Curriculum 11-16 A review of progress (1981)

Notes on the text

This is the second of the three 'Red Books' produced by HMI between 1977 and 1983, all of which are online - see Notes on the text for links to the others.

The complete document is presented in this single web page. You can scroll through it or use the following links to go straight to the various chapters:

Introduction
1 Origins and intentions of the enquiry
2 The enquiry from the standpoint of the five authorities
3 The enquiry within the 41 schools
4 Curriculum descriptions and examples
5 Views of the exercise
6 Future developments
Appendix

Curriculum 11-16 A review of progress was prepared for the web by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 24 September 2017.


Curriculum 11-16
A review of progress (1981)

London: Department of Education and Science 1981
Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.


[cover]


[title page]

Department of Education and Science




Curriculum 11-16
A review of progress

A joint study by HMI and five LEAs






London Her Majesty's Stationery Office


[page ii (unnumbered)]

Crown copyright 1981
First published 1981







ISBN 0 11 270533 2


[page iii]

Contents

Page

Foreword
v

Introduction
vii

1 Origins and intentions of the enquiry
1

2 The enquiry from the standpoint of the five authorities
11

3 The enquiry within the 41 schools
27

4 Curriculum descriptions and curriculum examples
43

5 Views of the exercise
55

6 Future developments
71

Appendix
80

Index





[page v]

Foreword


Like its predecessor, the so-called Red Book, Curriculum 11-16. Working Papers by HM Inspectorate. this booklet needs to be seen for what it is. Its appearance shortly after the Government's statement The School Curriculum is fortuitous; it belongs to another chain of events. It is, however, relevant to actions that need to follow the Government's paper.

Unlike the Red Book, this is not a contribution by HMI to discussion about the theoretical basis of the curriculum. Written jointly by representatives of five LEAs, 41 schools and a group of HMI, it records, warts and all, three years' hard work with the prospect of more to come. It is concerned with the reality of the curriculum for real pupils in real schools. It tells of problems still to be tackled, let alone solved, as well as of valuable work done and hard won new relationships established. It highlights the tensions between common frameworks and necessary diversity, between day-to-day efficiency in things as they are and the support of evolution and, where necessary, revolution. It advocates no models of product or process but it makes clear that time, good order and shared commitment are essential to successful evaluation and change, which may have to be achieved small step by small step.




[page vii]

Introduction


1.1 This report gives an account of a partnership in which 41 schools in five local authorities have worked with a group of HMI and advisers from the LEAs to re-examine their thinking about the curriculum. All those concerned recognise that in important respects it is an incomplete account, because the work is still continuing.

1.2 Since the start of the enquiry, early in 1977, much time has been spent on the identification and consideration of basic questions about the curriculum. It has consistently been stressed that, in asking such questions, the ideas and beliefs of teachers should provide the foundation for any changes proposed. Time devoted to promoting a greater awareness of problems, challenges and possible ways of meeting them has therefore been felt to be vitally important if change is to be effective.

1.3 For all participants, this time has been in addition to other duties. It is not easy, particularly for those in schools, to continue to fulfil everyday commitments and obligations concerned with pupils' education while at the same time standing back and reviewing them. Without the willingness of those involved to devote this additional time and thought, the exercise could have made no progress.

1.4 The process of reappraisal has taken place in changing and sometimes difficult circumstances: financial stringencies and falling numbers of pupils in schools have created their problems for this work, as in many other areas. From time to time, these or other difficulties meant that some participants might well have felt obliged to withdraw. In the event, however, all five local authorities have stayed in the exercise and have agreed to embark on a second stage, building on the thinking of the past three years.

1.5 This publication records the process of reappraisal and offers pointers to what, on the evidence of three years of work, appear to be fruitful paths of enquiry. Despite the incompleteness of the work, there are pressing reasons for not delaying publishing. In the past two years, public interest in the curriculum has been accompanied by the issue of a number of publications on the curriculum. The debate is an urgent one, and this document seeks to make a particular contribution by emphasising the value of careful deliberation and consultation which involves those most directly responsible for implementing policy decisions on the curriculum.


[page 1]

1 Origins and intentions of the enquiry

THE PUBLICATION OF THE RED BOOK

The Red Book

1.1.1 In March 1978 a booklet was published entitled Curriculum 11-16: working papers by HM Inspectorate - a contribution to current debate. Subsequently a number of short statements on individual subjects within the curriculum, additional to those included in the original document, were published and, towards the end of 1979, incorporated into a single publication covering the full range of the curriculum. As a convenient shorthand, these papers have become known collectively as the 'Red Book'.* In the foreword to the original publication it was stated that:

"These papers have been overtaken by events and it is important that neither their content nor their purpose should be misunderstood. They are working papers written by a group of HMI for discussion by HMI and, we hope, by advisers, schools, groups of teachers and those responsible for the education in our schools."

It was also said at this time that:

"Five authorities are supporting a number of their schools who are working on this framework and it is hoped in a couple of years time to publish descriptions of their work and the variety of local flesh they have put upon the inspectorial bones",

The document which follows is the report of this work.

The DES, HMI & the curriculum: other publications

1.2.1 Recently, a number of other publications relating to the school curriculum have emanated from the Department of Education and Science, some produced by HMI, others by the Department itself. For ease of reference and to avoid possible confusion, the following list sets out these publications with their dates.

Sept 1978 Primary education in England (A survey by HMI).

Nov 1979 Local authority arrangements for the school curriculum (Report on the Circular 14/77 review).

Dec 1979 Aspects of secondary education in England (A survey by HMI).

*Copies of the Red Book were sent to all LEAs, and in all 34,000 copies were distributed free on request.


[page 2]

Jan 1980 A framework for the school curriculum (Proposals for consultation by the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for Wales).

Jan 1980 A view of the curriculum (HMI Matters for Discussion).

March 1981 The school curriculum (guidance by the Secretaries of State).

1.2.2 Any temptation to interpret these publications as neatly interlocking pieces of some centrally devised jigsaw with a grand overall design should be resisted. Nevertheless, the publications - straddling two periods of government - have coincided with mounting evidence of a desire for guidelines on how to achieve shared objectives within secondary education on the part of many heads, teachers and others involved in the educational system.

The background to the Red Book

1.3.1 The consideration of the secondary curriculum up to the compulsory school leaving age, with a view to eventual publication, was the particular concern of a group of HMI convened in April 1975 and known as the Curriculum Publications Group (CPG). * After a number of meetings, draft papers were produced which later, under similar headings, provided the nucleus of the Red Book. An important element in the group's thinking was the idea of measuring curricular provision against a list of areas of experience. The group took note of, among other thinking, the work of the recently established Assessment of Performance Unit which was similarly endeavouring to go beyond the traditional subject-based terminology in defining the areas of the curriculum.

The purpose of the Red Book

1.4.1 The Red Book was, then, a contribution by some members of the Inspectorate to thinking about the secondary curriculum, but it was not intended as the only such contribution. Rather, it was offered as a possible starting point for enquiry:

"There is no intention anywhere in the papers which follow of advocating a centrally controlled or directed curriculum; nevertheless, if the questions which are proposed are regarded as valid, all who are concerned professionally with education, and above all teachers themselves, have an obligation to seek answers and to work out the consequences."

(Introduction to the Red Book, page 1).

Summary of the Red Book

1.5.1 There are frequent references to the various sections of the Red Book in the course of this publication, and a summary of the main ideas is therefore offered at this point.

Section 1: the education of the individual pupil

1.6.1 Section 1 was concerned with the individual pupil's education. It highlighted a tension between a concern to respect the autonomy of individual schools and LEAs and a desire for greater coherence and consistency

*Although the term 'curriculum' cannot be defined precisely, HMI working on CPG broadly interpreted the curriculum as 'the organisation and content of the formal teaching programme as defined by the timetable'.


[page 3]

throughout the system. The predominant pattern in schools was seen as a broad common curriculum in the first three years of secondary education replaced at 14-plus by a 'common core', varying considerably in size, and a number of optional subjects from which, on various principles, pupils selected individual programmes. Such option patterns were thought at times to lead to arbitrary or ill balanced programmes for pupils, who might make choices resulting in an overloading of some areas of the curriculum and consequent neglect of others; these choices might later prove to restrict their opportunities for careers or further education. Detailed analysis of existing school practice in respect of option systems, confirming this general pattern, is offered in Chapter 3, 'Curricular provision', of the HMI survey Aspects of secondary education in England.

The case for a common curriculum

1.6.2 In particular this section argued the case for a common curriculum. The following definition of this term was offered:

"We see that common curriculum as a body of skills, concepts, attitudes and knowledge, to be pursued, to a depth appropriate to their ability, by all pupils in the compulsory years of secondary education for a substantial part of their time, perhaps as much as two-thirds or three-quarters of the total time available. The remainder would be used either to deepen understanding of studies already in hand, or to undertake new activities, or both."

Defined in this way, the idea of the common curriculum went beyond a collection of subjects with common labels. Further criteria were needed. What should 16 year olds know and be able to do? What should they be able to do better at 16 than at II? What have pupils a reasonable right to expect from their years of compulsory education?

Eight areas of experience: the check list

1.6.3 One way of looking at the common curriculum was to consider the areas of experience which this should contain. It was proposed that the curriculum should offer properly thought out and progressive experience in eight areas to which equal importance was attached. The areas of experience were:

The aesthetic and creative.
The ethical.
The linguistic.
The mathematical.
The physical.
The scientific.
The social and political.
The spiritual.
(This list of eight areas of experience will be referred to frequently in this document as 'the checklist'. It was offered as one way of encouraging coherence and balance in the overall curriculum of individual pupils.)


[page 4]

Section 2: schools and society

1.7.1 Section 2 dealt with the relationship between pupils' educational programmes and the expectations of society. It argued that schools served both individuals and society - a society which would continue to be pluralistic in values and cultures; largely urban, technology-based and industrial; and possessing multiple expectations of the schools which it financed. There was a need within society for people who had acquired certain essential skills, had learnt to work on their own and had been encouraged to discriminate and think for themselves; and who were in a position to benefit from further education or training. More specific demands might also be made, such as that schools should provide a basic political awareness, induction into adulthood and some understanding of the different aspirations of various groups within society, and that they should prepare pupils to be the citizens, parents, wage earners and voters of the future. Demands of this kind did not necessarily imply curricular change in the sense of adding new subjects; they could be met by means of a variety of existing courses, through the general ethos of the school and through personal relationships. It was essential to maintain a proper balance between academic and social objectives.

Section 3: schools and preparation for work

1.8.1 Section 3 suggested a number of skills in which, from the standpoint of the employer, competence could reasonably be expected of school leavers. In addition, schools were seen to have a function of imparting knowledge about the world of work - first, the range of jobs, the nature of working life and relationships with fellow workers, trade union officials and management; secondly, some understanding of the political and economic systems. To this kind of knowledge must be added the development of flexible and responsible attitudes to work. Closer cooperation between schools and industry was urged in order to further these ends. Moreover, education needed to take account of the uncertainty of the employment market, coming to terms with the difficult yet inescapable fact of short-term and in some cases long-term unemployment for school leavers.

The supplementary papers

1.9.1 To these three main sections were appended, in the March 1978 publication, a number of supplementary papers. The first supplementary paper consisted of a set of statements by groups of HMI, looking at the possible contribution of some specialist subjects to a common curriculum, with reference to the eight areas of experience. The second raised the implications for the curriculum of the fact of widespread geographical mobility. The diversity of organisational pattern in the country's education was seen as an additional argument in favour of greater consensus about the curriculum. Paper 3, Timetabling, considered ways in which the school timetable might embody, facilitate or restrict curricular thinking, with the aid of two timetabling models for the curriculum which followed the principles of Section 1. The final paper (Staffing structure as an enabling device for curriculum development) presented some model staffing structures, with diagrammatic representation and notes on their possible use; these were also related to ideas in the main sections.


[page 5]

THE ORIGINS OF THE EXERCISE

The Oxford Conference

1.10.1 The origins of the curriculum enquiry lie some eighteen months before the actual publication of the Red Book. In September 1976, as part of the DES Short Course programme, a conference was held at Oxford on 'The Secondary Curriculum'; this was planned in conjunction with the Oxford University Department of Education. The membership included staff from schools and universities, and advisers and administrators from local authorities. There were also representatives from the Confederation of British Industry (CBJ) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC), together with a small contingent of delegates from the Council of Europe. Questions which were discussed included the need for a common curriculum, the possibility of achieving consensus on the skills, values and attitudes which such a common curriculum could develop, the potential contribution of various groups in society towards the formation of policies on the secondary curriculum, and the relationship between schools and the adult world. The possible value of using a checklist to offer a foundation on which to build a common curriculum was considered in detail, with the CPG draft paper on this attracting a wide measure of general support from conference members.

1.10.2 The conference endorsed the view that curricular thinking of this kind was not the prerogative of any single group, but involved and should reflect a range of concerns and interests. There was therefore seen to be positive value in such groups cooperating to consider the curriculum, and members from several authorities expressed interest in collaborating in this way.

A wider audience

1.11.1 After the Oxford Conference, the CPG draft papers were offered to a wider audience. First, within the Inspectorate, subject committees were invited to write statements analysing their subject's potential contribution to the curriculum, using as a criterion the eight areas of experience. They were also asked to set out the skills, conceptual knowledge and attitudes which the subject could claim to develop, together with ideas on progression over the five years of compulsory secondary education and on important areas of content to be covered. These responses led to the subject statements which were included in the Supplementary Papers of the Red Book.

1.11.2 Secondly, interest expressed at the Oxford Conference was used as the basis for involving a small number of LEAs in an exercise of curricular enquiry, in which schools would join LEA advisers and HMI in reviewing their own curricula in the light of the ideas discussed. In particular schools were to be invited to explore the CPG papers. Six authorities expressed a desire to participate. It was agreed that, although the exercise sprang from an H MT initiative, the LEA would essentially be responsible for its implementation and for deciding whom to involve in it, in accordance with its legal responsibility for the curriculum. For example, the suggestion was made that LEAs might wish to bring into the operation the Schools Council or colleges or institutes of higher education, although no authority took up this idea initially.


[page 6]

1.11.3 This was not an exercise which started from nothing; within authorities debate about the curriculum was already taking place in a variety of forms. The papers by HMI constituted a common element to be shared by all participants. There was to be no rigid pattern. Diversity was welcomed. What was required above all was a concern to improve existing curricula and to attempt to clarify thinking about the curriculum. This would demand that schools evaluate what they were already doing and what they were offering to pupils; seek to understand the processes by which change could be brought about; and undertake the programme of work most appropriate to their circumstances.

Establishing the enquiry

1.12.1 It was at the end of 1976 and the beginning of 1977 that the six local education authorities took the decision to associate themselves with the enquiry. Following initial contacts, HMI visited each authority, outlining to Chief Education Officers and other staff the principles on which the exercise was being established. The six authorities then invited schools, through their heads, to join the enquiry. (The variation in authorities' practice in approaching the schools is indicated in Chapter 2.) At this stage one of the six authorities decided to withdraw. From the five remaining authorities, 41 schools accepted the invitation to participate, the number within each authority varying in accordance with demand and with the authority's thinking. The authorities were Cheshire, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Wigan.

1.12.2 When the names of the schools were known, arrangements were made by LEAs and HMI for links with and support to the schools. The small team of HMI involved in the five authorities was a national one. Two authorities within the programme made the exercise a clear priority for some of their advisers.

