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AHDS Annual Conference 2016 - Mark Priestley

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Presentation from Mark Priestley at AHDS annual conference 2016

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AHDS Annual Conference 2016 - Mark Priestley

  1. 1. School-based curriculum development Professor Mark Priestley Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Stirling November 2016
  2. 2. Today • Concepts • Thinking big • Different starting points for SBCD • A practical process for SBCD - Critical collaborative professional enquiry • The big ideas • Fitness for purpose – content and methods • Barriers and Drivers • [Conducting a professional enquiry]
  3. 3. A caveat Change is not necessarily a good thing. Engagement with innovation may mean no change at all. What is important is that practitioners engage meaningfully with innovation, taking into account available evidence and research findings, and weighing up the pros and cons of the innovation. This stands in marked contrast to processes where innovation is rejected through ignorance or prejudice, where it is adopted superficially and uncritically to ‘tick boxes’ .
  4. 4. Another caveat Curriculum development is a process not a product • The substantive work needs to be carried at in school by professional and empowered teachers –the local experts. • It is ongoing, building on existing practices, and requiring continual evaluation.
  5. 5. Curriculum as a product.. • Milkmen or educators? • The unhelpful language of delivery – see https://mrpriestley.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/milkmen-or- educators-cfe-and-the-language-of-delivery/ • ‘Delivery’ of content • Or worse still, ‘delivery’ of outcomes • Importance of professional judgement – rather than uncritical and reactive ‘product placement’
  6. 6. CfE: the big picture
  7. 7. Curriculum policy – a framework for learning Content Provision, e.g. timetabling Pedagogy Assessment
  8. 8. Curricular strata Supra – transnational discourses about education Macro – national level policy intentions Meso – policy guidance, facilitation (ES, LEA) Micro – school-level curricular practices Nano – classroom interactions (Thijs & van den Akker, 2009) • Two way direction of travel – ideas from the chalk face affect policy • There are different practices within each stratum • These may not be coherent across the system – they are translated and mediated from level to level
  9. 9. implications Curricular practices at each level operate differently Curricular actors at each level have different functions Therefore we need: • Clarity of purpose • Clarity about the function of each level • Clarity in processes adopted throughout the system • Clarity in terms of practices adopted at each level
  10. 10. The implementation gap The rhetoric of policy ?????? The new curriculum in many schools Policy Reinterpreted policy Reinterpreted reinterpretations Curriculum practices
  11. 11. Tension between the old and the new
  12. 12. Which curriculum model? • 3 starting points for curriculum development (Stenhouse, 1975) • A content curriculum? Specification of content to be taught as a starting point. • An outcomes curriculum? Specification of outcomes to be achieved as a starting point. • A process curriculum? Specification of long term goals and educational purposes as a starting point? Content and methods are then selected which are ‘fit for purpose’. CfE has elements of all three approaches (Priestley & Humes, 2010)
  13. 13. A content-led curriculum? 1904 orders 1988 Nat. Curric. CfE English Maths Science History Geography MFL Drawing PE Housewifery/Manual English Maths Science History Geography MFL Art PE Technology Music English Maths Science Social Studies MFL Expressive Arts Health & Well-being Technology Gaelic RME/RE Cross curric. (Lit/Num) Priestley and Humes (2010), adapted from Goodson & Marsh (1996)
  14. 14. CfE – the bear traps… Macro • Existing subjects/knowledge domains persist • Strong intent, weak specification (Priestley & Sinnema, 2014) Meso • Little specification of process for identifying ‘powerful knowledge’ Micro • Content chosen to fit existing patterns/resources • New content selected for interest, rather than relevance • Potential for major gaps – the ‘null curriculum’ • Qualifications continue to drive content and pedagogy • Lack of fit between purpose and content
  15. 15. Outcomes as starting point? Roots: • In US objectives-based curricula (pre-1950: Bobbitt, Tyler, Bloom) • VET (UK, 1980s: NCVQ, SCOTVEC) • Linear levels (England, 1988: National Curriculum) • Migration/policy borrowing; hybridisation in nat. curricula (1990s) • CfE (2004): direction set by Ministerial Response • Unchallenged in policy Spiral of specification (Wolf 1995) • Atomised • Bureaucratic • Performative
  16. 16. An outcomes-based curriculum? Es & Os – the main CfE structure • Typically, a subject articulated as 100+ learning outcomes. Mission creep • Outcomes were expressly not for assessment – they ‘are not designed as assessment criteria in their own right’ (CfE overarching cover paper, 2007). • BTC5 - “In Curriculum for Excellence, the standards expected for progression are indicated within the experiences and outcomes at each level” (p13) and “…assessment tasks and activities provide learners with fair and valid opportunities to meet the standards.” (p36…) • A standard - “something against which we measure performance” (p11). • 2016 – new benchmarks for assessment
