Schools and Curriculum: January Highlight

26 January 2012

Undaunted by the short days and cold nights of January, policy change in the education world has marched on a-pace since our last round-up. To make some sense of it all we thought we would write a special round-up looking at schools and curriuclum. Here are some of the key issues and changes that have come into play this month:

Tweet Michael Gove your questions

The Education Select Committee wants your twitter questions for an evidence session with Michael Gove on 31 January as they are keen to reflect the pressing concerns of the sector.

Submit your cultural learning questions via twitter, by adding the hashtag #AskGove to your tweet, by 11.00am on Friday 27 January.

ICT Curriculum announcement

Earlier this month the Secretary of State (SoS), Michael Gove, announced some big coming changes to the ICT curriculum. At the annual BETT show the SoS revealed that the existing ICT curriculum will be scrapped. ICT will remain a compulsory part of the National Curriculum (pending the National Curriculum review), but the Programme of Study will be withdrawn in September, giving teachers the opportunity to design their own projects and approaches. Eventually, a new qualification based on computer science will emerge, focusing on practical skills such as coding and programme design.

There are some interesting things to note about this announcement:

  • There are some really interesting opportunities for collaboration opening up – arts and cultural digital learning specialists can work with schools, and each other, to explore the place of cultural learning and creative practice in the digital classroom.
  • The landscape is also opening up considerably to the private sector and commercial digital providers: the DfE Press Release States: ‘ Companies such as Microsoft and Google and Cambridge University are already working with technology education organisations, such as the British Computer Society, to produce free materials for schools. More are expected to follow.’
  • This policy includes funding for new Teaching Schools; to enable them to create strong networks between schools and to help them develop and improve their use of technology. This is very similar to a couple of our CLA recommendations to Government (see 17 and 18 on the list). We strongly believe that there should be designated and funded networks of specialist cultural Teaching Schools and will be continuing to call for a similar announcement from the SoS.

See the Guardian Blog for the view of an ICT Teacher.

Labour Education Plans

At the North of England Education Conference in Leeds in early January, the Shadow SoS for Education, Stephen Twigg, announced his plans and vision for teaching and learning. In a speech that appeared to owe much to Ken Robinson’s RSA Animate, he said that students should be taught in classes based on their ability rather than their age and that the school day should be extended to get students used to a “work-like timetable”.

Here’s the response from the BBC, from SecEd and from The Telegraph.

Ofsted in the news

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the new Ofsted Chief Inspector has announced his intention to scrap the grade ‘satisfactory’ and replace it with ‘needs improvement’. He sees this as a way of stopping ‘coasting’ schools from remaining at satisfactory level.

This wasn’t the only announcement from Ofsted this month: they also revealed a plan to begin ‘non-notice’ inspections of all schools from September 2012. These will be coupled with parent feedback on their child’s school, gathered through the Parent View website.

National Curriculum Review

If you missed the publication of the National Curriculum Review’s Expert panel report in the week before Christmas, then do read our handy summary. As The Stage picked up from our Blog last week, there are some great things in this report for cultural learning, but a worrying lack of information or emphasis on Dance or on Drama. The Curriculum Review itself has been delayed for another year. This will give us all more time to keep making case for the full breadth of cultural learning subjects to be recognised and included in the Curriculum.

There have been a number of responses from the sector to the report, notably this blog from Estelle Morris in The Guardian.