1.12.3 It seemed essential to start by obtaining a picture of the schools as they were at the beginning of the exercise. HMI therefore constructed a short questionnaire. This was designed to provide factual data: numbers, staffing, organisational patterns. It also asked for details about the stages at which choices were offered to pupils and about the examinations used by the schools, together with copies of any published documents issued to staff or parents concerning the curriculum. There followed questions which schools were to be asked on initial visits by HMI and advisers: questions about recent curricular changes, planning of the curriculum, the process of change, the idea of a common curriculum and involvement with parents, local industry and commerce. These visits were made and the results considered in the spring and summer terms of 1977. It emerged that, without deliberate overall planning to achieve this, the schools reflected most of the patterns of comprehensive education in the country. Thirteen were 11-18 schools and a further twenty had an age-range of 11-16; the others included one 1O-13 middle school, two 12-18 schools, one 13-18 school, and three schools in transition. The smallest of the schools had fewer than 400 pupils and the largest over 2,000. Some were established comprehensive schools and others (rather more) were still undergoing transition.


[page 7]

1.12.4 From these initial visits, the enquiry was launched in the schools, using the as yet unpublished CPG papers. The Red Book, as such, did not yet exist, and throughout 1977 schools, LEA advisers and HMI worked with these incomplete and unpublished papers.

THE PURPOSES OF THE EXERCISE

The purpose of the enquiry: aims and objectives

1.13.1 Any retrospective attempt to define the enquiry's purpose too closely would be misleading. There were common assumptions and starting points and even, in a general sense, some shared aims. It was clear that this was not a curriculum project designed to produce materials for use in the classroom, like those, for example, financed by the Schools Council. It was described from the outset as an exercise, a study, an enquiry: an enquiry into the actual curricula of schools (specifically, 41 schools); an enquiry undertaken by school staff in conjunction with LEA advisers and with HMI, with no commitment to particular change but an implicit recognition that change might well be found to be desirable - a reappraisal, in fact.

1.13.2 The enquiry was therefore open-ended. One authority expressed this by saying, "The project is one of curriculum enquiry: the outcomes therefore cannot be predetermined." In March 1977, soon after the enquiry was launched, the same authority issued the following agreed statement:

"It is intended, by means of a partnership between the school, the LEA and HM], to examine the secondary school curriculum for pupils between the ages of II and 16 so as to determine the experiences, knowledge and skills which children need in order to provide for their education as individuals, and as preparation for society and for work."

1.13.3 Another authority produced a 'statement of intent' from each of the three partners:

From the head teachers:

"With the help of the input of the other two partners we hope to increase our own perceptions in the curriculum both by identification of objectives and by evaluation, adding thereby to the general national awareness of what is being done in the field of the secondary school curriculum."

From HMI:

"To test curriculum ideas, rather than material, and to comment on these ideas, making available all parties' reactions and findings for publication."

From the LEA:

"To share thinking with teachers in the schools and with HMI about the ideas on which the secondary school curricula of the future should be based."

1.13.4 These statements reveal both a general agreement of principle and the essential openness of approach which has characterised the enquiry. If the


[page 8]

exercise has at times been beset by lack of clarity and by uncertainty, this uncertainty has at the same time been its lifeblood.

The enquiry as a partnership

1.13.5 The decision that work should proceed by means of a partnership between schools, LEAs and HMI was agreed early in the exercise. This idea carried with it the implication of equal importance and standing within the exercise. One member expressed the relationship as follows:

"The schools have a right to be critical of the LEA who have a right to be critical of HMI who have a right to be critical of the schools - and so the wheel turns full circle."

1.13.6 Such a view of partnership could never be free from difficulties: triumvirates or their corporate equivalents have rarely had a completely smooth run. In this case, there seemed to be a necessary shift in the relationships traditionally operating between schools, HMI and LEA. (Chapter 5 will provide evidence of how those involved perceived this changed relationship.) One particular concern initially was the frequently expressed fear that H Mrs interest implied a plan which aimed to undermine the freedom of individual schools. It was in the context of such apprehension that HMI stated emphatically that "matters are now essentially in the hands of the LEAs and the schools. Nothing could or can happen without you."

Central coordination

1.14.1 Once the enquiry was established, the view was expressed that, for the exercise to be something more than five separate ventures, some form of coordination was desirable. This issue revealed an underlying tension within the exercise. Not all authorities took the same view of the relation between LEA activity and the idea of a 'central' exercise, with its implications for timing, liaison and the development of a concerted policy. Some felt that a considerable degree of unanimity over agreed programmes was needed; others thought that this would impose an unrealistic control and force an inappropriate pace.

Conferences

1.14.2 A basic coordinating framework was provided by the succession of conferences at which schools, authorities and HMI were as fully represented as possible. The first was held at Chorley, Lancashire, in November 1977. There were working sessions for members and contributions from speakers; the five authorities each submitted a progress report. A distillation of the central ideas of the CPG papers, in the form of 25 propositions, was presented for discussion and secured a wide measure of agreement, as the conference report indicates. A second conference took place at Blackpool in March 1979, with substantially the same membership. Then in June 1980the partners met at Stoke Rochford Hall, Lincolnshire, to consider the draft of the present document, with a view to approving its publication, and to plan future activity. Apart from these conferences, there were successive DES short courses on the secondary curriculum at which preference was given to applications from members of the exercise.


[page 9]

Central co-ordinating committee

1.14.3 In January 1978 it was agreed that a central coordinating committee should be established with representatives from schools, LEAs and HMI. This subsequently met at least once a term and gave rise to further working groups.

The monitoring group

1.14.4 One of these was the monitoring group, which devised the exercise begun in 1979 in order to record and evaluate work done during the enquiry. (For an account of this exercise, see Chapters 3 and 5.)

The Wigan item bank

1.14.5 The central coordinating committee also proposed the setting up of a 'resources bank', to consist of materials produced in connection with the exercise which it was felt would be of interest to others working within it or on similar lines. This was based at the Wigan Teachers' Centre and is referred to at several points in the text as the 'Wigan item bank'. Its initial evolution was slow and at times painful. Those who had produced papers were at times reluctant to release them for a wider audience, since they regarded their ideas as still provisional. Moreover, once materials were submitted and details of available documents circulated, there were at first few requests for copies. However, as schools and authorities became more familiar with the system there was a marked increase in the exchange of documents throughout the partnership.

The writing group

1.14.6 It was agreed early in the enquiry that a written report was desirable, and that what was written should reflect the viewpoints of all three partners. Consequently, a writing group was also instituted by the central coordinating committee, and this drew on contributions from schools, LEA advisers and HMI.

1.14.7 The introduction stressed that there was a strong feeling that a report written after some three years of work should not attempt to compress incomplete initiatives into an artificially final mould, but should reflect the continuing character of what was being done and take account of the differing timescales and approaches of the authorities. And so it does. The document records a process rather than a finished product.

Initial problems of partnership

1.15.1 Those involved in the exercise were aware from its earliest days that they were taking on something new and demanding. There would be a considerable commitment of time and energy for many people, as well as the vulnerability felt by those who experiment in unfamiliar territory. In particular, the concept of partnership, while easily enough stated, is hard to achieve; partnership rapidly becomes endangered if anyone senses that the terms of reference have changed; and it demands trust of a kind which takes a long time to achieve. A number of the difficulties which the exercise has faced - and there have been many - can be attributed to the necessarily gradual development of partnership: early sensitivity to attempts to coordinate activity may have stemmed from suspicion about motives; some reluctance to share in discussion or release working papers perhaps indicated a sense of insecurity in working on these critical curricular issues with unfamiliar partners; and, most importantly, partnership involves personal relationships, and participants have discovered that it is only after working together for


[page 10]

some time that there can develop the friendship and understanding in which trust and cooperation flourish.

Extending the idea of partnership

1.16.1 Extension of the initial concept of partnership has been shown in the deepening of relationships both within individual authorities and in activities linking them all. Furthermore, since the enquiry began an increasing number of requests for information about the enquiry reached HMI from schools and LEAs. Other authorities have now embarked on their own reappraisal of the curriculum, working along similar lines. Another offshoot from the original enquiry has been the emergence of what might be termed a partner by affiliation. In Cheshire the exercise is being studied by the North West Educational Management Centre in a research project financed by the DES; this will be completed in the summer of 1981.

1.16.2 These developments are clearly welcomed by those involved in the enquiry, since a central concern has been to work towards greater consensus in curricular thinking, while recognising that this can never be achieved once and for all. The statement that the enquiry is open-ended implies that no final date can be envisaged, no horizon set for its deliberations. This document, then, is in a real sense an interim report. It is not the last word on a subject about which there can be no last word.

Table 1A A summary showing the main stages of the enquiry's development.

1975 AprilHMI Curriculum Publications Group convened; work on papers begins.
1976 SeptemberThe Oxford conference on the secondary curriculum.
1976 DecemberHMI begin formal consultations with 6 LEAs;
HMI discussion papers 1, 2 and 3 circulated to LEAs.
1977 Jan/FebLEA representatives meet HMI and discuss proposals for enquiry.
One LEA withdraws; selection of the 5 LEAs' schools.
LEA steering committees formed.
Schools begin work.
1977 Spring and SummerHMI and advisers begin visiting schools.
Aide-memoire returns made and staff deployment analyses completed.
1977 NovemberChorley conference.
1978 JanuaryCentral Coordinating Committee formed.
Monitoring group begins work.
1978 MarchPublication of 'Red Book'.
1979 MarchBlackpool conference.
1979 SeptemberMonitoring the exercise begins in schools.
1979 OctoberWriting group begins work.
1980 Jan/MarchAnalysis of monitoring documents, including monitoring of HMI and LEAs.
1980 JuneStoke Rochford conference; new phase of work initiated.


[page 11]

2 The enquiry from the standpoint of the five authorities


Individual emphases

2.1.1 The summary at the end of the first chapter gives the timetable of decisions taken and coordinated centrally. From this central thread can be drawn five distinct strands representing the policies, initiatives and emphases of the different authorities, and it is with these that this chapter is concerned - that is, with the exercise as interpreted and developed by those representatives of the five LEAs who have been most closely associated with it.

The selection of the schools

2.2.1 Once the five authorities had agreed to join the exercise, the first step was the selection of schools. LEAs devised their own principles for this, as described below.

Cheshire

2.2.2 In Cheshire, the steering group which had been established decided to limit the number of schools participating to one in each of the districts of the county. This enabled the exercise to be spread throughout the authority and allowed one school in each area to become a focus for the future involvement of other schools. The intention was to include schools which had reached different stages of their development as comprehensive schools, with a range of catchment area and educational opportunities and problems. Each school which was approached decided to participate only after full staff discussion about the enquiry and its implications. Once the decision was taken, the seven heads joined the steering group, together with those advisory staff most concerned with the exercise. The steering group was chaired by the Assistant Director (Secondary) and in this way the administrative staff of the authority became involved at an early stage.

Hampshire

2.2.3 In Hampshire, the decision was taken at a joint meeting between HMI and senior officers and advisers of the LEA that eight schools should take part in the enquiry, one from each of the administrative areas of the county. It was thought necessary to preserve a balance between schools of differing size, age-range and catchment area. Informal contacts were therefore made with the heads of a number of schools; thereafter, area meetings were held at which open discussions led to agreement as to which school should be invited. to participate from each area. At this stage, schools were not obliged to accept the invitation; a final decision was to be taken only after consultation with the staff of the schools and when there was a clearer understanding by all concerned of the nature and purpose of the enquiry. In the event, all eight schools originally chosen committed themselves.


[page 12]

Lancashire

2.2.4 In Lancashire, schools either volunteered to join the enquiry or were invited after consultation with the principal adviser, following a major conference for heads. It was decided that no school which expressed interest should be excluded from participation. This resulted in a group of 24 schools - too many to permit available HMI resources, in particular, to be spread evenly throughout the five authorities. The 24 schools were therefore placed in two groups: twelve schools were designated the 'national' group and the other twelve became known as the 'Lancashire' group. The LEA treated these two groups identically in its organisation and administration, but only the twelve 'national' schools were included in the 41 schools which were formally involved in the enquiry for such central processes as the monitoring exercise.

Nottinghamshire

2.2.5 The selection of schools in Nottinghamshire depended on similar organisational considerations to those which influenced Cheshire and Hampshire. The authority decided that to involve one school from each of its eight administrative districts would simplify contact and dissemination. A recommendation of eight schools was made to the Director of Education by the chief adviser in consultation with his senior colleagues. The choice was limited by a number of factors. It was decided not to include schools which had recently been reorganised, those without a full 11-16 age-range, those in the process of changing from single-sex to coeducational organisation or those already heavily engaged in other curriculum projects. There was also a desire to include a variety of schools in terms of buildings and facilities, historical development, social grouping, size and philosophy. The eight schools selected on this basis were then formally asked to participate, and all accepted the invitation.

Wigan

2.2.6 At Wigan the heads of all schools with pupils over eleven years old met a representative of HMI and the Director of Education at the Teachers' Centre to hear about the enquiry and what participation might imply. Schools were free to decide whether or not they wanted to offer themselves for inclusion. If there were too many volunteers, the authority should, at the schools' request, develop criteria for reducing the number. Since all except two schools initially volunteered, this proved necessary. The LEA therefore decided to aim for a balance of the different kinds of school, taking account of the geographical spread and selecting from each of the available patterns of age range: 10-13, 13-18, 11-16 and 11-18. Consideration was also given to denominational interests and to the variety of the schools' experience of comprehensive education. These factors led to a selection of seven schools, two of which, when approached formally, declined the invitation. Only one was replaced by an alternative school and by spring 1977 the" authority had a group of six schools. Some of these agreed to participate only after full staff discussions, but in others it was the head who took the decision.

Overall patterns

2.3.1 The most consistent feature of the selection was the decision by most authorities to create a planned variety, both geographically and in the character of the schools - although different criteria were used. Such a structure inevitably limited free choice to some extent, and in any case LEA policy varied in the importance attached to voluntary participation. In some


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cases the nomination of schools was taken initially or entirely by senior LEA officials; in some, heads acting autonomously took the responsibility for committing their teachers; in others heads agreed only after consulting with staff. No one procedure automatically proved the most effective in generating a high level of staff commitment: much depended on how initial decisions were followed up. Clearly, however, individual authorities perceived their embarkation on this enterprise in different ways, and this may have had important repercussions for the progress of the enquiry.

The table of activities

2.4.1 Table 2A (see pp 14-15) represents diagrammatically activities mounted within the five authorities. There were four broad categories of activity: steering groups and committees; LEA conferences and meetings; school-based meetings; visits by HMI and LEA advisers to schools. In many ways methods of working were evidently similar, but there were important variations - not least in timing. A graph of activity in each authority, based on this table, would record distinctly uneven progress. There were periods when, because of other preoccupations, little or no activity specifically connected with the exercise took place; these were punctuated by sudden injections giving fresh impetus, and such lulls and bursts did not necessarily coincide from authority to authority.

The individual character of each authority's involvement

2.5.1 Such a tabulation of activities offers at a glance a synoptic picture of the progress of the enquiry in the five authorities, but it does not reveal the distinctive flavour which it acquired in each. The five statements which follow are made by representatives from each of the authorities, who have highlighted, important aspects of the exercise which contributed to their particular approaches to the work.

Cheshire

2.6.1 From the outset the structure of the partnership was strongly emphasised in Cheshire. The authority saw the importance of the principle that curricular reappraisal should stem from the schools themselves, working individually yet together and involving all members of staff in the exercise. The schools decided that they would follow a common pattern of activity within a limited time scale. The partnership therefore designed the means of reappraisal, using the three major headings of the Red Book (see 1.6.1 to 1.8.1) and a fourth area which Cheshire added, that of 'personal relationships'. Collectively these schools were to develop a process which, if successful, could be used as a planned and regular method of self-appraisal by all secondary schools in the authority. The analyses and investigations helped the LEA to establish an acceptable curriculum model, and the thinking assisted the planning of the in-service training programme. In order that all the schools should proceed along similar lines, various agreed papers and checklists were employed. These were known in Cheshire as 'instruments', and are referred to below in the text.

