Members of the International Bureau of Education recently participated in the 3rd International Workshop on Curriculum Innovation and Reform: Changing Assessment to Improve Learning Outcomes, organised by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop). The International Workshop drew on lessons from current work conducted by Cedefop and other research and international organisations on the implications of approaches to the design and implementation of curriculum and assessment policies and practices.
I have attached links to some of the event presentations which I found particularly interesting.
Education stands at a historic point in time where the best of what we know about effective teaching is merging with exciting potentials offered by new technologies, tools, and learning designs. The result is a revolutionary new direction for educational practice.
Choose from more than 140 sessions and spend two and a half days exploring how educators around the world are revolutionising learning. Whether your role is in the classroom or systemwide, this is your chance to learn about effective new programs and practices and join with colleagues in advancing a positive agenda for the future.
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) will hold a summer conference in St. Louis, United States, from July 1-3, 2012, on Revolutionising the Way We Teach and Learn. Drawing from 150,000 members and an international network of schools, the leading experts on research-based, classroom-proven approaches will lead the conference. They will provide in-depth analyses on 11 topics, including: achieving equity in education, effective teacher supervision and professional development, teaching and technology, and bullying prevention. For more information or to register for the conference, please see the ASCD website link below.
One of the main challenges for teacher education is posed by the demands of inclusive education but little attention has been paid to this important topic. Global disparities in educational provision, and differences in teacher education and teacher qualifications within and between countries, exacerbate inequality in educational opportunity. While the form and structure of teacher education may vary from one country to another, some common issues and challenges in providing a good quality basic education for all remain largely unaddressed.
The articles in this volume of Prospects focus on theoretical issues of curriculum, assessment, and teaching, and on issues of teacher professional learning. They explore how theoretical concepts associated with the development of inclusive practice are being addressed in different world regions. The issue will be of particular relevance to teachers, teacher educators, and policy makers around the world, as the role, value, and relevance of teacher education is being questioned, not only in terms of teachers’ professional preparation, but also because of questions about educational outcomes for students and the extent to which teachers are able to meet the needs of all learners.
Following from my previous article, here are some random ramblings on Curriculum for Excellence. I’ll produce another article later this week with my concluding thoughts.
Mixed messages and a lack of clarity around the broader implications that CfE brings to education has lead to some misinterpretation. Many teachers still believe that it is all about changing the national qualifications and the assessment criteria, albeit with a splash of contemporary learning and teaching thrown in. With many stresses on the daily routine, finding time to plan and deliver a cooperative lesson or plan interdisciplinary learning across the curriculum is challenging. Yes, where relevant, appropriate and timely – this is a great way of reinforcing a particular lesson; articulating aspects of the curriculum and connecting skills so that they young person’s learning is progressive, integrated and that the experience is not easily forgotten. Unfortunately, there are a few major barriers which are preventing progress within Scottish Education.
Educational leaders, as public managers are accountable to their local authority. The majority are not taking the managed risks that are needed to break the cycle of tradition which is halting progress. This is not their fault, but is a fundamental paradox within the system itself. We have done to CfE, exactly what we wanted to avoid. Tinkering around the edges and enhancing what I call the ‘front end’ of the learning and teaching process. We’ve done an exemplary job here – but it only goes so far. The ‘back end’ of the system, the inspections, the accountability and the qualifications process which is required for university entry is stagnant and rigid. There is little flexibility and as such this transfers to the classroom.
There is a misconception that everything needs an evidence base – it must be measured recorded and evaluated. I wonder what the purpose of that process is? Is it to monitor and track the young person or is it to appease the inspector when they knock on the door? An independent General Teaching Council for Scotland is raising the standard for full and continued registration; yet there remains an inherent lack of trust between the Government, it’s executive agencies, local authorities and teachers. This is then passed down between parents and carers, pupils and teachers and places schools between a rock and a hard place. The impact of recession has not helped either – changing teacher’s terms and conditions and messing about with pensions during such a sensitive time has enlarged the expanding gulf – reinforcing the ‘them and us’ mentaility which prevents creative, innovative approaches. Not many people are willing to stick their heads above the parapet these days and we have fallen to a culture of standardising standards and writing a policy for policy making. There are many teachers who, given the chance, would do things differently if they were not bound by red tape and mis targetted accountability.
