Presentation on theme: "Concepts for curriculum design"— Presentation transcript:
1 Concepts for curriculum design Analysing a ‘new approach’ to the National CurriculumNational Association for Primary EducationAssociation for the Study of Primary EducationConference on ‘The Primary Curriculum’, February 27th 2013Andrew Pollardreflectiveteaching.co.ukInstitute of Education, University of LondonGraduate School of Education, University of BristolNAPE is atASPE is atBoth welcome new members.
2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: a ‘new approach’ ‘The National Curriculum should set out only the essential knowledge and understanding that all children should acquire and leave teachers to decide how to teach this most effectively.’The legitimacy of over-aching aims and judgements of ‘essential knowledge and understanding’ has not been establishedCore subjects are over-specified and embed pedagogic prescriptionOther foundation subjects as a whole are incoherent in form and contentBreadth is sustained, but balance in knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes is lackingContinuity from EY to KS1 is weak; progression and expectation are very bold‘We want the National Curriculum to be a benchmark not a straitjacket, a body of knowledge against which achievement can be measured.’Inclusion (and differentiation) across the curriculum is required but will be difficultLanguage, literacy and numeracy across the curriculum are required. Learning is absent.Personalisation, connection and relevance rely on the School CurriculumPupil agency , including engagement, authenticity and feedback rely on the SCCurricular coherence is weak, and must be built through the School CurriculumAssessment requirements are unclear, but are likely to be very powerfulSystemic congruence of control factors is real. Can schools rise above the straitjacket?Summarising the analysis in this presentation ...In bold, are the formal intentions for the ‘new approach’ (drawn from the Consultation document) .... with bullet points picking out some conclusions from this talk.
3 HOW TO TACKLE THIS SUBJECT? Comparisons of:Early Ministerial statementsCambridge Primary Review recommendationsRose Review curriculumExpert Panel recommendationsCurricula within UK and internationallyPolitical party positionsPressure group perspectivesHistorical precedentsDisciplines of educationInternational researchInternational agency recommendationsAll good for critique …. but how also to seed improvement in DfE and constructive responses through the School Curriculum?There are lots of ways in which the NC proposals could be analysed.I’ve opted to use conceptual tools, which also suggest how the expertise of the teaching profession might be applied. It also reminds those designing and determining curriculum content that the outcome has to be practically applied in classroom contexts with the intention that children learn. Public debates on content, on history for example, must eventually be tempered by what is sensible in a broad and balanced curriculum as a whole and by the developmental needs of children as learners.
4 STRUCTURE OF TALK A ‘new approach’ to the National Curriculum’? Concepts for curricular designBreadth (aims, subjects and areas of learning)Balance (between knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes)Continuity, progression and expectationPersonalisation (incl. connection, relevance, differentiation)Agency (incl. engagement, dialogue, authenticity and feedback)Coherence and congruenceTaking stockWhat next?This is the road map for the presentation.
5 a contemporary opportunity. London: TLRP GTCE. Pollard, A. (2010)Professionalismand Pedagogy:a contemporary opportunity.London: TLRP GTCE.This is the main source of the conceptual tools. It can be downloaded from , or go toThe toolkit is also embedded, with TLRP’s principles, within forthcoming editions of Reflective Teaching for Schools and Reflective Teaching for the Early Years (both due January 2014).
6 ... drawing on ... Aims Contexts Processes Outcomes CURRICULUM PEDAGOGYASSESSMENTAimsContextsProcessesOutcomesThe logic of the conceptual framework is based on the proposition that these dimensions represent enduring issues, and that discussion inevitably occurs at their intersection – hence the development of powerful concepts and professional expertise.6
7 1. Society’s educational goals Breadth Principle Alignment CurricularconceptsPedagogicAssessment1. Society’s educational goalsBreadthPrincipleAlignment2. Elements of learningBalanceRepertoireValidity3. Community contextConnectionWarrantDependability4. Institutional contextCoherenceCultureExpectation5. Processes for learners’social needsPersonalisationRelationshipsInclusion6. Process for learners’emotional needsRelevanceEngagementAuthenticity7. Processes for learners’cognitive needsDifferentiationDialogueFeed-back8. Outcomes for continuous improvement in learningProgressionReflectionDevelopment9. Outcomes for certificationand the lifecourseEffectivenessEmpowermentConsequenceSo this fills in some detail, and a selection is made of powerful concepts. These could, of course, be debated. Those illustrated here are a settlement after much consultation, trial and error. They are being built upon during 2013, with illustrative research evidence for each cell, through the reflective teaching website at For the moment, the best source is the TLRP GTCE Commentary on Professionalism and Pedagogy which explains the rationale behind each concept and illustrates uses.
8 WHY NATIONAL CURRICULA? Aims and objectives for each stage of education can represent national aspirations, affirm pupil entitlements and clarify expectations. Curriculum breadth and balance can be considered as a whole. Curriculum progression and continuity can be planned and monitored. Training and professional development programmes for teachers can be tailored. Assessment and inspection systems can be used to reinforce intentions. Parents, employers and other stakeholders know what is being taught. Coherence, alignment and improvement of the system as a whole can be developed though evaluation processes, research and refinement.This slide simply affirms that national curricula are important and should be supported.
9 How should educational decisions be made? Education Reform Act, Section 4, Principal Provisions(1) It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State(a) to establish a complete National Curriculum (taking first the core subjects and then the other foundation subjects); and (b) to revise that Curriculum whenever he considers it necessary ...(2) The Secretary of State may by order specify ...(a) such attainment targets; (b) such programmes of study; and (c) such assessment arrangements; as he considers appropriate ...(3) An order made under subsection (2) above may not require—that any particular period or periods of time should be allocated during any key stage to the teaching of any programme of study or any matter, skill or process forming part of it; orthat provision of any particular kind should be made in school timetables for the periods to be allocated to such teaching during any such stage.(My emphases.) The act is clear that curriculum and assessment requirements can be determined by the Secretary of State. It is also clear that the use of time in school and selection of teaching and learning activity is excluded from such control. In the Commons debates of the time, I believe it is apparent that this explicit exclusion was designed to protect the role of governors and teachers in exercising judgement about practical application and pedagogic matters. The tricky bit concerns whether curricular requirements in programmes of study can slide into prescribing ‘provisions’ for teaching of a ‘particular kind’ – the issue of phonics in early reading provides a clear example. This issue may ultimately need to be tested in the courts.My own view is that the balance in the Education Reform Act is about right in principle – but has proven vulnerable in practice.The education system serves society and the government of the day should act in the public interest. Unfortunately, the concentration of powers in a Secretary of State pose problems when the issues become politicised or when ideological frames are extreme – and this has been a particular problem when evidence and experience are ignored. However, it is surely right in principle that the lead on curriculum and assessment (intentions and accountability) should come from government, albeit in consultation with the teaching profession and other stakeholders. Irresponsible decision making should be challenged and corrected though democratic processes.In parallel, it is also right that government should respect teacher professionalism and defer to their pedagogic expertise.In exercising their professionalism, teachers should actively contribute to public deliberation on curriculum and assessment. They also need to be articulate in defending their responsibility for pedagogy. The latter, of course, is extremely difficult. This is one reason for the attempt to represent teacher expertise and its conceptual underpinning more explicitly.