  17. 17. Scotland’s new benchmarks
  18. 18. CfE – the bear traps… • Audit of outcomes against existing practice • Losing sight of the big picture • Incremental change, with intensification of workload • Piecemeal box ticking, bureaucracy • Minimal rather than transformational change to meet new requirements (often minor changes to content and changed terminology) • Strategic compliance, performativity, game-playing • Impact • Unhappy teachers – loss of trust, industrial action • Overloaded students – the assessment treadmill
  19. 19. Teacher voices “The E’s and O’s were meant to be there to declutter your programme but what you are wanting you to do now is to take that statement and then start building from it.” (Teacher Agency research, 2012) “At the end of the day a parent still wants to know where exactly their child is in language and maths. Are they on a par with their peers? Are they below or above and although we shouldn’t be labelling children in these ways, there is still pressure to do so. And it doesn’t just come from parents. It comes from the authorities as well (e.g. the [standardised] tests).” “I can cover all of these assessment parts in one, with one project here, one short project. It’s not exactly the way they are saying it, but you are not saying we can’t do it this way. And it meets all the criteria. I can tick all the boxes quite confidently. […] that is one thing that you can see with Curriculum for Excellence: that the rules aren’t quite as strict; you can tweak them without feeling too guilty.” (Highland research, 2011)
  20. 20. CfE: a process curriculum? ‘The starting point for educational planning is not a consideration of the nature of knowledge and/or the culture to be transmitted or a statement of the ends to be achieved, whether these be economic or behavioural, but from a concern with the nature of the child and with his or her development as a human being’ (Kelly, 1999).
  21. 21. CfE – a process curriculum?
  22. 22. Pros and Cons Pros • Allows content and method to be selected to meet clearly defined educational goals • An emphasis on the appropriate processes for getting there • Makes links • Flexible • Allows teachers to build on what the pupils bring Cons • Complex • Requires a high level of teacher skill and engagement
  23. 23. Teacher voices “I don’t think we do enough of ‘let’s look at the philosophy behind it’. How often in a school would teachers sit down? You just said to me ‘have you got a philosophy of education?’ I’m sure most people have. But we don’t talk about it. We don’t ever sit down and say ‘right let’s all share our philosophies and come up with a philosophy for our school’. We just look at minutiae.” (Highland research, 2011) [The SBCD approach] “allowed staff the space to question our approach to teaching and learning. It has promoted professional discussion about our different approaches. It has made teachers more aware of the original purpose of CfE and reminded them of the capacities and how these are not things that had been done previously and forgotten about but should be central to our planning, evaluations and assessment” (East Lothian research, 2013)
  24. 24. Can CfE be a process curriculum? Macro • Clearly specified purposes and principles • Policy as a framework of cognitive resources Meso • Need for clearer specification of processes • Need for less emphasis on reinterpreting the policy • Need to address issues that lead to performativity Micro • Practitioners engage directly with the big ideas – sense-making • Selection of appropriate content – powerful knowledge • Selection of appropriate methods – powerful pedagogies • Addressing barriers and drivers
  25. 25. An alternative foundation... From the big ideas? • Four Capacities • a better starting point if real change is desired. Allows us to start from broad questions of purpose and value, thus deriving content and method • Educational values • A concern for individual growth: qualification; socialisation; subjectification (Biesta 2010) • A concern for social values (e.g. social justice) • The teacher’s responsibility to consider the long term effects of their teaching • Sense-making is vital
  26. 26. Purposes of education? Intellectual development? • Critical awareness • The ability to think (e.g. metacognition)? Or more instrumental goals? • Solving society’s ills? • Development of useful generic skills • Raising economic competitiveness? “Education is the best economic policy that we have.” (Tony Blair) Or knowledge for knowledge’s sake • To pass exams? An academic trivial pursuit?
  27. 27. Activity one What are the big ideas? • Of CfE? • Of other current policies? • Sort the big ideas into two categories: 1] purposes; and 2] methods • Why is this an important distinction? What is education for? • What features of CfE/other policies are helpful in defining a ‘good’ education? • What is missing/problematic?
