to be about how do we focus on supporting those schools in particular to transition to this new approach that will be absolutely crucial to ensure that we're not widening inequalities and so on. And Estyn also identified that where performance is perhaps not up to scratch in those areas, they identified a lack of teacher competence and knowledge as the main reason behind the poor performance. So, again, to me that speaks to a real urgent need for intensive investment and support to support teachers to be able to deliver the aspirations of this curriculum, which I think are broadly right.

I support the other commissioners in saying that there are some risks in the implementation, but that shouldn't stop us boldly going forward, and some of that will be about the policy and funding support for the implementation of this Bill. My primary concern as children's commissioner is children's rights and welfare, so when I'm thinking about what they need from education it's not just about academic attainment but about their wholescale and broad development and how it would support this, and I think this curriculum gives them more of an opportunity to do that than the current one. It's important, though, that all of that is underpinned by equality and non-discrimination. We can't systematically have groups of children missing out, and it's really important that we don't fall into the trap of ploughing forward in the form of implementation in a way that either doesn't reduce inequalities or indeed increases them. Seen from the foundation phase, which I think has got very, very strong values and important principles behind it, unless it's implemented well at a local level, then it doesn't reduce that inequality gap. But that was about the implementation, not the principle of it, and I think that's important for us to distinguish when we think about the Bill. I think it's absolutely clear we need a new curriculum and assessment arrangements, and I agree with the other commissioners on that. My nationwide survey of children and young people of all ages has shown that testing and exams are their biggest worry, and that includes children in primary school. So we really need to use this opportunity to think about how we're not only enabling children's wholescale development and learning, but also how we're assessing it. So that's important to do.

But it's also important to remember that this Bill and this curriculum development is only part of a wider wholescale reform of the system, and this Bill won't be able to do everything. So it's got to be seen in the landscape of additional learning needs reform, reforms of inspection and evaluation arrangements, which, at the moment, can give really unintended—I think they are unintended—consequences, which leads to more inequality for children around how schools feel they need to work with the current evaluation system. So, it's really important that this new curriculum doesn't widen inequality and there is a potential risk that, with greater teacher autonomy and with greater local flexibility, which I do support—it is important that we do pay attention to the potential widening of inequalities for some groups of children. That would include children from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled children, children living in poverty. And this is going to be my constant theme this morning, but a due regard duty on the Bill would require schools and governing bodies to really think about how equality is being enacted and experienced throughout their school. It would mean settings would need to monitor, evaluate and address inequalities in both what they teach and how children are learning through that teaching and the outcomes for those groups. So I think, without the due regard duty, there is a risk that we won't address some of those inequalities that we all know are currently there in the education system. 

09:40

Thank you. We've got sets of questions now for individual commissioners. I'm allowing 10 minutes per commissioner. So, just to remind Members and commissioners, that's your opportunity to get what you want to say on the record. I'm going to have to be quite ruthless about it, I'm afraid. So, Sally is first, with questions from Suzy. 

Thank you, Chair. Sorry, Sally, you've got me on this one. Let's just start with this due regard issue. To what extent do you think that the Bill gives effect to and advances the cause of children's rights without that being on the Bill, and are your main concerns primarily around what will be in the content of the curriculum, or the role of children in deciding how it's implemented, or both?

I'll start with the content element, because that's the quickest one. On the whole, I'm satisfied that the current written content for the curriculum does give children a much greater, much more universal opportunity to learn about their human rights and the human rights of others. I'm very pleased my office has had a chance to be part of the development of that. But we do need to remember that that is current web-based copy that could be changed. It's not supported or protected in the Bill as it stands. So, even the content isn't protected without a due regard duty. So, at the moment I'm happy with it, but it is vulnerable without the due regard duty.

But in terms of the Bill as a whole, it will require amendment to make it compliant with the UNCRC and, of course, the Government has a duty to make sure that all its legislation is compliant with the UNCRC. There are elements that are in direct contradiction to the UNCRC in terms of the religion, values and ethics part of the curriculum, and I'll maybe return to that if you want to ask me more about that later. Secondly, there are some very specific sections of the Bill that would require amending without a due regard duty, but I think with a due regard duty, we would be able to make sure that that happened in the enactment of them.

I've given lots of examples in my written evidence, but just to give two examples: one would be the lack of participation of young people in decisions of headteachers and governing bodies when they decide not to apply learning chosen by a pupil. That's sections 33 and 35 of the Bill. With a due regard duty, they would be required to enable young people to participate in that decision making. Another example is sections 44 to 48, where a lack of provision for local authorities to consider the rights of the child in decisions to temporarily disapply the curriculum—. Again, there's no—. Local authorities don't need pay due regard, as you all know on this committee, and they would have to consider the rights of the child to temporarily disapply the curriculum in that way. I've made a formal recommendation to the Government in previous annual reports that they must have a due-regard duty to the UNCRC on this Bill. The Government rejected that formal recommendation last year and, in doing so, they made an erroneous assertion. They said this duty is unnecessary because it's already in the Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011. Now, this committee is well schooled in that Measure, so I hardly need to tell you that that duty is placed only on Ministers—it's not placed on local authorities, it's not placed on headteachers, it's not placed on governing bodies. And we're looking now at a curriculum that I think quite rightly gives more autonomy to schools and governing bodies and local authorities. It's beyond the scope of the Measure to ensure that children's rights are central to the decision making of headteachers and governing bodies. 

Now, of course, we know that many, many headteachers and governing bodies do a fantastic job in enshrining and ensuring and implementing children's rights in their school, but unfortunately—and I see this through my case work—not all children do experience their rights through their education. We see that by—you know, from a lack of diverse representation in curriculum content through to incidents of off-rolling, to children with additional learning needs having much higher rates of exclusion. There are so many ways at the moment that children don't always have their rights in individual decision making by headteachers and governing bodies, and it's really important that they are not left to chance in that way. 

If I could just give one more example, and that's EOTAS settings—education otherwise than at school. This committee has done a lot of work looking into this, and you know that that is quite a perilous sector in some ways in terms of making sure that all children get what they need in those settings. Again, there are some wonderful examples of superb provision in those settings, but there are some areas in which children are at risk of not getting their rights. At the moment, sections 52 to 57 only mandate one of the six AoLEs, areas of learning and education—experience, sorry—and only some of the mandatory requirements that apply to other learners. So, for some learners, that will be the right decision, and I do think that a flexible approach is needed for the best interests of the individual child, but, without a due-regard duty, that could be applied to individual children without them having really weighed up whether it's in the best interests of the child and whether it enables them to have their rights, and whether children are involved in that decision making as well. 

So, I think that there are—

09:45

Sally, we've only got five minutes left; we have to move to on to other questions. 

Okay. So, that's—. For those reasons, and it's—[Inaudible.]—in my written evidence, we must have a due-regard duty to make sure that all the best principles of this curriculum apply to every child. 

Okay, thanks. I want to save a minute at the end of our session, Sally, to talk about religion, values and ethics, but I want to ask you now about your concerns about the well-being AoLE. Because it's unlikely to have exams attached to it in any way, despite its statutory quality, it might disappear in a curriculum, especially if teachers are focusing on exams too much. So, perhaps you can explain what you think needs to be done to protect the role of that AoLE and, in particular, where there's some crossover with relationship and sex education, which is inevitable, I think, what your views are—. I presume you support the idea of its being mandatory, but are you confident that RSE will be delivered appropriately? It's an area of huge concern, there's a lot of controversy about this, quite a lot of misunderstanding about materials that are already available, and what we need to do at this stage to help ensure that the correct understanding goes on with the general public, if you like. It's fine for us in the committee to understand it, but—. 

Okay, yes. So, to look specifically at relationships and sexuality education, I think this Bill only does one thing, but it does one important thing, and that is to set the foundation for it to be a mandatory part of every child's schooling. That, of course, is vital for them to have all of their rights—their rights to equality, non-discrimination, to high-quality information, to health and healthcare and the highest health information, but also their protection from abuse and exploitation. So, it's absolutely important that every child has that right and they're never withdrawn from receiving those rights. And that's what this Bill will do. But it's only part of it, you're quite right. There will be a code and guidance, which will really get into the detail of what is to be taught and how it is to be taught. And that's the right place for that to happen. I don't think that can happen in this Bill, but I think it's absolutely vital that the RSE element goes through as it is on the Bill, so that we have that strong foundation for children's rights, and I strongly urge the committee to support that. 

09:50

Earlier on, Sophie mentioned that it's poor confidence and knowledge that sometimes may be a problem for teachers in the course of this. I suspect that this area in particular is going to be one that causes them a lot of concern because they'll be desperate not to get this wrong. What can we do, as I say, at this stage, before this Bill even goes through, to help, primarily, parents understand more about this? Is there room, do you think, with Government asking more parents to come in and talk to them about what this mandatory element is going to look like?

Well, I think communication to the public is going to be very important here, and I quite agree with you that there's a lot of misinformation going around and misunderstanding. And, of course, for something that's new in the curriculum, whether that's the broader AoLE, or this specific part of it—relationships and sexuality education—that is going to cause concern to some parents because it's new and it's different. So, the communication with parents is really important. 

The code and the guidance will be out for public consultation, and, at that point, it's going to be really important that children and young people, as well as parents—[Inaudible.]

Oh, you've frozen, but perhaps I can just finish by saying—

—and teachers and others have a chance to—

Sorry, am I back?

No, that's fine. I was just going to say that I'm sure you'd agree that it's important that this doesn't set up a new thing for parents and children to misunderstand each other about as well. 

Just finally then, on RVE, I know you've expressed some concerns that children from faith schools perhaps haven't really had a voice in how this particular mandatory element has developed. Have those concerns been allayed at all?

You're going to have to be really brief, I'm afraid. 

Under the current Bill, not all children will have their right to a broad education about different faiths and different ethics and different beliefs, because there are exemptions built in for faith schools. And this is about what they learn in the classroom about those things; it's not about the overall religious nature of the school, which would be untouched, as would collective worship, as would the ethics and values of the school. What's important is that every child, no matter what, has the same opportunity to learn broadly about the faith and values and ethics of everyone, and that's really important for equality, and it's really important for non-discrimination. We mustn't allow any child to be opted out of that very broad learning if we want to have an equal society here in Wales. 

Okay. Thank you. We are going to have to move on now, and the next questions—

Sorry, Suzy. The next questions are from Jack to Sophie. 

Thanks, Chair. I'm very pleased to be here today. This is a big change. I was watching Disney's The Lion King last night, and change is good. But it is very pleasing to be here, because we need to get this right. Sophie, the first couple of questions you've already alluded to in earlier answers, so I think the Chair would appreciate it if we could try and keep these brief. Firstly, to what extent does the Bill complement the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015? You've mentioned the five ways of working, and, in particular, long-term thinking. Does that meet your ambitions and priorities, or is there anything else you'd like to add there?

I think I've already referenced the need for the Bill, or the guidance that's associated with it, to explicitly reference the five ways of working, and, in particular, a requirement for the way in which the curriculum is rolled out to consider the long term. I think that's absolutely crucial. I think we'd also like some clarification around the health and well-being AoLE. Is that just purely a focus on individual health and well-being, or is that the wider health and well-being of planet, people, and so on, which is getting us more to the aspirations of the future generations Act?

Thank you, commissioner. You've mentioned numerous times, both in written evidence and today, again, in earlier answers your concerns about the implementation of the Bill. Do you see this as the main challenge of the new curriculum—translating ambition into reality?

I do see this as the main challenge. Of course, we're asking teachers to be Welsh-speaking coding experts who are psychologically informed, who can embed creativity and focus on the health and well-being of pupils, and so on. And I'm sure every teacher strives to do that, but without some significant extra investment and support I think that's going to be hugely challenging. One of the things that I've recommended in my future generations report is that we should move to a concept of a national mission around education, and seek to be bringing in other sectors to help to support teachers to deliver some of these new ways of teaching and learning, and some of these new skills and areas that perhaps haven't been focused on in the past. I think that's going to be absolutely crucial to making sure that we don't get in a mound of spaghetti mess, if you like, in terms of how we go about implementing this curriculum.