10 A ‘new approach’ to the curriculum The Importance of Teaching 1.8 We are clear that our school system is performing below its potential: our pupils, teachers and head teachers are capable of achieving more than the current structures allow them to.1.9 It does not have to be like this. The best performing and fastest improving education systems in the world show us what is possible.These systems consistently combine a rigorous focus on high standards with a determination to narrow attainment gaps between pupils from different parts of society.They combine high levels of autonomy for teachers and schools with high levels ofaccountability: so that professionals both feel highly trusted to do what theybelieve is right and highly responsible for the progress of every child.They ensure that every child and young person learns through a coherent and stretching approach to the curriculum.Now we need to understand the new approach which the Coalition Government intends.Whilst these statements could be contested, that is not the point.
11 A ‘new approach’ to the curriculum 4.1 It is our ambition to reduce unnecessary prescription, bureaucracy and centralcontrol throughout our education system.That means taking a new approach towards the curriculum. At over 200 pages, the guidance on the National Curriculum is weighing teachers down and squeezing out room for innovation, creativity, deep learning and intellectual exploration.4.2 The National Curriculum was never meant to be the whole school curriculum – the totality of what goes on in any school. It was explicitly meant to be limited in scope yet in practice has come to dominate.The National Curriculum should set out only the essential knowledge and understanding that all children should acquire and leave teachers to decide how to teach this most effectively.We want the National Curriculum to be a benchmark not a straitjacket, a body of knowledge against which achievement can be measured..Continuing exposition of the new approach which the government intends – particularly its focus on essential knowledge and role of the National Curriculum as a ‘benchmark’.
12 A ‘new approach’ to the curriculum The National Curriculum will act as a new benchmark for all schools.It will be slim, clear and authoritative enough for all parents to see what their child might be expected to know at every stage in their school career.Academies and Free Schools will retain the freedom they have at the moment todepart from aspects of the National Curriculum where they consider itappropriate. But they will be required by law, like all schools, to teach a broad and balanced curriculum. And all state schools will be held accountable for theirperformance in tests and exams which reflect the National Curriculum.Now we need to understand the new approach which the government intends .... For some, but not all, schools.
13 Contrastive starting points English, mathematics and science are the building blocks of education; improving our performance in these subjects will be essential if our country is to compete in the global economy. That is why they are central to the new National Curriculum. (DfE consultation document, April 2013, para 1.8) At the heart of the educational process lies the child. (Plowden Report, 1967, p7)Just interesting to note the emphasis on ‘building blocks’ for core subjects compared with ‘the child the heart’ of ‘educational processes’.
14 Enduring design dilemmas In TLRP terms, a balance must be struck between two principles:Effective teaching and learning engages with valued forms of knowledge. Teaching and learning should engage with the big ideas, facts, processes, language and narratives of subjects so that learners understand what constitutes quality and standards in particular disciplines. (TLRP Principle 2) Effective teaching and learning recognises the importance of prior experience and learning. Teaching and learning should take account of what the learner knows already in order to plan their next steps. This includes building on prior learning but also taking account of the personal and cultural experiences of different groups of learners. (TLRP Principle 3)But we need to take appropriate account of both knowledge and learning processes.
15 Plowden understood the importance of combining knowledge and development The child is the agent in his own learning. This was the message of the often quoted comment from the 1931 Hadow Report: `The curriculum is to be thought of in terms of activity and experience rather than of knowledge to be acquired and facts to be stored'. Read in isolation, the passage has sometimes been taken to imply ... that activity and experience did not lead to the acquisition of knowledge. ... The actual implication is almost the opposite of this. It is that activity and experience, both physical and mental, are often the best means of gaining knowledge and acquiring facts We certainly would not wish to undervalue knowledge and facts, but facts are best retained when they are used and understood, when right attitudes to learning are created, when children learn to learn. Instruction in many primary schools continues to bewilder children because it outruns their experience. (Plowden Report, 1967, pp 193-7)And interestingly, Plowden also recognised the importance of knowledge.So, it is perfectly appropriate to take knowledge very seriously.
16 Design dilemmasHow should the value of coherence and progression in subject knowledge be compared with ….. the benefits of making connections to other dimension of children’s lives? How can a national curriculum framework guarantee curricular entitlements and guide the work of teachers ….. whilst also enabling them to exercise professional judgement when responding to particular learning needs?These are a couple of particular dilemmas posed by the need to juggle subject knowledge and developmental learning.Resolving such dilemmas is the key expertise of teachers.
17 STRUCTURE OF TALK A ‘new approach’ to the National Curriculum’? Conceptual tools for curricular designBreadth (aims, subjects and areas of learning)Balance (between knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes)Continuity, progression and expectationPersonalisation (incl. connection, relevance, differentiation)Agency (incl. engagement, dialogue, authenticity and feedback)Coherence and congruenceTaking stockWhat next?
18 AIMS: WHY BREADTH? DOES THE CURRICULUM REPRESENT SOCIETY’S EDUCATIONAL ASPIRATIONS FOR ITS CITIZENS? In England, Section 78 of the Education Act 2002 states that school curriculum should be ‘balanced and broadly based’ and should ‘promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, and prepare pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.’2. The school curriculum in England2.1 Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based and which:promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, andprepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. (NC Consultation Framework, 2013)Overall system purposes (with origins in Section 7 of the Education Act, 1944) is taken forward from its most recent expression in the Education Act 2002.So we have continuity at the highest level of intention.
19 AIMS: WHY BREADTH?Breadth is associated with high achievement. INCA comparative international study documented curricular breadth among ‘high performing jurisdictions’ to age 16 (DfE, 2011) ‘Inspection reports in all parts of the UK have, for decades, testified that children are likely to achieve most progress in the core skills or literacy and numeracy if they learn in a rich, broad and balanced curriculum which provides them with stimulating content to talk, read and write about and to explore mathematically, scientifically, socially or creatively.’ (Expert Panel, 2011)Educational evidence of various sorts supports the provision of a broad curriculum.Breadth also enables diverse stakeholders and interest groups to be accommodated. Certainly there has been a lot of lobbying of DfE by such groups. So it also works politically.
20 AIMS: WHY BREADTH?The Cambridge Primary Review is unequivocal about the need to protect curriculum breadth.This case is argued on the grounds of :educational entitlement - pupils in primary schools need a proper foundation for their learning both now and in the future and for later educational choice,educational standards – HMI and Ofsted inspection evidence consistently show that standards in the so-called ‘basics’ of literacy and numeracy are interdependent, and that narrowing the curriculum down in the hope of raising such standards is not only educationally unsound but also counterproductive.It follows that reduction in the specified content of the national curriculum should be across the board rather than by cutting back what the CPR regards as essential domains of knowledge and understanding or downgrading their status.While England’s best primary schools will always provide both breadth and excellence, an unacceptably large number will reduce the curriculum to what is required and/or tested. This is a key lesson of recent educational history.(Alexander, 2011, submission to DfE for consultation)CPR made the case for breadth very consistently.
21 AIMS: WHY BREADTH?Two versions of ‘minimal entitlement’ appear to be on offer.Minimalism 1 reduces entitlement to a handful of subjects deemed uniquely essential on the grounds of utility and international competitiveness.Minimalism 2 foregrounds the educational imperative of breadth by making a wider range of subjects statutory. It strives to balance the different ways of knowing, understanding, investigating and making sense that are central to the needs of young children and to our culture, and achieves the required parsimony by stripping back the specified content of each subject to its essential core.Robin Alexander, Guardian article ( )The distinction between ‘Minimalism 1 and 2’ is a powerful summary of two possible outcomes. The present proposals may have the appearance of Minimalism 2, but a reality which is closer to Minimalism 1.
