Welsh champs cut national strategy down to size

Nicola Porter & Andrew Mourant

Welsh-speaking headteachers have rewritten the Assembly government's document for a national pedagogy framework into the language of heaven, and cut it by half.

Eifion Evans, Ceredigion's assistant director of education, was so alarmed when he read the draft English and Welsh versions side by side - and saw that, for example, the Welsh word for "outcome" appeared in English as "result" - that he enlisted a team of heads to rewrite the Welsh version.

"We decided we must do something about it. The meaning had become lost in translation," said the former head of Plascrug Community Primary in Ceredigion.

Eight Welsh-speaking heads were assembled to unpick the document, which also contained jargon such as "metacognition" - the self-awareness of your cognitive processes, or thinking about thinking - for which, Mr Evans said, there is no Welsh translation.

By the time the heads had finished translating the document, it was half its original length. The slimline version has since been relaunched in English.

"It's important to get clarity. Welsh is a much more economical language," Mr Evans said. "Everyone should now understand it in half the time, fingers crossed."

In 2006, Jane Davidson, the former education minister for Wales, appointed 11 champions - mostly senior teachers - to spread good teaching practice as part of the pedagogy initiative. But their presence has been very low profile.

David Hawker, the recently appointed director of the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, this week dismissed claims that the strategy had been quietly abandoned, undermined by the introduction of the school effectiveness framework, which is intended to spread good teaching practice, but also to tackle underperformance.

In an interview with TES Cymru, Mr Hawker said the national pedagogy strategy would work alongside the school effectiveness framework, as well as strategies to raise literacy and numeracy standards and to increase good practice.

"The national pedagogy strategy will be the nuts and bolts of good teaching practice, which includes thinking skills and assessment for learning," he said.

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Nicola Porter & Andrew Mourant

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