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Via @glynbeddau

In some ways the news that education bosses are claiming draft Welsh curriculum ‘poorly defined’ is a lesson on how politicians behave as government ministers as opposed  to when they are in opposition.

The Education Minister in the Welsh Government, is Kirsty Williams the sole Liberal Democrat elected in  in 2016 after the Asembly elections the then First Minister Carwyn Jones appointed her to the Welsh Cabinet as Education Secretary; 31 seats are needed for a majority in the Welsh Assembly, Labour had 29, so Williams joining with the Labour administration created a working majority.

In previous Assemblies Ms Williams was arguably the most effective member of the opposition, tearing in to the government Benches so much more i nicknamed  her La Passionaria.
However  as a Minister she has been effectively tamed and we could only wonder what her response would be to news that  education bosses have warned pupils’ learning could be “left to chance” because of a lack of clarity in Wales’ new curriculum, 

They told assembly members too much of the draft curriculum so far was “generic, poorly defined and weak on knowledge and skills development”.
A draft will be published in April and it is due to be rolled out from 2022.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said she was concerned the comments showed a lack of understanding of the reforms.
The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) and the Association of Directors of Education in Wales (ADEW) raised their concerns in joint evidence to the Assembly’s children’s committee, which is reviewing how the reforms are progressing.

 “It is likely that pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills development will be left to chance, i.e. relying heavily on the knowledge and experience of individual teachers as opposed to an entitlement defined by the curriculum,” they added.They said pupils without “strong family support” were at risk of missing out the most.
In the area of language and literacy learning, they said: “There are many high-level and grandiose themes at the expense of the nuts and bolts of language development – speaking, reading and writing.”
Although there had been some improvement, there remained poor communication with schools on the progress of reform, they added

 The new curriculum will be introduced in primary schools and the first year of secondary in 2022 – those pupils will all learn under the new curriculum as they move up the school years.This means any child currently in Year Three or below will be taught under the reformed system.
Schools and officials have been working on the draft curriculum to develop the content of the six areas of learning.
“The landscape is awash with experts getting ‘excited’ about curriculum reform,” the WLGA and ADEW wrote.
“The reality is that workload-weary teachers will have to try to make it work on the ground.”
They raised concerns that the number of reforms in schools potentially distracted from the actual teaching of children.
They also said:

  • Maths was the best-defined area of the curriculum so far
  • It was a concern that “modern foreign languages, such as French, are not explicitly identified… they are referred to as ‘other languages’. The lack of prominence is likely to undermine their importance in the curriculum”.
  • Science and technology was the least well-developed of the areas of learning.
  • A lot of topics had been included in “humanities” but there is a “lack of sufficient detail”.
  • Physical and sporting development was not mapped out well and there was no mention of the word “sport”.
  • There was a “lack of clarity” around the expressive arts.

 A Welsh Government spokesman said some of the evidence showed 

“a general lack of understanding of the reforms and how they will work in practice”.

He added: “The new curriculum must allow professionals the flexibility to choose the specific content which meets the needs of their learners in their specific context; the feedback that we’ve received from those involved in designing the curriculum has been broadly positive and suggests we’re heading in the right direction.”

Imagine if the former La Passionaria  was on the opposition benches even if on her own, she would be grilling the First Minister and whoever held the Education Portfollio , with her usual passionate analysis.

Yes she would not have the same amount of time , that she would have had as leader of a six strong Liberal Democrat , although I would suspect that Llywydd (Presiding Officer) Elin Jones would allow her a bit of favouritism because of her qualities.

But La Pasionaria is now La señora domada (The Tamed Lady), whis is regrettable.