22 AIMS: WHY BREADTH?Historical study, international comparison and sectoral reviews suggest broad areas of intention such as:SocialEconomicPersonalCulturalEnvironmentalPublic debate neededWithout clarity on goals, it is not possible for a fully coherent and holistic curriculum to be offered or for appropriately aligned and congruent assessment practices to be developed.(Expert Panel report, 2011)The Expert Panel identified these themes in statements of aims.The EP proposed that a significant public debate on the aims of the National Curriculum should be promoted.
23 AIMS? Aims in the National Curriculum proposals No public debate on overall purposes. Why not?3. Aims3.1 The National Curriculum provides pupils with an introduction to the core knowledge that they need to be educated citizens. It introduces pupils to the best that has been thought and said; and helps engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.3.2 The National Curriculum provides an outline of core knowledge around which teachers can develop exciting and stimulating lessons. (NC Consultation Framework, 2013)Aims at overall curriculum level are limited to classic statement on breadth and balance etc, but this is a very general statement. We have the minimalist statement of 3.1 in the slide and more detailed domain aims through the PoS for each subject.So this review, so far, offers no elaborated aims for the curriculum as a whole – though many are stated in Michael Gove speeches (especially in relation to international competitiveness and improving opportunities).
24 STRUCTURE OF TALK A ‘new approach’ to the National Curriculum’? Conceptual tools for curricular designBreadth (aims, subjects and areas of learning)Balance (between knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes)Continuity, progression and expectationPersonalisation (incl. connection, relevance, differentiation)Agency (incl. engagement, dialogue, authenticity and feedback)Coherence and congruenceTaking stockWhat next?
25 WHY BALANCE? DOES THE CURRICULUM AS EXPERIENCED OFFER EVERYTHING WHICH A LEARNER HAS A RIGHT TO EXPECT?Elements of learning (HMI, 1985)Knowledge: Selections of that which is worth knowing and of interest. ‘That which is taught should be worth knowing, comprehensible, capable of sustaining pupils’ interest and useful to them at their particular stage of development and in the future’.Concepts: The ‘big ideas’ which inform a subject, or generalisations which enable pupils to classify, organise and predict ‑ to understand patterns, relationships and meanings, e.g. flow, change, consequence, temperature, refraction, power, energy.Skills: The capacity or competence to perform a task, e.g. personal/social (listening, collaborating, reflecting), physical/practical (running, writing, cutting), intellectual (observing, reasoning, imagining), communication (oracy, literacy, numeracy) etc.Attitudes: The overt expression of values and personal qualities, e.g. reliability, initiative, self-discipline, tolerance, resilience, resourcefulness, etc.This is the classic HMI text from which derive many of the profession’s conceptual tools for curriculum planning and evaluation.
26 WHY BALANCE?Why Knowledge as an element of learning? Teachers with good subject knowledge are able to make more secure judgements about the appropriate teaching of knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes. Content knowledge - knowledge of the subject held by the teacher. Pedagogic content knowledge - knowledge of how to use content knowledge for teaching purposes. Curricular knowledge - knowledge of curriculum structures and materialsShulman’s insights affirm the important of subject knowledge for teacher effectiveness, which complements its educational significance for pupils.
27 WHY BALANCE? Knowledge in the National Curriculum proposals: NC proposals: Framework 3.1 The National Curriculum provides pupils with an introduction to the core knowledge that they need to be educated citizens. It introduces pupils to the best that has been thought and said; and helps engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.E. D. Hirsch: ‘core knowledge curriculum’A specified sequence of topics in each subject which will enhance both educational standards and opportunities for allAffirmation of the educational importance of knowledge for pupils – and reference to Hirsch as a key influence on the way knowledge is presented in core subjects.
28 WHY BALANCE? Knowledge in the National Curriculum proposals: Core subjects:Very high knowledge content specifications, long and detailedProgression based on perceived logics, experience of typical learning sequences, and comparison with the ordering of knowledge in successful jurisdictions internationallyObscure authorship and uneasy relationships with subject specialistsOther foundation subjects:High knowledge content specification, but very short and variable qualityProgression by key stage forsakes upper/lower KS2 opportunityVariable in form and lacking common elementsImbalanced emphases suggest significant stakeholder influenceStrange range of programmes of studyWhy, in proposals for consultation, do we have:184 pp altogether138 pp on KS1 and 2 core subjects15 pp on KS1 and 2 other foundation subjects31 pp on KS3 core and foundation subjectsGreat contrast and variability too in D&T, PE, History, Computing, etc
29 WHY BALANCE? Why Concepts as an element of learning? Concepts enable the most important ideas and deep structure of knowledge and understanding in each subject to be presented in concise ways. This avoids long lists of curriculum content.Concepts as organisers – because they ‘provide a map of knowledge’ which establish connections between cases, facts and experiences and thus enable us to understand them.Concepts as anchorage points – in providing stability for exploration of the subject and enabling cumulative understanding by learners.Concepts for flexible futures – because the information explosion generates new facts at such a rate that it is futile to try to keep up.Concepts are very powerful forms of understanding.
30 WHY BALANCE? Why Concepts as an element of learning? The Geographical Association proposed a curriculum for primary schools based on ‘thinking geographically’. As they put it:A few large, organising concepts underlie a geographical way of investigating and understanding the world. These are high level ideas that can be applied across the subject to identify a question, guide an investigation, organise information, suggest an explanation or assist decision making. They are the key ideas involved in framing the unique contribution of geography as a subject discipline.The three main organising concepts for geography are place, space and environment. There are further basic ideas in geography that run across this overarching framework, such as connection, interrelation, scale and change.Using these ideas carefully and accurately is a key component of what we mean by thinking geographically. (Geographical Association, 2012)This is an illustration of the use of concepts – sadly, not in fact used in the proposed geography curriculum.
31 WHY BALANCE?Concepts in the National Curriculum proposals: Core subjects: Implicit in programmes of study, but not explicitly drawn out Other foundation subjects: Mentioned in history, but missing from most subjects and certainly not explicitUse of concepts is disappointing – particularly if the intention is to produce ‘slim, clear and authoritative’ programmes of study. They are quintessential forms of ‘powerful knowledge’. The failure to use them systematically in all PoS is very surprising.
32 WHY BALANCE? Why Skills as an element of learning? A skill is ‘the capacity or competence to perform a task’ - but uses of the term include reference to: basic, physical, personal, study, subject and vocational skills.Classic distinction from Gilbert Ryle:declarative knowledge – knowing thatprocedural knowledge – knowing howThe point is that there are sets of capabilities which complement and extend a subject-based curriculum. Skills may be specified for study across all curriculum subjects.Skills are an important element of a balanced education.
33 WHY BALANCE? Skills are recognised internationally: It is probably no accident that Finland, Japan, Shanghai and Singapore are without physical resources. All of these places have known for a very long time that their standard of living depends entirely on the knowledge and skills of their people.All now realize that high wages in the current global economy require not just superior knowledge of the subjects studied in school, but also a set of social skills, personal habits and dispositions and values that are essential to success. The Asian countries in particular are concerned that their students may not have as much capacity for independent thought, creativity and innovation as their countries will need.Mark S Tucker (2011) Standing on the Shoulders of Giants:an American agenda for education reformAP in Malaysia (February 2013) discussing exactly these issues at the Ministry of Education.
34 WHY BALANCE? Skills in the National Curriculum proposals 5. Language, literacy and numeracy5.1 Teachers should develop pupils’ spoken language, reading and writing as integral aspects of the teaching of every subject. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects.5.2 Teachers should also use every relevant subject to develop pupils’ mathematical fluency. Confidence in numeracy and other mathematical skills is a precondition of success across the National Curriculum. (NC Consultation Framework, 2013)Some very important skills are provided for on a cross-curricular basis, outside any particular subject PoS.But there is no provision for learning skills, learning disposition, learning how to learn, etc of any sort. This is major omission – but could be easily corrected, at least nominally.
