What matters? The impact of learning to teach within a period of curriculum reform in Wales

Worrall, Leigh (2022). What matters? The impact of learning to teach within a period of curriculum reform in Wales. In: Teacher Education Advancement Network Conference, 5-6 May 2022, Virtual.


Initial Teacher Education in Wales has undergone significant reform in recent years and this has coincided with significant curriculum reform in schools with the introduction of a new Curriculum for Wales (Welsh Government, 2015). As such, the experiences of student teachers on a PGCE programme in Wales over the next 2-4 years are unique. They are well placed to observe, engage and contribute to this reform journey in their school-based training. This is also problematic in that they are not only learning how to teach but learning to teach in schools which are currently undergoing immense change, flux and uncertainty in how they approach teaching and learning under current education reforms. This is also against the backdrop of a global pandemic which has immeasurably impacted education, schools and ITE over the last two years. And which has delayed the statutory implementation (September 2022) of the Curriculum for Wales.

The dominant influence of curriculum change on teacher identity is acknowledged (Seetal, 2006) as are the range of impacting factors which shape student teacher identity (Meijer, Graaf, & Meirink, 2011). This round table discussion outlines an individual research project which explores the impact which curriculum change is having on student teachers on the Open University PGCE Programme in Wales at present by documenting the approaches schools are taking to the implementation of a new curriculum from a student teacher perspective. It acknowledges the changing and evolving nature of student teacher professional identity (Timostsuk & Ugaste, 2010) and wishes to build on existing research conducted in other countries which documents student teacher experiences impacted by curriculum reform (Fomunyam, 2014). As a pan- Wales PGCE programme the study is well placed to gather data from a range of experiences and contexts. It is acknowledged that the Curriculum for Wales is based on a subsidiarity model which allows schools a wide range of freedoms to interpret and implement the curriculum as they see fit (and which suits their context) to facilitate greater success across a range of settings and context (Chapman, 2020; Crick & Golding, 2020). This research project recognises the need to document this from a student teacher perspective.

Chapman, S. (2020). The significance of context: Autonomy and curriculum reform in rural schools. The Curriculum Journal, 31(2), 231–243. https://doi.org/10.1002/curj.27 [Accessed: 4th January 2021]

Crick, T., & Golding, T. (2020). Building a New national curriculum for wales: Practitioners as curriculum policy makers. in 33rd International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI’20), https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa53339 [Accessed: 12 December 2021]

Fomunyam, KG. (2014a) Student teachers’ experiences of teachers’ professional identity within the context of curriculum change. Global Journal of Human-Social Science: (G) Linguistics & Education, 14(8): 47-56.

Meijer, C., Graaf, G. &Meirink, J. (2011). Key experiences in student teachers’ development. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 17(1), 115-129.

Seetal, S. (2006). Reconceptualising History teachers’ identities within the context of changing curriculum. (Unpublished PhD thesis)University of KwaZulu-Natal, Edgewood.

Timostsuk, I. &Ugaste, A. (2010) Student teachers’ professional identity. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 1563-1570

Welsh Government (2015) A curriculum for Wales – a curriculum for life. Education and Public Policy Group, Cathays Park, Cardiff.

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