Every School Has a Curriculum. but How Much Thought, Research.[Title Derived]

Times Educational Supplement, May 17, 2019 | Go to article overview

Every School Has a Curriculum. but How Much Thought, Research.[Title Derived]


Every school has a curriculum. But how much thought, research and evaluation went into the creation of that curriculum (within the constraints of the national curriculum); how comfortable – and trained – teachers feel in making changes to, adapting or reimagining that curriculum; and how far it is understood what a curriculum actually is can all contrast greatly – not just between schools, but between individual practitioners.

The variations, blind spots and training gaps – as well as a huge number of other issues around curriculum development – are coming into sharp focus.

In England, Ofsted will shift to closely reviewing curriculum during its inspections from September. This follows increasing focus on curriculum as an agent of social mobility (with cultural capital at its heart), something that has been led from government and championed by teachers.

It also leads on from an uptick in the influence of academic research: if we are to take seriously the work on memory from the likes of Professors Robert and Elizabeth Bjork, then curriculum should look different to how it appears in many schools (whether we should let memory and other research influence our curriculum thinking – and to what level – is, I think, a debate worth having).

When it was announced that Ofsted would inspect curriculum, I had some doubts over how accurately this could be done. Having read the document provided by Ofsted detailing the proposed methodology (see bit.ly/Ofsted2019), I am still struggling to see how it translates into an inspection – some case studies would help enormously, as it is only fair schools fully understand the process by which they are to be inspected.

In Scotland, meanwhile, Curriculum for Excellence is a saga that is yet to be resolved. Now nearing its 10th anniversary of formal implementation, CfE promised more flexibility for teachers to tailor the curriculum to individual students’ needs. …

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