35 WHY BALANCE?Skills in the National Curriculum proposals: Core subjects: Embedded in programmes of study, but not made explicit or extracted on a cross-curricular basis except for language, literacy and numeracy Other foundation subjects: Mentioned variably in relation to subject domains, but not systematically or cross-curricularTaking stock on skills, treatment is poor and has not been systematically thought through.
36 WHY BALANCE? Why Attitudes as an element of learning? Attitudes were regarded by HMI as ‘the overt expression, in a variety of situations, of values and personal qualities’Honesty, reliability, initiative, self-discipline and toleranceOther specific values and priorities reflect particular social, cultural and economic priorities:citizenship , health, exercise and diet, sustainabilityAttitudes, in the original HMI version, link to character, values etc, with other concerns also finding expression through this element of learning.
37 WHY BALANCE? Why Attitudes as an element of learning? HMI also emphasised promotion of ‘positive attitudes (to learning) – now termed ‘dispositions to learn’:Resilience covers aspects of the learner’s emotional and experiential engagement with the subject matter of learning.Resourcefulness embraces the main cognitive skills and dispositions of learning.Reciprocity covers the social and interpersonal side of learning.Reflectiveness covers the strategic and self-managing sides of learning. (Claxton et al, 2011, p40)Reference to Claxton is an illustration of many contemporary takes on learning. Dweck and Bandura are among many psychologists contributing. There is no doubt about the significance of this issue – and about the surprise of its omission in any form.
38 WHY BALANCE? Why Attitudes as an element of learning? ‘Learning how to learn’ (James et al, 2007) for the 21st century.2020 Vision (Gilbert, 2007) aspired to ‘a new school experience’.personalisationassessment for learninglearning how to learnpupil voiceengaging parents and carerspupil engagement in a meaningful curriculumA couple more examples of contemporary thinking on this – including one from the DCSF which explicitly looked to the future (as Scandinavian and Asian countries are doing).
39 WHY BALANCE?Attitudes in the National Curriculum proposals: Core subjects: No mention Other foundation subjects:So, very short sighted treatment. The ‘new approach’ may focus on knowledge, but to eliminate endorsement of the development of learning across the curriculum (even if substantively part of the school curriculum) is extremely misguided. It is no way to achieve international competitiveness in the future.
40 WHY BALANCE?A balanced curriculum? Knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes versus ‘Fewer things in greater depth’ results in Effective narrowing, because of the combination of over-specification and high stakes reinforcement of core subjects, combined with under-specification and incoherence of other foundation subjects.A summarising formula, which begins to crystallise the problem posed by the new approach the national curriculum.But this could be redeemed. ‘Fewer things in greater depth’ has merit as long as breadth and balance are maintained, but this requires a very disciplined and selective approach to content loading (of which there is little sign).
41 STRUCTURE OF TALK A ‘new approach’ to the National Curriculum’? Conceptual tools for curricular designBreadth (aims, subjects and areas of learning)Balance (between knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes)Continuity, progression and expectationPersonalisation (incl. connection, relevance, differentiation)Agency (incl. engagement, dialogue, authenticity and feedback)Coherence and congruenceTaking stockWhat next?
42 WHY CONTINUITY? DOES THE CURRICULUM FACILITATE AND SUPPORT CUMULATIVE LEARNING? Why continuity through the curriculum? Children's development is a continuous process and schools have to provide conditions and experiences which sustain and encourage that process while recognising that it does not proceed uniformly or at an even pace. There is a need to build systematically on the children's existing knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes, so as to ensure an orderly advance in their capabilities over a period of time. (HMI, 1985)Classic HMI statements again.
43 WHY CONTINUITY?Why continuity through the curriculum? The main points at which progression is endangered by discontinuity are those at which pupils change schools. Curricular planning within and between schools should aim to ensure continuity by making the maximum use of earlier learning. Continuity within and between schools may best be achieved when there are clear curricular policies. If the goals are clear, progress towards them is more likely to be maintained. (HMI, 1985)And the key issue being continuity between schools. For this purpose, we need to look at the EYFS and KS1 transition.
44 WHY CONTINUITY? EYFS Area of learning Aspect Personal, Social and Emotional DevelopmentSelf-confidence and self-awarenessManaging feelings and behaviourMaking relationshipsPhysical DevelopmentMoving and handlingHealth and self-careCommunication andLanguageListening and attentionUnderstandingSpeakingLiteracyReadingWritingMathematicsNumbersShape, space and measuresExpressive Arts and DesignExploring and using media and materialsBeing imaginativeUnderstanding the WorldPeople and communitiesThe worldTechnologyThis is the EYFS curriculum, which resonates substantively with many subjects of KS1. Indeed, DfE officials state that this has been carefully considered.
45 WHY CONTINUITY? EYFS Learning characteristics. Children learn: By playing and exploring● finding out and exploring● using what they know in their play● being willing to have a goThrough active learning● being involved and concentrating● keeping on trying● enjoying achieving what they set out to doBy creating and thinking critically● having their own ideas● using what they already know to learn new things● choosing ways to do things and finding new waysBut these are the learning characteristics expected in EYFS – quite different from what is expected in KS1.
46 WHY CONTINUITY? Continuity in the National Curriculum proposals English: Key Stage 1During Year 1 teachers should build on work from the Foundation Stage, making sure that pupils can sound and blend unfamiliar printed words quickly and accurately using the phonic knowledge and skills that they have already learnt.Teachers should also ensure that pupils continue to learn new grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and revise and consolidate those learnt earlier.This slide gives a flavour and is the single cross reference I could find between KS1 PoS and EYFS, focused on phonics. There is no appreciation of the contrastive forms of curriculum or practice across the key stages. Continuity for these very young children is likely to be extremely problematic as teachers, and their practices, may be driven in very different ways. I wonder what parents will think of this?
47 WHY PROGRESSION? DOES THE CURRICULUM PROVIDE AN APPROPRIATE SEQUENCE AND DEPTH OF LEARNING EXPERIENCES?1. Progression is linked to providing continuities in children’s development as learners. Children’s development is a continuous process and schools have to provide conditions and experiences which sustain and encourage that process while recognising that it does not proceed uniformly or at an even pace. If this progression is to be maintained, there is a need to build systematically on the children’s existing knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes, so as to ensure an orderly advance in their capabilities over a period of time. (Her Majesty’s Inspectors, 1985, p 48) This understanding of progression recognises variation, diversity and uncertainty in learning and urges teachers to personalize the curriculum in relation to pupils’ existing knowledge.There are quite a few ways of thinking about progression. This one from HMI begins developmentally, but addresses the progressive engagement with various elements of learning.
48 WHY PROGRESSION?Progression emphasises the sequencing of programmes of study to maintain the integrity and logic of subject knowledge.For example, Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Curriculum, orders information to be learned in great detail - but leaves pedagogic implications for teachers to determine.And this treatment of progression is more exclusively in terms of subject knowledge.
49 WHY PROGRESSION? 3. Progression in forms of learner thinking Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (1956) : recallcomprehensionapplicationanalysissynthesisevaluationAnd this version is really about depth of understanding with subject domains – another important dimension of progression.