I do have some particular concerns as well around implementation, on digital skills in particular. If you look at the facts that are available to us, we are well, well behind the curve in terms of meeting demand for teaching and learning in digital skills. Estyn continually highlights the challenges—that schools aren't well-equipped in terms of that digital learning. My office has been doing a bit of digging in terms of the figures. If we're looking at post-compulsory education, so those people who are going into apprenticeships in IT, for example, comparing the previous four-year period to this current four-year period, there's been an increase of only 57 IT apprenticeships that have been undertaken here in Wales. The situation in terms of teaching is even worse. And if we look at comparison of data from the Education Workforce Council, between 2015 and 2020, there's been an increase of only 11 teachers—that's 11 teachers in total—in Wales who have come into the teaching profession with that kind of IT and digital computer science qualification as their area of expertise.

So, I think this is one of the reasons why that principle of long term has got to be absolutely embedded in the curriculum and in the delivery and implementation. Because what seems to be happening at the moment is the reality on the ground is not matching the aspiration that's set out here.

09:55

Thank you, Sophie. I just want to pick up on the post-16 education then, and again you've mentioned the need for long-term thinking. Without that long-term thinking implemented in the guidance, how effectively do you think this Bill provides greater synergy for the school system and post-16 education and that wider skills agenda? And I think you mentioned a wider area, including businesses, and so on, who may be able to help with this.

I think it's light on that. And I think one of the big challenges—and I know this isn't part of this Bill, but everything's connected to everything—is the issue around assessment and whether we are actually assessing young people in the right way, preparing them for work and life in the future. Both of the commissioners—the Welsh Language Commissioner and the children's commissioner—have referenced challenges around assessment, and I've outlined my concerns about that. I don't think the way that we assess children and young people is preparing them for future skills—interpersonal skills, innovation, creativity, and those sorts of things—we're simply teaching to the test.

I think there's also something around a question that needs to be debated as to whether we need any form of assessment, as such, at age 16, or whether, as in other parts of the world, we should be looking at moving assessment to age 18. There's also then the issues around engagement with the world of work. And I think, if we are to have any form of assessment at age 16, we should be more closely linking that to work experience and experience of the real working world.

Thanks, Jack. We've got two minutes left—just over.

There are two questions, but I'll just choose one, Chair, because I think the one—. My next one was going to be on assessment and qualifications, but I think we've covered that, and I particularly want to pick up on this one. Sophie, you write in your evidence that you would like mental health and well-being to receive equal weighting to other skills. And I think you've written, if I can just quote your evidence, that this is a

'once-in-a-generation opportunity to truly create well-being schools',

which is something I'd be really keen to see. How adequately does this Bill do that?

10:00

Well, I think Sally has alluded to the concerns around whether the health and well-being AoLE will receive the same level of attention as the other AoLEs. I think, as I mentioned before, everything is connected, because, when we have an assessment system that gives you some hard, but short-term measures, on progress in some of these other areas—and issues like health and well-being are much more difficult to measure, because they're softer—the tendency of the system is to skew towards those harder measures. So, I think there is going to have to be some really deep thinking about how we can ensure that we're not just skewing the system in that way and moving away from health and well-being and in particular a focus on mental health.

I think some of the issues that I've alluded to around considering long-term trends, and demonstrating how you've done that, could be part of the answer to that because, of course, increases in concerns and issues for young people with mental health are a significant and worrying long-term trend. But I think that this comes down to the devil being in the detail in terms of implementation, how it's resourced and how implementation and roll-out of this is monitored, assessed and inspected.

Thank you, Jack. Sophie, can I just ask you very quickly, then: would you place a mandatory duty to cover mental health on the face of the Bill?

I think that that would be welcome at this time, but I think the broader principle is that, obviously, long-term trends and scenarios and trajectories can change. I would be supportive of placing that on the face of the Bill, but I also think you need to include that wider element around mandatory long-term thinking and projections and planning on that basis.

Thank you. Okay, we're going to move on now, then, to questions to the Welsh Language Commissioner from Siân.

Diolch yn fawr. I ba raddau mae'r Bil yn cefnogi datblygiad y Gymraeg yn eich tyb chi ac a ydy o'n ddigonol ar gyfer cyflawni eich blaenoriaethau a'ch amcanion chi?

Thank you very much. To what extent does the Bill support the advancement of the Welsh language in your view and does it sufficiently meet your priorities and objectives?

Yr ateb syml ydy 'nac ydy', a dwi'n meddwl bod yna ddwy broblem fawr iawn yma. Beth sydd wedi amlygu ei hun, dwi'n meddwl, erbyn hyn ydy bod y gyfundrefn addysg o ran y ddeddfwriaeth ddim wedi symud ymlaen ers datganoli. Felly, does yna ddim sail, er enghraifft, yn fy marn i, o ran addysg drochi ac mae hynny wedi creu'r broblem yma o ran datgymhwyso. A hefyd dwi'n meddwl ein bod ni wedi symud oddi wrth y Papur Gwyn, er enghraifft, lle mi oedd yna addewid o ran categoreiddio ieithyddol o ran ysgolion, ac mae hynny'n hanfodol, yn fy marn i, o ran symud ysgolion yna ar hyd y continwwm ieithyddol.

Yn bwysig iawn hefyd o ran ein blaenoriaethau ni, dwi'n meddwl bod gan bob plentyn yng Nghymru yr hawl i fod yn rhugl yn y Gymraeg erbyn iddyn nhw fod yn 16 oed, a dwi ddim yn gweld bod y cynigion yma ar hyn o bryd yn rhoi'r hawl yna iddyn nhw. Ac mae'r hawl yna'n bwysig o ran yr hyn rwy'n awyddus i'w weld, sef bod pob unigolyn yng Nghymru efo'r dewis ehangach erbyn iddyn nhw gyrraedd oedran oedolyn.

A simple answer is 'no, it doesn't', and I think there are two major problems here. What has come to the fore is that the education system in terms of the legislation hasn't moved forward since devolution. So, there is no basis, in my opinion, in terms of immersive education and this has created this problem in terms of disapplication. And I think we've also moved away from the White Paper, for example, where there was a promise in terms of linguistic categorisation for schools, and that's vital, in my opinion, in terms of moving schools along the language continuum. 

Importantly, in terms of our priorities, I think that every child in Wales has the right to be fluent in Welsh by the time that they're 16, and I don't see that these proposals, as they currently stand, give them that right. And that right is important in terms of what I'm eager to see, namely that every individual has the wider choice by the time they come of age, as an adult.

Ydych chi'n credu, felly, fod angen ychwanegu darnau penodol i'r Bil, ynteu ydych chi'n meddwl bod angen aileirio a chryfhau rhannau o'r Bil? Beth sydd ei angen efo'r Bil er mwyn cyflawni'r hyn rydych chi a minnau yn dymuno'i weld yn digwydd?

Do you believe, therefore, that there needs to be additional elements added to the Bill, or do you believe that it needs to be reworded or strengthened? What is needed in terms of the Bill to achieve what you and I want to see happening?

Wel, dwi'n meddwl bod y Gweinidog erbyn hyn wedi cydnabod bod yna broblem o ran y ffaith y bydd y twf o ran addysg Gymraeg o bosib yn mynd i gael ei danseilio os ydyn ni'n aros efo'r cynigion sydd gerbron ar hyn o bryd. Felly, mae'n bwysig ein bod ni'n cydnabod bod sefyllfa lle, i bob pwrpas, rydyn ni'n creu'r agwedd yma fod addysg Gymraeg ac addysg drochi ddim yn rhywbeth arferol. Mae angen inni gael gwared ar hynny yn y lle cyntaf.

Ar ôl hynny, dwi'n meddwl bod llawer iawn mwy o arweiniad ei angen, boed hynny o ran cod neu ganllawiau o ran beth ydy'r disgwyliadau ar ysgolion Saesneg. Ac ar ôl hynny, dwi ddim yn deall ar hyn o bryd sut rydyn ni wedi cyrraedd sefyllfa lle mi oedd y Llywodraeth yn y Papur Gwyn yn dweud bod angen creu strwythur, fel bod ysgolion yn medru symud ar hyd y continwwm ieithyddol, bod angen, o achos hynny, inni gael rhyw gyfundrefn o ran categoreiddio ieithyddol, ac erbyn hyn does yna ddim cynigion. Felly, dwi'n meddwl bod angen inni gael rhyw fath o strwythur o ran y llwybr.

Dydy'r sefyllfa o ran ysgolion cyfrwng Saesneg ddim yn mynd i newid dros nos. Mae hon yn dasg enfawr. Ond os ydyn ni i gyrraedd y sefyllfa o fewn Cymraeg 2050 lle rydyn ni'n dweud bod hanner y disgyblion sy'n gadael ysgolion cyfrwng Saesneg yn 16 oed yn mynd i fod yn rhugl yn y Gymraeg—gadewch inni fod yn onest yma, mae hynny yn newid enfawr ymhen 30 mlynedd. Rydyn ni gyd yn gwybod—. Es i ysgolion cyfrwng Saesneg. Dwi'n gwybod faint o'r plant yna oedd yn medru cynnal unrhyw fath o sgwrs eithaf elfennol yn y Gymraeg, ac mae angen inni fod yn onest.

Os dydyn ni ddim yn barod i newid y gyfundrefn addysg, os dydyn ni ddim yn barod i newid y cwricwlwm, gadewch inni ddweud hynny. Ond bydd hynny hefyd yn creu sefyllfa lle fydd rhai o'r targedau o ran Cymraeg 2050 yn gorfod cael eu taflu allan o'r ffenest, achos fyddwn ni ddim yn cyrraedd y sefyllfa erbyn 2050 lle mae hanner y plant—achos mae'n rhaid inni newid yn gyfan gwbl y ffordd mae'r Gymraeg yn cael ei haddysgu o fewn yr ysgolion Saesneg. Nid jest mater o gynyddu nifer yr ysgolion Cymraeg neu ddwyieithog ydy o. Mae yna ddyletswydd arnon ni i wneud y peth gorau ar gyfer plant sydd o fewn y gyfundrefn addysg Saesneg hefyd. 

Well, I think that the Minister by now has acknowledged that there is a problem in terms of the fact that the growth in Welsh-medium education is going to be undermined if we stay with the current proposals. So, it is important that we recognise the situation where, to all intents and purposes, we create this attitude where Welsh education and an immersive education isn't the norm. We need to get rid of that perception in the first instance.

After that, I think there needs to be much greater leadership, be that in terms of code or guidance in terms of what the expectations are on English-medium schools. After that, I don't understand at the moment how we've reached a situation where the Government in the White Paper was saying that there was a need to create a structure, so that schools could move along the language continuum, that there was a need, then, as a result of that for us to have some sort of system for linguistic categorisation, and now there are no proposals for that. So, I think that we need to have some kind of structure in terms of the path ahead.

The situation with regard to English-medium schools isn't going to change overnight. This is a massive task. But if we do reach a situation within Cymraeg 2050 that we say that half of the people that leave English-medium schools at the age of 16 are going to be fluent in Welsh—well, let's be honest here, that is a huge change to achieve in 30 years' time. We all know—. I went to English-medium schools. I know how many of those pupils were able to have any basic kind conversation in Welsh when they left school, and we need to be honest. 

If we're not willing or ready to change the system, if we're not ready to change the curriculum, let's say that. But that would also create a situation where some of the targets in terms of Cymraeg 2050 would have to be thrown out of the window, because we won't be reaching a situation by 2050 where half of pupils are able to speak Welsh, because we need to have wholesale change in terms of the way that Welsh is taught within those English-medium schools. It's not just a matter of increasing the number of Welsh-medium or bilingual schools. There is a duty for us to do the best by the children in the English-medium system as well. 

