Adapting to Curriculum Change @BETT

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Live blogging -3pm

Curriculum Innovation in patnership – embracing the new challenges together

First talk: Mark Dawe, CEO, OCR

‘The curriculum should be driving assessment rather than the opposite’, Mark argues. Assessment should be derived from the needs of the learners. Education needs to be meaningful and prepare students for a place in society.

There is a need to use cutting edge technologies which are available for assessment of IT skills. Traditional paper-based exams are not the way to assess IT qualifications. Assessment needs to be relevant to the learning. There needs to be a virtual circle of curriculum, innovation and qualification, all feeding each other, and curriculum being the driver.

OCR is an NGO with partnershisp with a number of private companies. As a qualifications organisation the focus is on assessment, but OCR partners with organisations to provide training.

There has been lots of discussion whether A Levels are fit for purpose.The primary purpose of it is progressing through to the university. Lecturers need therefore to be satisfied with A levels to allow progression to the university. OCR helps creating a qualification framework to allow that. HE institutions are involved, and work has been done on it for the past 12 months. The primary goal is to assess gaps in understanding, in knowledge.

Mark then introduces the next generation of vocational qualifications: Cambridge Nationals (15-16 year olds) and Cambridge TEC (16-19 year olds), the latter having just been launched.

2nd talk: Tim Oates, National Curriculum Review, Chair

Increasing school autonomy: creating curriculum chaos or securing curriculum coherence?

Autonomy in relation to what? He asks, and then gives examples: curriculum, teaching approaches, funding etc. He argues that autonomy is not only an ideological argument; it is rather practical.

Locating the Curriculum

There is an issue about how we define curriculum. There is a tendency towards introspection in relation to curriculum in the UK. It is a concern that a national curriculum, instead of also looking at what is happening in other nations, is only looking inwards. A national curriculum is extremely important, curriculum coherence and control too. Subjects really matter, and the curriculum should provide good epistemic maps on subjects. Knowledge is a very strong predictor of performance. It is important that people understand key concepts in science for example. Knowledge really matters.

There has to be principles of inclusion in the curriculum, otherwise overload is the result of changes. There should be considerable detail on certain aspects of the curriculum, perhaps including more pages in the curriculum, that is, more detail in certain things, less in others.

He suggests the need for challenging models of progression in the first phase. There is a difference between the national curriculum and the school curriculum. The national curriculum should be a guide to the school curriculum. It is important some level of flexibility in this aspect.

Citizenship, creativity and innovation should be taught as well as a basic curriculum. In Japan they relaxed in terms of textbooks and standards went down. “There is no perfect education system, but optimal systems”.

Fewer things in greater depth – this is the stand out element for a new curriculum in primary education.

His full paper on the subject can be found here

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