Developing Digital Learning in Schools ‘Getting started with the DCF’

What is Digital Learning?

In the context of the new curriculum for Wales, digital learning gains raised importance as:

  • Digital Competence – a cross-curriculum responsibility
  • The IT & Computer Science aspects within the emerging Science and Technology Area of Learning and Experience (AoLE)
  • The use of technology to support good teaching and learning - specifically in the context of the 12 pedagogical principles:
  • maintaining a consistent focus on the overall purposes
  • challenging all learners - high and achievable expectations
  • employing a blend of approaches including direct teaching
  • employing a blend of approaches including problem solving, creative and critical thinking
  • building on previous knowledge and experience and engages interest
  • creating authentic contexts for learning
  • employing assessment for learning principles
  • ranging within and across AoLEs
  • reinforcing the cross-curriculum responsibilities
  • encouraging responsibility for own learning
  • supporting social and emotional development
  • encouraging collaboration

What is Digital Competence?

Digital Competence plays an increasingly powerful role in the lives of young people, for communication, networking, information, leisure and entertainment as well as for an increasing range of transactions and educational applications.

The ability to use digital skills is an increasingly common feature of the modern workplace.

All teachers and other staff should have the responsibility to support the development of digital competences and the skills and knowledge to do this.

Professor Graham Donaldson, Successful Futures.  2015

The Digital Competence Framework (DCF)

The DCF is the first element of the new curriculum to be made available.  It was developed by pioneer schools and was published in September 2016.  The development of the framework was supported by Professor Tom Crick, Estyn and the regional education consortia.

The DCF exemplifies the third cross-curriculum responsibility and is defined by four strands:


  • Identity, image and reputation
  • Health and well-being
  • Digital rights, licensing and ownership
  • Online behaviour and cyberbullying

Interacting and collaborating:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Storing and sharing


  • Planning, sourcing and searching
  • Creating
  • Evaluating and improving

Data and computational thinking:

  • Problem solving and modelling
  • Data and information literacy

Schools and settings should familiarise themselves with the framework, agreeing their strategic vision for cross-curricular digital competence and consider how to translate this into practice.

Welsh Government, 2016

What are the key considerations for schools?

Schools will need to determine their vision and strategic plans for the development of digital learning.

Over time this will need to encompass:

  • Digital Competence
  • IT / Computer Science Curriculum within Science and Technology AOLE
  • Use of technology to support good teaching and learning

Suggested approaches for developing digital learning:

The following visual highlights a timeline for consideration.  Regional programmes will be developed to support school priorities as appropriate to the timeline.

Getting started with the DCF…

  1. Develop a ‘2021’ vision of 21st century learning
  2. Prioritise the development of DCF across the curriculum
  3. Identify Digital Learning lead in each school
  4. Engage with 360o Safe Cymru tool via Hwb to support school leadership and policy
  5. Establish a digital learning group comprising SLT, Governor link, Teachers, Support staff and pupils
  6. Audit current provision:
    • Audit existing curriculum opportunities
    • Signpost Digital Competence Framework (DCF) aspects requiring development
  7. Audit current resources (Infrastructure, Hardware and Software)
  8. Raise awareness of tools and resources available through Hwb
  9. Identify resourcing requirements:
    • Infrastructure (networks, connectivity, servers, cloud)
    • Hardware (recommend mixed economy – PCs, laptops, tablets etc.)
    • Software (NB. Hwb resources provided at no cost)
  10. Audit staff professional learning needs
  11. Prioritise professional learning approaches
  12. Consider the development of pupil digital leadership
  13. Create a Digital Learning Plan
  14. Prioritise professional learning activities for staff

Priority should be given to the cross curricular application of data, information handling and modelling to fully comply with existing expectations for ICT across the curriculum.  The Data aspect of the DCF should be used to provide further guidance.

Continued work with the 360o Safe Cymru self-evaluation should focus on the safeguarding needs for pupils.

Joint Practice Development programmes are available through CSC Digital Curriculum Hub schools.  The emphasis will be on supporting senior and middle-leadership approaches to the development of digital learning across the school. 

Lead Practitioner programmes will be available to support specific aspects of both DCF development and the emerging needs of the Computer Science curriculum.

Please visit Cronfa for programme information.

Please contact for further guidance.

Richard George
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Richard George

Strategic Adviser for Using Technology at Central South Consortium
Richard George
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2 thoughts on “Developing Digital Learning in Schools ‘Getting started with the DCF’

  1. A clear and concise ‘to-do’ list with advice on how to get started – a point in the right direction. Thank you – very helpful and I plan on using it with staff in the next DCF INSET.

  2. Cheers Richard. A good place to point people towards in regards to the DCF.

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