2.6.2 The starting point for considering the education of the individual was the curriculum as taught through the subject disciplines. It was necessary first


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Table 2A Activities within the five local education authorities

click on the image for a larger version of the table


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to consider the rationale and aims of these subjects, secondly to identify progression within them and thirdly to see how they related to the total curriculum, taking the model of the eight areas of experience as a pupil's entitlement.

2.6.3 In order that all the teachers should be aware of how their own subject related to other subjects and note what was unique and what was shared with others, subject departments were invited to analyse their curricula according to:

their aims and objectives;
the concepts, skills and attitudes which were essential to their discipline;
the content selected to illustrate and teach those concepts; skills and attitudes;
the methods used in teaching;
the assessment techniques used to check pupils' progress and to evaluate the course and teaching methods used (Instrument E1).
2.6.4 This approach enabled staff to develop a language common to all, and then to see the relationship of each discipline to the total curriculum as expressed through the eight areas of experience. Subject departments rated their subject's potential contribution to these areas for each of the five years of secondary education (Instrument E2). This analysis provided, particularly for senior staff in schools, an indication of the degree of balance in the curriculum as a whole, and made it possible to build up a profile for each school's curriculum year by year.

2.6.5 On the basis of these investigations, schools then examined the curriculum under the headings 'Preparation of the pupil for the world of work', 'Preparation of the pupil for society' and 'Personal relationships'. Much productive work was done, especially under the first two headings, using checklists developed within the partnership, as is indicated below.

2.6.6 The three checklists used to examine the school's provisions for the preparation of pupils for the world of work (and possible future unemployment and retraining) were:

(i) for heads, deputies and senior teachers, an analysis of the school's policy to promote pupils' interest in and understanding of the world of work; this included an examination of the nature, extent and use in the school of teachers' experience in employment outside education (Instrument WI).

(ii) for each subject department, an analysis of the ways in which the subjects developed pupils' skills, attitudes and knowledge in relation to employment (Instrument W2).

(iii) for those directly involved in careers education programmes, an analysis of the nature of the planned careers education and vocational


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guidance provided by the school, including links with industry, work experience and the involvement of parents and employers (Instrument W3).
These checklists were used with a variety of employers to compare their reactions with those of the schools.

2.6.7 Schools reappraised their contribution to the preparation of the pupil for society in a similar way. Two basic papers were used. The first (Instrument S I) explored the contributions of the various subject disciplines to the promotion of the pupil's interest in and understanding of society. The second (Instrument S2) looked at such issues as the opportunities provided by the school as a whole to develop the skills and attitudes appropriate to the needs of pupils as members of adult society.

2.6.8 The exercise was also seen as a means of assessing the overall needs of pupils and the demands made on them, leading to the planning of a more coherent curriculum which made the best use of the school's resources. For such self-evaluation, schools need a common language and agreed processes, so that such groups as parents, governors, employers and elected members of the education committee may contribute to the debate.

The development of an LEA policy for staffing and the curriculum

2.6.9 The major emphasis was on individual schools, but schools joined in planned discussions about subject disciplines and the total curriculum. As a result of these discussions, schools expressed their joint views by producing a' model of the curriculum with agreement in outline but permitting individual needs and emphases; the authority decided to use this model in its consideration of curricular policy and staffing resources for its schools. Such consensus between schools and authority was seen to offer the opportunity for greater coherence in the development of LEA policy. The curriculum model finally agreed, with its requirements for staffing, has been discussed by all interested groups in the county and adopted by the LEA as part of its policy.*

2.6.10 The exercise reinforced the belief that school curricula needed to be flexible in order to reflect both current and future needs, and the Cheshire framework suggested a way of encouraging such flexibility. The authority has therefore decided that reappraisal of this kind should become an integral and vital part of its pattern of educational evaluation. For this reason, a second group of seven schools has become engaged in the process, amending and developing the procedures established, exchanging thinking and experience and furthering the professional development of staff. Schools will continue to receive help in the process by means of school closures for conferences, limited assistance from supply staff, some additional clerical help, the support (as a priority) of LEA advisers and, so far as inspection commitments allow, help from HMI. The remaining secondary schools in the authority will in due course review their curricular provision as part of the LEA's undertaking of its responsibilities for the curriculum, with a minimum of two years' direct involvement.

NWEMC

2.6.11 As mentioned in Chapter I, the Cheshire reappraisal is being studied by the North West Educational Management Centre in a research project

*The documents relating to this curriculum model and policy are available on request from Cheshire LEA, County Hall, Chester CH1 1SQ.


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financed by the DES, which is continuing until the summer of 1981. The documentation of the exercise is being examined and teachers in the seven schools have been interviewed. The research team is also studying two schools in the second phase together with the overall contribution of LEA advisers and HMI. The main concerns of the research team are to throw light on the processes of curricular reappraisal and the factors which encourage or inhibit such reviews.

Hampshire

2.7.1 In the early stages of the enquiry, the planning of developments was in the hands of a steering committee consisting of three HMI and three senior advisers (including the principal adviser, who acted as convenor). To this group were later added two heads from participating schools, in order to make this committee representative of the three elements in the partnership, and one area advisory officer. Throughout the exercise, its function has been largely the planning of the agenda for the full study group, a larger body consisting of the eight heads, eight area advisory officers, the county adviser and senior advisory officer for secondary education, the principal adviser and three HMI. This group has met at least twice each term, and no activities common to all schools within the authority have taken place without its agreement; the practice has been that one or other of the partners has proposed an initiative which has been taken up by the partnership as a whole when there has been general consent. In addition, the eight heads have met regularly on a less formal basis. The collective views and recommendations of this group have contributed to the shape of the enquiry.

2.7.2 One effect of the decision by the full study group to proceed along democratic lines was that, at the very start of the exercise, the Hampshire schools quickly moved on from the detailed consideration of the basic issues posed in the HMI discussion papers and the Red Book. The decision was taken to adopt as a starting point a number of possible lines of action. These became known as the Hampshire 'Fifteen Points' and they emerged from an inaugural two-day conference held in May 1977 which sought to lay a foundation for future activity. They have subsequently determined the shape of the enquiry in the county to a great extent. For the most part, schools have pursued one or more of these points independently. They are as follows:

1 A study of the total output of an individual pupil over a period of time to show possible variations in demand, quality, variety and volume in different areas of the curriculum.

2 The assessment by a teacher of the impact of a day in the school life of an individual pupil.

3 Creation of staff working parties to consider common elements.

4 Identification of centres of excellence within the school.

5 Study of the origin and method of links with employers, the community and leisure and recreational organisations.

6 Statements from subject departments about their aims, objectives and methods of work against the checklist in Paper 1.


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7 To examine to what extent and how we involve and inform our pupils in curricular decisions.

8 To discover means of overcoming the constraints imposed by time, structures, assumptions and accommodation.

9 To consider the means of assessment and monitoring they are using and the use they are making of them.

10 To identify centres need ing encouragement.

11 To establish specific units of work by a team which are taught and assessed by a team.

12 To exam the the effect of lack of continuity in the teaching/learning programme of individual pupils.

13 To examine the variety of option systems in the secondary school.

14 A willingness to use some of the instruments of curriculum evaluation at our disposal, for example guaranteed components lists, skills, tests, curriculum notation, etc.

15 To examine the total curriculum for disadvantaged children and for those with special needs.

As each school was free to decide which points it wished to follow up, the pace and character of the enquiry varied from school to school.

2.7.3 The residential conference at which the list of fifteen points was drawn up was the forerunner of a succession of similar conferences, which are indicated in Table 2A. One which proved particularly successful in generating activity within all schools involved in the enquiry took as its theme 'School, Society and the Local Community'. This provided a good example of how a centrally organised venture, involving careful preparatory and follow-up work by schools, could trigger a particular new direction for the exercise. Other central activities included an investigation into the aims and organisation of option systems, consideration of the needs of the less able and more able pupils, and an exploration of the impact of new technology on the curriculum.

2.7.4 For partnership to work in practice, suggestions and ideas have to be talked about and worked through before their subsequent adoption or rejection. This approach in Hampshire has not only had the advantage that activities which have been undertaken have had the common acceptance of the full study group, but has led to an appreciation of the value of joint planning and of the relationships which have been fostered. Although these detailed consultations and discussions have taken much time, they have enabled Hampshire to establish a secure foundation for its future activities.

Lancashire

2.8.1 Features of the enquiry which were initially identified as important and attractive to the Lancashire LEA were:

that it was a partnership between schools, LEA and HMI with the intention of examining the whole curriculum;

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that it was intended to involve in this examination as many teachers as possible;

that schools were free to determine their own way of reviewing the curriculum in the light of their particular circumstances and the needs of their pupils;

that there was no central directive as to which aspects of the curriculum should be given priority for consideration; each school, after examining its current curriculum and discussing the common papers, would be responsible for carrying out studies in depth.

2.8.2 During the summer of 1977 various organisational patterns were established which have been maintained throughout the exercise. The work of the enquiry was coordinated by a senior adviser working with a team of fourteen advisers assigned to cover the large number of schools involved in the two groups, At the same time an enabling committee of heads, advisers, administrative officers and HMI was established, chaired by the chief education officer or his deputy. This was not intended to be a directive group; it met to review the progress of the enquiry and to consider demands made by schools, such as the provision of school-based in-service days, where these would require the authority's backing. The main steering group consisted of heads and advisers. It has met regularly to hear reports from individuals (such as those serving on central committees), to initiate action and to prepare papers. The meetings of this group have been seen as of great value both in helping to create a sense of unity among those participating in the exercise and in enhancing working relationships.

2.8.3 Apart from these two committees, the authority facilitated a variety of school-based in-service opportunities, in particular a series of half-day conferences for the whole staff of a school; these discussed in detail particular aspects of the curriculum or school organisation. At the authority's In-service Centre one-day conferences for deputies and heads of department enabled detailed work to be done on particular aspects of the exercise and encouraged heads of department to assume important responsibilities. These conferences invited heads of department to undertake certain specific tasks:

To define the skills, concepts and attitudes taught or developed by each subject.

To outline the particular contribution made by each subject department to the school's total curriculum.

To discuss these findings with colleagues in schools and develop further the practical applications in classrooms as well as managerial skills within their own subject departments. The fact that neither the time nor the human resources existed to enable these subject conferences to be extended to assistant teachers was regrettable. In all of these activities, the fact that teachers met with advisers and HMI to discuss issues and problems encouraged the development of partnership.

2.8.4 Apart from the work undertaken at head of department level, schools within the authority investigated a wide range of aspects of the curriculum,


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stemming from concepts outlined in the various papers studied. Issues explored included:

The option pattern and balance.
A common curriculum for the first two years and its organisational implications.
Language across the curriculum.
Learning skills in the first two years.
Studies in depth on individual subjects.
The eight areas of experience and the whole curriculum.
School self-evaluation and a consideration of standards.
2.8.5 Because of the growing quantity of papers produced as a result of this work in schools, conferences and committees, the authority set up its own resources bank at County Hall. This fell into difficulties because of a lack of secretarial help and printing facilities, but it foreshadowed the bank later established at the Wigan Teachers' Centre to serve all those engaged in the work of this enquiry.

2.8.6 A similar anticipation of a centrally devised operation came in the area of monitoring when, in late 1978 and early 1979, the Lancashire heads and advisers decided to carry out a monitoring survey in the county's schools. A working party devised a questionnaire which sought to elicit the reaction of teachers to the main ideas of the exercise and its effects on policy and attitudes in schools. Results of the questionnaires, which were circulated to heads and deputies, to selected heads of department and to some assistant teachers, were collated and sent to schools early in 1979.

2.8.7 One particular development which the authority feels can be attributed to the enquiry is the impetus which was given to promoting new patterns of inservice education. It is noticeable that the only additional resources allocated to the exercise were for such in-service courses, and the style of conference which was developed within the authority for the enquiry had its repercussions in the standard programme carried out in the county.

Nottinghamshire

2.9.1 Table 2A summarises those activities in Nottinghamshire which were common to all the five authorities. In addition, four developments have given the work in the county an individual flavour.

2.9.2 First, at the beginning of the enquiry the authority set up a Subject Disciplines Group to support investigations into the organisation and teaching, at departmental level, in eight major subject areas of the curriculum. The discussions, involving heads of department in the participating schools, attempted to find common ground, identify difficulties and reach agreement on general principles. For example, one English department received a strong impetus from the exercise to develop practical investigations into ways of linking teaching to a statement of aims and objectives. These explorations


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sought to respond to the invitation in the Red Book for teachers to translate the general goals of education into more detailed curricular objectives, as is indicated in the model below:

2.9.3 After working on this model for over three years, with support from the LEA inspectorate and, subsequently, from HMI, the department has moved from the theoretical basis into the production and evaluation of learning units and is aiming to produce a coherent programme from the first to the fifth year.

2.9.4 Secondly, from early in 1979, the authority has been working on an 'Essential Curriculum Exercise'. Senior members of the local inspectorate were asked by the Director of Education to consider more fully the implications of falling rolls and their likely effects on the curriculum available to secondary pupils. Working documents examined the principles on which a curriculum should be planned and proposed curriculum models for the different year groups. In particular, the exercise was devised to establish whether the application of a formula to establish the ratio of teachers to pupils would continue to enable schools to offer an appropriate, essential curriculum to all pupils. After a two-day residential conference attended by heads and deputies, HMI and LEA inspectors, and a further half-day meeting in November 1979, a second paper was produced outlining one possible method of developing a staffing policy and arguing that an essential curriculum could be maintained more securely by linking staffing to the number of teaching periods required than by applying a strict pupil/teacher formula. This exercise drew support from the involvement by eight of the authority's schools in the 11-16 enquiry. -Heads and deputies from these, together with HMI and LEA inspectors, brought to the conferences a shared experience of curricular investigation and a familiarity with the methods used in this work.

2.9.5 The full report on this work had not been published at the time of the Stoke Rochford Conference but became available a few weeks later when it was issued by the Director of Education as a Committee paper. It is not, of


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course, possible to summarise adequately a 30-page document in a single paragraph, but, in brief, the document proposes that schools shall be staffed on the basis of their curriculum and that, to meet the problem of falling rolls and to encourage good forward planning, staffing shall be determined on this basis at least two years in advance, Although entitled Staffing in the 1980s, the document is offered as a major contribution in the field of curriculum planning and would therefore be expected to be of interest well beyond the county's borders.*

2.9.6 In May 1979, the LEA inspectorate submitted a paper to the central coordinating committee, supported by the eight heads, who had suggested certain amendments. This paper outlined both the central and local initiatives which had been mounted and indicated the attempts which had been made to coordinate the enquiry, It argued that there had been a lack of cooperation and direction and proposed that there was a need for major inputs at the national level. The suggestion was offered that authorities engaged in the exercise should investigate the nature of the common curriculum and consider particular issues such as the effect of external examinations on the curriculum, the problems of wide-ranging option systems, the need for cross-referencing and the general difficulties associated with the implementation ora balanced curriculum. After discussion in the central coordinating committee and a working party established specifically to consider the submission, the idea of launching a sustained cooperative investigation along the lines suggested was rejected. However, it was felt that the submission had highlighted important areas of common concern which could usefully lead to further work in the exercise.

