Help to Buy – Wales Shared Equity Scheme »This shared equity loan will make up the shortfall between the purchase price of a property and the funding available to buyers through their cash deposit and mortgage offer.Learn more »
“Autumn Statement has done little to change the challenging public finance outlook for Wales” – Jane Hutt
Wales’ Finance Minister Jane Hutt has responded to the UK Government’s Autumn Statement – saying that it has done little to change the challenging public finance outlook for Wales.
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- “Autumn Statement has done little to change the challenging public finance outlook for Wales” – Jane Hutt
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Section highlightThe Housing (Wales) Bill
The Bill will introduce significant improvements across the housing sector to ensure that people have access to a decent, affordable home and better housing-related services.
Legislative programme 2013 - 2014 »
The First Minister detailed the 8 bills in the Welsh Government’s 5-year Legislative Programme that will be brought forward during the 3rd year of the Welsh Assembly.Learn more »
Section highlightProject pipeline update - December 2013
This Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan annex highlights planned investments and potential procurement opportunities.
Final Budget 2014-15 »
The amount of funding allocated to Welsh Government Departments for 2014-15 is £14.9bn.Learn more »
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Written - The School Effectiveness Framework: Moving Forward
Introduction and Context
The School Effectiveness Framework (SEF), which I launched in February 2008, is the overarching policy which brings coherence to work aimed at improving the education and wellbeing of our school-aged learners in Wales.
Following the pilot phase of the SEF, receipt of the independent interim evaluation of its work and further reflection that has involved all key stakeholders, I am now able to map out the next stages in taking forward the SEF in Wales.
The school level pilot of SEF over the last twelve months has focused on new approaches to school self evaluation and developmental approaches that include the establishment of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to share and embed good practice in our communities of schools. The 96 schools involved have been supported in this work by either head teachers from other schools or local authority advisers, who were trained for this role. The pilot has generated a considerable amount of useful evidence that has enabled us to shape the future development of the SEF.
For example, particular strengths have been the widespread support for the vision and principles of the SEF; the usefulness of the School Effectiveness Profile as a self evaluation and planning tool; and the value gained from the professional dialogue between serving heads, both at individual school level and as schools come together in professional learning communities to tackle common areas for improvement.
I am also pleased to announce that since the launch of the pilot, there has been an exciting and encouraging level of interest both locally and internationally. The SEF was warmly received, for example, at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) in Toronto, this last January. And, as a direct result of the pilot, international academics from the field of school effectiveness have engaged with groups of our schools to conduct research, particularly on professional learning communities, distributed leadership and pupil participation. One project directly involves Professors Alma Harris, Mark Hadfield and Louise Stoll. The results of this project will be disseminated in December 2009 and will also be used as the basis for a symposium address at the next ICSEI Conference, which will be held in January 2010. The SEF also has engagement from Professor Michael Fullan, and the continued involvement of Professors David Hopkins and David Egan.
However, it was always my intention that the SEF would be far more than a form of peer assessment and support. It is, in essence, a policy and a programme that seeks to transform educational standards and provision in our schools and local authorities over the next decade. It is the Welsh Assembly Government's key policy for school reform in Wales and the one to which all other policies are aligned.
As part of the Framework, we and ours partners (including representatives of local authorities and head teachers) have developed a statement of national purpose for schools. It describes the purpose of schools as being to:
- enable all children and young people to develop their full potential by acquiring skills, knowledge, understanding and attitudes, including personal, social and emotional skills, to enable them to become economically, socially and personally active citizens and lifelong learners;
- promote a culture of social inclusion and respect for diversity, particularly through developing the wellbeing of learners and personalising their learning;
- establish strong professional learning communities in schools where practitioner can develop and share their professional knowledge ion learning and teaching;
- offer children and young people a curriculum that engages and motivates them to learn and to achieve their potential;
- provide a learning community for all engaged in school life, with children and young people and their families at the centre, and including governors, teachers, other school staff and adults training to work in schools;
- be a key player with other schools and partner service providers in planning and delivering integrated services for children and young people to improve their wellbeing; and
- provide or facilitate education so that schools contribute to meeting the needs of the community and engage the community as partners to ensure that all schools are community focussed.