10:05

Felly, rydych chi'n dweud bod angen edrych eto, mewn ffordd, ar y Bil o safbwynt yr hyn dydy o ddim yn mynd i'w gyflawni a ddim yn mynd i gyrraedd yr hyn mae'r Llywodraeth yn ceisio ei wneud efo'i strategaeth Cymraeg 2050? Ac rydych chi'n awgrymu mai un ffordd o wneud hynny ydy cyhoeddi cod statudol ar addysgu Cymraeg a bod hwnnw'n gorwedd o dan y Bil? Beth dwi'n trio cael ato fo ydy—gadewch yr ochr trochi, gwnawn ni ddod at yr ochr trochi—yn gyffredinol, oes angen newid unrhyw beth ar wyneb y Bil, yntau a ydyn ni'n sôn am gyhoeddi cod statudol sy'n gorwedd o dan y Bil? 

So, you say that we need to look again, in a way, at the Bill in terms of what it isn't going to achieve and the fact that it isn't going to achieve the aspirations of what the Government wants to achieve with Cymraeg 2050? Are you suggesting that one way of doing that is to publish a statutory code on the teaching of Welsh and that that lies underneath the Bill? What I'm trying to get at here is—leave immersion aside, we'll get to that in a moment—in general terms, is there something that needs to be changed on the face of the Bill, or are we talking about publishing a statutory code that lies underneath the Bill? 

Dwi'n meddwl bod y Bil ei hun yn gadarnhaol o ran lle rydyn ni eisiau cyrraedd. Mae'r penawdau yn rhywbeth sydd i'w canmol: y ffaith ein bod ni'n cael gwared ar Gymraeg ail iaith; ein bod ni'n newid y rhaniad yma sydd yna ar hyn o bryd; ein bod ni hefyd yn sôn am greu un continwwm ieithyddol. Y cwestiwn dwi'n codi ydy—ar ôl trafod hyn am ddwy flynedd, dwi'n dal ddim yn deall sut rydyn ni'n disgwyl i ysgolion, yn ymarferol, newid i'r graddau rydyn ni'n disgwyl iddyn nhw newid, heb rywfaint o arweiniad o'r canol.

Dwi'n meddwl mai'r ffordd orau o wneud hynny ydy mewn cod, ond dwi ddim yn gaeth i god. Os oes yna resymau cyfreithiol dros ganllawiau, mae'n rhaid i'r canllawiau fod yn glir. Mae yna beryg ar hyn o bryd ein bod ni gyd yn cefnogi'r penawdau, ond does yna ddim manylder, ac mae yna beryg yma ein bod ni'n edrych ar sefyllfa yn—. Dwi'n cofio stori, pan oeddwn i'n blentyn, 'The Emperor's New Clothes'—wel, mae yna beryg mai dyna'r sefyllfa rydyn ni ynddi ar hyn o bryd, ac mae'n rhaid inni fod yn onest ynglŷn â beth sydd ei angen. 

I think that the Bill itself is positive in terms of where we want to reach. The headlines are to be applauded: the fact that we're getting rid of Welsh as a second language; we're getting rid of that division that currently exists; that we're also talking about creating one linguistic continuum. But the question that I would raise, after talking about this for two years, is that I still don't understand how we expect schools, in practical terms, to change to the extent that we're expecting them to change, without some kind of leadership and guidance from the centre.

I think that the best way of doing that is in a code, but I'm not beholden to a code. If there are reasons to have guidance, well those guidelines do need to be clear. There's a danger at the moment that we all support the headlines, but there is no detail, and there is a danger here that we look at the situation—. I remember a story, when I was a child, 'The Emperor's New Clothes'—well, there is a danger that that's the situation we're currently facing at the moment, and we have to be honest about what is required. 

Beth dwi'n trio dod ato fo ydy—

What I'm trying to get at is—

Iawn, diolch yn fawr. Felly, y cod statudol neu ryw ffordd arall o wneud yn siŵr bod yna weithredu yn digwydd ynglŷn â'r continwwm iaith yn benodol—

Right, thank you very much. So, the statutory code or some other way of making sure that there is implementation with regard to the language continuum—

Ie, bod pob ysgol yn deall y disgwyliadau a hefyd bod yna ffordd inni fesur sut rydyn ni'n symud, achos, fel dwi'n dweud, dydy hyn ddim yn mynd i newid dros nos. 

Yes, that every school understands the expectations and that there is a way for us to measure how we move ahead, because, as I said, that isn't going to change overnight. 

Jest i droi at fater y trochi, dwi'n credu eich bod chi'n teimlo bod eisiau newid y geiriad ar wyneb y Bil ynglŷn â hynny. A wnewch chi egluro pa opsiwn rydych chi'n awgrymu fyddai'r ffordd orau o wneud yn siŵr bod y trochi yn digwydd, a bod ysgolion ddim yn gorfod optio allan ohono fo? 

Turning to the issue of immersion, I think that you do feel that there needs to be a change in the wording on the face of the Bill with regard to that issue. Will you explain what options you would suggest would be the best way of ensuring that that immersion happens, and that schools don't opt out of it? 

Wel, rydyn ni o'r un farn â nifer fawr o'r sefydliadau wnaeth ymateb i'r Bil, a hynny drwy jest gwneud y Gymraeg yn fandadol ar wyneb y Bil a'n bod ni yn tynnu'r Saesneg allan. Ffordd arall o'i wneud o ydy pe byddai yna ymrwymiad wedi bod i gategoreiddio ieithyddol; beth fyddai'n bosib ei wneud ydy tynnu'r Saesneg o ran y Saesneg yn fandadol allan o'r gofynion a ran ysgolion cyfrwng Cymraeg a dwyieithog. Mae hynny yn—. Ond, wrth gwrs, mae categorïau ieithyddol ar hyn o bryd yn anstatudol, felly mi fyddai y cynigion a oedd yn y Papur Gwyn wedi creu sefyllfa lle byddai o'n bosibl gwneud hynny. Ond erbyn hyn, o ran y Bil ei hun, does yna ddim rheoliadau, a dwi ddim yn deall yn bersonol pan nad ydyn nhw'n defnyddio adran 70 o fewn y Bil i gyflwyno rheoliadau a fyddai'n categoreiddio ysgolion yn ôl iaith. Mi fyddai hynny yn creu eglurder o ran yr ysgolion eu hunain o ran beth fyddai'n bosibl, ond yn bwysicach fyth, byddai o'n glir i bob rhiant o ran natur y cwricwlwm a'r ddarpariaeth sy'n cael ei chyflwyno o fewn pob ysgol.

Well, we are of the same opinion as a number of the organisations that responded to the Bill consultation, and that's by making the Welsh language mandatory on the face of the Bill and that we take the English language out. Another way of doing that is that if there were to be a commitment to language categorisation; what would be possible then would be to take the English mandatory element out of the requirements in terms of Welsh-medium and bilingual schools. That's an option. But, of course, language categories at the moment are not statutory, so the proposals that were in the White Paper would have created a situation where it would be possible to do what I suggest. But by now, in terms of the Bill itself, there are no regulations for that, and I don't understand personally why they don't use section 70 within the Bill to introduce regulations that would categorise schools according to language. That would provide clarity in terms of the schools themselves, about what would be possible, but more importantly still, it would be clear to all parents in terms of the nature of the curriculum and the provision provided within every school.

10:10

Felly, mae yna sawl ffordd o sicrhau bod trochi'n gallu parhau yn ddirwystr, ac rydych chi'n awgrymu nifer o ffyrdd. Felly, pa un ydych chi'n meddwl ydy'r ffordd orau o gael Wil i'w wely?

So, there are several ways of ensuring that immersion can continue in an unfettered way, and you've suggested a number of ways of doing that. So, which one do you think is the best way of achieving that?

Dwi dal yn meddwl mai'r un o ran categoreiddio ieithyddol ydy'r un cliriaf, yn fy marn i, ond dwi wedi gwrando ar dystiolaeth Estyn, er enghraifft, a dwi'n meddwl bod y Gweinidog wedi cydnabod ei bod hi'n awyddus i gynnal trafodaethau cadarnhaol. Dwi'n awyddus iawn i fod yn rhan o'r trafodaethau yna, i edrych ar y manylder. Dwi'n meddwl bod Estyn wedi dweud eu hunain mai cynnig cychwynnol oedd hynny—bod angen mwy o waith o ran datblygu a phethau felly. Felly, dwi'n awyddus iawn ein bod ni'n newid y sefyllfa fel ein bod ni yn atgyfnerthu addysg drochi, ond dwi'n siomedig iawn, ar ôl degawdau—. Y broblem ydy, yn y bôn, fod addysg Gymraeg wedi dod i rym o achos ymdrechion rhieni ac ymgyrchwyr iaith. Mae o wedi cynyddu ac wedi tyfu tu allan i'r gyfundrefn ddeddfwriaethol, ac mae'n rhaid inni, maes o law, fynd i'r afael â'r sefyllfa yna hefyd.

Well, I think that language categorisation is clearest in my opinion, but I have listened to the Estyn evidence, for example, and I do believe that the Minister has acknowledged that she is eager to have those positive, constructive conversations. I am eager to be part of those conversations, to look at the detail. I think that Estyn has said that that was an initial proposal—that there needs to be more work to develop it. So, I'm very eager for us change the situation so that we do reinforce immersion education, but I'm very disappointed, after decades—. The problem is that Welsh-medium education has come forward because of the efforts of language campaigners and parents. It's grown outwith the legislative system, and we have to get to grips with that as well.

Thank you. We've got some final questions, briefly, from Dawn to all of you.

Thank you, Chair. I am conscious of time, so I perhaps won't ask all my questions, but I just wanted to ask two specifically. To what extent do you feel that the implementation or the cost of implementing the Bill is adequately reflected in the Welsh Government's RIA? And, secondly, what effect do you think the COVID outbreak has had on the potential of implementing the Bill within the set-down timescales and so on? What sort of disruption do you think this could deliver for the implementation of the Bill? So, those two areas, really.

Thanks. So, I don't think that the RIA explains anywhere near enough in terms of the cost of implementation of this, and I think this is a common feature of Welsh Government legislation. We are looking to implement these fundamental changes against a backdrop of reducing education funding as a result of austerity. A report that I commissioned with Professor Calvin Jones last year identified that even to just bring it back to the pre-austerity levels we'd be looking at about £200 million a year.

It does give me some concern that the RIA seems to suggest that a number of the costs are not known. They make reference to the fact that their dialogue with some schools have shown that they are treating it not as an additional burden, but mainstreaming it. Of course, that is the position that we would want to be in, but my experience with the future generations Act is you cannot assume that everyone is in that position, and if you base your resourcing requirements around that, then you're destined to have a whole category of organisations—organisations in my terms, but schools in this regard—who are ill equipped to deliver these new requirements. So, I think there's got to be some fundamental look at that.

I proposed something quite radical in my future generations report, which is this national mission around education funded by an education levy, which would be, essentially, the Welsh Government using their tax-raising powers to fund the implementation of the new curriculum, to fund this national mission, bringing in others, and to fund an ongoing lifelong learning curriculum. So, that's what I think needs to happen.

In terms of COVID, yes, I think that there are challenges, but there are also opportunities; schools have had to fast-forward new approaches and innovative approaches over the last six months, and I'd also say, if not now or if not next year, then when?

10:15

Sally or Aled, who wants to go next? You're going to have to be brief, I'm afraid. Sally.