2.9.7 Finally, the exercise had important effects in the field of in-service education. In January 1978 the authority held a conference for all eight schools involved in the enquiry, at which it was decided to close each school to pupils in turn, so that staff could spend a full day examining those aspects of the curriculum which they felt to be of particular importance. These one day closures received such encouraging reports that they commanded the attention of the Education Committee. Consequently, it is now authority policy that all primary and secondary schools may apply to the Director of Education for a day's closure for in-service purposes. This procedure, found so beneficial in the exercise, is now part of a well established county pattern.

2.9.8 These four developments illustrate different implications of participation in an enquiry such as this. The Subject Disciplines investigation demonstrates the time and commitment required to move from a theoretically agreed starting point to an effect on classroom practice. The Essential Curriculum Exercise reveals the partnership concept working to tackle a complex practical problem. The Nottinghamshire submission to the central coordinating committee underlines some aspects of the difficulties inherent in trying to achieve consensus beyond the local level. The establishment of a pattern of one-day school closures for in-service training points to the value of providing opportunities for the whole staff of a school to consider curricular issues corporately,

*Copies are available (priced at 1.00 including postage, cash with order) from the Director of Education (ADM/8), County Hall, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 7QP.


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Wigan

2.10.1 The authority, and in particular the adviser who has led the enquiry, took as a starting point the belief that curricular innovation was fundamentally necessary: the enquiry was not only about review but about development and change. The exercise was thought to provide a fourfold opportunity:

for teachers to become involved, as professionals, in thinking about the curriculum in association with other teachers;

for others engaged in the educational service or with an interest in education to work in partnership with teachers;

for a review of schools' provisions with the aim of improving the quality of what was offered;

to raise the self esteem and standing of teachers.

2.10.2 Such a view of the exercise represented a clear commitment and a statement of views held. Since it shaped its approach to the whole exercise, the authority feels that this standpoint needs to be stated; it realised, however, that such a position might well lead to a difference of perspective from other authorities.

2.10.3 Initially, the Director of Education decided that no additional resources were to be made available for the exercise. It was a time of financial difficulty; also, if the exercise aimed to develop a professional approach by teachers, so that curricular thinking became part of their normal armoury, the enquiry needed to take place in the circumstances which schools were actually experiencing. Later, some financial resources were allocated to allow the Wigan item bank to be established and also to provide a secretary for the central coordinating committee.

2.10.4 Another important principle for the authority was that the administrative and advisory officers should build on the close working relationship which already existed between them and that both groups should participate. Thus on the steering group the Senior Assistant Director was the chairman and the Teachers' Centre Warden the secretary. Other members included advisers, HMI and a representative from each school (initially, in every case, a head).

2.10.5 Two advisers were assigned, virtually full time, to the exercise, with other advisory colleagues available for support. These two made initial visits to the schools and spoke to teachers about the enquiry. For some teachers, these visits were the first opportunity to discover that the school had been committed to the enquiry, a fact which generated some apprehension and even hostility. The difficulties encountered in the course of these visits highlighted the need to ensure effective communication both within the authority and within schools.

2.10.6 In the early stages of the exercise, during the period when the Red Book was still unpublished, the advisory staff(supplemented where necessary by HMI) produced a series of subject statements to provide a basis for


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discussion. Together with these, the steering group produced a plan, known as the 'Wigan Grid', for the two years from September 1977 to August 1979. This projected a variety of activities for the authority, for individual schools, for faculties or departments and for teachers; it was intended as a guideline rather than a directive.

2.10.7 Certain major areas of educational interest, spanning the whole curriculum, were identified. These included the education of gifted children, educational disadvantage and the assessment of pupils. Individual schools took the principal responsibility for studying each of these issues and then shared their findings with the other schools: this was an important feature in the development of partnership. On some topics there were talks from visiting speakers such as HMI and these were linked with the authority's general programme of in-service education. Thus the authority as a whole gained, with the exercise acting as a focal point for other schools.

2.10.8 A problem which quickly emerged was the diminution of the number of advisory staff available within the secondary field. Because of substantial cuts in the authority, the allocation of two advisers to the exercise was reduced to one full-time adviser together with a colleague who could be called on for part of the time. Close contact with the schools by the advisers was thus far more difficult to maintain and a change of policy was necessary. Consequently, greater stress was laid on using steering group meetings as a major means of in-service education for the heads: this change also reflected a recognition of the great importance of a head's potential influence on the progress of the exercise within a school.

2.10.9 When the Red Book was published, the authority commissioned its own printing to ensure wide distribution, since there were delays in copies reaching the schools. There was considerable discussion about how to use the checklist of eight areas of experience, alongside other lists which might be developed within the authority. It was agreed that such checklists could provide a valuable way of directing teachers towards basic questions about the nature of secondary education for all.

2.10.10 The range of activities within the schools varied greatly. It was felt that the most successful were generally those which received adequate external support, where expertise engendered enthusiasm. However, lack of personnel meant that such support was not always available. One major concern was the issue of falling numbers of pupils in schools. The enquiry gave the authority the opportunity to apply the curricular thinking of the six schools to the rest of the educational service in tackling this issue.

Involving parents and governors

2.10.11 The authority took the view that parents and governors should be brought into the educational partnership and two schools began work on presenting curricular issues to them, despite some opposition to the idea. It was also intended that pupils should be engaged in the debate (a development viewed in certain quarters as a further step down a slippery slope); however, lack of time had so far made it impossible to take this idea far.


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2.10.12 There was recognition that the process as conceived by the authority inevitably took a long time. A long initial period of questioning and thinking had been needed before things could get under way. After two or three years, some changes had certainly taken place: new curricular patterns had emerged; new courses had been introduced; teachers' thinking and hence what they taught had been affected. Many teachers felt that they understood the issues, shared common ideas and a common language, and were ready to move a stage further. The monitoring of the exercise in 1979-80 was therefore seen as a period for taking stock, a prelude for a second cycle of activities in which the major issues which had been identified were probed more thoroughly.

Common themes and concerns in the five LEAs

2.11.1 Within the exercise as a whole, there has been an attempt to preserve a balance between encouraging LEAs to work in their own style and providing sufficient structure to ensure that the exercise has been, essentially, one exercise. Despite the markedly different emphases and approaches to which the five foregoing accounts testify, various common elements have linked the partners across the exercise. In many respects, the perceptions of participants in the five authorities coincided to a great extent, and a number of lessons to be learnt from the exercise have been identified repeatedly. These issues are explored more fully in Chapters 5 and 6.

In-service provision

2.11.2 One area of general accord within the authorities' statements is the impetus which the exercise gave to their in-service provision, particularly by means of conferences for all teachers of one school or for heads of department from a number of schools. These half-day or one-day conferences, which were found to be an effective forum for the operation of partnership, were extended within the authorities' overall programme of in-service education for their teachers.

Falling school rolls

2.11.3 The exercise also frequently provided a vehicle for authorities to respond to pressing issues as they arose. Especially, discussion of the implication of falling school rolls could take place against a backcloth of organised thinking about the curriculum. Authority policy in such matters as the deployment of staff was therefore strongly influenced by a consideration of curricular needs.

2.11.4 Authorities felt that they were now able to identify a group of teachers and advisers who were linked by a common language and way of thinking about the curriculum and who had learnt to work together confidently. This process had its own momentum. The agreement at the Stoke Rochford Conference in June 1980 to initiate a further phase of activity, pursuing common themes which the exercise had highlighted as well as authorities' particular concerns (see paragraphs 6.1.2,6.1.3), provides, therefore, a fitting epilogue to the five accounts in this chapter.


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3 The enquiry within the 41 schools


The scope of this chapter

3.1.1 The aim of curricular reappraisal is to improve the education received in the classroom by pupils. This chapter sets out to show how the 41 schools have begun to put their thinking into practice, working individually or on activities coordinated by the local authority. It gives an indication of the organisation and range of this work, drawing attention in particular to the methods and processes of working and schools' underlying thinking.

Sources of information

3.2.1 In compiling this picture, the writing group had access to the following kinds of information:

Documents submitted by schools, LEAs and HMI as part of the monitoring exercise.

Other papers produced in the course of the enquiry by individual schools, groups of schools and LEAs.

Evidence of schools' work obtained by visits to schools by advisers and HMI. These visits have involved discussions with teachers and some looking at work within the classroom. Patterns of visiting have varied from authority to authority.

Knowledge gained through informal personal contact within the partnership, at conferences and other meetings organised locally and centrally.

The monitoring exercise

3.2.2 The evidence from the monitoring exercise used in this chapter comes largely from the documents submitted by the schools themselves. The stated intentions of the monitoring group in asking for these papers were:

to build up a picture of the degree and quality of schools' involvement; to trace progress since the beginning of the enquiry;

to examine the impact on staff as a whole;

to encourage schools to evaluate their own work.

3.2.3 The following documents were requested and received from the 41 schools:
Descriptions of the curriculum and analyses of staff deployment. These were asked for in successive years, to give a basis of factual information

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about each school. The descriptions of the curriculum provide the source material for Chapter 4.

Activity grids. Schools recorded the degree to which all teachers had been involved in the various kinds of activity generated by the exercise since its inception.

Pro formas of activity, on which schools listed examples of the work undertaken, with some brief descriptions and evaluation where possible.

Case studies (usually one or two from a school). These described in greater detail specific activities which schools had selected as being of particular interest from the full range of their work.

Reports on the effects of the exercise on schools' thinking and policy. These were usually completed by heads or deputies, sometimes after consultation with the staff as a whole.

The nature and limitations of the evidence

3.2.4 A single chapter of this kind cannot do full justice to the work done in the schools or the quality of thought which the exercise generated. When reading the account of activity which follows, some members of the partnership commented that it did not communicate the true flavour of what had been three years of excitement, frustration, frenzied activity, new insights, hard debate and deep thinking, and suggested that it gave an unclear picture of how the work of the schools in the enquiry differed radically from that of many schools not connected with it. Such observations indicate that the evidence, copious and detailed as it is, contains inevitable limitations. It is impossible to convey adequately on paper the thoughts and feelings of participants; and it is true that individual activities described could often be paralleled by schools outside the exercise, for example the establishment of a resources centre, the introduction of a new craft syllabus or a review of internal assessment procedures. When looking at an example of this kind, it may at times be difficult for readers to appreciate how the activity - taken from the context of thought and preparation to which it belongs - is related to a school's overall purposes. However, these examples are included precisely because they form part of the complete process of reappraisal and are the practical and tangible expression of teachers' thinking.

3.2.5 Often work in the schools has not yet reached a stage where changes in classroom practice or policy can be identified clearly or assessed systematically. Valuable conclusions may nevertheless be drawn about fruitful and unfruitful lines of enquiry, and the activities recorded in this chapter form the basis for the judgments offered in Chapters 5 and 6. It is therefore important that these chapters should not be read in isolation from each other.

The organisation of work in the enquiry

3.3.1 For the 41 schools concerned, participation in this exercise meant that heads and teachers agreed to undertake work which was in addition to their normal duties and which therefore involved additional time. The exception to this was where time was reserved by authorities for teachers to take part in one-day or half-day conferences, by means of closing schools to pupils, Heads and teachers were involved in out of school activities to varying extents, but


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the basic organisation was for the most part in the hands of the individual school. On occasion, external demands such as the monitoring exercise were thought to have distorted the natural timing and planning of schools' own work; however, they also gave teachers a clearer understanding of the overall shape of the exercise.

School management procedures: Staffing structures

3.3.2 Within the schools, activity was largely coordinated by the head or by a deputy with a designated responsibility for the curriculum. In some LEAs, the subject departments were the focus for work especially in the initial stages. Heads of department were seen to have a critically important function in encouraging the participation of members of their department'[ A few schools redefined the existing specifications of their staff, either by giving one member an overall responsibility for the operation of the enquiry or by allocating to several teachers particular tasks such as the maintenance of a diary of the school's activity.

3.3.3 The heads of a few schools indicated that they had found that changes in the style of management were needed if staff were to become fully involved in making decisions concerning the curriculum. This led in some instances to the creation of structures which gave greater opportunity for staff to participate in planning and policymaking: working groups of staff were set up to guide the school's thinking, with a cross-section of experienced and new teachers and a variety of departmental interests. Where schools had already established committees and working parties on the curriculum, the exercise generally provided clearer objectives for them.

3.3.4 To find ways of involving staff of all levels in the work was a challenging task for schools and authorities, and some of their difficulties are examined in Chapter 5. In a few cases at least, the issue was seen to pose radical questions for the school's systems: could these be sufficiently open and flexible in character to create the conditions for teachers to undertake an effective reappraisal of the curriculum? The model which one head developed for modifying the school's systems in this way is outlined, as a suggestion for others to consider, in paragraph 6.4.5.

Resources

3.3.5 Planning work within the exercise often raised issues concerning the schools' material resources, which involved teachers in exploring the practical implications of their thinking. One school took as an initial objective the task of providing suitable learning resources for pupils of the full ability range, by means of the establishment of a resources centre. It attempted to formulate a resource-based approach to learning and examined the technical difficulties inherent in setting up a centre to cater for this. Discussions generated an increased awareness of the practical implications of the change of approach. The task of compiling a comprehensive index of all the resource materials contained within the school engaged the majority of staff and helped to establish an easily understood system which could be used by all departments. The work led to closer liaison in planning at all levels of staff and to the development of integrated approaches to the curriculum.

*The significance attached to the function of certain key members of staff is explored in paragraph 5.7.7-8.


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Working conditions

3.3.6 A need to provide effective conditions for the work also raised practical issues affecting staff and pupils. The collective commentary on the exercise which heads in one authority contributed suggested a number of factors requiring attention. These included: the pattern of the school day; the physical conditions in which pupils and staff operated; and the allocation of appropriate resources, such as ancillary staff, to support the work. The heads particularly emphasised their conviction that there should be adequate time for planning and coordinating activities.

The enquiry in the context of other developments

3.3.7 Many other factors influenced how schools organised their work and the extent to which, at various times, they were able to participate in the exercise. In some schools, such developments as secondary reorganisation and the prospective or actual fall in the number of pupils entering secondary schools made pressing demands on teachers' time. By the nature of the exercise, participation in work of this kind could not easily be separated in teachers' minds from the general economic and educational climate. For this reason, it is not always easy in retrospect to distinguish those activities which the exercise stimulated directly from those which it reinforced or which might in any case have taken place.

The range and variety of the work

3.4.1 The evidence submitted to the monitoring exercise indicates how varied and wide-ranging were the activities of schools. Even a full and detailed chapter such as this can only describe a selection of this work, and it therefore concentrates on those activities which relate most closely to the distinguishing features of the exercise - especially the ideas of the Red Book and the principle of partnership.

3.4.2 Near the start of the exercise, schools received copies of the three HMI curriculum papers with the headings:

The education of the individual.
Schools and society.
Schools and preparation for work.
These three headings provided a basis for much of the planning of schools' work. The overlap between the three is, of course, considerable, and many schools planned work consciously to span them, recognising that a pupil's individual development was necessarily concerned with social relationships and responsibilities; and that, in preparing pupils to meet the expectations of society, the world of work was of paramount importance.

3.4.3 Under these headings schools explored other specific topics and approaches, and in this chapter the schools' work is grouped within a number of these areas of enquiry. The arrangement is in some cases rather arbitrary, but the interconnections between the sections should be recognised.

The education of the individual.
Schools and society.
Schools and preparation for work.

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Internal and external assessment.
Issues spanning the whole curriculum.
Curricular liaison and continuity.
The curriculum and timetabling arrangements.
The education of the individual

3.5.1 As a starting point for schools' work, it was suggested that subject departments (in individual schools or across an authority's group of schools) should examine how their subjects could contribute to the overall education of pupils. The HMI paper suggested two closely related approaches for this review, and these were generally adopted by schools.