50 WHY PROGRESSION? Progression in the National Curriculum proposals Progression in the National Curriculum proposalsCore subjectsThe DfE harvested national curricula from around the world and built up its programmes of study from a process of comparison, drafting and consultation about such knowledge – but opting for high outcomesSo the outcome offers progression and very high expectations, but is primarily justified in subject terms rather than in terms of the development of capacity to learnOther foundation subjectsNo use of upper/lower key stage 2.Content descriptions with limited delineation of substantive progressionThe NC proposals in the core reflect subject progression and acknowledge depth but, lacking a framework of levels and with multiple authorship, treat the latter unevenly. Acknowledgement of developmental progression is hard to detect. This is a serious problem because some expectations of performance are pitched at levels which subject experts and experienced teachers have stated are unrealistic. If this proves to be the case, artificial failure will be created by this curriculum with educational destructive effects. ‘High expectations’ only works to improve standards of performance if the expectations are pitched, broadly, in the zone of proximal development. Beyond that the strategy becomes unrealistic and oppressive.In the other foundation subjects, even subject progression is rather casual because the PoS is often reduced to a list of knowledge to be learned.Overall therefore, progression is in turn impressive, misguided and sloppy. Rather strange. But this must have been extremely difficult for DfE to manage given the extent of lobbying, stakeholder interest, ministerial requirement and influence of special advisers. No wonder evidence of children’s actual learning appears to been regarded as relatively unimportant?
51 INSTITUTIONAL CONTEXT: WHY EXPECTATION INSTITUTIONAL CONTEXT: WHY EXPECTATION? DO TEACHERS & SCHOOLS SUPPORT HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR STUDENTS AND ASPIRE FOR EXCELLENCE?There is a tendency for teachers and pupils to interact together in comfort zones. Routinised teaching produces drift in pupil learning and, through this mutual accommodation, everyone gets through the day. There is also a pattern in some staffroom cultures and in the thinking of some teachers to perceive deficiencies in the children’s learning or even in the learners themselves and their backgrounds. Such low expectations become a barrier to learning and need to be challenged.This slide acknowledges the importance of maintaining high expectations and, in particular, the tendency to classroom drift and deficit thinking within some staffroom cultures. Both should certainly be challenged.
52 WHY EXPECTATION?Expectations in the National Curriculum proposals Core subjects Explicitly high expectations set. Are they too high? Will they self-generate ‘failure’? Other foundation subjects Variable expectations set. Are they too vague and incoherent? Will they seem banal and dull the imagination?The expectations (standards) set in the core subjects appear to be pitched very high – particularly in some places. Examples have been identified by experts within ASE, MA/ATM and NATE and it appears that their advice to DfE has only been partially heeded. The influence of some Ministers, special advisers, think tanks, pressure groups and favoured individuals appears to have been significant.Expectations do not work mechanically, so that simply having ‘more’ will not magic solutions to long-standing learning difficulties. Expectations must be pitched appropriately.This is an absolutely vital area in which trialling of the new curriculum and collation of evidence is needed.Ministers should take this very seriously if they are to avoid accusations of artificially trying to lay a trap for teachers and, more importantly, of mass-producing pupil ‘failure’ by pitching curriculum expectations unrealistically. If the latter is occurs, an alliance of parents, teachers and others is likely to form to oppose the imposition. There were tragedies in Staffordshire when appropriate care for the elderly was not provided because of inappropriate targets being set. This could be echoed in education because labelling of children’s struggle to understand as ‘failure’ is likely to produce disengagement and, ultimately, resistance. To tie children into learning, they have to be enabled to progressively succeed.This is not an easy judgement to make, but it is so important that any final decisions on the pitch of the curriculum challenge should be based on evidence rather than conjecture or aspiration. This is where curricular ambition should be balanced with pedagogic experience.In relation to the other foundation subjects, the substantive content is too variable to make coherent sense of it as a whole. Establishing expectations, as with progression generally, appears weak. A more structured, principled and educational approach is needed beyond the contested inclusion of content by stakeholders, pressure groups and others.
53 STRUCTURE OF TALK A ‘new approach’ to the National Curriculum’? Conceptual tools for curricular designBreadth (aims, subjects and areas of learning)Balance (between knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes)Continuity, progression and expectationPersonalisation (incl. connection, relevance, differentiation)Agency (incl. engagement, dialogue, authenticity and feedback)Coherence and congruenceTaking stockWhat next?
54 PROCESSES FOR SOCIAL NEEDS: WHY PERSONALISATION PROCESSES FOR SOCIAL NEEDS: WHY PERSONALISATION? DOES THE CURRICULUM RESONATE WITH THE SOCIAL AND CULTURAL NEEDS OF DIVERSE LEARNERS?‘Personalisation’ is a relatively new educational concept which reflects both cumulative international understanding about learning and contemporary commitment to reducing inequalities in outcomes. Whilst echoing the cognitive issues associated with differentiation, it extends and broadens these to also embrace the social, emotional and motivational dimensions of learning.This is just an introductory statement. One could add that the issues associated with personalisation are very much those being identified by high performing countries in the Far East and Scandinavia for their 21st century development.
55 WHY PERSONALISATION?2020 Vision (Gilbert, 2006) drew on a US research review (Bransford et al, 2000) to declare that: Personalising learning is learner-centred and knowledge-centred : Close attention is paid to learners’ knowledge, skills, understanding and attitudes. Learning is connected to what they already know (including from outside the classroom). Teaching enthuses pupils and engages their interest in learning. ...and it is assessment-centred: Assessment supports learning: learners monitor their progress and, with their teachers, identify their next steps. Techniques such as open questioning, sharing learning objectives and success criteria, and focused marking have a powerful effect on the extent to which learners are enabled to take an active role in their learning.We have had our own explication of personalisation, sponsored by government and led by the HMCI of the time. Bransford et al’s work is a very important synopsis of US evidence on learning and schooling.
56 WHY PERSONALISATION? Personalisation in the National Curriculum proposals The new curriculum proposals make no explicit mention of the value of personalisation The concept of the School Curriculum, if time is available, and the idea of teacher-determined pedagogies could allow for personalised provision to be madePersonalisation could be associated with pedagogy and thus ostensibly beyond the brief of the new national curriculum. But there are no signs of endorsement at all. Teachers might develop a personalised curriculum within the School Curriculum, but this is not terribly likely without some encouragement. This could be provided very easily through provision of a more explicit introductory text explaining the role of the School Curriculum.
57 CONTEXT: WHY CONNECTION CONTEXT: WHY CONNECTION? DOES THE CURRICULUM DRAW ON THE FUNDS-OF-KNOWLEDGE OF FAMILIES AND THE COMMUNITY?The concept of ‘connection’ draws attention to the extent to which curricular experiences are contextually meaningful to pupils. For some, the school curriculum fails to make connections with other parts of their lives. Disengagement is disproportionately concentrated among children from poorer backgrounds. CPR, RSA and EP all suggest making provision for locally based curricula.Again, we have a concept which is associated with strong effects on performance – as the DfE review by Desforges demonstrated among many other studies. To make this work with the new curriculum, two things would be necessary – an indication that the National Curriculum core should be bounded and not take up a disproportionate amount of contact time; and some encouraging and explanatory statements in relation to the development of the School Curriculum within the locality of the school.
58 WHY CONNECTION? Connection in the National Curriculum proposals The new curriculum proposals make no explicit mention of the value of connection, other than in relation to the provision of information to parents on curriculum and performance. The concept of the School Curriculum, if time is available, and the idea of teacher-determined pedagogies could allow for the development of local, community connections.There appears to be nothing in the present National Curriculum documentation which supports the development of learning processes through increasing connections between curriculum challenges and the frameworks of personal meaning which each child derives from family and community.
