Welsh Government’s National Digital Learning Council

In September 2011, Leighton Andrews AM, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Education and Skills, set up an external task and finish group to consider “which digital classroom delivery aspects should be adopted to
transform learning and teaching
” for those aged 3–19. The Digital Classroom Teaching Task and Finish Group report (Find it, make it, use it, share it: learning in digital Wales) was published in March, with ten headline recommendations. Prior to the Minister giving a keynote talk at the 2012 CAS Wales/Technocamps conference in June, a Written Statement was released outlining the plan of action to improve performance in Wales’ schools through the use of digital technology; namely:

  • The launch of a new bilingual learning platform for Wales, called Hwb, which will provide a platform for learners and teachers to share resources, knowledge and experience across the whole of Wales.
  • The creation of a National Digital Collection which will include a repository for thousands of curriculum and good practice resources for teachers and learners to upload, share and use.
  • Encouraging the use of iTunes U to showcase the best educational resources and activities in Wales.
  • The sponsorship of an annual National Digital Event to raise the profile of digital technology in education and of Welsh achievements in this field.
  • Additional professional development for teachers and other education staff to support the teaching of computer science and IT, building on the new enthusiasm around the development of products such as the Raspberry Pi and .NET Gadgeteer to encourage young people into future studies and careers in computing.
  • The establishment of Digital Leaders, who will be drawn from the best practitioners using digital technology in Wales.
  • The creation of a new National Digital Learning Council to provide expert guidance on the use of digital technology in teaching and learning in Wales.

With regards to the National Digital Learning Council (as per the Minister’s Written Statement):

I am establishing a National Digital Learning Council to provide expert and strategic guidance on the use of digital technology in teaching and learning in Wales. The remit of the Council will be to guide the implementation of the learning in digital Wales programme and to promote and support the use of digital resources and technologies by learners and teachers. The Council will work closely with the School Practitioner Panel which I announced in March 2012.

The Council will start work in September 2012. The membership of the Council will be drawn from schools, further education and the skills sector in Wales. In order to ensure that there is a strong learner voice in the Council, I have also agreed that a pool of associate members will be established, comprised of learners from primary schools, secondary schools and further education colleges.

In addition, the work of the Council will be supported by a number of professional advisors from higher education and industry.

In the Learning in Digital Wales Update in Issue 305 of the Welsh Government’s Dysg eNewsletter (Monday 10th September), the members of the Council were announced:

  • Chair: Janet Hayward (Headteacher, Cadoxton Primary School, Vale of Glamorgan)
  • Dr Tom Crick (Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Chair in Wales, Computing At School)
  • Robert Newsome OBE (Headteacher, Dyffryn Taf School, Carmarthenshire)
  • Sue Burnett (University of Glamorgan)
  • Maldwyn Pryse (Estyn)
  • Geraint James (ADEW ICT, Director of Education, Conwy)
  • Simon Pridham (Headteacher, Casllwchwr Primary School, Swansea)
  • Hannah Mathias (St David’s Catholic College, Cardiff)
  • Peter Sishton (Director for Wales, e-skills UK)
  • Chris Britten (Headteacher, Ashgrove Special School, Vale of Glamorgan)

Supported by the following expert advisors:

  • Professor Stephen Molyneux (Apple Education)
  • Professor Gary Beauchamp (Cardiff Metropolitan University)
  • Professor Iram Siraj-Blatchford (University of London)
  • Professor Faron Moller (Swansea University)

A team of eight Digital Leaders will start in January 2013, acting as online champions of digital technology in teaching and learning:

  • Jane Altham-Watkins (Cardiff Education Advisory Service)
  • Martin Austin (Ysgol Sant Elfod, Abergele)
  • Alex Clewett (Flint High School, Flint)
  • Matthew Geary (NGfL Cymru)
  • Sonia McLaughlin (Vale of Glamorgan Council)
  • Dilwyn Owen (Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg, Barry)
  • Glyn Rogers (Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw, Pontypool)
  • Peter Thomas (St John Baptist CIW High School, Aberdare)

The first meeting of the National Digital Learning Council is tomorrow in Llandrindnod Wells; I look forward to serving on the Council (with a priority focus for me being CPD funding for ICT teachers to teach computer science) and blogging about its activities over the next few months.

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