Departments considered the skills, concepts and attitudes which subjects attempted or might attempt to develop.

They assessed their subjects' potential contribution to the eight areas of experience on the checklist.

In several of the authorities, the review by departments led to the production of written statements about the contribution of the various subjects. These sometimes provided an agreed basis for further work both by the subject departments themselves and, subsequently, across the staff as a whole.

3.5.2 A clear instance of this sequence is provided by one authority, where subject departments in all schools analysed the concepts, skills and attitudes which they intended pupils to acquire. The heads of department for each subject from the schools involved met to compare their responses and, with advisers and HMI, drew up agreed statements which showed a substantial measure of consensus within each subject and drew attention to areas of divergence and issues of current concern. The authority combined those statements into a booklet which was published for the use of schools involved in reappraisal. It illustrated, at that particular stage of the enquiry's development the schools' thinking on the different subjects, The statements allowed the various departments in each school to have access to their colleagues' thinking by means of a common language which did not depend on knowledge of other subjects' specialist terminology or on the detailed content of their courses. The publication led to three outcomes in the schools. First, it enabled a whole staff to look across the curriculum at the range of concepts, skills and attitudes which were being pursued. It was found that, although many of the concepts were unique to individual subjects, there was significant overlap in the skills that were practised and almost complete identity of the attitudes being fostered, The opportunities for correlation and reinforcement were therefore clearer and schools could judge the appropriateness of the emphases they currently placed on the various elements. Secondly, by clarifying the objectives in each subject, teachers were encouraged to assess whether their stated intentions were being achieved in classroom practice. Thirdly, the analysis allowed individual subject departments and the school as a whole to examine the ways in which the curriculum helped pupils to have some knowledge and understanding of working life and prepared them to act as effective members of adult society. The documents have therefore been


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used as a basis for a variety of other work, although the original statements have been adapted in the light of experience.

Further work by subject departments

3.5.3 Much of the work by subject departments was submitted to the monitoring group. It took a number of forms:

Subject departments reviewed and in many instances revised syllabuses or schemes of work either for individual years or for the whole 11-16 age-range. In some cases, the revision was made because the departments concerned saw the possibility of extending their provisions into areas where previously they had not felt that they had anything to offer. Typical of these was a home economics department which consciously modified its fourth and fifth year syllabus to take account of the ethical and moral implications of the subject; these were therefore made explicit for the first time within its teaching. The Red Book subject statements were frequently discussed as a way of testing existing practice. Sometimes these discussions confirmed departments in what they were doing, and sometimes they pointed the way for revision.

Materials were devised for use in the classroom to meet newly defined objectives. In particular, some departments considered how to improve their provision for children of low attainment by the use of more suitable materials.

Internal assessment procedures were examined and consideration was given to the appropriateness of the particular examination syllabuses in use. In some instances this review led to policy changes by departments. (See further under paragraph 3.8.1 et seq.)

The values and difficulties of this work Values: promoting cohesion

3.5.4 Some schools identified particular values in the work done within subject departments, which could affect the thinking in the school as a whole. It could help to overcome a lack of unity among teachers, as in the case of the language faculty in one school, which included French, Spanish and Latin teachers:

the examination of the eight areas of experience and appropriate skills forced the teachers back to essential questions of purpose and method;

the reappraisal of objectives indicated a need to improve the techniques of assessment used to review pupils' progress;

responsibility for specific tasks and subject areas within the faculty was delegated to individual teachers.

3.5.5 Members of the faculty believed that through this working together they had developed a community of thinking, personal involvement and commitment, a greater sense of purpose and an awareness of the need to develop the insights in the area of classroom practice. There was a strong sense that without the enquiry 'what had been achieved in the last two years would not have been achieved so quickly or so effectively'.

working in partnership

3.5.6 Some departments, through working with other members of the partnership, reassessed the general aims of their courses. In one authority the


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teachers of craft, design and technology formed a study group which led to an extension of pupils' courses from an approach based on the development of skills in the use of materials to one which emphasised problem-solving and design. This affected schools in various ways. In one, the development of a new craft course based on the principles of design drew heavily on the coordination of a specialist adviser and on consultation with HMI. The school found this a valuable expression of the operation of partnership and it went on to explore ways of extending the problem-solving approach across the curriculum in the work of other subjects.

Difficulties: departmental defensiveness

3.5.7 The attempt to match overall curricular requirements with existing time allocations for the various subjects could create its own difficulties, Since timetables are not infinitely flexible, the adjustment of the balance of the curriculum to strengthen one area implies the reduction of another. One school used the checklist to review its humanities curriculum and ascertained a need to give greater weight to the spiritual and aesthetic aspects of the programme. However, the necessary consensus to achieve this was not obtained, since some contributing departments would have had to relinquish part of the time allocated to their subject's contribution, and they were reluctant to permit this, Practical difficulties of this kind could be overcome. Within one authority, some departments agreed to reduce their time allocations to remedy what they saw as an imbalance, and in two schools departments offered time to facilitate the provision of courses designed to promote political and economic awareness.

premature innovation

3.5.8 The problems which could arise from attempting to innovate without securing full staff support were faced by a school which, as part of the exercise, tried unsuccessfully to introduce political education. The head put forward some reasons for this failure:

The issue was difficult and emotive, and teachers were very suspicious as to why it had been raised.

It has been introduced too early in the exercise. (Later, the atmosphere of increasing openness and trust would have led to more fruitful discussions.)

There had been no immediate programme of action, and teachers had therefore not seen a clear way forward.

The impact of the curriculum on individual pupils

3.5.9 Several schools (within one authority in particular) examined in detail the education received by individual pupils by following them from lesson to lesson over a limited period of time - 'pupil pursuit', as it has rather alarmingly become known. In one, a small pilot survey led to a second and more sustained study of the school day and its impact, concentrating on four pupils. The working party which prepared the ground was established as a partnership between teachers and members of the LEA advisory service; HMI also met members informally. In undertaking this study, the working party recognised the need for care and tact in paving the way for teachers' acceptance of visits by colleagues to their lessons; it was made clear that the purpose was not criticism of individual teachers' performance, but the evaluation of pupils' overall educational experiences. Along with other checklists, the eight areas of experience were used as a criterion for measuring


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the actual balance of activities in the course of a pupil's day at school, and the team also looked at a number of external factors which affected pupils' learning. Detailed recordings of the team's observations led to substantial statements on each pupil, which sought to assess the appropriateness of the curriculum received. It was observed, for instance, that a girl classified by the school as a pupil 'of high ability' had on her record little physical or practical activity, but a great deal of reading and writing. Another pupil, a boy with learning problems, responded well to practical lessons; however, it was noted that even in those lessons designated as practical, much time was devoted to theoretical exposition. The findings were represented diagrammatically in order to make it easier to detect significant similarities and differences in pupils' programmes, according to the criteria adopted.

3.5.10 In a second school, the investigation was initiated largely with the intention of assisting tutors in their work with pupils. It was hoped to isolate in particular the curriculum which pupils followed in those areas of experience felt to be in most danger of neglect: ethical, spiritual, social and practical. Analysis was based on ten pupils in each school year, with a series of questions to guide observation. As a result of this first investigation, a tutor followed a group for a whole day and noted a variety of factors which assisted or impeded progress. The work also considered the question of motivation, looking at the kinds of incentive which made pupils wish to succeed in education.

Education for personal development

3.5.11 Several schools came to believe that their formal curriculum did not adequately deal with aspects of education likely to make a particularly important contribution to personal development. Some therefore sought ways of making the curriculum as a whole more responsive to personal needs; others aimed to develop within the teaching of individual subjects a wider understanding of their potential in this area.

3.5.12 A tutorial guidance programme, which aimed to increase the effectiveness of form tutors in dealing with issues where guidance might be needed, was developed within one school. A staff conference led to the formation of a representative working party. During the subsequent eighteen months, there were two further one-day conferences for which papers were prepared in advance; the suggestions of LEA advisers and HMI were sought and obtained. Some staff drew on their attendance at local and national courses to stimulate the thinking of their colleagues. The focus for the work with pupils was the tutor period, where tutors dealt with such topics as family life, the individual and the state, and old age. Additionally, time was found for tutors to meet every week to plan work and evaluate progress. The school felt that a number of factors had contributed to the effectiveness of this work: there had been patient discussion over a considerable period of time; the school had taken advantage of in-service provision and had drawn on the experience of other partners in the exercise; consequently, decisions were implemented at a time and in a manner which commanded staff support.

Education and society

3.6.1 Documents from about a third of the schools referred to programmes within the field of social education. Many of these referred to optional courses


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in the fourth and fifth years with such titles as 'social studies', and some schemes of work included an element of social education in the common curriculum in the first three years.

3.6.2 The schools in one authority built into their analyses of the curriculum (in terms of concepts, skills and attitudes and the eight areas of experience) a consideration of schools' contribution to 'education and society'. The analysis, using a checklist of questions, elicited that much work was already being done in this area: schools were participating in Schools Council projects, community service and other forms of social education. The elements had often, however, been uncoordinated. Discussion of the checklist within individual schools and among the schools in the exercise enabled teachers to recognise the significance of what had often been implicit in their work, and to aim for greater coordination.

3.6.3 One school set up a working party to assess its existing provision in the area of 'Schools and Society', which produced papers on aims and objectives and practical principles. After discussion, the school reached the decision that social education should be an integral part of pupils' experience throughout school life. A senior member of staff was appointed to coordinate the work and sponsor further initiatives. The school aimed to build important topics into the teaching programmes of the various departments and faculties as seemed appropriate. Social education was therefore not to become an additional slot on the timetable but an element in pupils' education which could be developed across the curriculum.

3.6.4 A non-examined course in social and personal education was developed for all fourth and fifth year pupils within another school. This was to be taught by a team of staff drawn from several departments and including a number of senior members of staff. The different aspects included health education, child development, the family and preparation for parenthood, an introduction to the political and economic bases of modern society, safety in the home and at work, religious beliefs and moral issues, and the workings of an industrial society. Elements of careers education and guidance were incorporated at appropriate stages in the course. The school had recognised certain difficulties inherent in developing a course taught by a large team of staff from several departments; it therefore established a careful planning framework to meet these, and felt this had strengthened the effectiveness of the work.

3.6.5 Some subject departments became aware of the possibility of a greater contribution in this area. In one school, the design faculty developed a community project for third year pupils as a 'vehicle for social education'. Internal evaluation was supported by a detailed monitoring exercise undertaken by an area advisory officer who sought to assess changes in pupils' attitudes as well as the value of the project to the community. Monitoring included discussions with staff and pupils, the observation of pupils at work and the completion of questionnaires by the various participants. The project was judged as successful within the terms of reference which it had set itself.


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3.6.6 In one LEA, the schools participating in the enquiry each sent five members of staff to a weekend conference on 'School, society and the local community'. Working groups, which included LEA advisers, HMI and a parent-governor, discussed the following topics: curricular considerations; school organisation; communication - parents, pupils and schools; links with other schools and colleges; the community and the school. The conference was arranged in such a way that participants collectively produced a document to enable schools to assess their curriculum in relation to society and the local community, and some schools submitted the papers which resulted from this analysis to the Wigan item bank. Important features of the planning were that schools were informed of the purpose and outline of the. conference six months in advance, that the members were nominated well beforehand and discussed the issues with their colleagues in the schools, and that, as a consequence, people came prepared to participate in the working groups. The conference was felt to be successful because all the members were involved and the task of creating a checklist was completed; for these reasons, the schools readily accepted the commitment to follow up the work.

Education and preparation for work

3.7.1 Programmes of careers education existed in all five authorities before the exercise began, but the enquiry encouraged a closer look at issues related to the world of work in the context of the formal curriculum. In one LEA, additional teacher time had been allocated to the development of careers education, and this facilitated the planning in one of its schools of a programme of personal and social development for fourth and fifth year pupils to include careers, health and social education. Subsequently a team was established to extend this work into the third-year curriculum.

3.7.2 In another authority, the attempt to formulate a coherent careers programme led one school to introduce a personal 'profile' for all school leavers. This was intended to assist industrial employers in their processes of selection. The, school produced a checklist of personal qualities, and departments considered how they might contribute to the development of these. Pupils' kept a file consisting of their best pieces of current work and evidence of their contribution to extracurricular activities. A leaving certificate was issued which concentrated on work and achievement in the fourth and fifth years. The school sought the support of local industry at, every stage of this development, and felt that it had been successful in its efforts to encourage cooperation between teachers and industrialists.

3.7.3 In a third authority the three checklists used by all the schools to examine their provision for the preparation of pupils for the world of work attempted to assess overall school policy, provision within the separate subjects and approaches through careers and vocational guidance. They also enabled a group of employers, using the same framework, to offer views on what constituted appropriate curricular provision. The analysis led to conferences in each school, involving staff and employers, which formed the basis for changes in the schools' curricula and closer cooperation with the careers service, local employers and further education. A fuller knowledge of the range and extent of industrial and commercial experience among staff


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prompted one school to use teachers with such experience as tutors for fourth and fifth-year groups. The emphasis placed by employers on skills and attitudes encouraged subject departments to be more explicit in stimulating the development of such skills. Several schools, through discussion with the careers service and local employers, also developed pupil profiles which included assessment of those abilities which had been identified as having a direct value in employment. Work experience schemes and links with industry for staff and pupils were strengthened and related more directly to pupils' programmes within the curriculum; in addition, employers became more involved in the schools either as consultants or in teaching.

3.7.4 Careers education, political education and computer studies were the three elements in a course entitled 'Outlook' which one 13-18 school devised for all its first-year pupils. The course was to be taught by a team of six staff, including the head, and pupils studied the three components in turn, with different teachers in each case. In the process of informal monitoring of the course, teachers expressed appreciation of the in-service training which the detailed planning had provided: the team had been able to refine ideas in discussion and translate them into practice; it had also met to review progress and modify the course materials as the need arose.

3.7.5 Another aspect of preparing pupils for the world of work is the establishment of schemes to promote links with industry, and the exercise stimulated ventures of this kind in a number of schools. These commonly led to the setting up of conferences or working groups in which teachers joined with representatives of industry - in some cases, both management and unions - to consider ways of improving liaison, with an emphasis on developing mutual thinking about curricular issues and on enabling schools and industry to reach a clearer understanding of each other's aims and expectations.

3.7.6 One school which developed a school/industry liaison scheme provided opportunities for local industrialists to spend a day in school, meeting staff and pupils and visiting lessons. On a reciprocal arrangement, the teacher responsible for careers education in the school participated in a work experience scheme and reported an increased awareness of the challenges and difficulties which could face young people beginning work.

3.7.7 In another liaison scheme, operating during the last three years, twenty members of staff with no specific responsibility for careers education each spent a week with local firms and employers, thus gaining greater awareness of the needs and conditions of the world of work, which they subsequently shared with their colleagues. In a few cases, managers in industry and business also allowed representatives to visit the schools; this increased mutual understanding, and the relationships developed have proved of lasting value.

Internal and external assessment

3.8.1 In reviewing their curricular provision under these three headings, a number of schools felt a need to reconsider the ways in which pupils were assessed both by the schools themselves and also by the examination system.


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This review was undertaken in some instances because it was recognised that modes of assessment could exert a strong influence over what was taught and how it was taught.