Yes, I'll be really quick. Just to add to what Sophie said, I don't think that the assessment adequately includes the costs of the ALN reforms, adequately preparing schools to deliver relationships and sexuality education or the whole-school approach for well-being. All of those whole-school reforms need to be considered when we think about costs, and I'd be in favour of a stronger investment in education to account for those costs over the next few years. 

In terms of COVID, schools are under more pressure than ever before and I do think that we will need to engage closely with the education community and headteachers and others to really work that out. I don't think it should affect the Bill going forward, but on the whole, I think children have waited long enough for this reform. Some of them have waited almost their entire primary or secondary school schooling for this. I think we need to move forward, but with understanding that it will take time to embed and that we need to support our teachers as much as possible to do this well.

Rydw i'n meddwl bod angen i ni fod yn deall yn union maint yr her ac mae hynny'n codi cwestiynau o ran costau datblygu'r gweithlu, cynllunio'r gweithlu, costau adnoddau hyfforddiant ar gyfer staff, yn arbennig o fewn y sector cyfrwng Saesneg, a datblygiad proffesiynol, a hefyd y ffaith bod yna ddim digon o adnoddau ar gael yn y Gymraeg ac mae'r arian sy'n cael ei wario ar hyn o bryd o ran cynyddu'r adnodd yna'n rhywbeth sydd ddim yn cael sylw penodol neu sylw digonol o fewn y Bil.

O ran yr amserlen, rydw i'n cytuno efo pob peth mae Sally a Sophie wedi'i ddweud, i ddweud y gwir. Mae yna ansicrwydd yma, onid oes? Mae'n bwysig bod yr ansicrwydd yma'n dod i ben rhywsut. Mae yna blant ac athrawon sydd o fewn y system ar hyn o bryd sydd wedi bod yn paratoi ar gyfer cyflwyno, ond rydw i'n meddwl, tra bod COVID yn mynd ymlaen yn llawer iawn hirach na'r disgwyl, mae'n rhaid i ni gadw rhyw fath o sylw ynglŷn â beth yn union ydy'r capasiti o fewn y proffesiwn i ddelio â'r holl newid yma, o achos ar hyn o bryd, rydw i'n meddwl eu bod nhw'n stryglo i gadw ysgolion ar agor a sicrhau bod y plant yn derbyn addysg ar hyn o bryd, heb sôn am yr holl newid yma ar yr un adeg.

I think we need to understand exactly the scale of the challenge and that raises questions in terms of the costs of workforce development, workforce planning, the cost of training resources for staff, particularly within the English-medium sector, and professional development, and also the fact that there aren't sufficient resources available in the Welsh language and the funding spent currently on increasing that resource isn't given due attention or sufficient attention within the Bill.

With regard to the timetable, I agree with everything that Sally and Sophie have said. There is uncertainty, isn't there? It's important that this uncertainty comes to an end somehow. There are children and teachers within the system at the moment who have been preparing for this implementation phase, but whilst COVID is ongoing and is continuing far longer than expected, we do need to keep an eye on what the capacity is within the profession to deal with all of this change, because at the moment I think that they're struggling to keep schools open, even, and to ensure that the children receive an education at the moment, without mentioning all of this change at the same time.

Okay, thank you. We have run out of time. Can I thank you all for attending this morning and for answering our questions? It's been really useful for the committee. As usual, you'll be sent a transcript to check for accuracy and the committee is now going to break for 20 minutes. Thank you again for your attendance.

Gohiriwyd y cyfarfod rhwng 10:18 a 10:34.

The meeting adjourned between 10:18 and 10:34.

10:30
3. Bil Cwricwlwm ac Asesu (Cymru): Sesiwn Dystiolaeth 9 sy'n Ymwneud ag Addysg Cydberthynas a Rhywioldeb
3. Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Bill: Evidence Session 9 Relating to Relationships and Sexuality Education

Welcome back to the Children, Young People and Education Committee, to our evidence session No. 9 on relationships and sexuality education. I'm very pleased to welcome Kelly Harris, who is development and participation lead at Brook; Professor Emma Renold, who is professor of childhood studies, school of social sciences at Cardiff University; Iestyn Wyn, campaigns, policy and research manager at Stonewall Cymru; Dr Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, who is senior policy researcher for Wales at NSPCC Cymru; and Gwendolyn Sterk, who is head of public affairs and communications at Welsh Women's Aid. It's lovely to see you all. Thank you for joining us. We've got loads to cover, so we're going to go straight into questions from Laura.

10:35

Thank you, Chair. I'm just going to start off with some general questions—thank you for all coming today—and then my fellow MSs will go into more detail following my questions.

So, firstly, do you agree with the Welsh Government that the current curriculum is no longer fit for purpose and that a complete overhaul of what and how children and young people are taught is essential, and why? Thank you.

Yes. I think, across the sectors that are here today, and also national and international experts, there is complete consensus that mandatory RSE within the new curriculum for all ages from three to 16 is the best practice and is definitely needed. But, most importantly, children and young people tell us that it is needed. At Welsh Women's Aid last year, we spoke to children and young people that had been affected by domestic abuse in the home, and they wanted to learn about healthy relationships, they wanted to know about their rights to safety and support. So, children really have an appetite for us to have a better curriculum around RSE.

And, from a violence against women perspective, RSE based on gender equality and human rights is a powerful tool in the universal prevention of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence, and challenges the inequalities that drive domestic abuse and rape and sexual violence and other forms of violence against women. So, we really think it would be critical. Our members see every day the impact of the ineffectiveness of RSE provision and the lack of investment in prevention, but also we see the benefits of providing preventative programmes to children and young people. Our Members have provided over 6,000 children last year with preventative measures, and they see how that makes children confident and respectful and happy individuals within their community, and we want all children to have this. 

The sex and relationships education expert panel in 2017 made quite clear recommendations on this that were accepted by the Welsh Government and set out a clear pathway for us to move forward on this. We would, from Welsh Women's Aid, really recommend that the RSE code and any statutory guidance reflect these recommendations, and this needs to be in this legislation from the outset.

Can you hear me now?

Apologies. I'd just like to fully support Gwendolyn's overview there. As you know, I was chair of that SRE expert panel in 2017, and we had a recommendations report. We also accompanied that with a 160-page report that drew upon national and international evidence, including young people's views, and I think that's absolutely central here.

I don't know if any of the committee members remember that, in 2015, there was a campaign where thousands of students wrote about why they needed a healthy relationships education, why they needed a better one. It included things that we still hear today, including, 'We've never learnt about consent', 'I don't know what a healthy relationship is', 'They force me to do stuff', 'We need a place to talk about our feelings', 'Make it normal for anyone to openly speak about how they are feeling, no matter what age, gender or sexuality', and we continue to hear this today.

So, it's October 2020, and here we are. And, as Gwendolyn said, there is support and consensus that we do need a major overhaul so that we can listen and learn from young people and support them in navigating really complicated and challenging issues in twenty-first century Wales and globally. They struggle and we need to support them to navigate these and provide safe, empowering, protective environments in our schools.

Okay, thank you. Has anybody else got anything to add? Sarah, and then Iestyn.

Thank you. Yes, just to add our support to that, really. NSPCC Cymru Wales supports the principles of the Bill and Welsh Government's bold approach to introducing mandatory RSE within the new curriculum. We know that high-quality RSE is associated with a range of positive outcomes for children, but as its most basic function, it helps to keep children safe from harm. And the new compulsory RSE curriculum in Wales really brings an exciting potential to ensure that all children are equipped with the information and the language they need to understand that they have a right to safety, to recognise all forms of abusive or controlling behaviour and to empower them to speak out and get support at the earliest opportunity.

However, we do feel that, to fulfil children's right to safety, the Welsh Government needs to include a clear commitment to keeping children safe from harm within the RSE code. Thank you.

10:40

Bore da, pwyllgor, a diolch yn fawr iawn i chi am y cyfle i roi tystiolaeth ar ran Stonewall Cymru y bore yma. I gychwyn, dwi eisiau jest atgyfnerthu beth sydd wedi cael ei ddweud yn barod gan Sarah, yr Athro E.J. a Gwendolyn o'r sector, felly. Rydym ni'n sector sydd wedi bod yn ymgyrchu dros y mater yma ers sawl blwyddyn bellach, ac mae yna undod yn ein barn ar sut ddylai pethau symud yn eu blaenau.

Hoffwn i jest ychwanegu at y pwyntiau sydd yn barod wedi eu gwneud am bwysigrwydd bod y cwricwlwm yma, ac addysg berthynas a rhywioldeb yn benodol, yn hynod o gynhwysol a bod angen iddo fod yn adlewyrchol o'r gymuned ac o'r Gymru rydym ni'n byw ynddi hi ar hyn o bryd, yn yr unfed ganrif ar hugain. Beth dwi'n golygu efo hynny ydy mi fydd yn rhaid i bob addysg o ran y cydberthynas a rhywioldeb yma fod yn gynhwysol o hunaniaethau LHDT felly, o ran rhywioldebau sydd yn wahanol i rywioldeb hetero. Y rheswm pam dwi'n dweud hynny ar gychwyn y sesiwn dystiolaeth yma ydy bod ôl adran 28—section 28—fel rydyn ni'n gwybod, yn parhau i fod yn cael cysgod ac yn cael effaith hynod o andwyol ar bobl ifanc LGBT yn ein hysgolion ni hyd heddiw.

Good morning, everyone, and thank you very much for the opportunity to give evidence on behalf of Stonewall Cymru today. To begin with, I just want to echo what's already been said by Sarah, Professor E.J. and Gwendolyn from the sector. We are a sector that has been campaigning on this issue for several years, and there is unity in terms of our opinion on how things should move forward.

I would just like to add to the points that have already been made about the importance of this curriculum, and relationships and sexuality education specifically, being particularly inclusive and that it should be reflective of the community and of the Wales in which we live at the moment, in the twenty-first century. What I mean by that is that all education in terms of relationships and sexuality should be inclusive of LGBT identities therefore, in terms of sexualities that may be different to heterosexual sexuality. The reason I say that at the beginning of this evidence session is that section 28, as we know, continues to have an impact and to cast its shadow, a very detrimental shadow of course, on LGBT young people in our schools to this day.

No, nothing really to add extra to that. Obviously, at Brook we fully endorse everything that's been said by colleagues so far. Last year, we saw 1.4 million young people across the UK access our clinic and education services, and the overriding thing that comes out of it is the need for better and improved RSE education. So, yes, I complement everything that's been said so far.

Thank you. Well, you've made it all clear that you're all aligned in your thinking that RSE should be mandatory. So, do you agree with the main organising principles for the new curriculum: the four purposes, the six areas of learning and experience, the three cross-curricula skills and the four mandatory elements? Or is there anything missing, in your view? Also, is the Bill's purpose-led approach to the new curriculum and the massive flexibility that it provides to schools the right approach, do you think?

Who'd like to start on this? Emma? Yes, go on then, Iestyn.

Just to say in principle and in short, yes, I think Stonewall Cymru definitely agrees with the principles and the areas of learning and experience as they stand currently. The ethos of the curriculum, we feel, is an important one in terms of it giving agency to teachers to be able to answer the needs of their young people, children and pupils within their local settings and schools.

I think, in addition to that, I feel that it is important that we have a curriculum that is co-constructed, and so far I think that has been successful in terms of bringing teachers to the forefront of designing the curriculum.

Thank you. If nobody's got anything to add—. Oh, Emma.

Yes. I fully support Iestyn there. I think what I'd like to add in terms of the flexibility of the curriculum is that for RSE you do need explicit content. If it's not named, it won't be taught. So, there's a balance, but an important balance between explicit content with flexibility that allows teachers to work with their students so that they work progressively. We call this a spiral curriculum, which maybe we'll come back to. There's a balance to be made, but it's vital that we have explicit content and that flexibility, so that teachers can basically deliver developmentally appropriate practice. I think we'll come on to that later, but that's the point I wanted to make in terms of the flexibility of the curriculum.

