Empowering Teachers to Develop Learning Progressions for a New National Curriculum

Issued: Thu, 10 Oct 2019 10:24:00 BST

The CAMAU research group, part of the University of Glasgow Education Assessment Network (UGEAN), recently held a symposium on ‘Empowering Teachers to Develop Learning Progressions for a New National Curriculum’ at the 2019 conference of the British Educational Research Association.  This was based upon the work of the CAMAU Project (Welsh for ‘steps’) which was commissioned by the Welsh Government to support the process of radical educational reform in which evidence-informed learning progression is placed at the heart of the new national curriculum.  As an example of educational research which sits close to practice, the CAMAU Project brings together researchers, policy-makers and teachers in order to think through progression for learners in Wales.

The symposium, organised by Kara Makara and the CAMAU team, was presented jointly by the University of Glasgow and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, with Professor Dominic Wyse offering reflection and points for consideration in his role as Discussant.

The first paper (Louise Hayward, Dylan Jones, Jane Waters) presented the context of curricular reform and the participatory socio-cultural framing and design of the project. This was influenced by the principle of subsidiarity set forth in Successful Futures (2015) which places curricular design decisions as close to learning and teaching as possible.

The second paper (David Morrison-Love, Dave Stacey, Peter Donaldson) described a series of ‘decision trees’ that were developed by the CAMAU group to support teachers in making key design decisions in advance of developing progression frameworks for different areas of the learning experience.  These decisions related to the purposes, form, structure and conceptualisation of learning progression.  The decision trees were shown to be effective mediating artefacts for scaffolding complex decision-making involving a range of different types of evidence.

The third paper (Kara Makara, Nanna Ryder, Rachel Wallis) keyed into some of the processes and challenges of thinking through progression in two characteristically different areas of learning: Humanities and Maths & Numeracy. A variety of collaborative approaches were used to support teachers in synthesising research, international curricular examples, and their classroom experience in order to develop an evidence-based overview of the learning journey across these disciplines. We noted the challenge of describing learning, teacher agency in the process, and the complexity of working at the intersection of research, policy, and practice.

The symposium inspired a discussion with the audience around teacher co-construction of curriculum and assessment arrangements and the sustainability of curricular change. Our discussant, Professor Wyse, noted: “It was a pleasure to be invited to be a discussant at this seminar which addressed the innovative curriculum development work happening in Wales. In my view there is much that can be learned in England about the developments happening in other countries of the UK. The seminar was also testament to the growing interest in curriculum development from the perspectives of research, practice and policy world-wide.”

The CAMAU research group are currently continuing analysis and dissemination of findings, which will be summarised in our project report due at the end of this year.


The CAMAU symposium presenters along with our discussant at BERA 2019. From left to right: David Morrison-Love, Nanna Ryder, Rachel Wallis, Kara Makara, Dominic Wyse, Louise Hayward, Dave Stacey, Ernie Spencer.



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