I for one, don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do have the guts to ask some questions. Why do we need an inspectorate of education? Schools go through the self-evaluation process and they are then held to account – based on evidence and statistics. I’d like to see an education system which measures the longer term outcomes of a young person, not when the leave school at the age of 16, 17 or 18 with a fistful of qualifications. To me, that means very little and it certainly does not reflect the improvements in life chances that we must focus upon. Unfortunately, it takes a brave Government to put aside the immediate story telling – required to win elections, and embed a system of education which realises the potential of a young person well after the term of office has completed. I do not like to drive statistics for the sake of telling a story. If we get it right for every child and young person, the numbers will improve as a result.
Whilst removing inspection and revitalising the statistical infrastructure which underpins Scotland Peforms and the national targets, I recognise that curriculum evaluation is important for many reasons. It provides an opportunity for identifying the strengths and weaknesses of an education system so that it can be analysed against an agreed vision and quality criteria. It also informs policy makers and stakeholders with regard to the changes/reforms needed for enhancing the quality of education inputs, processes and outcomes. Moreover, curriculum evaluation points to the capacities to be developed for enhancing the quality of curriculum design, writing and implementation. We need the ability to test, analyse and measure the learning system : adaptability, responsiveness and effectiveness to meet the changing needs of children and young people. This must be embedded into learning and teaching whilst supporting individuals through a modern approach to integrated services, incorporating education, social work and health etc. An education performance framework requires robust monitoring of both the individual and collective progress of children and young people and their achievements: measuring progress throughout the learner’s journey and recognising their outcomes upon leaving school, an episode of learning and when reaching the end of the extended school curriculum.
To this end, I propose a two tier, national framework to measure the success of the education system. This should be based on Integrated Services Performance – the lead indicators which measure across the entire portfolio of services; building capacity and promoting accountability. These should be embedded in a culture of continuous improvement and measured through community partnership planning and local government agreements, and: Organisational Performance – the supplementary indicators which measure schools, colleges and individual services, in the more traditional sense; and promote the need to be more responsive in planning and delivering the curriculum, providing young people with better educational experiences. Such a framework must remove the focus of attainment results in S4, 5 and 6 and instead look across the holistic outcomes. This means removing the current Standard Tables and Charts system and replacing it with a new senior phase benchmarking tool.
The International Bureau of Education is calling for preliminary responses to questions for its 5th annual e-forum, on the theme: Addressing Socio-Cultural Diversity through the Curriculum, which will be held between 21 November and 9 December, 2011. The e-forum, which is organised around a forthcoming discussion paper and series of weekly questions, provides a unique opportunity among the Community of Practice members for inter-regional, multi-lingual and open discourse, with the support and facilitation of international experts. Participants can contribute in all 6 UN languages.
More details to follow…
I am currently writing an article asking the question – when is a school not a school? I have a bit of a ‘bee in my bonnet’ at present about Curriculum for Excellence – and whether the marriage to Scottish education is actually working.
I believe that a 21st Century Education means that ‘schools’ must produce scientists, musicians, scholars, engineers, trades people and artists if they are to compete in a global, economic market. At present, and this and a tradition thing, we focus too much in churning out young people with as many qualifications as possible simply to drive statistics under the auspices of improving life chances.
How does that enrich the curriculum and produce successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens? The answer is – it doesn’t and that is why we are failing our children and young people.
There are some excellent examples which demonstrate that the CfE philosophy is absolutely the best thing to happen to Scottish education – but there are also some whopping big barriers to progress. Watch this space for my next post – and I apologise in advance it reads as a bit of a rant. I need to get some things off my chest before it is too late!
