Monday, July 13, 2009

Rose Review Conference

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a conference on ' Transforming the Primary Curriculum'. An event organised by the DCSF, which included input from the National Strategies, BECTA, QCA and notably Headteachers.

I came away feeling very inspired and its hard to put into words what the key messages were and the impacts its had on me as a teacher. I guess it was one of this 'had to be there' moments really. Thankfully I did flip (badly) the best official presentation of the morning, which was from Tony Richardson of BECTA. He demonstrated how ICT has greatly moved on and talked about how many schools are now successfully embedding tools and technology within their curriculum. Furthermore he did this with such humour and passion, that he stood out as visionary and with an infectious passion for his subject, which up until that point was sadly missing.

Here are some note and comments that I have translated from my hurried typing on the day:

The new/proposed curriculum organisastional chart (sometimes called a Pizza or plates diagram) puts children at the centre

The curriculum aims to facilitate transition between EYFS into Primary and beyond to Secondary. This means Year 1 Teachers will need support on making greater use of a play based curriculum and they will also need to be involved in moderation of EYFS.

The classification of the curriculum into Early/ Middle and Late should not be seen as KS1, KS2 Lower and Ks2 Upper. Rather it is designed with flexibility in mind. It is like a series of learning ladders that should aid greater personalisation and differentiation. Though of course some teachers worry about the -if they teach the upper part when they are in middle, then what will I teach!?

One aim of the new curriculum is to develop life long learners. As Sue Horner from QCA commented there is a 'Google curriculum' ( Here she quoted a response seh had recently recieved from a learner which said - Why do I need to learn this when I could just google it ?) This is quite sad and we therefore want 'Lifelong Learners', not just 'I'll google it when I need it'.

I'd wholeheartedly agree that we do not want to see our role as merely delivering a body of knowledge and a skill set that we feel is apt and fitting for primary aged children. I hope that in my teaching and in a post Rose Curriculum we are fostering a love of learning for learnings sake within the classes we teach. This takes me back to a debate I was having with a teacher at the recent QCA consultation on the new ICT Curriculum, around the issue of why we bother with the more tricky aspects of ICT. This teacher gave a by now familier view that as we use computers mainly for creating and shaping media, then this is where we as teachers should invest our efforts. Data logging and handling, programming and internet literacy (oh and spreadsheets) are irrelavent as 'we don't use those everyday'. I guess they are also hard and take time to master too, but then doesn't this also apply to trickier aspects of Year 6 Maths, or is that just me?!

It is easy to shy away from these harder aspects of Primary ICT (and I am glad that the contributors to the Rose ICT papers have not) and focus on just making things in Comic Life, Movie maker and 2Diy/Create/Publish+ etc. But to do this would rob children of engaging in deeper learning, the joy of problem solving and thinking skills that comes from refining sets of instructions or search criteria. These applications also allow great contexts for collaborative work, whereas some of the 'publishing your work in Word' routes to ICT can be quite solitary and involve one child one machine.

Another issue that came up during the day is that for schools to adopt the Rose-Curriculum, there will need to be a shift in thinking. Many teachers and heads have lived by the non-statutory guidnace of QCA schemes and not reaslied that they can break out of these documents, these were originally given as a stimlus or guidnace document to support people with the National Curriculum of the time. Despite media driven perceptions of rigidity based on earlier 'hour' models of tecahing, the Primary Straetgy have encouraged a move towards teacher devised planning on their website by only fully exemplify a fraction of their suggested units. Interestingly was involved in running 'introduction to Renewed Framework' courses about 18 months ago and quite a few teachers did ask, when are the rest of the units 'being done'. So for as much as some complain that the Primary Straetegy alledegly cosntricts teachers creativity, many teachers like to have the fall back of a pre-made plan, rather than build something from scratch.

