Daf Baker, Schools curriculum specialist at Agored Cymru awarding body, explains the benefits of investing in Forward with Schools/Ymlaen ag Ysgolion support service for all schools in Wales.
“There are gaps in the provision currently, based around personal and social education (PSE), including the delivery of the newly titled, relationships and sexuality education (RSE).
The Welsh Government, through its Curriculum for Life developments and last year’s sex and relationships (SRE) review has highlighted areas that need support in terms of schools education.
We know that PSE is a subject area which is often squeezed in to the timetable in terms of curriculum priority. There are excellent examples of how schools approach PSE including embedding the subject cross different subject areas, collapsed time table days and one off sessions. At Agored Cymru, we advocate that PSE is given the same priority as these other subject areas.
Our service, available in Welsh and English, Forward with Schools, is our response to this need and we understand the benefits of a PSE curriculum in terms of educational attainment and supporting future employment prospects. This is especially true when looking at the technological changes that are happening within the workplace.
Looking back, the initial idea behind Forward with Schools started in 2009, when we were a fledgling awarding body. It has been a fundamental vision for Agored Cymru. We wanted to ensure that schools had the tools and products to deliver a meaningful PSE curriculum. This wasn’t just about delivering the subject but making sure that schools had fit-for-purpose policies and procedures in place. This means that schools have a full tool kit to deliver whole school approaches to the subject matter. For example, there are still isolated incidences where a schools equality and diversity policy may still include references to section 28, a discriminatory piece of legislation relating to stopping the promotion of LGBT materials and resources within schools. This had the effect of isolating LGBT pupils and causing vast confusion within schools, the effects of which are still felt to this day. This is an example of the bilingual expertise and guidance that we can offer at Agored Cymru through our Forward with Schools /Ymlaen ag Ysgolion service. Such policy review is a cornerstone of this service.
Historically, we have supported PSE by challenging the fitness-for-purpose of qualifications that meet the needs of schools in Wales. This gave us the platform to develop the first-of-its kind learning opportunities, through qualifications. This included the development of the very first LGBT learning module and young people’s participation qualifications.
Since then we have worked with a number of key Welsh partners, for example School Beat, to ensure Government funded educational programmes can be captured through qualification attainment.
At Agored Cymru, we are in the unique position to be able to respond to national Welsh educational priorities. We are excited to watch the developments flowing from Curriculum for Life including the six areas for learning and experience (AoLE). This means that PSE will have the same parity alongside more traditional subject areas in schools in the future.
We are at the forefront of Welsh curriculum and qualification development. It means that we are able to identify emerging needs and can develop continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities to support leading practice in Wales. For example, in 2019 we are holding events on digital literacy, relationships and sexuality education, and employee engagement and wellbeing.
All the CPD events will have the Agored Cymru Quality Mark.