CAMAU: Progression and Assessment in the Curriculum for Wales


The recommendations of Successful Futures (Donaldson, 2015) were adopted by Welsh Government (WG) (A curriculum for Wales – a curriculum for life, WG, 2015). WG set in place a national strategy to develop national guidance which integrates curriculum, assessment and pedagogy (Curriculum for Wales Guidance, WG, 2020) which will support all practitioners in creating learning experiences to accomplish the Four Purposes of the curriculum. Carrying out this strategy is the responsibility of all involved in education in Wales – policy makers, practitioners and researchers.

The Welsh Government commissioned the University of Glasgow (UofG) and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), to undertake the CAMAU research project to work with policy makers and practitioners in exploring how learning in this new policy context might be described progressively informed by both research and practice.

The Research Project

The focus of the CAMAU project has been learning progression.

CAMAU provided evidence from research, policy and practice to address five questions:

  • How might curriculum, progression and assessment be described and developed in Wales to focus on learning and to promote better alignment between research, policy and practice?
  • In what ways do models of curriculum progression relate to progression in learning emerging from evidence of learning and progression within schools and classrooms?
  • To what extent is it possible to think of assessment as the use of evidence to enable future learning, as ‘progression steps’, rather than as a summary of past achievement?
  • What implications arise from the CAMAU work with AoLE groups that will be essential to consider in the next phases of the programme (i.e. implications for professional learning)?
  • What implications arise from this exploratory partnership project for research, policy and practice in Wales and beyond?

To date, the CAMAU project has been in four phases:

Phase 1: Learning about Progression

Phase 1 of the CAMAU (February 2017 – February 2019) addressed the first three questions. The Welsh Government had established a national network of Pioneer Schools, teachers from which worked in national groups, one for each of the six curriculum Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLEs).  Their task was to identify what matters in each AoLE and how progression in learning might best be described within each. CAMAU worked in the six AoLE groups which brought together practitioners, researchers and policy makers to examine critically:

  • research evidence on the construct of progression  
  • research evidence on progression in different curricular areas  
  • progression as conceptualised in Welsh policy 
  • structures and descriptions of progression in other countries’ curriculum policies and frameworks
  • Welsh teachers’ insights from professional experience into progression. 

and thus to determine how progression might best be described and developed in the six curricular areas and how progression steps might be most helpfully identified and described to support future learning. In so doing, CAMAU researchers explored and developed alternative ways of mediating research to policy-makers and practitioners and employed these within the AoLE groups. In addition, researchers worked as part of national strategic committees to promote alignment between developing policy and practice in the AoLEs, e.g., the Independent Advisory Committee, reporting directly to the Education Minister and the Curriculum and Assessment Group, the strategic driver for the reform programme. Findings are reported in Learning about Progression: research report (Hayward et al. 2018).  The evidence from CAMAU research has informed the structure and content of Curriculum for Wales Guidance (WG 2020).

Phase 2: What Matters in Building Progression nationally: beyond pioneer schools.

Phase 2 of the research (February 2019 – April 2020) addressed the final two research questions.

  • What implications arise from the CAMAU work with AoLE groups that will be essential to consider in the next phases of the programme (i.e. implications for professional learning)?
  • What implications arise from this exploratory partnership project for research, policy and practice in Wales and beyond?

Data were collected through Focus Groups and Interviews with practitioners and policy makers past and present who had played a central role in the design of the programme. The analysis of data led to the development of a second report with recommendations for future action. This report was submitted to WG in So Far So Good: Building the Evidence Base to Promote a Successful Future for the Curriculum for Wales (Hayward et al. 2020). This research built on the Integrity Model of Change (Hayward & Spencer, 2010) and led to a deeper understanding of what matters if change is to become deeply embedded in both policy and practice in ways that are sustainable over time.  Welsh Government has used the powerful messages emerging from the research to inform the further development and enactment of Welsh curriculum policy. The value of policy co-construction informed by approaches developed by CAMAU remains a central strategy in the new Welsh Curriculum.

Phase 3: Promoting Alignment (April – October 2021)

A major challenge in curriculum reform internationally is the challenge of keeping the developing national programme well aligned with its original aspirations.   Before Principles of Progression are enshrined in Welsh legislation, in Phase 3, the UofG CAMAU team working with UWTSD and funded by WG is investigating the relationship between different statements of the Principles of Progression developed over time in Curriculum for Wales Guidance. The team is reviewing WG documentation containing statements about progression over time to identify developments in thinking and their relationship with the original evidence base in research and policy. The team will then focus on the current final version to reflect on its consistency, both consistency with research and consistency within and across the documentation. The research methodology continues to be based on ideas of co-construction that are central to all activity within the new Welsh curriculum.