I don't think we'll see QCA ICT Scheme of work version 2.0 but if we do I hope they are used felexibily and not seen as statutory. Though giving schools and teachers this degree of freedom and flexibility does mean the onus is schools to gather togther subject cooridnators in order to plan a joined up and rigorous curriculum that is relevant for their school

Other Points

Unlike the current Curriculum ICT now longer has its own statutory document or orders. It is now threaded throughout the curriculum, though the confusion arises from the document that stipulates it should be taught both discreetly and across the curriculum. I guess it is easy to get hung up by this and even to worry that ICT can be dimished in a messy cross-curricular soup, where it will often be littlte more than typing up work or googling for research on the 'Romans'. And yes I am sure in some schools this will continue to happen. But positively what the embedding does allow is greater feleibility and the opportunity to breal free of articigfl stuctures which were only ever suiggestions anyway. So if I am studying a topic such as food with my children I can design the pacakage in Word and not have to use my ICT time to do six weeks of latering text by bolding, changing font and colours. However I may need to give some time over to the teaching of the skills before I let children lose on applying the software for a purpose. As has been said many times before children don't pick up all of the skills on the fly, they do need time to grasp these. Over the next few months I am going to be seeking out models of where this greater cross-curricular approach is truly working.

There is one thing that slightly concerns me with the push towards greater ICT integration is that in Tony's talk we didn't see any control technology or great examples of programming and I may be reapeating myself here but I do hope these will receve greater focus and push by all the curriculum bodies, they are not the easiest to embed or for a teacher to grasp.

Other Points

Sir Jjim was keen to emphsise the importance on speaking and listening in this review

Challenging cross- curricular studies rather than tenuous links - we should not expect a return to some of the dodgy project based teaching of the seventies.

Assessment –
Underlying emphasise – for all year groups – everyone has the right to understand their progress

Spetember ministers decide on how to move forward in light of qca advice and consultation

New curriculum September 2011- only 5 school terms away

Support - the report mentions 1 INSET day and I remeber heraing - 'January 2010 – support begins - ?? ' what this will look like nad who will provide it is unclear. Clearly a school needs to begin thinking about planning and organising soon.But in terms of ICT support for newer teachers we assume this isn't such a great issue, but there is a subtsantial number in our current workforce who feel deskilled and who need inspiration. Who, what, when how? At this point someone asked about and gave the all too familiar knock at the NOFF training, which I actually liked at the time, the issue then though was that in many schools the hardware wasn't there. I think now a new version of NOFF that was localised and mediated by schools would be very welcome. In that there would be dedicated time within in the CPD programme to focus on applications of technology. We do this for Maths and Literacy, why not for ICT?

How will the new curriculum be implimented- will it be a big bang with all year groups taking it on board at the same time or a stepped approach of one year at a time?

During the afternoon we listened to three senior leaders, who gave us their views on piloting a Rose style curriculum. At this point its worth remembering that you could probably impliment a curriculum of this nature under the current arrangements without worry, the National Curriculum does not legislate the how, just the what.

Points from schools in the pilot

See the schools and other links on my Rose Review Links page

Children need time to apply their skills - in one school there was real success and excitment with giving the Key Stage One children one day in very week to follow pupil initiated activities. This was supported by a rigourus - plan-do-review farmework. This decreased as the children moved up the school. Such Child initiated time showed children their interests were valued and made for a good transition from EYFS. Projects included a jewellery business, various clubs and a wedding. These projects allowed children to use and learn skills from Literacy, Maths and ICT.

A common thread amongst all schools seemed to be a regular and ongoing curriculum review and reflection.

Pupils saw themselves as learners

Reflection time is essential

Important to teach life skills – eg team work

Pupils have to see us as learners too

The QCA/ Rose Materilas are a great springboard – but need structures and rigour

Interview the kids about the curriculum and what they wanted to change
We as pupils are talking more than pupils

Shift happen changed their thinking
They begun by talking to the children

We have done top down from secondary to primary for so long
But what about moving up down from foundation ?

Jim Rose said Its our Job to make learnering irresistible.

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