It is my intention that we - that is, schools, local authorities and the Welsh Assembly Government; the whole of the education community in Wales - now need to move SEF to scale.
What is the School Effectiveness Framework?
The SEF aims to:
- Improve overall pupil achievement, particularly through a focus on improving the quality of teaching and leadership in our schools and local authorities.
- Reduce variation in achievement within and between different groups of pupils, schools and local authorities.
- Diminish the link between socio-economic circumstances and pupil/school attainment.
- Achieve this through being an overarching policy that aligns all work aimed at improving learning and wellbeing for school-aged children and young people.
- Bring together national, regional and local endeavour in education in a common purpose that is mutually supportive, but which recognises the need for strategic operational and impact-focused leadership to rest at particular levels within our system.
The proposition offered by the SEF is to focus on the right of each and every young person to a high quality learning experience throughout their educational journey. The SEF will enable the system to track the progress of each young person along their route through each of his or her educational settings and schools. Such a construct flows from the seven core aims for young people (attached). It enables children's progress to be monitored as an individual and removes the tension of judging institutional performance as a proxy for pupil performance. This also means that within-school variation, school- to- school variation and local authority performance can be assessed, supported and challenged but always in the context of performance of individual children within a local authority area, not individual institutions.
This activity will firmly position the SEF at the heart of the Welsh school improvement policy agenda and set it apart from school improvement strategies elsewhere in the UK and internationally. I am pleased to say that Wales will be distinctive. In Wales the whole educational system within a local authority area will be held accountable for the quality of the educational experience of all of its young people. Head teachers will have a responsibility for the quality systems in their school not only for the benefit of the pupils on their own roll, but also for the benefit of all pupils within their area. In this way, the education community begins to take responsibility for all of our children and young people, and not just for some of them.
Such a concept will support our 14-19 policies as well as the transformation agenda, with FE colleges sharing responsibility with schools for the pupils who live in a particular local authority area. Nursery, school and college leaders will have a responsibility to support the learners across the local authority and beyond as well as those students who attend their institution.
Alongside the SEF, the Quality and Effectiveness Framework will become the focus for improvement activity in the lifelong learning and skills sector. The two frameworks will share an emphasis on learner involvement and well-being, building on existing best practice in all learning settings.
The focus on tri-level reform, another distinctive Welsh focus, will become a reality. Evidence shows that educational reform is most effective when designed and implemented collaboratively and coherently through all levels of the education system: nationally, locally and at the level of the individual learning setting - a process of tri-level reform. My Department will set a strategic policy lead. Local authorities will be responsible for educational quality across their locality and will be accountable to the local elected members and the parents and young people in their areas. Individual education institutions will be responsible for the quality of the experience offered to children and young people enrolled but also have a shared responsibility for all the children and young people living within the local authority. The SEF will encourage the development of professional learning communities as well as peer support and challenge as part of the locally determined policy delivery framework.
Alignment of Policies to Support SEF
As I have indicated above, the SEF will be the glue that holds together all Welsh Assembly Government policies aimed at improved teaching, learning and assessment, support, measures for improvement and accountability and school reform, so that every child can enjoy the right to a high quality educational experience.
In particular, my Department will ensure that there is clear alignment of policies in the following areas:
- Curriculum developments in the Foundation Phase, 8-14 education, 14-19 Pathways and in literacy and numeracy.
- Transition arrangements from primary to secondary schools.
- The Pedagogy Strategy.
- The review of CPD and leadership programmes that is currently underway.
- The Quality and Effectiveness Framework, which is being developed alongside the SEF to support continuous improvement in further education, work-based and community learning.
- Initial teacher training and early professional development.