Assessment and evaluation

3.8.2 After two years of reorganisation one school decided to look afresh at its whole system of internal assessment and evaluation. It was particularly concerned to focus attention on the progress of the individual pupil, in order that more could be done to tackle underachievement and to recognise effort. After establishing its aims and objectives, a working party involving teachers with a wide range of experience quickly realised that its enquiry had implications for the school's overall view of its curriculum, as well as its teaching methods and organisation. Frequent meetings were held and detailed documents were submitted not only on the general philosophy of evaluation and its criteria, but on various schemes for evaluation and assessment in use in other schools. The school's existing system, of assessment was rigorously examined and it was decided to concentrate on specific areas: transition from the primary schools; choice of options in the third year; internal examinations; pupils' 'profiles' and record cards; homework; parents' evenings; standardised marking. The mathematics department produced papers explaining the complexities of standardised marking across bands and year groups. The immediate practical outcome was that a pilot scheme of assessment and evaluation for one year group was to be introduced in September 1980, with the intention of extending this throughout the school in the following year. In addition, the highlighting of the school's strengths and weaknesses had given the impetus for an evaluation of the whole school. All staff were now involved in discussing the new scheme and much more emphasis was being placed on the form tutor's role. Departments were being encouraged to re-examine their teaching methods and curricular content, and stronger links had been forged between the academic and pastoral sides of the school.

Assessment and aims and objectives

3.8.3 Some schools related the question of methods of assessment to their consideration of aims and objectives, either at a departmental level or across subject departments. One craft, design and technology department devised a detailed assessment record to take account of its examination of the school's aims, its own departmental philosophy and the objectives of its courses. Their comprehensive scheme of assessment of pupils' work included research and discovery, designing, production, evaluation of personal performance and evidence of understanding. In addition to the assessment by staff, pupils were encouraged to assess their own work.

Assessment by internal examinations

3.8.4 Other departments chose a narrower area of operation. A geography department decided to define the subject's appropriate concepts, skills and information for pupils in their first year, and to match these against the demands of the examination paper set at the end of the first year. It found that a high proportion of the marks went to questions demanding purely factual recall, and that many of the stated objectives were not covered at all. The department subsequently rethought its approach to examinations, producing a paper which was intended to test a variety of skills and enable pupils to learn while they were being tested.


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External examinations

3.8.5 Reviews of their own assessment schemes led schools to consider the demands of the external examination system, and the effects of its modes of assessment on the curriculum. Schools frequently found that it was difficult to develop their reappraisal of the curriculum to take proper account of the fourth and fifth years. Some therefore sought ways of achieving a greater harmony between their curricular aims and the examination syllabuses by constructing new courses of their own to lead to CSE Mode 3 examinations, or changed to the City and Guilds (London) Foundation Course for certain pupils, which one school saw as providing "the opportunity to develop the interests and the abilities of the pupils, to satisfy their vocational needs and to provide a basis for integrating their general education". There were also attempts to develop those methods of assessment which schools felt were insufficiently exploited, especially by GCE examining boards. Concern within the exercise over this issue led to the decision to hold a seminar in March 1980; this studied in detail the effects of external examinations on the curriculum.

Issues spanning the whole curriculum

3.9.1 Schools also traced aspects of learning across the whole curriculum. In the light of the Bullock Report*, and the Language statement in the Red Book, the topic 'Language across the curriculum', with all the lack of precision which such a catchphrase implies, was the one most frequently pursued under this heading, with over a quarter of the schools devoting work to it.

3.9.2 This topic was approached in various ways. In one school, two members of staff began an investigation into the kinds of language in use within the school. After initial planning meetings there was a one-day conference for staff, exploring central concepts and considering ways of implementing work within the school. This conference revealed that the topic was a sensitive and perhaps even threatening one to some teachers, but none the less worth pursuing. The subsequent staff meeting therefore decided that it was important to concentrate on some immediate and practical issues, in order to prevent the work from remaining at a theoretical level; the key issues would be summarised in a broad statement. This meeting led to work within five faculties, which sought to develop new teaching techniques and evaluative procedures. The teachers who had initiated the work offered their own evaluation: they felt that they should perhaps not have placed such an emphasis on establishing a detailed conceptual framework. "With hindsight, we would have settled for a much more low-key approach", they reported; exaggerated attention to the concepts had deterred practical action. It had therefore been found desirable to work at limited cooperative ventures with steady, measurable objectives.

3.9.3 At their starting point for a similar investigation, members of staff in one school volunteered to tape their own lessons, and the recordings highlighted a number of issues which prompted further work: staff observed teaching in other departments, considered teachers' differing expectations of pupils' written work in the various parts of the curriculum and encouraged selected pupils to compile diaries in order to assess their view of language and learning. It was felt that the work had generated a common interest and awareness and that there was now a climate.for cooperative planning. Many

*A language for life, report of a Committee of Enquiry appointed by the Secretary of State under the chairmanship of Sir Alan Bullock; HMSO, 1975.


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teachers classified the kinds of language they required those studying their subjects to use; particular attention was being given to the establishment of a general policy for. encouraging pupils to take notes effectively; a committee was meeting regularly to review progress.

3.9.4 In most schools which pursued this topic, there was a conscious attempt to involve staff with varied experience and subject special isms, especially by instituting committees or working parties which prepared papers for the staff as a whole. One common approach was to explore the balance of reading, writing, talking and listening in pupils' activities, and to consider appropriate ways of assessing performance in these areas.

3.9.5 There were also a few schools which considered mathematics and science across the curriculum. One school which looked at the former asked subject departments to identify the potential element of mathematical understanding within their subjects. This initial work led to further discussion and the mathematics department responded to the statements from departments by producing notes of guidance for them and by incorporating into its scheme of work material which was seen to relate practically to the needs of other departments. Similarly, one school was studying the nature of scientific methods and principles and discussing their possible application within the various subjects in the curriculum, although it was too early in the process to evaluate the outcome.

Curricular liaison and continuity

3.10.1 Some schools found that their reappraisal of the curriculum had revealed problems over how to achieve continuity within pupils' education, both within subjects and in relation to the development of skills and concepts more generally. These problems were faced in a particular form by those schools in the exercise which did not include pupils from the whole 11-16 age range, where, especially, the question of creating closer liaison between the different levels of education arose,

3.10.2 In one LEA, the inclusion in the exercise of a middle and an upper school was a factor which encouraged the exploration of inter-school liaison. Regular meetings of heads and deputies were established, and subject committees were formed. Attempts were made to ensure continuity between middle and upper school by an agreement to pursue common syllabuses in French, mathematics and science, and by the development of agreed teaching methods in English,

3.10.3 Some initiatives were also taken to promote links with primary schools and, in the case of schools with no sixth forms, with sixth-form or tertiary colleges. One school found that liaison between its teachers and those in contributory primary schools, formerly difficult to achieve, was improved by extending invitations to primary school teachers and pupils to visit the secondary school, and that productive discussions about curricular continuity followed naturally from these visits. The head believed that the fact that a teacher with pastoral responsibility had taken this initiative had caused primary school teachers to be less inhibited than they had been when approached direct by subject specialist teachers.


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3.10.4 In general, it proved hard to develop thinking about continuity within such inter-school groups beyond an agreement on basic expectations, especially in mathematics and English. Indeed, even within the individual school, there was a strong sense that the curriculum from 11-16 was often severely fractured after three years, both because of the demands of external

examinations and because of changes in the timetabling arrangement which generally occurred at this stage with the introduction of option systems.

The curriculum and timetabling arrangements

3.11.1 The preceding section illustrates how consideration of a specific problem sometimes gave rise to questions about the overall structure of schools' curricular provision. To move from the particular issue to the general was characteristic of much of schools' work, and this chapter ends with a consideration of some ways in which the organisation of a school's timetable can facilitate or inhibit developments in the curriculum. A timetable consists of named subjects and courses and does not specify their nature or content; it is therefore a restricted but none the less important index of a school's overall curricular thinking and provision.

3.11.2 In Chapter 4, the curriculum in the 41 schools has been examined essentially by analysing the schools' timetables. It looks at the variations in practice and at areas of general agreement within schools' provision, and in particular relates the analysis to the concept of the 'common curriculum', of which a definition was offered in Chapter I, paragraph 1.6.2. In addition, it offers detailed examples of the curricula operating in four schools which aim to maintain a large element of common curricular experience for all pupils throughout their five years of secondary education.

Option systems: the fourth and fifth year

3.11.3 The account in Chapter 4 of schools' curricula in the first three years has a number of interesting features, especially with regard to time allocations, the special provision for less able pupils and the introduction of a second foreign language. However, a major part of its concern is to look at how schools were attempting to extend the common element in pupils' programmes in the fourth and fifth year, particularly by means of changes to the option system. It will be seen that the most frequent way in which schools tried to achieve a more balanced programme for all pupils was to group subjects together within an area such as 'sciences', 'humanities' or 'aesthetic/creative', and to stipulate that pupils should study at least one subject from each of these areas.

3.11.4 One school set down a number of principles to guide such a modification of the option scheme*:

"Subject teachers and particularly heads of department need thorough explanations of and guidance in the processes involved.

Meetings of the governors, the Parent and Teacher Association, and the parents of the pupils involved should be convened in order that the aims and mechanics of the process may be explained. The principle of thorough explanation prior to the event goes a long way to avoid misunderstandings.

*The revised option scheme is given in Chapter 4, Table 4F.


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The prescription of the number of options and the level of the course depends on accurate assessment of pupils' potential in public examinations. This demands a thoroughly objective approach.

The placing of pupils in subjects other than those they have chosen, where necessary, depends on the principle that the school as a professional educational institution is well qualified to judge what is best for an individual child,

The principle of no exceptions must apply at all times, otherwise the currency of the curricular pattern is debased."

3.11.5 Some schools were particularly concerned about the effects of the option system on pupils, of low academic attainment. They wished to provide a programme which catered for their special needs but which also provided an education broadly comparable to that received by their contemporaries. In the course of the exercise several schools devised programmes for these pupils, based on the idea of a balanced curriculum in all eight areas of experience, but these had not yet been operating long enough to allow an assessment of their effectiveness. A number of schools found that the desire to increase the extent of the common curriculum while providing for special needs created tensions which were hard to resolve.

Conclusions

3.12.1 It was suggested at the beginning of the chapter that the activities described would often say more about the ways in which schools had worked than the conclusions which they had reached. This is certainly the case. The documents submitted by schools often reported the principal changes in terms such as "deepening of sensitivity", "greater awareness of curricular issues" and "enhanced understanding of how subjects can contribute to the total curriculum", and Chapter 5 will explore these perceptions in greater detail. Statements like this quickly sound platitudinous and easily lead to cynicism. Nevertheless, changes of this order often prepare the way, however gradually, for the most thoughtful and soundly planned changes of practice.



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4 Curriculum descriptions and curriculum examples


CURRICULUM DESCRIPTIONS

The nature of the information

4.1.1 The information in this part of the chapter is drawn from the curriculum descriptions of the schools taking part in the exercise for the academic year 1979/80. 36 of the 41 schools submitted these descriptions, which provide information about the subjects and courses which make up the curriculum of the schools and the time allocated each week to these, as well as indicating where provision differs for different groups of pupils. They do not describe the nature of these subjects and courses and are therefore of only limited value in considering the range or appropriateness of the educational programmes of individual pupils. What they show is how schools are seeking to translate their curricular objectives into working timetables, subject of course to the various constraints which affect their planning.

4.1.2 The term 'common curriculum' is taken in this chapter in a necessarily restricted sense. It indicates that, according to the information provided, all pupils are following either the same range of subjects or courses or a range which includes subjects which may be said to offer broadly similar kinds of learning experience. Many schools, for example, group a number of subjects within the areas of 'humanities', 'science' and 'aesthetic/creative' activities, and these terms have been used in examining the curriculum descriptions. Where pupils are studying at least one from a range of subjects (such as history, geography, social studies or community studies) which are seen to contain a major 'humanities' component, they are regarded here as following a similar/common curriculum in this respect. 'Aesthetic/creative' subjects are taken to include the range of practical activities together with art, music and drama, and 'science' is taken to include various combined or integrated science courses as well as the separate science subjects.*

The Curriculum in the first year

4.2.1 Of the 36 schools analysed 31 have pupils aged 11-12. Four of these provide a wholly common curriculum for first year pupils, in that all pupils follow the same timetable in terms of named subjects, with similar amounts of time allocated to each. Of the others, all but three provide a common curriculum for 85 per cent or more of their pupils, the remainder being pupils who are thought by the schools to need help with aspects of their work through some form of separate provision, often described as remedial provision. 14 schools have separate remedial groups offering a somewhat reduced curriculum (usually with no modern language and perhaps less science) and 13 operate withdrawal arrangements for slow learning pupils,

*Caution is needed in interpreting the extent to which schools' curricula actually offer 'common' experiences to all pupils; history and geography courses may differ in important respects, as may different history courses; similar divergence is found within the field designated 'aesthetic/creative' or 'creative/practical'.


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which in most instances also reduce the number of subjects studied. The first modern language is not taught to pupils with learning difficulties in 14 of the schools.

Time allocations

4.2.2 There is comparatively little variation in the proportion of the week allocated to English and mathematics by the schools, but there is a larger variation in the time allocated to science, humanities, and creative/aesthetic activities.

Table 4A Time allocations in the first year
(Times are given as a percentage of the timetabled week.)

1 The amount of English recorded for slow learning pupils in two schools exceeded this, the highest being 20 per cent.

2 The amount of mathematics recorded for slow learning pupils in two schools exceeded this, the highest being 20 per cent.

3 Humanities includes combined humanities courses, separate history and geography and courses such as Man: A Course of Study (MACOS) (1 school) and Inter-Disciplinary Enquiry (IDE) (2 schools).

4 Creative/aesthetic studies include time allocated to Craft, Design and Technology (CDT), home economics, needlework, art, music and drama.

Science

4.2.3 Science is taught as a combined course in the first year in nearly all the schools. One school provides a general science course for the less able groups and separate physics, chemistry and biology for the remainder.

Humanities

4.2.4 Combined humanities courses are taught in 18 schools. These usually replace separate history and geography courses in the curriculum, and in some instances religious education is included in the combined course rather than treated as a separate subject. Creative/aesthetic subjects

4.2.5 23 schools operate a rotational pattern in some or all of the creative/aesthetic subjects offered, providing a sequence of short courses or modules.

Modern Languages

4.2.6 All schools teach a first modern language in the first year, though there is some variation in the proportion of the age group to whom it is taught. In 17 schools it is taught to all pupils, though some of these schools allocate fewer periods to modern language teaching for less able pupils and use the balance of time to provide additional support in English. 12 schools do not teach a modern language to pupils with learning difficulties, and two schools offer a modern language to just over half the pupils in the year group.


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Grouping

4.2.7 Three schools teach the whole of the first year curriculum to groups containing a range of ability corresponding to the full range of their intake. The great majority either have small classes for slow learning pupils or withdraw pupils from mixed ability groups for special help, II schools are 'banded', seven have setting arrangements for some subjects and one has streamed classes in the first year.

Second and third years

4.3.1 35 of the 36 schools have pupils in these age groups. During these two years, most schools make some differentiation in curricular provision and only one school offers a wholly common curriculum to all its pupils during the third year. The main differentiation occurs in foreign languages, both in the proportion of pupils continuing to study a first modern language and in the policy governing the introduction of a second foreign language. Changes also take place in most schools in grouping arrangements.

Science

4.3.2 All the schools which provide combined science courses in the first year continue to do so in the second year, and the four schools which receive pupils at 12-plus teach combined science at this stage. In the third year, however, half of them teach separate physics, biology and chemistry courses to all pupils and two schools separate the sciences for the more able pupils.

