In the wake of the new Key Stage 3 national curriculum and the Building Schools for the Future programme, not to mention the success of the RSA's Opening Minds, there's a lot of talk about new models for curriculum delivery. What is the most effective way of structuring learning in a school? Should schools question the effectiveness of delivering learning in discrete subjects despite the fact that they are still enshrined in the national curriculum? Is ICT a subject or a set of skills and competencies? How do schools restructure their timetables to facilitate personalised learning?
These are big questions and strike at the heart of the traditional model of curriculum management. It's no wonder that teachers and school leaders are feeling a bit twitchy about the potential impact of such considerable change. The phrase "transformation of learning" features in much debate about educational reform, the implication being that "reform" is not enough. It may be better to think of the inevitable changes that lie ahead as "evolution", since throwing out everything in the current model smacks of lunacy. Nevertheless, a school's ability to cope with the idea of change (and increasingly rapid and unpredictable change at that) seems already to be a hallmark of 21st century learning.
So what have students and teachers at Tallis said about the changes they would like to see happen in the near future? Following a series of consultation events throughout 2008, here is the consensus:
- Teachers trained to be more effective facilitators of learning
- Students encouraged to develop personalised responses to demonstrate their learning
- More active learning and learning through discovery
- Better experiences with ICT of all kinds plus properly equipped and stimulating learning spaces
- A more flexible curriculum, longer, deeper learning experiences and time to take risks
This list seems to be sufficiently challenging to provide the school with a real focus for development over the coming months without threatening to dismantle the good practice currently taking place. The more consultation we do with both staff and students, the more consensus we discover. Hopefully, this will translate into a shared appetite for change and an ability to work together to make it happen.