This year’s Scottish Learning Festival (Twitter #SLF11) is likely to be one to remember – either for better or worse. To be held on 21st and 22nd September, the theme is Curriculum for Excellence: Learning, Teaching and Assessment, Making the Connections.
The conference will also see the highly anticipated ‘launch’ of Scotland’s new executive agency – Education Scotland; a marriage between Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) and Her Majestie’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIe). The perpetual role and responsibilities of the ‘support’ and ‘challenge’ aspects of the agency are yet to be communicated in any great detail, though these traditional terms are likely to be ones that The Scottish Government would like to banish into the void; they do not convey the contemporary message which will realise the desired ties between Education Scotland and the learning and teaching profession.
Back in 2008, having attended and presented at a number of consecutive festivals, LTS asked me to produce a short paper which measured the impact of SLF. Given that the next event is almost upon us, I thought that I’d take the time to reflect on my previous thoughts, though I admit that I struggle to conclude whether the event is dead in the water or alive and kicking.
The Scottish Learning Festival is the largest education conference and exhibition of its kind in Scotland. Throughout its twelve year history, the event has been extensively evaluated by Learning and Teaching Scotland to ensure that delegates are benefiting from attendance. However, the real success of whether or not attendance is beneficial is in the long term impact that it has on the delegate and their classroom, school and professional practice. This ensures that the event is continuous throughout the year and not simply a two day event which promotes innovative ideas and an opportunity to network.
I believe that some teachers can have very narrow perspectives when their view is restricted to only one school or classroom and that SLF provides the ideal opportunity to have a fresh and unique overview of education. We have all seen significant change to the curriculum over the last few years and the future promises to bring ever more intensive and stringent reform to the qualification and assessment system. Improving the life chances of our young people and raising self-esteem, self-belief and self-determination, what I call responsible confidence, must be promoted amongst children and young people through a diverse range of creative and innovative pedagogy. By sharing ideas, resources and knowledge we can facilitate the growth and development of such practice to an extent where we provide infrastructure which will firmly support further implementation of Curriculum For Excellence.
I normally feel very excited following attendance at SLF. There aren’t many opportunities to meet with teachers from early years and secondary, colleges and other areas of education all in the same day and this type of perspective gives that broader picture. The conference programme arrives on my desk at exactly the right time. Based on current themes related to the curriculum and teaching practice, I always use it as a starting point to identify my own professional development for the year ahead, and it is an opportunity to see what other people are doing up and down the country. Increasingly, I have met with colleagues from other parts of the United Kingdom and from as far as the United States and Australia – indeed, if they make the effort to attend then so should we.
I do feel however, that in the current economic climate, some teachers may have difficulty achieving time away from the classroom – decreasing staff cover budgets and increasing workloads make attendance challenging – and I don’t know many teachers who attend both days.
I would really like to see the attendance figures from this year’s conference and compare them to those of the past. There could well be some serious questions to be asked. It may well be, despite all the advantages and good points to the event, that it has lived its course and a new approach is now needed. Perhaps, a controversial shift in time is needed, with an opportunity for teachers to attend at the weekend instead; are we given the chance to tune into a live seminar via video conferencing? This would be appealing to those who need to travel from afar and stay overnight – and of course it would provide a valuable record of the discussion. This is especially important, I feel. A record is needed if the conference is to continue impacting on learning and teaching throughout the year.
If you are attending this year, I may well see you there – please do give me a shout and say hello. I’d be interested in your after thoughts – either message me via Twitter (@leeandrewdunn) or send me an email. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions around the future of the event and its impact on your practice. At this moment in time, I’ll sit on the fence.
Now that Curriculum for Excellence is under implementation, our First Year pupils are being assessed based on their experiences and their outcomes gained from the broad general education. If the terminology – Developing, Consolidating and Secure is new to you, then this video will help. It was produced by my school, for the benefit of the young people and their parents and carers.
Vodpod videos no longer available.