59 PROCESSES FOR AFFECTIVE NEEDS: WHY RELEVANCE PROCESSES FOR AFFECTIVE NEEDS: WHY RELEVANCE? IS THE CURRICULUM PRESENTED IN WAYS WHICH ARE MEANINGFUL TO LEARNERS?There is little doubt that children and young people learn most effectively when they understand the purposes and context of the tasks and challenges with which they are faced. When a pupil complains that an activity is ‘pointless', is ‘boring' or that they ‘don't see what it's for', then the curriculum is failing to satisfy the criterion of relevance. A key consideration here is the value of incorporating practical activities and first‑hand experience into the teaching programme through schemes of work.This concept is again derived from HMI’s 1985 classic. The issue is simply that what is taught is not necessarily learned. The odds improve if the learner can see that something ‘makes sense’ within a meaningful frame of reference.
60 WHY RELEVANCE? Relevance in the National Curriculum proposals The new curriculum proposals make no explicit mention of the value of relevance The concept of the School Curriculum, if time is available, and the idea of teacher-determined pedagogies could allow for relevance to be considered in provisionThere is no mention of ‘relevance’ or of activities which might encourage such consideration. This is surprising given the extent of Notes and Guidance for the core curriculum subjects. The issues could be handled in the generic statements, as for inclusion for example.The Notes and Guidance are non-statutory but are getting very close to the ‘requirements’ which are explicitly excluded by the Education Reform Act 1988.
61 WHY DIFFERENTIATION? ARE CURRICULUM TASKS AND ACTIVITIES STRUCTURED TO MATCH THE INTELLECTUAL NEEDS OF LEARNERS?Differentiation highlights the cognitive demands which a curriculum or an activity make of the learner. ‘If I had to reduce the whole of educational psychology to just one principle, I would say this: ‘The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach him accordingly’. (Ausubel, 1968, p. vi)A classic statement – known to many educationalists and quoted prominently, for example, by Hattie (2010, 2012) when declaring this to be one of the most important principles to maximise pedagogic effects.
62 WHY DIFFERENTIATION?Judgements about progression and depth of cognitive challenge in tasks are probably the most important that a teacher makes. We have come to the conclusion, that the design of instructional and assessment tasks is the fundamental determinant of the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom (Hogan, 2012, p103) Our key point is that it is the intellectual demands embedded in classroom tasks that influence the degree of student engagement and learning (Newmann, Bryk and Nagaok, 2001, p31) Powerful and accomplished teachers are those who focus on students’ cognitive engagement with the content of what it is that is being taught ….. (Hattie, 2012, p 19)Three statements, by leading researchers from across the world, which focus in on the construction of learning tasks and on the detail of cognitive challenge. So, differentiation is extremely important.
63 WHY DIFFERENTIATION?Differentiation in the National Curriculum proposals4. InclusionSetting suitable challenges4.1 Teachers should set high expectations for every pupil. They should plan stretching work for pupils whose attainment is significantly above the expected standard. They have an even greater obligation to plan lessons for pupils who have low levels of prior attainment or come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Teachers should use appropriate assessment to set targets which are deliberately ambitious.(NC Consultation Framework, 2013)But, if the pitch is too high, mass, artificial, ‘failure’ will be created.Will there be sufficient flexibility in year-by-year schemes of work to respond flexibly to specific learner needs, or will the programme of study simply roll on?This is the only place where differentiation issues are tackled – and again we have an unsophisticated urging of ‘high standards’. For reasons discussed earlier, there must be scope for adjustment to pupil needs – to an appropriate level of cognitive demand. Blind urging to set high standards as if this mantra will have a magical effect will not work, and it is not responsible to suggest that it will.
64 WHY DIFFERENTIATION?Three themes of contemporary inclusive pedagogy: Shifting the focus away from particular learners, identified as having ‘special’ or ‘additional’ needs, towards the learning of all children and young people in the class Rejecting deterministic beliefs about ability as being fixed and the associated idea that the presence of some will hold back the progress of others Seeing difficulties in learning as professional challenges for teachers, rather than deficits in learnersThis is the educational endorsement that maintains ambitions for all children. An explicit example of this approach is the ‘learning without limits’ project (Swann et al, 2012). The point is that having a general commitment to supporting the progress of every child is an enabling condition which needs to be followed up with differentiated tasks and other appropriate activities which meet their particular needs, including matched cognitive challenge. This is more precise than simply ‘expecting’ them to perform. Expectations work though personal relationships, institutional and classroom cultures and, not least, though expert, differentiated and personalised teaching.
65 WHY DIFFERENTIATION?Differentiation in the National Curriculum proposals4. InclusionResponding to pupils’ needs and overcoming potential barriers for individuals and groups of pupils4.2 Teachers should take account of their duties under equal opportunities legislation that covers disability, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, gender identity, and religion or belief.4.3 A wide range of pupils have special educational needs, many of whom also have disabilities. Lessons should be planned to ensure that there are no barriers to every pupil achieving.(NC Consultation Framework, 2013)But will achievement of inclusion be facilitated by a highly specified, traditional and knowledge-driven curriculum, or may it reinforce exclusion?This is the second take on differentiation in the papers for the proposed National Curriculum. It is a sound statement in principle – but the context in which it is to be put into effect may not be conducive to successful implementation.
66 STRUCTURE OF TALK A ‘new approach’ to the National Curriculum’? Conceptual tools for curricular designBreadth (aims, subjects and areas of learning)Balance (between knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes)Continuity, progression and expectationPersonalisation (incl. connection, relevance, differentiation)Agency (incl. engagement, dialogue, authenticity and feedback)Coherence and congruenceTaking stockWhat next?
67 CLASSROOM PROCESSES: WHY AGENCY CLASSROOM PROCESSES: WHY AGENCY? DOES THE CURRICULUM PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR LEARNERS TO TAKE OWNERSHIP OF THEIR LEARNING?From accumulated international research, it is clear that learning is enhanced when pupils are active participants in learning processes. Global drivers increasingly bring to the fore what some call “21st century competences”. The quantity and quality of learning thus become central, with the accompanying concern that traditional educational approaches are insufficient. Learners are recognised as core participants. Active engagement in developing understanding of their own activity as learners is encouraged. There is clarity of expectations and consistent assessment strategies, including strong emphasis on formative feedback to support learning. (OECD, 2011)Whilst England organises its subject knowledge, OECD and many other countries are paying increasing attention to learning per se. This slide is a simple illustration of this fact from a recent OECD review of international evidence.
68 WHY PUPIL AGENCY?Curricular and pedagogic provision should enable: Engagement: do our teaching strategies, classroom organisation and consultation enable learners to actively participate in and enjoy their learning? Dialogue: does teacher-learner talk scaffold understanding to build on existing knowledge and to strengthen dispositions to learn?The two concepts are drawn from the TLRP GTCE conceptual framework – and have echoes of the 2020 Vision analysis of what is needed for the future. They are both, of course, supported by decades of research evidence, much of it extremely robust.
69 WHY PUPIL AGENCY? Pupil engagement and dialogic teaching in the National Curriculum proposals The new curriculum proposals appear to make just one explicit mention of pupil engagement (in science), though there are many opportunities in the ‘notes and guidance’. The new curriculum proposals nominally encourage speaking across the curriculum, but the activity is not thoroughly embedded with explication of progression. Speaking and Listening has been removed from the English PoS.The lack of attention to engagement is very surprising if guidance is really being provided.Provision for speaking is made in the generic statement on ‘language, literacy and numeracy’ but the DfE has rejected calls from many, many experts to restore an explicit strand within English and to embed the development of oracy more explicitly within all subjects.These two concepts relate to activities which facilitate agency, and thus underpin the ways in which pupils construct meaning for themselves (learn).It will be a significant challenge for schools to support pupil agency in the context of the new curriculum.
