Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Adaptation (n) the process of changing to suit different conditions

'In a world shaped by artificial intelligence, education is no longer just about teaching people something, but about helping people build a reliable compass & the navigation tools to find their own way through an increasingly volatile, uncertain & ambiguous world.' PISA 2018: Insights and Interpretations

The PISA 2018 report published today highlights a number of important issues associated with what we plan to teach and how we teach it. Is our curriculum equitable so that all pupils can achieve and progress in a world that is ambiguous and uncertain?

The PISA excerpt above has a strong correlation with SDG4 where we are reminded that by 2030, we should '...ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.' We can learn from the past (...'the best of what has been thought and said'...) but it is only if we are provided with the opportunity to apply what we have learned in increasingly complex contexts, that we will be be able to make a valuable contribution as citizens in today's modern world of exponential technological advancement, globalisation and multiculturalism.

During the GUAG event 'Exploring Global Learning' earlier this year in Liverpool, I spoke about the importance of 'owning' your curriculum. If we are to follow the National Curriculum from the Department of Education (DFE) in the UK, it is worth remembering this statement from the Aims in the Introduction:

'3.2 The National Curriculum is just one element of 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 2014 Primary Curriculum in particular was developed in response to teachers wanting more autonomy. The current Ofsted inspection framework supports this by placing a focus on the need for the curriculum to reflect the needs and interests of the local context. In the Ofsted Curriculum Review, published 18 September 2018, Amanda Spielman said that:

'The curriculum also gives a school purpose. Ultimately, the curriculum is the yardstick for what school leaders want their pupils to know and to be able to do by the time they leave school.'

The United Nations Charter states that:

“The education of the child shall be directed to the development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential”

So when we take into account 2018 PISA data, curriculum guidelines from the DFE, curriculum research and expectations from Oftsed, Global Goals for 2030 and policy statements from the United Nations, we are provided with a rationale to critique our curriculum planning and implementation to ensure that pupils in each of our own communities are receiving the education that they require in order to thrive in today's world. This means that we need to understand where pupils are coming from, what barriers there are to their learning and what opportunities there are for widening horizons and raising aspirations. To do this we need to be prepared (through collaboration and research) to take into account national and global guidelines and expectations but to adapt them into plans for a curriculum that is best suited for our local context.

By Victoria Pendry, Strategic Director of the Curriculum Foundation