Humanities

4.3.3 Combined humanities courses are taught in the second year in 12 of the schools and in the third year in four schools.

Creative/aesthetic subjects

4.3.4 Rotational arrangements are continued in the third year in 14 schools, the remainder by this stage having reduced the number of creative/aesthetic subjects followed by individual pupils.

Modern Languages

4.3.5 In about half of the schools, the proportion of pupils studying a first modern language is reduced in the course of the second and third years, and in a further quarter the time allocated to the first modern language is reduced for some pupils. 14 schools introduce a second foreign language in the second year and 12 schools do so in the third year. The remainder delay the introduction of the second foreign language until the beginning of the fourth year. Schools adopt various methods of finding time for the second foreign language, usually by allocating less time to other subjects for those pupils affected. A common practice is to reduce the time these pupils spend on their first modern language and on one or more subjects from music, physical education, drama, art and craft or, less frequently, English.

Grouping

4.3.6 Changes in grouping arrangements occur in most schools during these years. Setting for some subjects is introduced in the second year in II schools and in a further three in the third year. Banding is introduced in seven schools in the second year. Of the schools which have setting arrangements for some subjects in the first year, two increase the number of subjects affected in the second and 10 in the third year.

Options

4.3.7 Four schools introduce option arrangements in the third year. Three of these are confined to the CDT and home economics areas of the curriculum, while one school introduces a full range of four option 'blocks' at this stage.


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The fourth and fifth years

4.4.1 The curricular pattern in almost all the schools consists of a core of subjects taken by all pupils and a number of optional subjects or courses. There is only one school in which this basic pattern is not used for all pupils, and in this, a banded school, pupils in the lower band follow a common curriculum for the whole week. Eleven schools offer a different range of optional subjects to less able pupils from that offered to the majority.

Time allocations in English and mathematics

4.4.2 English and mathematics are included in the 'core' in all schools. There is some variation between schools in the time allocated to these subjects, though the average time is similar to that allocated to first year pupils.

Table 4B Time allocations in English and mathematics in the fourth and fifth years (per cent):

The core curriculum

4.4.3 Other subjects and courses included in the core vary considerably. The two most common are physical education, either separately or as part of a leisure pursuits programme organised on a rotational pattern and religious education, again either as a separate subject or as part of a combined course of general education, social and moral education, or design for living. In some schools these subjects, although included nominally in the 'core', may be omitted from the curriculum for some pupils to enable them to take an additional examination subject. Careers education is included in the core curriculum as a separate subject in 10 schools and as part of social or general education in four others.

Option systems

4.4.4 All the schools offering option arrangements provide guidance and advice to pupils about the subjects and courses to be studied in the fourth and fifth years, and most have arrangements whereby parents are included in consultations about this. Beyond this, there are four main ways in which schools try to preserve balance in the curriculum; in a number of cases these result in additional common elements in the curriculum of all pupils:

Six schools extend the 'core' to include subjects which in other schools are found within the options pattern. Of these, all include one science subject and one humanities subject, though not necessarily the same for all pupils. Five schools include a practical/aesthetic subject within the core.

In seven schools, some of the option 'pools' are restricted to subjects which are thought to offer similar learning experiences.

In 11 schools, the option pools themselves are mixed, but pupils are required to include within their choices at least one subject or course from each of a number of specified groupings.

(Some schools combine an extended core with the provision of homogeneous option pools or with requirements for pupils in their options.)


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Three schools, all of them banded, have combined course arrangements. Two of these provide a 'package' course for pupils in the lowest band, but offer a core and option system for the other two bands. The third provides a series of courses at varying levels, and details of this arrangement are set out in Example 4 (paragraph 4.9.1 et seq).
4.4.5 The number of optional subjects and courses in each pupil's curriculum also varies considerably from school to school. Table 4C shows the number of options offered to the majority of pupils, excluding the less able who in some schools are offered fewer options.

Table 4C Number of option blocks offered by schools.

The extent of the 'common curriculum'

4.4.6 The extent to which the schools offer a common curriculum* varies considerably. Of the 35 schools with pupils in the 14-16 age group which provided detailed information, 20 have arrangements whereby all pupils continue to study a science subject until 16, 16 require all pupils to continue with at least one of the humanities subjects or courses and eight require all . pupils to include at least one practical/aesthetic activity. At one extreme one school provides a common curriculum in these terms for 88 per cent of the week; at the other the extent of common curricular provision constitutes 34 per cent. The average for all the schools is 51 per cent.

Table 4D Percentage of week of common curriculum in fourth and fifth years.

Less able pupils

4.4.7 The schools make provision for less able pupils in the fourth and fifth year in a variety of ways. None has separate remedial classes at this stage. Three schools have 'support' groups underpinning some or all of the option blocks, to provide additional work in basic skills as an alternative to courses in the options pattern. Eight schools operate a different pattern of options for pupils in their lowest bands, often involving these pupils in fewer subjects or courses as a result. Three schools operate a course or a small number of 'package' courses specifically designed for slow learning pupils. The remainder provide for less able pupils through a pattern of courses designed for them within the options system, most of these offering the possibility of examination entry at CSE. Less able pupils frequently have more time than other pupils in English and mathematics.

Careers education

4.4.8 14 schools make timetabled provision for careers education in the fourth or fifth year or both, and most of the remainder have arrangements whereby either groups of pupils can be withdrawn from parts of the curriculum for specially organised activities associated with careers education

*Defined in the restricted sense of paragraph 4.1.2 of this chapter.


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and guidance or lessons in careers education replace other lessons on the timetable as the need for them is seen. In those schools making regular timetabled provision, three patterns prevail:

(i) A weekly lesson or lessons specifically concerned with careers education.

(ii) The inclusion of careers education within a composite course, called variously social education, personal and social development, general studies, or social studies. Such composite courses frequently include elements of moral and religious education and health education.

(iii) As one element within a series of short modular courses operated on a rotational basis. In one school, such a course occupies five periods per week and includes elements of careers education, political education, human relationships and education for parenthood as well as a series of 'taster' courses for leisure pursuits.

CURRICULUM EXAMPLES

Curriculum examples

4.5.1 The curriculum examples which follow refer to four of the 41 schools in the enquiry. They illustrate different approaches by schools to the attempt to embody in the timetable the principle of a large degree of common experience for all pupils within the entire 11-16 age range. Timetables necessarily reflect the particular circumstances, staffing and objectives of a school. The degree to which these examples were influenced directly by work done in the exercise varies considerably, and they are offered not as ideal models, but to stimulate reflection and encourage comparison.

Example 1

4.6.1 The school is an 11-16 comprehensive school with 840 pupils and 47 teachers. The ratio of pupils to teachers ('pupil/teacher ratio') is 17.9: 1.* It opened in September 1972, with first year pupils only. The principles originally adopted to govern the whole curriculum were therefore applied in detail to fourth- and fifth-year pupils in later years. Initially, the school operated a seven-day timetable; this has now been replaced by a five-day pattern within which time is allocated to subjects in various combinations of twenty-minute 'modules', according to their needs.

4.6.2 In each year group in the lower school, there are six forms, in all of which there is the full ability range of the school's intake. The full curriculum in the first two years is taught in form groups, but pupils with learning difficulties are withdrawn in small groups for additional help, chiefly with basic language skills. This withdrawal arrangement continues in all five years, though the number of pupils withdrawn reduces substantially from the third year onwards.

4.6.3 In the first two years all pupils follow the same curriculum, which consists of mathematics, French, science, physical education, drama, music, art, technical studies and home economics, together with a humanities programme which occupies 24 per cent of the week and includes English. A

*The national figures for the average pupil/teacher ratio in all maintained secondary schools during the three years of the enquiry areas follows: 1978-9: 16.7:1; 1979-80: 16.5:1; 1980-1: 16.4:1.


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small amount of time for 'personal study' is provided within the timetable in the first and third years, during which pupils are encouraged to develop the skills of organising their own work and carrying out individual research. In the third year the same programme is continued except that English, history and geography are taught as separate subjects. Setting is introduced in the second year for French and the third year for mathematics.

4.6.4 In the fourth and fifth years there is a 'core' consisting of English, mathematics, science, personal study, physical education and a programme called 'core studies'. ('Core studies' is a social education course, occupying about 7 per cent of the week, which incorporates careers, health and religious education.) The science offered within the core is either one unit from the Schools Council Integrated Science Project (SCISP) (with the second unit being offered under the options pattern) or a Mode 3 Integrated Science course which can be followed to GCE O-level or CSE. The common core occupies 54 per cent of the week. In addition, pupils choose one subject from each of the four option groups. The school's stipulations require all pupils to take at least one humanities subject and one creative/aesthetic subject, and a third subject which is either taken from one of these two areas or from the scientific area (that is, the second unit ofSCISP). The school therefore aims to provide a common curriculum for approximately 88 per cent of the week by maintaining a common range of educational experiences for all pupils but permitting controlled choice of subjects within the aesthetic/creative and humanities areas. For their final subject, occupying approximately 12 per cent of the week, pupils may either reinforce an area already studied or choose a foreign language: they may not, however, take more than two subjects in all from any area.

Table 4E:

4.6.5 The average teaching group size in the fourth and fifth years is just below 22, compared with just under 23 in the first two years. The average number of periods taught by teachers is 55.3 out of70 twenty-minute periods a week.

Example 2

4.7.1 The school is an 11-16 comprehensive school, with 1,043 pupils and 70 teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio is 14.9: I. Age groups in the upper school are considerably larger than those in the lower school, the fifth year having 295 pupils and the first 172. The school has decided that the size of teaching groups


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should be kept as small as resources permit, especially in the lower school. The forms, which average 24 in the first year, consist of mixed ability groups, and most of the curriculum is taught to form groups in the first three years. There is a considerable amount of block timetabling, and on several occasions in the week more teachers are allocated than forms, so that regrouping is possible for various purposes. The average teaching group size in the first year is 18, slightly smaller than in the fourth year. Teachers teach for an average of30 of the 40 periods in a week.

4.7.2 The curriculum for the first three years is common for all pupils. In the first year it consists of English, mathematics, French, science, physical education, music, craft and a humanities course which occupies 20 per cent of the week. In the second year the humanities course is replaced by separate courses. in history, geography and religious education. From the third year onwards, a careers education and guidance programme is provided, partly through the use of form periods, partly within the recreational activities programme. A number of pupils also take part in two-week work experience placements during their fifth year.

4.7.3 In the fourth and fifth years, there is a 'core' curriculum for 40 per cent of the work, which includes English, mathematics, and a recreational activities programme. A new option pattern, developed in connection with the school's participation in the 11-16 enquiry, was designed at the beginning of the academic year 1978-79 and implemented for the first time in September 1979. Options are arranged so that pupils may study 4, 5 or 6 subjects or courses in addition to those in the 'core'; those taking fewer subjects spend a correspondingly longer time on each. The total option programme, occupying 60 per cent of the week, is divided into either 6 units of 4 periods, 4 units of 6 periods, or 5 units, 3 of which are taken for 4 periods and 2 for 6 periods. The majority of pupils take 5 units. All pupils are required to include within their options a minimum of one science, one humanities and one practical subject.

4.7.4 This option pattern is illustrated below. Although the basic process is constant each year, the combinations of subjects in each option box vary slightly each year according to demand. The example given is for the academic year 1980/81.

4.7.5 The common curriculum, therefore, occupies varying proportions of the week for different pupils in the fourth and fifth year. It constitutes 70 per cent of the week for those taking 6 options, 77.5 per cent for those taking 5 and 85 per cent for those taking 4. Thus the balance of time allocated to the different areas of the curriculum varies for individual pupils, but the range of common experience is maintained for all.

Example 3

4.8.1 The school is an 11-16 school, with 1,060 pupils and 64 teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio is 16.6:1. There are nine forms in each of the first two years and eight in the third, two forms in each year being smaller than the others and containing approximately 14 per cent of the year group identified as needing additional help in English and mathematics. The remainder of the forms are


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parallel in ability range, though at the end of the second year the school loses approximately 10 per cent of its pupils, who join a l3-plus entry to a selective school in the area.

Table F

4.8.2 The curriculum in the first year consists of English, mathematics, history, geography, French, science, religious education, music, drama, art, physical education, craft, design and technology and home economics. The two slow learnings groups have less time devoted to French and are taught for half the week - corresponding to the time allocation of English, mathematics, history, geography and the balance of time for French - by teachers in the remedial department. The timetable permits setting in the second year in English, mathematics, science, history, geography, and French, and there are slight alterations in time allocations to most subjects. In the third year the science course for all but the slow learning groups becomes separate physics, chemistry and biology. Two groups commence German, with two periods per week replacing part of the physical education programme. No timetabled provision is made for careers education, but arrangements are made for the careers teacher to meet all forms during the third year at regular intervals in time normally allocated to other subjects.

4.8.3 In the fourth and fifth years, there is a 'core' consisting of English, mathematics, physical education and a social studies course, which includes elements of religious and moral education and careers education, together


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with an examination of the life of the locality, local government and finance and the work of social agencies. In addition there are five options, three of which are described as 'core' options. One of these consists of science subjects, one of humanities subjects and one of creative/aesthetic subjects. The remaining two option pools are mixed, and allow pupils to add additional sciences, modern languages, humanities and creative/aesthetic subjects to the basic curriculum.

4.8.4 For those pupils (at present constituting 6 per cent of the fourth year) who wish to continue with two modern languages, the second modern language is provided only as an alternative to physical education, and although this is regretted by the school no satisfactory alternative has been found. This pattern enables the school to provide a common curriculum in the fourth and fifth years, in terms of the educational experiences provided for all pupils, for 70 per cent of the week. The average teaching group size in the fourth year is 20, compared with 24 in the first year. Teachers teach for an average of 32.4 of the 40 periods in the week.

Table 4G Fourth-year options

4.8.5 The arrangement of grouped or 'core' options was introduced in September 1977. Before this, a two-band arrangement was used, with different sets of options offered within each band, and no requirements were made to regulate the choices of pupils. Over the past three years the school's policy on grouping pupils has moved away from banding; the school has also been developing a structured assessment system which enables it to offer clear advice to pupils about desirable option combinations.

Example 4

4.9.1 The school is an 11-18 comprehensive with 1976 pupils, including 79 in the sixth form'. The pupil/teacher ratio is 17.2:1. There are 115 staff. Age groups are uneven in size, ranging from 481 in the fifth year to 3 16 in the second.

4.9.2 The curriculum in the first year is common for all, except that a group of 25 pupils is organised as a slower learning group and does not start French, having additional time for English, mathematics, and physical education. In addition to these subjects, the curriculum includes history, geography, physical education and craft, the last within a rotational series of short


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courses. This arrangement continues into the second year, with the additional modification that three bands are formed. A second modern language is introduced to the curriculum of the upper band where drama is omitted and there is a reduced allocation of time for French. In the third year, physical science is separated into physics and chemistry for the upper and middle bands, and pupils in the upper band either take two modern languages and two sciences or one modern language and three sciences. In the fourth and fifth years, pupils choose one from a number of 'line courses' offered to each band, as set out in the table below. All of these courses include English and mathematics, a personal development course, physical education, at least one science and at least one humanities subject. Pupils therefore select a complete programme, following one of the 'line courses' in its entirety.

4.9.3 Before 1977/78 the school operated an arrangement of 'core' and options for the fourth and fifth years, offering different option groups to each of three bands. The 'line course' system replaced this in 1977. Two particular advantages were seen in this arrangement: its potential contribution in providing a larger measure of group stability for older pupils than is normal in an open options system, and its capacity to enable staff in various subject departments teaching the same group of pupils to look for ways to reinforce each other's work. It has, however, proved difficult to sustain the range of courses which the school believes is necessary as the larger numbers in year groups have been succeeded by age groups of substantially smaller size, which may have important implications for the future of the scheme.