70 WHY PUPIL AGENCY? Assessment provision should enable: Authenticity: do learners recognise routine processes of assessment and feedback as being of personal value?Feeding-back: is there a routine flow of constructive, specific, diagnostic feed-back from teacher to learners?Two more concepts associated with agency, but this time in relation to assessment. Authenticity is linked to meaningfulness. Feedback is one of the most powerful processes which support learning – but provision of feedback in support of learning is an on-going, expert process which is not the same thing as formative (or, indeed, summative) assessment.Given the absence of facilitation of these issues within any of the documentation, the potential benefits seem likely to be lost – unless school can repair the deficiency. This is an interesting contrast with, for example, provision in Scotland.
71 WHY PUPIL AGENCY? Pupil agency in the National Curriculum proposals The new curriculum proposals make no explicit mention of the value of authenticity in the provision of personally meaningful feedback to learners about their learning The non-statutory ‘Notes and Guidance’ within new curriculum proposals suggest sequences of pupil activity, and thus stray into the pedagogic, but do not promote the systematic provision of explicit feedback to learners.In summary, many opportunities are missed.
72 STRUCTURE OF TALK A ‘new approach’ to the National Curriculum’? Conceptual tools for curricular designBreadth (aims, subjects and areas of learning)Balance (between knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes)Continuity, progression and expectationPersonalisation (incl. connection, relevance, differentiation)Agency (incl. engagement, dialogue, authenticity and feedback)Coherence and congruenceTaking stockWhat next?
73 WHY COHERENCE? IS THERE CLARITY IN THE PURPOSES, CONTENT AND ORGANISATION OF THE CURRICULUM AND DOES IT PROVIDE HOLISTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCES?Coherence refers to the extent to which the various parts of a planned curriculum relate meaningfully together to reinforce the knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes being learned. The opposite would be fragmentation. People tend to enjoy learning more when they understand it as a whole. They feel more in control and are more willing to think independently and take risks. On the other hand, perceptions of incoherence can lead to feelings of frustration and to strategies such as withdrawal.‘Coherence’ is used here in the HMI 1985 sense in relation to curriculum (for systemic coherence of ‘control factors’ etc, ‘congruence’ is used – see below).So, this slide defines coherence and explains its rationale.
74 WHY COHERENCE? Coherence in the National Curriculum proposals It is not apparent that any thought whatsoever has been given to this issue, beyond the parameters of each core subject. This reflects the reliance on subject authors and subject consultation processes, with a consistent failure to engage in a serious way with phase specialists to tackle cross-curricular issues and to advise on loadings and inter-connections across the curriculum.This slide draws attention to the design weakness of planning and debating a curriculum though subjects alone.Adoption of this strategy, with only token consideration of learner development and sectoral/phase appropriateness, tends to produce an overloaded, over-specified and incoherent curriculum. We know this from the initial development of the NC, back in 1989 and on. It led to the Dearing Review and later reviews to try to correct this. Unfortunately, little appears to have been learned from that experience.
75 WHY CONGRUENCE? ARE FORMS OF ASSESSMENT ALIGNED WITH OVERALL EDUCATIONAL INTENTIONS? At the SYSTEM LEVEL we may expect alignment between:educational aims and purposesforms of summative assessment and measurement of performanceschool inspectionAssessment and accountability tend to be focused on core objectives, but should be carefully designed to avoid distorting broader educational purposes.So this is where we expect alignment of ‘control factors’ so that the system as a whole is congruent and pulls together.
76 Aims of the new National Curriculum Every state-funded school must offer a curriculum which is balanced and broadly based and which:promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society, andprepares pupils at the school for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. (NC Consultation Framework, 2013)English, mathematics and science are the building blocks of education; improving our performance in these subjects will be essential if our country is to compete in the global economy. That is why they are central to the new National Curriculum.(NC consultation document, 2013)Congruence starts from the aims, such as they are.
77 2013–15 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test framework In July 2012, in response to Lord Bew’s independent review of Key Stage 2 assessment1, the Government announced that a new statutory English grammar, punctuation and spelling test (hereafter known as ‘the test’) for all children in Year 6 would be introduced during the academic year. The test will only include questions that assess elements of the current National Curriculum in English. The domain will include items that measure: • sentence grammar (through identification and grammatical accuracy); • punctuation (through identification and grammatical accuracy); • vocabulary (through grammatical accuracy) and • spelling.Then of course we have to look to the assessment system which will produce measures or indicators of performance. The forms of assessment which are adopted, typically wash back to influence classroom practice.At the time of writing, assessment arrangements have not been published.So, as an indication of present thinking, this slide draws from the published documentation of a test at the end of KS2.
78 A sample test in English: spelling Listen carefully to the instructions I am going to give you. I am going to read twenty sentences to you. Each sentence has a word missing in your answer booklet. You should listen carefully to the missing word and fill this in, making sure you spell it correctly. I will read the word, then the word within a sentence, then repeat the word a third time. Do you have any questions?And here is the first part of an official illustration of the test which spelling framework might generate.
79 A sample test in English: spelling Spelling one: the word is dinner. We sat at the table to eat our dinner . The word is dinner. Spelling two: the word is following. The ducklings walked in a line, following their mother. The word is following.And here is the second part of an official illustration of the test which spelling framework might generate.
80 Consultation document 7.6 Approaches to the assessment of pupils’ progress and recognising the achievements of all pupils at primary school will be explored more fully within the primary assessment and accountability consultation which will be issued shortly.But we don’t know what is in prospect – though a commitment to some form of grading of pupil attainment in the core subjects at the end of KS2 has been made in the SoS letter to Tim Oates of June 2012.One interesting speculation is at:At end of KS2 there could be entirely separate tests for particular subjects or elements within subjects + a range of grades.At end of KS1 there could be teacher assessment for particular subjects or elements within subjects + a range of grades.New assessment requirements will cover academies and could tie them directly back into the National Curriculum PoS – making their ‘freedom’ illusionary.The power of a new assessment system to achieve congruence could thus be very significant.For interesting speculation, check out: ‘giftedphoenix’ on ‘whither National Curriculum assessment without levels’
81 Framework for Inspection of Schools, January 2013 Inspectors are required to report on the quality of education provided in the school and must, in particular, cover:the achievement of pupils at the schoolthe quality of teaching in the schoolthe behaviour and safety of pupils at the schoolthe quality of leadership in, and management of, the school.When reporting, inspectors must also consider:the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils at the schoolthe extent to which the education provided by the school meets the needs of the range of pupils at the school, and in particular the needs of disabled pupils and those who have special educational needs.The new inspection framework doffs its cap to curricular breadth through reference to the statutory statement of aims in the 2002 Act.
82 Framework for Inspection of Schools, January 2013 Quality of teaching in the school The most important purpose of teaching is to raise pupils’ achievement. Inspectors consider the planning and implementation of learning activities across the whole of the school’s curriculum, together with teachers’ marking, assessment and feedback to pupils. They evaluate activities both within and outside the classroom. They also evaluate teachers’ support and intervention strategies and the impact that teaching has on the promotion of pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.This is the first reference to curriculum, with a tilt to the holistic ‘school curriculum’.
83 Framework for Inspection of Schools, January 2013 Quality of leadership in, and management of, the school Inspectors will consider the extent to which leaders and managers: provide a broad and balanced curriculum that meets the needs of all pupils, enables all pupils to achieve their full educational potential and make progress in their learning, and promotes their good behaviour and safety and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural developmentAnd here we get again an elaborated reference to the overarching aims set out in the 2002 Education Act.