10:45

It covered your questions, okay. We're going to go on now, then, to talk specifically about the current provision of RSE, and I've got some questions from Suzy.

Thank you, Chair. Thank you, everyone. What I want to talk about now is what the position is at the moment and what needs to change, I suppose. So, what do you think are the main shortcomings of the way sex education—you know, its statutory term—is currently taught, and whether you think—? Actually, that actual phrase contributes to confusion about what we mean by this. How do you think it's going at the moment?

I'm very happy to. As I outlined earlier, the SRE expert panel, their recommendation report and the 160-page evidence report, clearly outlined the shortcomings as well as the move towards a more holistic, inclusive, rights and equity-based, empowering, protective relationships and sexuality education curriculum. It is a bit of a mouthful, I guarantee that, but there's an important shift to be made from sex to sexuality, so that it's holistic, it's broad, and that was absolutely key. It includes what you might remember as the old-school biological sex education, but it's much bigger than that now. As we all know, in terms of statutory, there is no statutory RSE curriculum; it's very, very narrow, as we've laid out in the report. So, the shortcomings are that the current law and guidance on RSE is outdated. It does not support—even the 2010 guidance, which is non-statutory. So, we need a major overhaul here in terms of mandatory RSE, but not just mandatory, what that RSE looks like, how it's underpinned and what's included in that. I'm not going to list the shortcomings—there's a long list—but it's in the report, if you want to read it.

Okay. That point about the guidance being non-statutory, I think it's quite an important one, because regardless of what the system is at the moment, if teachers are still nervous about it because they're not completely instructed in how to do something, then you can see why, perhaps, something doesn't end up getting taught at all.

It's okay. Sorry. I just wanted to add something to complement what E.J. was saying, that by not having that, it leads to the inconsistency and the postcode lottery in what's actually being taught in schools across Wales. So, what we see is that it's very inconsistent, even within a local authority. You might be in one really strong school that has a very structured RSE curriculum, a good, strong, personal social education structure, with good senior team leadership behind that, but then you might go just five miles down the road and actually see something completely different, and it's unfair. Obviously we uphold, in Wales, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and young people's right to an education, and, fundamentally, that's missing. So, what we hope is that within the new one, as long as it's detailed and it's clear about what education young people should be having access to, that will take away that unfairness.

Just to reiterate, really, but also to say that, regarding the statutory element, since the legislation around violence against women in 2015, there was a whole-school approach good practice guidance published in 2016 by the Welsh Government, but it was non-statutory. We know from Estyn reviews and we've personally, from Welsh Women's Aid, engaged with local education leads and VAWDASV leads, and schools have struggled to take that up because of its lack of statutory stance and because it hasn't really—. They're really wanting the statutory guidance on how and what to deliver around this. They're asking for that, and so, we really need to deliver that within this Bill.

Okay. Sarah and then Emma, you wanted to come back in, I think. Sarah.

Thank you. I just really wanted to reinforce the point I made earlier: RSE, at its core, really helps to keep children and young people safe from harm, and it has that absolutely vital role to play in equipping children with the information and language they need to understand that they have a right to safety; to recognise all forms of abuse and neglect; and really to be empowered to get support at the earliest opportunity. And we know that this is so important, because one in five children experience abuse and neglect in the UK, and we know that a range of barriers exist for young people to disclosing abuse, and it can take seven years for a young person to speak out, and some never tell what's happened to them.

Just a couple more points, if I may. So, really, by embedding a safeguarding culture across school life and neighbourhoods, through a whole-school approach, like Gwendolyn just mentioned, the new curriculum really offers that opportunity to alter what communities and peer groups see as normal behaviour and rally everyone together to protect children from harm, but without access to mandatory RSE, this vital preventative and protective education, we believe that learners will be unable to secure the four purposes and become healthy, confident individuals.

10:50

Just very quickly, then, to complement that in terms of the research evidence, what we do know, as we stated in the report, is that when SRE is a non-statutory subject, that's when there's not enough time dedicated to it or there are not resources allocated to professional learning or whole-school planning. All the things that are needed come with the statutory. It's not enough on its own, of course it isn't, but it is the foundation to build upon. So, I just want to re-emphasise that from the research evidence.

I just wanted to reiterate the importance of the point I made earlier in terms of why an overhaul of RSE is needed in regards to relationships, sexuality education that is LGBT inclusive. We know, from evidence, that only one in 10 pupils currently learn [correction: that three in five LGBT pupils currently never learn] about LGBT relationships through the education system, and when we're considering the effects of that, I just want to kind of reference some evidence that we've got from the experience of a pupil in school where, and I quote, 'Schools only ever taught me sex ed for straight people. I had to learn about same-sex relationships by asking people and looking on the internet', and then the quote goes on. But that, in itself, is worrying in that if young people and children aren't given a safe space to explore and to discuss these issues, people will go to look for information elsewhere, and we know the dangers of misinformation on the internet and unsafe information and what that can cause to young people.

Let's start with that misinformation point, then. I suppose one of the concerns with the current position, where guidance is non-statutory and general nervousness about even talking about sexuality and relationships means that teachers don't feel competent to teach it in many cases. What can you tell me about how many parents have exercised their right to withdraw over the recent past, if you like? What are their reasons for doing that, and, in your view, has that been based on misunderstanding? Because we're already aware of misunderstanding cranking up campaigns against what's being proposed here at the moment, and I'm sure we're all very keen to make sure that families understand what their children are likely to be exposed to.

Thank you. Just to start, really, although NSPCC doesn't have any specific evidence about how many parents withdraw their children from sex education, as a sector, we do know that this is very minimal and that the vast majority of parents want good RSE for all of their children. But what is really, really crucial is engaging and working closely with parents and carers when embedding the whole-school approach to RSE. So, good communication and transparency between schools and parents is essential when building trust and confidence in the design and teaching of RSE. But it's also really important that schools and our teachers feel confident and supported to effectively engage with parents around RSE and really address any concerns or worries they may have. So, NSPCC would like to see the statutory guidance include information for schools on how to meaningfully engage with parents and carers around RSE and also how to manage any challenging situations or parental worries.

Before I bring anyone else in, can I just push you on that last point? What concerns do you have that, however good this new guidance around the code will be, teachers may still find themselves ill-equipped to deal with—[Inaudible.]—perhaps, in the classroom by something they weren't expecting, or that there will be children who have knowledge but don't quite know then how to apply it to their experience at home, which may be a benign experience—I'm not saying that it would be an adverse one, really. It's okay for a child to know, but to actually get them into a position to talk about this is really difficult, and I'm just wondering if you have worries about how teachers would manage that.

I'm happy to let Gwendolyn go first and then come back in.

I think, on that, we've had this as a principle within the whole-school approach to VAWDASV since 2016, and providing schools with mechanisms and support to have dialogue, and an important element of that is investing in working with specialist services that already engage with parents on these issues and engage in their community. They've got, within our sector, 40 years of experience of talking to their communities about abuse and violence and how to challenge it, particularly investing, for example, in services for black and minoritised women, who have the experience of engaging positively with parents in their community and having discussions around issues, for example, like FGM and forced marriage. This is already there. There is expertise in the communities that sit around schools, and I think what we really need to see this curriculum invest in is bringing those communities together, and bringing in those specialist services to support the schools and to support teachers in the delivery of RSE.

10:55

Thank you. Just to come back in, and two points from me here. I completely agree with what Gwendolyn has just said there. For NSPCC, one of the really important points is that, going back to your point about being triggered in the classroom, is for RSE to be designed in a trauma-informed way, and that would really mean that teachers and schools are very aware, sensitive to the fact that one in five children has experienced abuse and neglect, so it's designing the curriculum with that in mind to make sure that there's no onus on young people for it to be their responsibility to deal with abuse, there's no content that would trigger any potential issues for that young person. I guess the other point I wanted to make is that—and I think we'll come on to this later—professional learning, support and development for teachers in RSE is absolutely vital in getting this right.

Okay, thank you. I'm talking about the current position and maybe teachers and parents can't talk very much at the moment because everything is so fuzzy.

I think it's a really valid point, Suzy, and I would kind of replicate what Sarah and Gwendolyn have said, and I think what Stonewall and E.J. would say as well. But for us as an organisation at Brook, we say that fundamentally it comes down to professional training and investing in your staff. I know we're going to come to that later, in terms of what is needed to go forward with that, but even now, we need to be investing in our staff who are currently delivering the curriculum. I know we look forward to 2022 coming in and all of this new guidance and the new curriculum being imposed, but we're still two years away, so in terms of that investment—.

Because for young people to share anything in a safe space, in a Brook session we would always do learner agreements—so, you know, really open and honest at the beginning of the session to say, 'This is what we're going to talk about. How can we as a group, together, ensure that this is a safe space for everybody?' So, just putting in the safety net, as we would call it, and the parameters of it. It provides a safety net for the teachers, so that they know they've explained what they're going to be discussing and what support they can provide, but also it gives that sense of comfort to the young people, to know that if at any point they feel like they need to leave the room because they're feeling a bit triggered, or for any reason, that they're able to do that.

But the important thing that comes in here is how teachers are trained to be able to deliver effective RSE, because to go in and talk to young people about contraception, talk to young people about youth-produced sexual imagery, to talk to young people about pornography, all of these things that are facing our young people and the generation today, is really difficult. Therefore that's why I think professional training is really paramount to ensure that then translates over to parents, so parents are aware of what's being taught to their young people and to their children.

What we find—our evidence at Brook, anecdotally—is that when parents are aware of what's being taught to their students, they're really supportive of RSE. They want them to have this information, they want them to have this education. It complements conversations at home about values and all of those things, but it takes away that kind of awkwardness that maybe some parents or carers might find, that we're able to provide that, and parents want it. We just need to communicate and help schools to have efficient policies and guidance in place to ensure that they're doing that, and incorporating that—not having standalone events, but incorporating what's being taught in newsletters, parents' evenings and really interweaving all of the RSE education so that it's a whole-school approach.

That's what I'm getting to: why are parents worried now and are they withdrawing? If anyone can give us a short answer on that, that would be great.

I'm going to bring Emma in, then Iestyn. People are going to have to be brief, I'm afraid, just because we'll never get through it. Can you unmute, please?

11:00

Sorry. Kelly's already raised all of the points I wanted to make, and the research evidence backs all of that up. This is what a whole-school approach is about. Max Ashton, my PhD student, has undertaken some research on the professional learning programme we've been delivering in the Central South Consortium with 23 primary, special and secondary schools, and there we're also finding evidence of what it means. There was a lot of fear and anxiety from teachers, but when you show them how—and this is with the new, proposed RSE curriculum—they were absolutely—. I think their confidence grew when they realised how many strategies they could use. And it's not a one-off, it's not a letter home; it's something that's ongoing and building. If we can start now with that process over the next two years, then you will find that we'll all be in dialogue, and that is what a whole-school approach is all about. 

The evidence shows that the amount of families currently withdrawing from RSE is very minimal, but I think the point to be made here is that we are worried about the misinformation that is circulating at the moment about what RSE is and isn't, and that in itself is really worrying, because it does cause concern about undermining the vision that Welsh Government has in ensuring that this education and the purpose of this education is actually for the well-being, for the safety and for safeguarding our young people from harm. And I think that is a vision that we can all agree on in terms of the purpose of this education. But I just want to emphasise that there is a lot of misinformation going out there at the moment, and I would urge colleagues in Welsh Government to ensure that it is communicated clearly to schools, local authorities and parents alike what actually good, effective RSE is and what it isn't. I think we all here around the table virtually today would agree that we don't want our young people, children and pupils in schools to be taught stuff that isn't appropriate to their development at that stage in their lives. And I think that point is really crucial to be made. 

Okay. Lovely. Thank you. We're going to probe the mandatory provisions of this a bit further now with some questions from Dawn. 