  28. 28. Selection of content Select content that is: • Interesting – stimulating student motivation • Relevant – i.e. meets the purposes of education (e.g. work skills, life skills, ‘essential’ culture such as knowledge of political system) • Promotes higher order thinking – e.g. conceptual development, enquiry skills • Powerful knowledge (Young, 2007) In other words – content that is fit-for-purpose and addresses the big ideas of the curriculum
  29. 29. Fit-for-purpose knowledge/content Knowledge matters • ‘Powerful knowledge’ (Young 2010) • Academic disciplines provide foundation – knowledge not accessible outside of school • Relevance as well as interest What sort of knowledge needed to: • Make reasoned evaluations? (SL) • Pursue a healthy and active lifestyle? (CI) • Understand the world and Scotland’s place in it? (RC) • Think critically? (EC)
  30. 30. Questions we should be asking • What is knowledge? [a philosophical question] • What knowledge (and knowledge for what)?[a question of selection] • How do we build/impart knowledge in schools? [a question of pedagogy] • How do we organise knowledge? [a question of provision] These are now relevant questions for schools and teachers – because CfE is about schools and teachers developing the curriculum
  31. 31. Age and stage Early years/lower primary • Fully integrated approach to reflect children’s need to explore and make sense of their environment Upper primary • Increasing specialisation in Science, MFL etc Lower secondary • Amalgamated subjects (integ. science, SS etc). Emphasis on foundational skills and knowledge whilst making links across the curriculum Upper secondary • Exam subjects rooted in academic disciplines
  32. 32. An up-to-date curriculum? One of the chief intellectual purposes of the school is to develop understanding of the institutions, problems, and issues of contemporary life. Historically, whenever a rapid transformation of the conditions of living has taken place, the tendency has been for the curriculum to lag behind. Because of the great changes in modern life, there is at present a real need in certain fields for a new synthesis of knowledge and, correspondingly, for a new grouping of the materials of the school (Harold Rugg, 1926)
  33. 33. A meaningful curriculum? Custom and convention conceal from most of us the extreme poverty of the traditional course of study, as well as its lack of intellectual organisation. It still consists, in large measure of a number of disconnected subjects made up of more or less independent items. An experienced adult may supply connections and see the different studies and lessons in perspective in logical relationships to one another and the world. To the pupil, they are likely to be curiously mysterious things which exist in school for some unknown purpose, and only in school (John Dewey, 1936)
  34. 34. Selection of methods Fit-for-purpose methods • Thinking skills – e.g. analysis • Social decision making • Dialogue and debate • Enquiry • Presentation • Traditional methods, including worksheets • Worksheets • Making links – cross curricular learning, IDL • Experiential learning Powerful pedagogy • How we learn shapes the development of our intellectual capacity
  35. 35. Activity two Look at the attributes and capabilities of CfE: • Which are best achieved through content? • Which are best achieved through methods? If designing a programme for your school • What sort of knowledge is required to address the big ideas? • What methods are required? • How different/similar is this to your current practice?
  36. 36. Barriers to ‘transformational change’ Physical • E.g. classrooms, teacher location, resources Structural • e.g. timetabling, lack of spaces for dialogue Attitudinal • e.g. subject imperialism, conservatism Cultural • e.g. teacher professional learning, language, tradition
  37. 37. Addressing barriers/developing drivers Clarity of purpose  clear sense of practices needed to achieve purpose Addressing barriers/developing drivers Contextual audit Barriers/drivers – What is getting in the way? – What are our current strengths? Can these be addressed? By whom? Within the school? By the local authority? If so, how can they be addressed?
  38. 38. Activity three What are the current barriers and drivers as we develop CfE? • Strengths • Weaknesses • Opportunities • Threats How might these be addressed?
  39. 39. In summary • Start with questions of purpose: • What is CfE trying to achieve? • What are our purposes/goals? • What are the big ideas? • Next think about ‘how’ questions: • What knowledge/skills? • What methods (e.g. formative assessment, co-op learning) • Then address operational issues – a contextual audit: • Catalysts/inhibitors? • Professional Enquiry cycle – see http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/JPCC- 09-2015-0006
  40. 40. More detail Drew, V., Priestley, M. & Michael, M. (2016). Curriculum Development Through Critical Collaborative Professional Enquiry, Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 1 (1), 92-106. Priestley M & Biesta GJJ (eds.) (2013). Reinventing the Curriculum: New Trends in Curriculum Policy and Practice. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Priestley, M., Biesta, G.J.J. & Robinson, S. (2015). Teacher agency: what is it and why does it matter? In R. Kneyber & J. Evers (eds.), Flip the System: Changing Education from the Bottom Up. London: Routledge. Priestley, M., Biesta, G.J.J. & Robinson, S. (2015). Teacher Agency: An Ecological Approach. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Priestley M & Humes W (2010). The development of Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: Amnesia and Déjà Vu, Oxford Review of Education, 36 (3), 345-361. Priestley M & Minty S (2013). Curriculum for Excellence: 'A brilliant idea, but. . .', Scottish Educational Review, 45 (1), 39-52.
  41. 41. m.r.priestley@stir.ac.uk http://rms.stir.ac.uk/converis- stirling/person/11016 http://mrpriestley.wordpress.com https://twitter.com/MarkRPriestley