“Gonna change my way of thinking
Make myself a different set of rules
Gonna put my good foot forward
And stop being influenced by fools”
Wise words from Bob Dylan- although I doubt he realised their relevance to English Primary Education
As I touched upon in my last post our staff meetings constantly came back to – BUT this doesn’t work for our children in this setting. We always had lots of ideas about what would work and some we implemented but in honesty we were not an inside out school. In most cases we kept on doing what we’d done as UK teachers. After I’d had my awakening or refocusing (I’m not sure how best to describe it!) I now wanted to use the new curriculum development meetings as a way to share this with staff. I knew that all of them would support more enquiry based learning and more creative approaches to teaching and planning because I am privileged to work with a group of extremely talented and openminded people. The downside of working in a British School abroad is the long school day and the lack of time for real discussion on educational issues. Once again this was our chance to start having these discussions.
When researching how best to present the new curriculum at an initial meeting. I found these two websites useful:
Oxford Owl website http://oxfordowl.curriculumsupport.co.uk/
However in the end the first taste that staff had of the new currciulum was a presentation using Michael Tidd’s work and links from this booklet http://michaelt1979.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/preparing-for-the-new-curriculum-booklet.pdf
In our initial meeting we simply looked at the language of the curriculum and what would change and stay the same.
To be honest no one found the new curriculum that daunting, we recognised that there were some more demanding aspects to the maths expectations and that in English more emphasis should be paid to the Spelling, Grammar and punctuation. Unsurprisingly as a school teaching the English curriculum in English to Spanish speaking children, in Spain, spelling and grammar was a constant battle for us so we weren’t against this. As for other the subjects, well this was the point where we adopted the language of the curriculum document:
Pay particular attention here. The curriulum document states;
“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.”
“The school curriculum comprises all learning and other experiences that each school plans for its pupils. The national curriculum forms one part of the school curriculum.”
“The national curriculum is just one element in the education of every child. There is time and space in the school day and in each week, term and year to range beyond the national curriculum specifications.”
“The national curriculum provides an outline of core knowledge around which teachers can develop exciting and stimulating lessons to promote the development of pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills as part of the wider school curriculum.”
Concentrate on this language and the world is your oyster regarding curriculum design, whether you are an International school or based in England. In most cases there is no prescribed amount of time to teach objectives. We have the freedom to choose what suits our children. No more QCA Schemes or alike it’s up to us not the publishers! If we have fallen into the trap of spending half a term on electricity in last few years and every year we’ve felt we were delivering filler lessons now is the time to change because the new curriculum document can be our catalyst for change.
I wasn’t worried about deciding on the teaching objectives for each subject in each year BUT I was worried about making sure that we made our curriculum OUR CURRICULUM and not the same as a school in Leicester or Gloucestershire. We were going to own this curriculum! Before we started curriculum planning the staff, both teachers and teaching assistants, needed to know what our school curriculum vision was and it needed to be a shared vision which started from inside all of us.
This is where I called once more on the wisdom of Will Ryan and I used a resource at the beginning of his book that I had already completed as I read it. I asked every member of staff to complete this statement Education in the 21st Century must…… The results, which I’ve included below, made interesting and very reassuring reading.
Education in the 21st Century must…..
Prepare children as independent individuals who can make a difference
Be fun, engaging and diverse
Teach children they can do whatever they set their minds to
Give children essential personal and life skills
Be relevant to the needs of the children in our school
Teach skills not facts. Facts can be found on the internet/ your smart phone!
Teach children how to analyse
Teach how to form positive relationships with others
Allow children to be creative, imaginative and independent
Enable children to become confident learners
Give enthusiasm and motivation
Address the needs of the whole child not just from the head up
Create independent thinkers
Be active and creative
Provide links between subjects and reasons for learning
Teach respect for people, things and the environment
Be innovative and creative
Value effort and determination
Allow time for play and celebration of childhood
Embrace the world outside of school
Educate the whole child and not just the head up
Be flexible and adaptable to meet all needs
Incorporate technology but not rely on it
Use relevant technology
Create socially aware children
Develop global awareness and understanding
Include outdoor experiences
Be physical as well as academic
Create confident cooperative life- long learners
Should recognize talents
Reflect the needs of the modern world
What did we learn from this activity?
With their comments each member of staff helped us move towards forming our curriculum vision and a final curriculum statement (this is to be agreed in a staff meeting in September. I will share the final version once we have all agreed it.) Reading through our statements also helped us collectively see that when designing our new curriculum we MUST incorperate enquiry based learning, creative teaching, values based education and life skills because that’s what we believe in and that’s what our children need. We were on our way and beginning to turn ourselves inside out!
I’d love to hear from other people how they would have completed the statement Education in the 21st century must ……
Don’t be shy- leave a reply.
Our vision summarised