Thank you, Chair. First of all, I want to ask you what significance you see in the Bill in the use of the term 'developmentally appropriate', as opposed to 'age appropriate'. Specifically, how do you think that can apply in a year group where there will be pupils of the same age but maybe at different stages of what they're prepared to take on board and accept as information?

Thank you, Dawn. That's a really, really important question, because the term 'developmentally appropriate' is often misused, or not quite understood. So I just want to start off by saying that all teachers, whatever subject they teach, will strive to ensure that their pedagogy is developmentally appropriate, and RSE is no different in that respect. I think that's our starting point. Research also suggests that RSE is most effective when it's relevant and provided in ways that are developmentally appropriate. So what this means is it has to be timely. It doesn't assume we know what's happening for young people, but it does build on their evolving knowledge and experience.

Your question is: how do you do that in practice? I think teachers are really very skilled at putting developmentally appropriate pedagogy into practice. Knowing what constitutes a timely, relevant experience in RSE is more of a challenge, and I think that's the challenge—getting that balance right. So, for example, many young people tell us that RSE is too little, too late, but that too little, too late could be very diverse inside one classroom or year group; we know that. I supported a teacher who did a year 7 audit with 120 students and they said what they'd like to learn, and it's vast. The diversity is vast there, and she has to work with that carefully in her secondary school to provide a curriculum that meets those needs. But teachers are skilled at this. They're skilled at this. This is their training. So, I would argue that the new curriculum has these non-linear progression pathways, and they absolutely need to be explicit, but they need to be flexible so that teachers can meet the needs of their learners—those diverse needs.

So, usually what happens is they'll have many ways of doing this across the school. It doesn't just happen in the classroom; it's interactive. It's almost always small group work, and then you build it across the school and you build it across the year. So these aren't one-off lessons. This is the whole point—

Sorry, Emma, for interrupting you, but would you see that, then, as potentially being cross-year group as well? 

11:05

It depends what you're trying to do. If you want something broader around what matters around children's rights, you might do something whole school on that, and the school council might run through. It's always embedded in primaries and secondaries, anyway. But then you might think about which elements of rights do we need, and also which elements do we need to return to. It's about returning to these progression pathways that are non-linear. The whole point is that you can return and go over key issues, and that's really, really important. For example, when you've got students saying, 'I want to learn about periods' in year 7, you hope they might have covered it in primary school but they're still asking, you need to make sure that you go back and revisit that.

You also need to think about, again, not assuming you know what's going on for young people. With my own research on 10 to 12-year-olds, primary school girls were telling me that sexual harassment at the end of year 6 was something to get used to, was something to just put up with. That's where they were at at the end of year 6. This was in 2013, so this is why we have to make sure that RSE is flexible enough to respond to what children and young people are already learning out there. RSE is everywhere—this is learning. It's how do schools respond to this in a way that creates safe learning, non-judgmental, confidential environments. Teachers are very skilled at this, but it does need careful planning, which means it needs time.

Then, you need professional learning. You need to know what's appropriate and what isn't. You need those external providers to support you, and you need that up-to-date research evidence. So, it's a package. I guess what we're trying to say as a sector is that there's much more to be done once you move from non-statutory to statutory, and professional learning is absolutely essential here. But I have confidence that this can be achieved. 

Yes. I completely echo what E.J. is saying. We have complete confidence in our teachers to be able to do it, but I think the really important point that E.J. was making was that we can go back and add to the learning—so, this spiral curriculum. I know E.J. talked about menstruation and periods, but if I take consent as an issue, you might talk to three, four, five-year-olds when it comes to consent. It isn't about teaching them about sexual consent, which gets misconstrued a lot in the media. What we mean by that is maybe asking permission to share toys with somebody, or holding hands with somebody, or giving consent for somebody to touch your hair. That's the basic level of introducing consent that you might do at a younger age, but as they get older you would add to it—you'd come back to the issue, you would continuously build on that education. It's not the case that at the age of six, they learn everything and that's it, off they go—no. Actually, developmentally, it gets added to up until the point where in comprehensive and when it's appropriate, you might talk about sexual consent with young people then. So, again, it's appropriate, it's relevant for them, but it's building that real structure of a spiral curriculum. 

Kelly, can I just ask you there—? This issue of consent is at the heart of a lot of misinformation that is circulating around these provisions. What more do you think the Government needs to be doing to really help parents understand that it's not about consenting to sex for little children—that it's about actually understanding about boundaries and their personal space, et cetera? 

I think you've hit the nail on the head; it's just about being explicit with what it is. It's about having clear guidance. So, within the curriculum, when we talk about the levels of understanding and what needs to be included, it's about doing that—it's about saying it and breaking it down. I know E.J. has done a wealth of work on this through their work—the age ranges of different things that can be taught, how it's built on and how it's added to. But I think, ultimately, for a very simple answer, Lynne, it's just about being explicit and clear in all of the guidance about what you would teach at what age. And also, reflecting the fact that teachers have common sense and so do we as professionals. So, it's not that we're teaching inappropriateness, we're not teaching about little children giving consent to sex, because we also know that that's against the law, that that's not a legal thing. So, it's just about having an understanding and awareness of the law, and trust in professionals to do their job. We trust the medical profession to make sure that we're all healthy human beings; let's trust our teachers to ensure that they're going to give a comprehensive and solid education to our children and young people to prepare them for life. They need to know these things. So, that's what I would say. 

11:10

Just on that last point, obviously, we see the tail end of not teaching consent. So, it's absolutely vital. And we see it from an early age. We have children coming in to sexual violence services at a very young age, so we really do need to teach about body integrity, and about equality and about respect, and consent is part of that—obviously, in a developmentally appropriate way. But we know that attitudes to violence against women impact children at all stages of their lives. And the other thing I would say, in support of this being developmentally appropriate, is ensuring that we know that children in the classroom will be and have been impacted by violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence. They will be living at home in situations where there is domestic abuse, and they are impacted themselves as victims within that. And, so, by allowing it to be developmentally appropriate, it allows us to give the appropriate information to support those children to meet their needs, when they need it, and also mitigate the long-term impacts that violence against women can have. 

In addition around this, and why I'm really supportive of it being developmentally appropriate, we did a report last year around disability and violence against women, and one of the things that we saw was the lack of RSE provision for anybody with additional learning needs. We talked to adult women with additional learning needs who had had no RSE at all, because it was just assumed that they wouldn't have relationships when they got older, which, obviously they do, as we all do. So, we have done some work developing our STAR programme, looking at additional learning needs, but that's ad hoc, and we work with practitioners to really look at how you could develop that to meet the needs of those children. We need this RSE to be developmentally appropriate, and enable all children to have that right of understanding what their equality rights are, what their respect rights are, and what consent means to them. 

Sorry, my screen has just gone blank on me. Bear with me. 

Thank you, Chair. I just want to move on, actually, to the code. Some of you have touched on this already. We don't yet know what is going to be in the code, but I suppose really what I want to know from you is what you think needs to be in it, and how strong that needs to be, and whether you feel that there is a case for some aspects, or maybe the critical aspects of RSE, to actually be on the face of the Bill, as well as being in a code.

Thank you. The NSPCC welcomes that the Bill states that the core learning in the RSE code is designed to be explicit, but we do feel that there's a concerning lack of detail included in the core learning areas. So, while we know there are six thematic areas, and then there's the brief summaries that were included in the Curriculum for Wales guidance, they're a really good starting point, but they are much too vague and lack specific detail of what topics should be covered within each of those themes. We feel that schools need a really clear and comprehensive RSE code and statutory guidance, with explicit detail, so they know what topics should be taught within each of those themes. And we're concerned that, without this, it will create an inconsistent approach to RSE. As I said earlier, we feel very strongly that to fulfil children's rights to safety, the RSE code must include a clear statement to keeping children safe from harm. And specifics that we would like to see here are: it really has to include all areas of abuse and neglect within the code; an emphasis on staying safe on line; the UNCRC being embedded within the code; and that the code recognises the full spectrum of relationships and sexualities. Thank you. 

Diolch, Gadeirydd. Mae'r pwynt roedd Sarah yn ei wneud rŵan, o ran y pwynt roedd Sarah yn cau efo, ynglŷn â'r angen iddo fo fod yn gynhwysol o hunaniaethau a rhywioldebau gwahanol, yn hynod o bwysig. A dwi'n meddwl bod angen i hynny gael ei adlewyrchu ar draws holl ddogfennaeth y cwricwlwm newydd, boed hynny o'r cod, i lawr i'r canllawiau, yn ogystal ag unrhyw hyfforddiant sydd wedyn yn cael ei rhoi i athrawon yn ogystal â'r ddeddfwriaeth sydd o'n blaenau ni ar hyn o bryd. O ran pobl LHDT ac unigolion â hunaniaethau LHDT hefyd, rydyn ni'n gwybod bod plant a phobl ifanc sydd yn LHDT wedi cael eu hanghofio a'u hanwybyddu yn y cwricwlwm yn y gorffennol ac mae'n bwysig, felly, bod yna gamau proactive ymlaen ar gyfer ateb yr anghydraddoldeb hanesyddol yma sydd ynghlwm â'n system addysg ni. Felly, mae Stonewall Cymru yn pwysleisio'r angen i'r cod fod yn gynhwysol o hunaniaethau LHDT.

Thank you, Chair. The point that Sarah was making now, in terms of Sarah's closing point, on the need for it to be inclusive of identities and sexualities, is very important. And I think that needs to be reflected across all of the documentation in the new curriculum, be that in terms of the code, down to the guidance, as well as any training that is then provided to teachers as well as the legislation in front of us at the moment. In terms of LGBT people and individuals with LGBT identities, we know that children and young people who are LGBT have been forgotten and ignored in the curriculum in the past and it's important, therefore, that there are proactive steps forward being taken to meet and respond to this historical inequality with regard to the education system. So, Stonewall Cymru emphasises the need for the code to be inclusive of LGBT identities.

11:15

I just want to make a really quick point on this and to say that I echo what's already been said. From a Brook perspective as well, we've been heavily involved in the new RSE guidance within England and with Westminster. I think there are really important lessons to be learnt from there about the lack of clarity about what should actually be taught—to the point where, actually, from this September, every school in England has a mandatory duty around RSE. But I will say that they've gone for relationships and sex education and we've got the sexuality part—the inclusivity, which we're really proud of here in Wales. But the issue still being that the guidance was formalised back in 2017, yet here we are three years later when it's being taught and teachers are still not sure what they should be teaching their pupils. They're coming to Brook and to other organisations to say, 'What are we supposed to be doing? Can you help us?' So, if we're not clear within the code what needs to be taught, we're going to be in the same situation. And just something to offer outside of this meeting is that we would be happy to meet with Members and anybody to talk about the Westminster processes and where we think that strengths and lessons can be learnt from that.

I echo everything that's been said. I think what's really important for us within the code is that it really comes from the principle that violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence is not inevitable, but it also challenges—. We know that throughout communities, including in schools, victim-blaming attitudes are highly prevalent—attitudes that drive violence against women are highly prevalent. So, we really need at the outset to have a clear framework that sets out not only that it's not victim blaming at all and does not put an onus on children and young people for the abuse that they experience, but that it clearly shows where they can get support and that the school is supportive and that there is a trauma-informed approach to RSE for any child that might be impacted by violence against women. This needs to be set at an early stage, otherwise we will see victim-blaming attitudes and attitudes that condone violence against women seeping into the education, which would negate for us the purpose of RSE. It really needs to be clear from the outset on how to do that.