- The new Estyn Common Inspection System 2010.
- The development of quantitative and qualitative data to enable challenge and support.
- Robust personal, institutional and area self evaluation.
- Teacher and head teacher performance management.
- Local authority accountability and outcome agreements.
- The Post 16 transformation agenda.
- The Welsh-medium education strategy
- Young peoples engagement and participation.
In achieving policy alignment, the importance of teacher pedagogy, professional development and high quality leadership must be prominent. I wish to draw upon the extensive body of knowledge on school effectiveness that demonstrates that high quality teaching and strong leadership at all levels within schools, are the key to sustained improvement. They must, therefore, be at the heart of the SEF.
I want to stress the fact that the SEF will be central to the mission for improvement of the Welsh Assembly Government and all local authorities, schools and teachers. But, we also recognise that it will need to develop discrete strands that apply to schools at particular points on the improvement journey. This must include those schools that face challenging circumstances, as much as those that are already high performing, but are committed to achieve even more. In this way, I hope that we can narrow the gap, as well as continue to raise the bar.
The 2009/10 academic year
Over the coming academic year, my Department, along with local authorities and schools will plan the implementation and roll out of the SEF across Wales from September 2010.
To achieve the aim of raising standards for all young people in Wales all the partners to our education system must build upon the school level pilots undertaken in the 08/09 academic year to create a credible, affordable and sustainable implementation plan for the delivery of the SEF at each level. I will be asking them to work together to identify ways of delivering SEF via the four consortia areas, using the expertise within local authority school improvement teams and serving head teachers as part of a systems leadership team.
My officials will put in place a communication plan to fully engage stakeholders at each level of the system as well as to parents and young people. This communication strategy will focus on what is an exciting challenge: how the education system will make a step change in pupil performance in its widest sense for every pupil across the country.
Within the next six months, my officials, along with LAs and schools, will jointly develop accountability levers to ensure that, at all levels across the system, there are appropriate incentives and sanctions to monitor performance at consortium and local authority level and that these levers will enable local authorities to effectively performance manage their schools to raise standards, improve the quality of provision and be able to support and challenge school leaders to provide high quality teaching and learning for all pupils regardless of their gender, socio economic background and ability.
And through all of this, I expect that the engagement of our children and young people with the process of the SEF, an engagement which has begun so positively through many parts of the pilot, will continue. I am encouraged by the fact that so many of our children and young people have engaged with the SEF pilot through the Children and Young Peoples' version of the SEF document. Indeed, a good number of school councils have used this document to inform their own discussions with their head teachers and even governing bodies, about their schools.
Over the next fifteen months, my Department, local authorities and schools will jointly take forward a number of strands of work to achieve a delivery plan for the School Effectiveness Framework to be rolled out across Wales from September 2010.
This will mean developing and agreeing a national SEF model to be delivered locally by schools, local authorities and consortia. This model will require the refocusing of existing resources at school and local authority level, a different way of working with schools to bring about improvement, training of serving professionals (to build capacity), strong learning communities within and across schools and a culture of collaboration.
The actions will be based upon evidence gathered from a variety of internal and external stakeholders, including our external evaluators, the People and Work Unit.
The actions will involve all levels of the education system, the Assembly, local government, schools and classrooms, as well as other stakeholders and partners, including Estyn.
The key partners in the delivery of the work will be:
- Welsh Assembly Government
- WLGA and ADEW
- Professional Associations and Unions
- Head teachers, principals and other school and college practitioners
- The Associates and Improvement Facilitators who have worked with us during the current academic year.
- Children and young people
The Assembly will take the strategic lead. I will continue to have a central WAG team of officials and seconded practitioners from schools and local authorities. This team will co-ordinate and report back to me on the implementation of all of this and I will provide regular updates.
There are many challenges ahead to make the SEF a reality and, with the whole education system working together, I am certain that we can make a significant and sustainable improvement for all children and young people.