Phase 4: From Pioneer to Nation (starting June 2021)

Countries internationally engaged in large scale reform find most challenging the shift from project development to national engagement.  Phase 4 of the CAMAU work will focus one of the major conceptual shifts necessary in the Welsh Education system if Curriculum for Wales is to emerge in practice in ways that remain consistent with its aspirations: changing the assessment culture from one that has in recent years been associated with comparison and categorisation to one that is focused on progression and learning. This project will build on develop an interactive toolkit to support understanding and implementation of assessment by practitioners for the purpose of supporting learner progression. The team will continue to use their established methodology.

Throughout Phases 1 to 3 members of the UofG CAMAU team have further contributed to the development and enactment of Curriculum for Wales through: membership of national advisory and co-ordinating committees; membership of ad hoc working groups; a range of national and regional capacity building activities.

PI and Co-Is

PIs: Professor Louise Hayward, School of Education, University of Glasgow

Professor Dylan Jones, University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD).


Co-Is: Dr David Morrison-Love, Dr Kara Makara Fuller, Dr Fran Valdera-Gil, George MacBride, Ernest Spencer: School of Education, University of Glasgow

UWTSD: Dave Stacey, Jane Waters, Elaine Sharpling, Nany Ryder, Sionad Hughes

Start and End Date

Phases 1 & 2: February 2017 to March 2020

Phase 3: April to October 2021

Phase 4: starting June 2021

Funder and Funding Amount

CAMAU (Phases 1 & 2): Welsh Government and UWTSD £500,000

CAMAU (Phase 3): Review of Principles of Progression WG £25,000

CAMAU (Phase 4): Assessment Realisation Toolkit WG £75,000

Related Publications

Project Reports

Hayward, L., Jones, D. E., Waters, J., Makara, K., Morrison-Love, D., Spencer, E., Barnes, J., Davies, H., Hughes, S., Jones, C., Nelson, S., Ryder, N., Stacey, D., Wallis, R., Baxter, J., MacBride, G., Bendall, R., Brooks, S., Cooze, A., Davies, L., Denny, H., Donaldson, P., Lewis, I., Lloyd, P., Maitra, S., Morgan, C., Pellew James, S., Samuel-Thomas, S., Sharpling, E., Southern, A., Stewart, S., Valdera-Gil, F., and Wardle, G. (2018) Learning about Progression: research report. University of Glasgow and University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Glasgow and Swansea

Note: the content of this report is available in different formats for different audiences and purposes:

Hayward, L., Barnes, J.,  Davies, H., Hughes, S., MacBride, G., Makara, K., Morrison-Love, D., Ryder, N., Sharpling, E., Spencer, E., Stacey, D. and Wallis, R. et al. (2020) So Far So Good: Building the Evidence Base to Promote a Successful Future for the Curriculum for Wales. Project Report. University of Glasgow & Yr Athrofa.  

Other Reports

MacBride, G. (2021) Taking Curriculum for Wales Forward: Engaging, Planning, Enacting, Learning. Documentation. University of Glasgow, Welsh Government Education Directorate.

Journal Articles

Hughes, S., Makara, K. and Stacey, D. (2020) Learning progression in the humanities: identifying tensions in articulating progression in humanities in Wales. Curriculum Journal, 31(2), pp. 276-289. (doi: 10.1002/curj.28)


Note also that the main project reports are also available in Welsh as:

Hayward, L., Jones, D. E., Waters, J., Makara, K., Morrison-Love, D., Spencer, E., Barnes, J., Davies, H., Hughes, S., Jones, C., Nelson, S., Ryder, N., Stacey, D., Wallis, R., Baxter, J., MacBride, G., Bendall, R., Brooks, S., Cooze, A., Davies, L., Denny, H., Donaldson, P., Hughes, S., Lewis, I., Lloyd, P., Maitra, S., Morgan, C, Pellew James, S., Samuel-Thomas, S., Sharpling, E., Southern, A., Stewart, S., Valdera-Gil, F., Wardle, G. (2018) Dysgu am Ddilyniant: Prosiect CAMAU: Adroddiad Ymchwil. Glasgow: Prifysgol Glasgow; Abertawe: Prifysgol Cymru Y Drindod Dewi Sant

Project News

The CAMU project underpins progression in the new Welsh curriculum: The Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Education wrote, “Our new curriculum and assessment arrangements are being built on ‘progression’. The CAMAU project run by the University of Wales, Trinity St David and Glasgow University has supported Pioneers in developing this approach. It will be based on a nationally described continuum of learning from 3-16.”

Welsh Government has used the CAMAU reports to inform thinking as they develop the next phase of the Curriculum and Assessment programme

Two new projects to take forward the work of the CAMAU project have been started in 2021.