“Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model.” A.P.J. Abdul Kalam- Former President of India
The result of the last post was a shared vision and a great start but at this point in the story that’s all we had- some great minds thinking alike and we now needed more. As a leader I now needed to lead and this is always the scary part, where my mind fills with doubts in my abilities to make this work. I needed to actually manage this change and make the Primary department a different, improved place to learn and work within. Rather than jumping head first in and shouting- “Yeah, we all think the same so off we go let’s be creative!” I wanted to convey an air of caution and approach this change in a reasoned step by step manner. I strongly believe all change should be able to be evaluated for impact. It’s crucial that participants see what their efforts to effect change have achieved, after all change is not easy. Our next step was to make a baseline of where we were in relation to our school curriculum. Again I turned to my current favourite guru Will Ryan, I used his analysis table for looking at various aspects of curriculum and where we felt the primary department was, in one column and the significance that we felt each aspect should have in another. A score of one to five was given in each column for each area. I plan to use this, alongside the success criteria from the school development plan, to revisit the successes and development points for curriculum provision in June 2015. When I collected the group sheets I looked for the areas where the staff had scored what was currently happening in our school low alongside rating it as highly significant in their personal belief column.
So where are we?
From the completed analysis forms I ascertained that the following areas needed to be addressed to ensure real curriculum change took place.
- School leadership needs to provide a passionate, dynamic and imaginative lead on the curriculum
- The curriculum needs to be a source of enquiry rather than a content of knowledge
- The children need to be taught how to become enterprising
- The children need to be taught how to become emotionally intelligent
- The curriculum needs to help children to become socially responsible
- A range of ICT opportunities need to be used across the curriculum
- Classroom accommodation and learning environments need to better support the curriculum
I’ll admit it looks bad but there were many areas we scored well on and now we have clear measureable areas in which to improve that link directly with our shared vision.
Put 30 teachers and teaching assistants in a room for 3 hours, with tea and biscuits and as well as some great professional dialogue you get A VISION and A DIRECTION. Not bad for a day’s work. I don’t mind saying I was feeling pretty pleased. I felt like a leader. Like I had motivated a group of people to run a marathon, we’d survived the training schedule, crossed the start line and completed a few miles. Then someone said BUT and I knew we’d hit the runners wall! A BUT wasn’t part of my plan so I had to think on my feet after all as Anne Bronte said “There’s always a but in this imperfect world.”
What did we learn from this session?
- That a BUT can change the mood of the room!
- That BUTs cannot and should not be ignored
- That staff have to get things off their chests before they can move forward
- That meaningful change is not possible until you break down the barriers
In my next post I’ll address the buts and the barriers to curriculum change. I will also share my opinions on why schools might shy away from adopting a more enquiry based, creative curriculum that embraces values and life skills.