Thank you, Chair. I just wanted to add one further point to what Gwendolyn said there. We know that one of the issues for young people getting support with any abuse, neglect or violence they've experienced is that they don't recognise they've been abused, neglected or experienced violence. This curriculum is a real opportunity to change that and ensure that every child knows what violence and abuse and neglect is in a developmentally appropriate way so that they can recognise when something is happening to them and get support at that earliest opportunity. We don't want young people to wait seven years to tell somebody what's happened—we need to intervene really early. So, I just wanted to add that point. Thank you.

I think I'd like to support Sarah's last point here around how those 'what matters' statements, if you like—the code and those progression pathways—how they must align and how they have to be explicit. But they do need to be flexible enough so that we can respond to what's happening. This is kind of what Sarah's saying. So, it's really important to get that balance right. It won't be easy, but it's vital, and it does need to be more explicit. Whether it's on the face of the Bill or not, I'm not sure. But I do think we need to have more explicit content so that teachers are very clear about what they can do, which means then, they will create an environment where they can listen. Because what happens is, if that isn't clear, they will not create environments where they can hear what's going on for children and young people sometimes, because they feel they can't respond to it. So, I think it's really important that we have that explicitly there.

The other thing I'd like to mention is that I'm not a member of the RSE working group, but I am a regular adviser. The SRE expert panel originally had university academics on that, so we were part of the process. Here, we're feeding in and I think there are many more across Wales—university academics—with specialist RSE knowledge on a whole range of areas, from the sexual health network, where you have amazing quantitative data, right through to micro data on very explicit things like child sexual exploitation. Those academics aren't in the process, and I would argue that we need to think and maybe expand that group, so it can be more meaningfully collaborative, because I think it's a bit of a challenge, as we move forward. This is why we're asking for that recommendation to be made where we have a very clear and established research network, so that we can really feed into this as we progress. 

11:20

Very briefly, Chair, thank you. Just one more point: as well as having abuse and neglect very explicitly feature on the code, one of the things that's really key here is that our teachers and schools are supported and equipped to recognise when a young person is being abused. So we need them to be well trained to spot those signs and symptoms, to know how to sensitively interact with a child who's disclosing and to make sure that they get that support. Thank you. 

Thank you for letting me in, because it's specifically about this code and bearing in mind what Professor Renold has just said about the complexity of putting together an explicit code. This is going to have to be signed off by the Senedd, in due course, but thereafter any changes won't; it will just be through a Government process where the Senedd's going to have to be on its toes to even know that it's happening. Does that worry you at all?

Before you come in on that, can I just say that, at the moment, the proposal is for it to be determined under a negative procedure in the Senedd? So it would also be interesting to get your views on whether there should be a stronger role for Senedd scrutiny on the code. 

I think I've got just two points to make, one about the wider RSE code, and I think I'll come to Suzy Davies's question in a second.

I think the code is one pillar of what we're seeing in development in terms of RSE here in Wales. We have the statutory guidance that is currently being drafted, and that's obviously going to be a very important pillar. So I see it in my head as three different pillars to RSE in terms of you've got the code, the guidance and, then, in addition to those, you have the important vehicles for change, such as the professional learning of teachers—that is integral for this to succeed—as well as, then, the wider whole-school approach in terms of guidance on anti-bullying, uniform guidance and so on and so forth. It is important that it's recognised that when we're talking about RSE now we're talking about a whole-school approach.

In terms of the code, I feel that there is a need for learning to be explicit in terms of alleviating anxieties with regard to what people think and want to know what will be taught, and I think that's an important vehicle for that. It's also an important vehicle for enshrining it in the Bill. 

In terms of the point that the Member raised about the process, I'm not a legal expert. However, I would urge Members of the Senedd, whilst approaching the scrutiny of the code, to ensure that they draw on information and expertise as to what RSE is, what it isn't, and to bear in mind that the principles underpinning the proposed RSE in Wales are really important in approaching the conversation around the code. In terms of the point about future changes to the code, I'm not in a place to make comment about the process of that. 

The final question is about your views on the fact that this won't be a compulsory element of education for sixth formers. It's not actually now, but it won't be in the new curriculum either, even though RE is. But I just wanted your thoughts and views on that.  

We're significantly disappointed with that. This is a critical time of a young person's relationship and sexual maturity, and we know—just to give you some evidence, really—that the age group of 16 to 24-year-olds represents 23 per cent of those accessing refuge last year and 23 per cent of those accessing sexual violence services. And, also, we know the Domestic Abuse Bill is going through Westminster at the moment, and that includes a statutory definition of domestic abuse, which includes 16 to 17-year-olds, particularly recognising their right to support and their experiences of abuse within their own relationships. The Welsh Government have also campaigned, targeting young people last year with their campaign 'This is not OK', which is around sexual violence, and it seems to not align to not then provide robust education for this age group that would align with that kind of campaign. If you're campaigning for young people to understand what consent it, then it makes sense to also provide them with robust education that backs that up and really embeds it. Similarly, they've also produced guidance under the VAWDASV legislation from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales which covers further education—again, if we're asking our institutions to act on their duties to prevent violence against women and to protect and support survivors, then this has to align with that quality of RSE for young people up until the point that they leave education. This doesn't stop at 16—they need to learn it all the way through the education system and beyond.

11:25

I'll just be quick with the point here, but we're very much the same as what Gwendolyn just said—as an organisation, we're really disappointed that it won't go beyond the age of 16. We wholeheartedly believe that it needs to. As young people are getting older, their experiences are going to become more varied, the relevance of it is really paramount. Also, we did some research with first-year university students around the issue of consent and sexual harassment and sexual crime and violence. And, honestly, the results—and we can send this to Members separately—they’re stark. It's stark learning. So, it's just showing that, actually, it does need to be taught.

I'm seeing everybody nodding, so can I assume that all the panel agree that it should be continued into post-16 then? Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Dawn. We've got some questions now from Siân Gwenllian.

Diolch yn fawr, Gadeirydd, a bore da. Yr agwedd yma am ddysgu proffesiynol yr athrawon—mae'n amlwg bydd angen cynyddu y raddfa mae hynny'n digwydd o safbwynt darparu gwersi cydberthynas a rhywioldeb. Ydych chi'n fodlon bod yna ddigon o arian yn mynd i fod ar gyfer hynny? Ydych chi'n meddwl bod y costau wedi cael eu cyfrifo'n ddigon da yn asesiad effaith rheoleiddiol Llywodraeth Cymru? Dwi ddim yn gwybod os ydych chi wedi cael golwg ar hwnnw.

Thank you very much, Chair, and good morning to all of you. Now, this aspect of professional training of teachers—it's clear that there will be a need to increase the scale at which that happens from the point of view of providing RSE education and lessons. Are you content that there will be sufficient funding for that training? Do you believe that the costs have been adequately accounted for in the Welsh Government's regulatory impact assessment? I don't know if you've had a look at that assessment.

Diolch i'r Aelod am godi pwynt hynod o bwysig. Fel roeddwn i'n ei ddweud gynnau—y piler ychwanegol i hwn ydy'r pethau atodol yna, sef addysgu ein hyfforddwyr ni a'n hathrawon am yr hyn sydd angen ei newid ac i roi y pŵer iddyn nhw a'r grym i allu gwneud hyn mewn ffordd sydd yn ddiogel ac sydd hefyd yn gynhwysol, a dwi'n meddwl bod hynny'n bwynt hynod o bwysig.

O ran y sylw sydd wedi cael ei roi i hynny ar hyn o bryd, dwi'n teimlo fel bod yna angen mwy o sylw sbesiffig o ran sut mae'r cwricwlwm newydd o ran addysg cydberthynas a rhywioldeb yn benodol yn mynd i gael ei gefnogi o ran addysgu'r proffesiwn, a dwi'n meddwl bod hynny yn rhywbeth y mae Stonewall Cymru yn teimlo yn angerddol amdano fo oherwydd y profiadau rydym ni'n clywed amdanynt o ran cynhwysiant LHDT, er enghraifft, lle dydy lot o weithwyr ac athrawon dal ddim yn teimlo'n ddigon hyderus i sôn am rhywioldebau LHDT. Felly, mae hynny'n rhywbeth jest i'w atgyfnerthu. 

Felly, jest i gloi, y pwynt penodol dwi angen ei wneud o ran Stonewall Cymru ydy bod angen bod yn sbesiffig sut mae'r cwricwlwm RSE yma'n mynd i gael ei gefnogi. Rydym ni yn gwybod bod Llywodraeth Cymru yn gwneud gwaith ehangach ar addysgu'r proffesiwn yn sgil y cwricwlwm newydd, ond mae angen i ni fod yn cael gwybodaeth benodol ar beth yn union sy'n mynd tuag at addysg cydberthynas a rhywioldeb yn benodol. Diolch yn fawr iawn.

Thank you to the Member for raising that very important point. As I was saying earlier—an additional pillar to this is teaching and training our trainers and training our teachers about the changes, and to empower them to be able to do this in a way that is safe and also that is also inclusive, and I think that's a very important point to make.

But, in terms of the attention given to that at the moment, I believe that there needs to be more specific attention paid in terms of how the new curriculum in terms of RSE is specifically supported in terms of teacher training and profession development, and I think that's something that Stonewall Cymru feels passionately about because of the experiences we hear about with regard to LGBT inclusively where a lot of professionals and teachers don't feel confident enough to talk about LGBT identities. So, that is something to note.

But, just to conclude, the fundamental point I need to make in terms of Stonewall Cymru is that there is a need to be specific about how the RSE curriculum is going to be supported. We know that the Welsh Government is doing wider work on teacher training and professional development on the new curriculum, but we need to have specific information about RSE. Thank you very much.

Just in terms of the financial implication of it, things to be aware of—the cost of covering teachers who are on training. So, for substitute teachers for the day, there's a cost for that. Another cost that will go around it is about whether or not schools are able to bring in experts with specialisms from organisations, like ourselves at Brook. Having people come in—they come at a cost. Also resources—so, making sure that we've got fully bilingual resources, so that we're not reinventing the wheel. There are some fantastic resources already available for professionals that just need translating, so there's a cost that comes with that as well. So, it's about ensuring that those things have being factored in as well as what Iestyn was saying, but it's just those extra added things that sometimes haven't been given that forward thinking as well.

11:30

Thank you. Just to say basically, on that point, that bringing in those specialist services as experts also makes economic sense because often we've developed tools on healthy relationships, consent, online relationships, and all of these things already. If schools are able to draw on those, if schools are given the investment to draw on those, then it makes economic as well as practical sense.

Also to be thinking within the investment as well is about building those relationships to enable those referral pathways and thinking about the investment that will be needed. Something we'll be looking at quite strongly within the COVID context: what are the referral pathways as children go back and have disclosure points within schools? What's the referral pathway and is that invested in to ensure that that support network is there, also for the staff who are also going to be affected? So, as staff get trained within RSE and begin to understand what violence and abuse is, we will inevitably have disclosures and that needs to be invested in, that they get the support network they need. It's not just investing in training them to teach the lessons, but it's also investing in the support networks they're going to need around them.

I'd like to support all of the comments that we've heard so far from us. What I'd like to reiterate is that this is an urgent requirement. It has to start now, but it needs to be very clearly—. I mean, the Minister for Education talks about sensitive implementation and careful planning. It absolutely does need careful planning. Our recommendations in the report provided a very comprehensive picture of how this could actually work, but it's absolutely crucial that we have a robust research training practice network where we're all together on this so that there's consistency and coherence across Wales. It can't be as we started out: 'Here's some money for the four consortia' but with no clear plans about how to spend that money. We need this; it needs to be done in a very careful way and we're all on board, the collectiveness of us, the consensus and the desire for all of us to want to support this is absolutely there but it needs that structural foundation, and that needs to come from Welsh Government.

Thank you, Chair. Just one quick point to add to what E.J. said there and, again, support all of the comments that have come up here. It's just that schools really do need to be supported to access those evidence-based, medically accurate and trauma-informed resources and experts. So, like E.J. was saying, having that network is really key or having access to a place on Hwb where they could find those evidence-based resources. Thank you.