84 WHY CONGRUENCE? ARE FORMS OF ASSESSMENT ALIGNED WITH OVERALL EDUCATIONAL INTENTIONS? At the CLASSROOM LEVEL, we might expect assessment processes to generate formative information, support the use of ‘assessment for learning’ and make learning ‘visible’.Clear learning intentions enable children to understand and identify with the purposes underlying activities.Clear success criteria, shared with pupils, help them to clarify the learning challenge and what it will look and feel like when they have accomplished it.It remains to be seen whether this will transpire. The EP recommended a two column exposition of the PoS to enable explicit statements of learning intentions and success criteria (cf. the principles of Assessment for Learning and Visible Learning), but this recommendation was not followed. So all the weight of curriculum and assessment must now be carried by the descriptive PoS itself.
85 Congruence in the National Curriculum proposals Attainment targets By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study. NC adoption of PoS + non-statutory notes and guidance EP recommendation of PoS + specific attainments expectedUncertainty still on assessment. Specific tests in prospect at end of KS2 with predictable wash back effects.
86 WHY CONGRUENCE?At the SYSTEM LEVEL, pupil experience could narrow because of:Over specification of the core and overall curriculum imbalanceHigh-stakes end of KS2 testing of the core curriculumAn inspection framework with only oblique reference to curriculum quality per seAt the CLASSROOM LEVEL, learning opportunities and parental support may be gained by:Removal of ‘levels’ to enable a direct focus on learning itselfAt the CLASSROOM LEVEL, pupil learning opportunities may be lost because of:Failure to distinguish PoS and ‘essential learning outcomes’.In summary .... At system and classroom levels.
87 WHY CONGRUENCE?The key features of Singapore’s performative pedagogy include a determined focus on curriculum coverage, knowledge transmission and exam preparation for national high stakes assessments; a strong inclination for teachers to ‘teach to the test’; fidelity of task implementation to task design; pragmatic, fit-for-purpose instructional choices that are largely indifferent to theoretical background but generally focus on techniques drawn from direct instruction and traditional instruction (worksheets, textbooks, drill and practice); a pervasive and authoritative ability discourse; a preponderance of closed questions, limited exchanges and performative talk during lessons.(Hogan et al, 2013)This is an extract from David Hogan’s empirical study on the Singapore system ... which may stand as a forlorn warning. There, government urging to adopt a 21st century pedagogy falls on deaf ears because their assessment and accountability systems are aligned completely differently.The new English system seems likely to be very congruent but taking us in educationally dubious directions.
88 STRUCTURE OF TALK A ‘new approach’ to the National Curriculum’? Conceptual tools for curricular designBreadth (aims, subjects and areas of learning)Balance (between knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes)Continuity, progression and expectationPersonalisation (incl. connection, relevance, differentiation)Agency (incl. engagement, dialogue, authenticity and feedback)Coherence and congruenceTaking stockWhat next?
89 TAKING STOCK KNOWLEDGE, DEVELOPMENT AND CURRICULUM The educational role of curricular provision relates to three basic, enduring considerations:the nature of knowledge,the needs of learners, and crucially,the interactions between them.The elements are not, however, equally significant at every age. In particular, developmental aspects and basic skills are more crucial for young children, while appropriate understanding of more differentiated subject knowledge, concepts and skills becomes more important for older pupils.We assert the most elementary principle – as in the Expert Panel report.
90 TAKING STOCK KNOWLEDGE, DEVELOPMENT AND CURRICULUM And this illustrates it diagrammatically.
91 TAKING STOCK: a ‘new approach’ ‘The National Curriculum should set out only the essential knowledge and understanding that all children should acquire and leave teachers to decide how to teach this most effectively.’The legitimacy of over-aching aims and judgements of ‘essential knowledge and understanding’ has not been establishedCore subjects are over-specified and embed pedagogic prescriptionOther foundation subjects as a whole are incoherent in form and contentBreadth is sustained, but balance in knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes is lackingContinuity from EY to KS1 is weak; progression and expectation are very bold‘We want the National Curriculum to be a benchmark not a straitjacket, a body of knowledge against which achievement can be measured.’Inclusion (and differentiation) across the curriculum is required but will be difficultLanguage, literacy and numeracy across the curriculum are required. Learning is absent.Personalisation, connection and relevance rely on the School CurriculumPupil agency , including engagement, authenticity and feedback rely on the SCCurricular coherence is weak, and must be built through the School CurriculumAssessment requirements are unclear, but are likely to be very powerfulSystemic congruence of control factors is real. Can schools rise above the straitjacket?Summarising the analysis in this presentation ...In bold, are the formal intentions for the ‘new approach’ (drawn from the Consultation document) .... with bullet points picking out some conclusions from this talk.
92 WHAT NEXT? CONTEXTS OF POLICY MAKING We envisage three primary policy contexts, each context consisting of a number of arenas of action, some public, some private:the context of influencethe context of text productionthe context of practiceThe policy process is one of complexity, it is one of policy-making and remaking. It is often difficult, if not impossible to control or predict the effects of policy, or indeed to be clear about what those effects are, what they mean, when they happen.The meanings of texts are rarely unequivocal. Novel or creative readings can sometimes bring their own rewards.(Bowe, Ball, Gold, 1992)
93 Scope and coverage of the consultation 4.1 This consultation covers the Government’s proposals relating to the following elements of the framework for the National Curriculum in England:proposed aims for the new National Curriculumchanges to the programmes of study and attainment targets for all subjects and key stages (except English, mathematics and science at Key Stage 4)a proposal to replace the ICT programmes of study with new computing programmes of studythe equalities impact of the reformsissues relating to the implementation of the new National Curriculumthe disapplication of aspects of the current National CurriculumSome specific points of coverage but by no means the full range of issues on which public and professional views should really be sought.
94 Consultation questions Question 1: Do you have any comments on the proposed aims for the National Curriculum as a whole as set out in the framework document? Question 2: Do you agree that instead of detailed subject-level aims we should free teachers to shape their own curriculum aims based on the content in the programmes of study? Question 3: Do you have any comments on the content set out in the draft programmes of study? Question 4: Does the content set out in the draft programmes of study represent a sufficiently ambitious level of challenge for pupils at each key stage? Question 5: Do you have any comments on the proposed wording of the attainment targets? Question 6: Do you agree that the draft programmes of study provide for effective progression between the key stages?
95 Consultation questions Question 7: Do you agree that we should change the subject information and communication technology to computing, to reflect the content of the new programmes of study for this subject? Question 8: Does the new National Curriculum embody an expectation of higher standards for all children? Question 9: What impact - either positive or negative - will our proposals have on the 'protected characteristic' groups? Question 10: To what extent will the new National Curriculum make clear to parents what their children should be learning at each stage of their education? Question 11: What key factors will affect schools’ ability to implement the new National Curriculum successfully from September 2014? Question 12: Who is best placed to support schools and/or develop resources that schools will need to teach the new National Curriculum? Question 13: Do you agree that we should amend the legislation to disapply the National Curriculum programmes of study, attainment targets and statutory assessment arrangements, as set out in section 12 of the consultation document?
96 Possible goals in consultation Develop aims – to introduce statements on promoting positive attitudes to learning Strengthen breadth – by improving coherence, structure and rigour of other foundation subjects Challenge the pitch and level of expectations – in collaboration with subject associations Object to consultation without information on end of Key Stage assessment proposals Challenge rhetoric of ‘professional freedom’ and reality of mistrust and control