Are teachers in Wales invested in Successful futures enough to ensure its success?

An image showing a rabbit looking at a rabbit hole

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Not exactly rabbits in the headlights, but teachers in Wales are staring down the rabbit hole of curriculum reform

We’re all familiar with the idea of falling down the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland-esque rabbit hole of the internet: start reading about X, you’re soon clicking a link to Y, then browsing a story about Z and before you know it you’re all the way at A, wondering how on earth you got there and where the last two hours went.

It’s an experience that anyone reading about the reform of the Welsh curriculum, Successful futures, will recognise. Starting with government documents describing the aims and the consultation process, you progress, quite logically, to myth-busting articles separating the fact from the fiction. Then it’s a short hop to TES or The Guardian, and articles filtering informed opinion from unfounded gossip. Pretty soon there’s a link to an article warning Wales not to make the same mistakes that Scotland made with Curriculum for excellence.

At least that was my journey when reading about Successful futures. And now I’m wondering whether curriculum reform itself is a rabbit hole.

For Scotland, it was certainly a long and winding road – documentation came in 2004, implementation in 2010. Wales is still on its route to Successful futures – the feedback period closed in July 2019, and we’re awaiting the subsequent report, due in January 2020, with rollout of the curriculum scheduled to start in 2020.

Teachers need to own the curriculum, to be invested in it and value it for it to embed successfully

Teachers across Wales are already discussing the reformed curriculum and what it means for them. They’re anticipating plenty of changes. Because Successful futures emphasises cross-curricular learning, aiming for literacy, numeracy and digital competence, teachers are expecting to have to work across disciplines much more than they currently do. They might already be thinking about implementation, but are they sufficiently invested in Successful futures to see it succeed?

My rabbit hole of learning about the Welsh reform led me back to EiC’s own website and Edgar Jenkins’ article, Who owns the school chemistry curriculum. Because as Edgar points out, teachers need to own the curriculum, to be invested in it and value it for it to embed successfully. Has the path to Successful futures engendered that? Have those leading the process learned from the problems that Scotland’s teachers encountered bedding in Curriculum for excellence? Will it be a smooth implementation, with everyone on-board?

Reforming a curriculum is no easy task. Let’s hope the exit from this particular rabbit hole has a clearer ending.