Yr argraff rydw i'n ei gael gennych chi ydy bod y gwaith yna ddim yn digwydd—ddim i'r graddfa y ddylai fo fod yn digwydd ac efallai bod COVID hefyd wedi dal pethau'n ôl. Ydych chi'n meddwl, felly, ei bod hi'n werth gohirio pryd rydym ni'n gweithredu'r cwricwlwm newydd er mwyn bod y gwaith cefndirol wedi digwydd yn hytrach na chychwyn arni ac efallai'r adnoddau a'r dysgu proffesiynol heb wreiddio'n gywir? Pwy sydd am ateb hwnna? Iestyn?

The impression I get from you is that that work isn't happening at the moment or not to the extent that it should be happening, and perhaps COVID has held things back. Do you think, therefore, that it might be worth postponing the implementation of the new curriculum, so that this background work could have taken place rather than starting the work and perhaps the resources and the professional development won't have taken root in the right way? Who wants to respond to that? Iestyn?

Diolch i'r Aelod am y cwestiwn a'r sylw. O ran newid o ran amser, rydw i'n teimlo ei fod o'n bwysig ei fod o'n cadw fel ag y mae o o ran y cynlluniau oherwydd bod hwn yn fater sydd angen ei newid. Gallwn ni ddim disgwyl blwyddyn neu blynyddoedd eraill tan bod ein disgyblion ni'n cael addysg sydd yn gynhwysol. O ran beth sydd yn digwydd o ran hyfforddi athrawon, rydym ni'n gwybod bod yna gamau wedi'u cymryd ymlaen o ran meddwl am hyn o ran y cwricwlwm yn ehangach. Felly, rydw i'n meddwl beth sydd fwyaf—. Rydw i'n meddwl beth ydy'r pwynt rydym ni'n trio'i wneud ydy bod angen eglurdeb a bod yn fanwl yn yr union hyn sydd yn cael ei wneud tuag at addysg cydberthynas a rhywioldeb yn benodol, yn hytrach na'n bod ni'n clywed datganiadau bod yna gefnogaeth i'r sector yna'n ehangach o ran y cwricwlwm, ond wedyn ein bod ni ddim cweit yn deall yn iawn sut mae hynny'n treiddio drwodd i athrawon yng nghyd-destun addysg cydberthynas a rhywioldeb, ac rydw i'n meddwl dyna ydy'r pryder yn ei hanfod.

Thank you to the Member for that question and the comment. In terms of changing the timescale, I think that it is important that it remains as it is in terms of the plans because this is an issue that needs to be changed. We can't wait a year or several years before our pupils receive an education that is inclusive. But in terms of what's happening with teacher training, we do know that steps have been taken forward in thinking about this with regard to the wider curriculum. So, I think what's most—. I think the point that we're trying to make is that there is a need for clarity and detail in exactly what is being done with regard to RSE specifically, rather than us hearing statements that there is support for that sector in a wider sense in terms of the curriculum, but that we then don't quite understand how that trickles down to teachers in the context specifically of RSE, and I think that's the concern, essentially.

Felly, rydych chi'n meddwl, petai yna sylw yn cael ei roi i'r manylder yna, ei bod hi'n briodol i gychwyn gweithredu'r cwricwlwm fel maen nhw wedi'i raglenni. Dyna dwi'n ei gael gennych chi yn fanna, dwi'n meddwl. Dwi'n meddwl bod Emma—sori.

So, you think that if there were to be attention paid to those details, that it would be appropriate to implement the curriculum as they have programmed it. That's the sense I get from you there, I think. I think that Emma—sorry.

11:35

Ie, mi fyddwn ni fel Stonewall Cymru yn hyderus bod yna ddigon o amser i ni gymryd camau tuag at weithredu hynny. O ran yr elfen amser, mae hefyd yn bwysig cymryd mewn i ystyriaeth yr argymhellion sydd wedi cael eu gwneud gan y panel—sori, y term yn Saesneg ydy'r sex education expert panel—nôl yn 2017, o ran y ffaith bod yna argymhellion clir yn fanna o ran yr argymhellion ar addysgu proffesiynol i athrawon. Dwi'n meddwl ei bod hi ddim yn rhy hwyr; mae jest yn fater sydd angen rhoi sylw iddo efo mater o—ei fod yn argyfwng o ran yr angen i edrych arno fo rŵan yn hytrach na disgwyl blwyddyn arall.

Yes, we as Stonewall Cymru would be confident that there is sufficient time for us to take those steps towards implementation. But with regard to the timetable, it is important to consider the recommendations that have been made by the sex education expert panel back in 2017, because there are recommendations there that are clear with regard to professional development for teachers. I don't think it's too late; I think it's a matter that has to be given due attention, because there is an urgent need to look at this issue rather than waiting for another year.

Emma, if you could come in, and maybe you could pick up on what you feel has been lacking in terms of the response to the recommendations.

I think it's been slow progress, but it has to be careful, so I understand slowness, and post COVID—we're in a pandemic—it is a different—[Inaudible.]—rhythm now. But what I'd like to do, for me, the professional learning is the one key recommendation that we need to really urgently start with. It needs to come from bringing together and expanding that research training network, absolutely. But what I'd also like to give some confidence on is this is going on; it's the structuralness of it, really; it's making sure it's consistent across Wales.

So, with one of the four consortia, we've developed a professional learning programme for over two years now. It's very successful in terms of how it's enabling teachers to learn about what they need and develop that confidence to draw on those resources. It's resourced, but it's not resourced that all consortia may be even aware of, or have the money to be able to kind of roll out something like that. There's also some great work that was done earlier on with the pioneer schools that has also progressed.

So, it's a matter of collecting up that best practice and thinking about which programmes and how we deliver professional learning, because professional learning isn't the same as training, so we have to think about this carefully. But I think it can happen, absolutely, but it does need to start now, and this gives us a couple of years. Even in one year of a cohort, the confidence from the teachers to be able to really kind of take on board this new vision of RSE was very, very affirmative. So, I think there is a position there that in terms of delaying, absolutely not. I think we just need to put those structures in place and get those recommendations implemented, to kind of progress, really.

Thank you. For NSPCC, we feel that major investment is needed to ensure that teachers are well trained to design and deliver high-quality RSE and really, without that specialist training, we're concerned that teachers could avoid addressing sensitive or challenging issues, and then there's a risk that the opportunity to develop this inclusive content and to really rally the whole school and community to protect children could be undermined. So, I just really wanted to make that point; we feel it's essential that we have some investment in ongoing professional learning, development, training, on RSE.

Y cwestiwn olaf, a dwi'n meddwl mae'n siŵr i Stonewall mae hwn yn fwy na neb, felly. Yr addysg gynhwysol yma, a gwrthrychol, sydd angen digwydd: beth ydy'r heriau mwyaf rhag bod hynny yn gallu symud ymlaen, ac ydych chi yn gwbl hyderus y bydd o'n gallu digwydd?

Yes, the final question, and I'm sure that this is specifically for Stonewall more than anyone. This inclusive and objective education that needs to be given: what are the greatest challenges that might prevent that from moving forward, and are you entirely content and confident that it will be able to happen?

Diolch, Siân. Dwi'n meddwl mai'r brif her ydy hyder y proffesiwn i sicrhau eu bod nhw'n addysgu mewn ffordd sydd yn gynhwysol o ran y gallu i sôn am hunaniaethau LHDT. Mae'n wir i ddweud bod tystiolaeth a sgyrsiau rydym ni wedi eu cael efo athrawon a'r proffesiwn hyd heddiw yn dal yn dangos bod yna ddiffyg hyder a diffyg dealltwriaeth am beth maen nhw'n cael ei drafod a beth dydyn nhw ddim yn cael ei drafod.

O ran y mater sydd wedi cael ei sgwrsio amdano fo yn barod heddiw, o ran beth sy'n addas i'w drafod, mae'n hynod o bwysig ein bod ni eto yn—. Pan rydym ni'n sôn am hyn, beth rydym ni'n sôn amdano ydy adlewyrchu diwylliant [cywiriad: cymdeithas] ac adlewyrchu y Gymru gyfoes sydd yn bodoli yn ein plith ni yma yng Nghymru yn yr unfed ganrif ar hugain. Felly, beth fuaswn i'n dweud i'r pwynt yna o ran hyder athrawon yw bod hynny'n gallu cael ei helpu drwy addysgu proffesiynol, ond hefyd mae angen inni edrych tuag at sicrhau bod holl ethos yr ysgol yn sicrhau bod yna addysg gynhwysol. So, bod hyn ddim jest yn disgyn mewn i un elfen o'r cwricwlwm, mae'n rhaid sicrhau ei fod o—fel rydym ni'n clywed heddiw—yn whole-school approach, fel petai.

Thank you, Siân. I think that the main challenge is the confidence amongst the profession to ensure that they teach in a way that is inclusive in terms of the ability to talk about LGBT identities. It's true to say that evidence and conversations that we've had with teachers and the profession to date still demonstrate there is a lack of confidence and a lack of understanding about what they are allowed to teach and discuss, and what they're not.

In terms of issues that have already been talked about, about what is appropriate to cover, it's also important that we—. What we're talking about here is reflecting the culture [correction: society] and reflecting the modern Wales that exists now in Wales in the twenty-first century. So, what I would say to that point in terms of teachers' confidence is that can be assisted through professional learning, but also we need to look to ensure that the whole-school ethos is in place to ensure that there is inclusive education. So, that this doesn't just fall into one element of the curriculum, we need to ensure that—as we've heard today—it is a whole-school approach.

11:40

Kelly, briefly. And I'm afraid it's going have to be the last contribution.

No problem. I will be brief, I promise. But I think what's really important about the objectivity and the pluralistic side of things is about making sure that they're matters of fact, that they're verifiable, and they need to be distinguished from what's a matter of belief or personal opinion, and also, then, that actually we can have conversations. We want our young people to be critical thinkers, but, ultimately, we need to ensure that the conversations are safe, and it's not just a case of anything goes. Because all voices aren't equal: we have the Equality Act 2010 for that. So, it's just about ensuring, as we said earlier, that you've got reputable information, you've got correct information that's usable, that's reliable and is factually right, to be able to ensure that the curriculum is delivered to the highest of possible standards, to ensure that objectivity is there.

Okay, thank you. Well, we've run out of time. Can I thank you all for your attendance and for answering all our questions? It's been a really fascinating and very informative session for the committee. As usual, you'll be sent a transcript following the meeting, to check for accuracy, but thank you—all of you—again, for your time this morning. It's very much appreciated. Diolch yn fawr.

4. Papurau i’w Nodi
4. Papers to Note

Item 4, then, is papers to note. Paper to note 1 is a letter from the Children's Commissioner for Wales to myself regarding the use of her statutory powers on elective home education. Paper to note 2 is a letter from myself to Estyn following the committee's meeting on 17 September. Paper to note 3 is another letter to Estyn's chief inspector following the meeting on 17 September. Paper to note 4 is a letter from myself to the chief executive of Qualifications Wales following the meeting on 17 September. Paper to note 5 is the letter that we sent last week to all university vice-chancellors regarding support for students in the light of COVID-19. And paper to note 6 is a letter from the Minister for Education to the committee, responding on the report on remote teaching undertaken by Professor Sofya Lyakhova. Are Members happy to note those? Yes, thank you.

5. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42(ix) i Benderfynu Gwahardd y Cyhoedd am Weddill y Cyfarfod
5. Motion under Standing Order 17.42(ix) to Resolve to Exclude the Public for the Remainder of the Meeting

Cynnig:

bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(ix).

Motion:

that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix).

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Item 5, then. Can I propose, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42, that the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of the meeting? Are Members content? Thank you. We will now then proceed in private.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 11:43.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 11:43.

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