4.9.4 The number of groups following each of these, courses depends on the number of pupils choosing the course. In the present year, courses I, II and 15 are not operating because of insufficient demand; two groups are following course 4, three groups are following course 8, two course 9 and two course 13. The average teaching group size in the fourth year is 21, compared with 24 in the first year. The.school has a 30-period week, of which teachers teach an average of 23.7 periods per week.



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Table 4H

click on the image for a larger version of the table


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5 Views of the exercise


The views of the participants

5.1.1 In addition to recording schools' activities, the monitoring exercise also set out to obtain the views and impressions of all the participants. For this purpose, a standard approach was devised to cover schools, LEAs and HMI. It was designed to give each of the three partners the opportunity to offer a distinctive interpretation of the exercise, by talking to interviewing teams consisting of other members of the partnership.

5.1.2 In the case of visits to schools a team, consisting of at least one HMI and one adviser, interviewed two groups of staff - one an ad hoc group composed of staff who were or could be made free from teaching commitments at the time, and the other a deliberately planned cross-section of staff or a departmental or faculty group. This pattern was devised in order to ensure as full a range of staff opinion as could easily be obtained over the 41 schools in the time available. In a similar way, groups from each LEA and HMI were interviewed by teams composed of other members of the partnership.

Monitoring and evaluation

5.2.1 This part of the monitoring process moves from simply recording what happened into the area of offering some evaluation. Participants were invited to express their value-judgements on the exercise, to identify problems and difficulties encountered and to point to aspects of the work which they had found to be fruitful and stimulating. Essentially, this process was one of self-evaluation. There was no attempt by the monitoring group to stand outside the work and offer a disinterested, objective assessment. This was partly because of the idea of partnership and partly because the exercise was not a curriculum project of the usual kind, leading to the production of materials which themselves had to be evaluated. * Thus within this chapter the judgements are left to stand by themselves and the validity of the perceptions is not examined. No one partner has assumed a right to arbitrate where the perceptions differ, as they often do.

The procedures adopted

5.3.1 In order to establish a broadly common pattern to the visits, a series of questions was prepared. These were seen as providing a basis for the discussions, which should lead on to other issues as these arose naturally. The arrangement of material in this chapter largely reflects these questions, which were as follows:

1. What do you think the purpose of the enquiry was and has your view changed over the three years?

*For a detailed examination of the concept of evaluation in this context, see Curriculum evaluation today: trends and implications (ed. D. Tawney), a Schools Council research study, Macmillan, 1976.


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2. What, in your view, has been the role of the Red Book in your thinking about the curriculum?

3. How did you use the checklist of the eight areas of experience?

4. What value did you find in the subject statements in the Red Book?

5. Have you felt that the process of enquiry was a partnership between schools, LEAs and HMI?

5.3.2 Following each visit, for which interviewing teams prepared carefully in advance, one member produced a written report. The appropriate school, LEA or HMI group was then asked for comments on the accuracy of the statements, in an attempt to offset possible bias or distortion. After any amendments had been incorporated, the reports were submitted to the monitoring group as an agreed record. In most instances the statements were accepted without query.

The limitations of this evidence

5.4.1 A long process of consultation within the partnership led to the establishment of this procedure, and those interviewed were generally appreciative of the opportunity to express their views in this way and of the manner in which the visits were carried out. Even so, the written statements are inevitably subject to certain limitations:

The interviewing led to the production of something like 100 reports. A single account based on them necessarily contains a certain amount of generalisation, compression and omission.

Despite the careful arrangements, the composition of groups could not be guaranteed to reflect the full range of opinion.

Concentration on the agreed questions may have led in some instances to a neglect of important issues, particularly as members were being asked to cast their minds back over three years.

The guidelines for the visits could not prevent a certain unevenness in the form and style of reports.

5.4.2 Within these limitations, it seems reasonable to accept that findings based on the reports have a reasonable degree of validity. Those being interviewed felt free to offer trenchant criticisms of the exercise and to express appreciation only when this was sincerely felt. The same question sometimes produced polarised perceptions and a range of intermediate positions. However, it is worth noting that those who read all the documents were struck by the recurrence of some views and attitudes, although there is no attempt to show this statistically since, clearly, the evidence did not yield hard statistical data.

THE PERCEPTIONS OF SCHOOLS

Heads' and teachers' perceptions of the exercise

5.5.1 The major portion of the chapter is devoted to the perceptions of heads and teachers. It contains a number of quotations from individuals or groups and also seeks to reflect general impressions and indicate areas of agreement


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and difference. Within schools, the views of assistant teachers did not necessarily coincide with those of heads, who were not always present at the monitoring interviews. Some heads therefore added their own reflections as a rider to the reports from their school. Others had contributed personal statements in their written submission to the monitoring group. Both of these sources have been taken into account.

Motives and purposes

5.5.2 Apprehension and suspicion coloured the early responses of some teachers to the idea of involvement in a national enquiry concerning the curriculum. Fears were expressed at the prospect of a centrally imposed curriculum with prescribed standards. More than once the view was expressed that the enquiry had been linked in some way with the 'Great Debate' and the speech by Mr Callaghan, as Prime Minister, at Ruskin College, Oxford. One teacher called the exercise "the brainchild of political upheaval", and another felt that "the findings would be used by politicians for their own purposes"; equally, there was some doubt whether they would be used at all: "another bandwagon leading to another shelved report", was one early perception. These various suspicions caused some teachers to admit that they had been "prejudiced against the exercise", and such prejudice dies hard. Many teachers had found it hard to come to grips with the idea that they could be the agents for developing the curriculum, and hard even to recognise that the exercise was intended to enable them to engage in such a process.

5.5.3 Initial reactions were, however, subsequently modified as the idea of partnership developed. Fears about sinister political motivation could now be seen to have been without foundation, but there still remained some doubts about the purpose of the enquiry. Some saw it as "an invitation to change", others as a process of exploration, the end product of which it would be wrong' to try to anticipate. Such teachers welcomed a "lack of prescription", but there were others who felt that the aims of the enquiry had not been expressed with sufficient clarity. The suggestion was offered that more time could usefully have been given to preliminary informal discussions between teachers and other members of the partnership, to overcome what was seen as a "lack of clear understanding of what was to be done". A typical comment was: "Goals were unclear and to some extent still remain unclear". Such uncertainty was not, however, universal, as is indicated by the comment: "The purpose of exploring the extent of correlation between school, LEA and national views of the curriculum had been understood and was seen to be useful".

Organisation and operation

5.5.4 Some teachers felt that they had perceived the general aims of the exercise but were less sure how to proceed: "The purpose of looking at the balance of what was offered to pupils was understood; the way in which teachers were to look at this was unclear". This perception reflected the feeling of many teachers that in undertaking any kind of curricular reappraisal they were at the limit of their experience and capacity. They would therefore often have welcomed far more advice or even instruction on methods of working. The view that, as one teacher expressed it, "greater central direction at the outset would have been desirable" is not necessarily incompatible with fears of a centrally imposed curriculum. However, it does point to a misapprehension by some teachers as to who was responsible for the direction of the work.


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5.5.5 Many teachers commented on the length of time which elapsed before they received copies of the 11-16 curriculum papers, and in particular regretted the delayed publication of the Red Book. There was a strong view that, for an effective response to these publications, external support from HMI and advisers was needed. Many went on to say that they would have welcomed regular and consistent contact throughout the exercise. Schools which received such support were enthusiastic about its value, and where it was lacking disappointment was expressed: "It was regretted that there had been no specialist visits by HMI and that the LEA specialist adviser had not been replaced", commented one departmental group. "The department had suffered relative to other departments and the exercise had lost momentum as a result".

5.5.6 Some teachers registered concern about the heavy workload which the exercise had at times imposed. There had not always been adequate time for completing activities, yet busy periods were followed by long episodes when other pressures meant that little was done in connection with the enquiry. The suggestion was made that the enquiry had "seriously underestimated the necessary commitment in time, energy and intellectual effort". More careful pacing was required. One view was that the exercise had been too long overall but too short in its separate parts, because of the sporadic character of the activity. In some teachers' opinion the lack of resources allocated to the exercise was seen as a weakness: "the enquiry had been devalued by the 'cost neutral' principle put forward", was a comment from a school in one authority.

The influence of the Red Book

General chapters

5.6.1 The monitoring visits revealed wide variations in teachers' knowledge of the Red Book and, more particularly, of the first three sections. Many teachers had not read the papers thoroughly or absorbed the ideas: some, including a number of teachers who had joined a school after the commencement of the exercise, expressed ignorance of the Red Book's existence. In one school where every member of staff had received a copy there was only limited evidence that the text had been read.

5.6.2 In some schools the general chapters were said to have made a valuable contribution to the processes of curricular review and reappraisal. A number of teachers acknowledged their effect on discussion and some reported specific ways in which they had been influenced by the ideas. They helped to "crystallise thinking" and provided, for one teacher, "a common currency for dealing with colleagues in other areas of the curriculum". In some cases the potential of the papers for encouraging collaboration across the curriculum was noted. One teacher felt that reading them had "speeded up and sharpened thinking"; another saw the opportunity for developing "the continuous assessment of pupils in areas other than purely academic". The paper Education and preparation for work was seen in one case to have been "more of an influence outside the school than within it because there had been more opportunity for discussion with other careers teachers within the LEAs programme for careers education". Overall, it seems that the general chapters had most effect on heads and senior staff with responsibilities for the curriculum.


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5.6.3 Various factors were said to have affected the impact Of the Red Book on schools' thinking. One was the early suspicion, noted above, of the exercise's possible political motives. Criticisms came from different directions. Sometimes the fear was expressed that the Red Book was intended to be prescriptive, "a prelude to a controlled curriculum". The disclaimers within the publication appear to have failed to dispel these apprehensions. For some teachers, the claim that the document was intended as a "starting-point for discussion" was rendered disingenuous by the presence of the HMI stamp. Others, however, evidently expected the document to be more strongly directive; they looked for answers and were disappointed. Some claimed that "the Red Book was full of jargon" or that it was "vague and nebulous".

Subject statements

5.6.4 Seen by one group of teachers as "extremely valuable and thought-provoking", the subject statements formed the basis for much of the work within the exercise. The head of a school where they were used extensively claimed that teachers were almost unanimous in feeling that they had led to a "deeper analysis of why they taught what they taught", providing a more rational basis for curricular planning and evaluation.

5.6.5 The analysis of subjects' potential contribution to the total curriculum was seen by more than one group as "the most valuable aspect of the work". The view was sometimes expressed that more time was needed to correlate the work of the various subject departments and to take thinking beyond the theoretical stage and the planning of syllabuses to the level where it affected individual lessons.

5.6.6 Comments were offered on some of the individual subject statements. An English department, noting a close relation between the section on 'Language' and the findings of the Bullock Report, recorded that reading the statement has led to a "reappraisal of the balance between English as a creative medium and English in its more functional role". Similarly, the science statement had convinced staff in one school of "the need for critical reappraisal of the value for pupils of low academic attainment of some of its courses".

5.6.7 There were also less favourable reactions. I n some schools the statements were not greatly discussed and some teachers who had read them felt that they were "too bland and general"; "it was difficult not to agree with them". Some saw a tension between the general chapters and the subject statements, believing that the latter did not always support the approach advocated in the first part of the publication. Others perceived conflicts between the recommendations of the statements and the demands and constraints of the public examinations.

The checklist of eight areas of experience

5.6.8 With the exception perhaps of the subject statement which directly concerned them, the checklist of eight areas of experience was certainly the element in the Red Book most widely known to teachers. It stimulated vigorous discussion in the monitoring visits and elicited a wide range of reactions. In the minds of many heads and teachers it had been a "powerful analytical tool", producing "heightened awareness of curricular issues"; it had


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provided "a starting point, as well as an indication of something to be worked towards both in terms of curricular development and self-assessment". Among its values were the following:

It sharpened understanding of the distinctive contributions made by separate disciplines to the whole curriculum.

It provided a structured basis for departmental self-assessment: "a useful template to apply to the planning of a scheme of work", one teacher called it.

It generated a greater awareness of the work of other departments in the school, leading in some instances to closer liaison in planning or to the development of more integrated approaches to the curriculum. It promoted the consideration of issues which spanned the curriculum.

It led teachers to a fuller understanding of the concept of "the education of the whole child".

It highlighted the extent to which some areas of experience were at times omitted from the programmes of individual pupils or from the complete curriculum offered. .

5.6.9 However, the difficulties of using the checklist were also noted:
The vocabulary and degree of abstraction were considered to be difficult and needed considerable time to talk through and absorb.

To apply the checklist in order to decide what constituted an appropriate balance in the curriculum was not easy, and schools felt the need for more external support in guiding them through this process.

The attempt to review a subject's possible contribution to the curriculum could lead to artificial exercises in justification "with subjects dredging deep to find some form of response under all eight headings".

Some schools remained unwilling to accept the approach because they felt that the areas of experience "were intended as 'Olympian laws': fixed, immutable and imposed from on high".

There was some feeling that the eight areas were so general that they could be used to justify any syllabus or subject.

5.6.10 These differences of perception make it impossible to generalise about schools' response to the checklist. Its potential as a starting point for exploring the curriculum was widely appreciated; practical applications were less easy to see, although in some instances policy was gradually being affected by the thinking.

Perceptions of partnership

5.7.1 Partnership was seen by teachers to have two distinct elements. The first was the link between schools, LEAs and HMI which provided the administrative structure for the exercise. The second was the cooperation among all the teachers on a school's staff (and, by extension, with teachers in other schools) in thinking about the curriculum. The second element raises important issues of staff involvement in policy and decision making, and the need for effective communications, which are considered later in this section.


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Working with HMI and LEA advisers

5.7.2 Many teachers perceived great value in discussion and collaboration with advisers and inspectors, whose experience in a variety of schools and, in some cases, close contact with the thinking behind the exercise were appreciated. It was regretted that the availability of HMI had been rather uneven, and some teachers would have preferred more direct initiatives, greater continuity of contact and an increased opportunity to develop work on a cooperative basis.

5.7.3 Initially, teachers had felt some doubts about the idea of working with HMI and advisers - who, in their minds, were not always distinguished from each other. As the enquiry developed, they became more aware of the work done by these two groups, and increasingly felt confident in a collaborative relationship with them. In one authority the comment was made that the partnership had "eliminated the mystique surrounding HMI", and there was a strong feeling that support from external agents "had done much to give assurance to teachers". In particular, the in-service conferences had been valued not least for the contribution of advisers and HMI; in one authority it was suggested that effects on schools' thinking were more marked when discussions involved all three members of the partnership.

5.7.4 Where LEAs gave additional time for administrative and advisory staff to visit schools and provided clerical support this was felt to have been a strong contributory factor to effective progress, and some teachers felt that LEAs could have done more in this respect to encourage schools' work. The occasional visits by HMI and advisers to classrooms, to discuss practical issues, were also valued and in several authorities there was a request for more visiting of this kind. In one authority, teachers regretted that the other partners had not offered many comments on documents produced by the schools.

5.7.5 It follows therefore that partnership was most effective when schools received continuous support from known advisers and where the same HMI were attached to the exercise throughout its duration. Other helpful factors were geographical proximity to other schools in the exercise and a good flow of communication between schools, LEA and HMI. In such circumstances, schools felt that there had been "a genuine attempt to implement a real working partnership", with "sufficient confidence to generate honesty and openness of purpose".

Levels of staff participation

5.7.6 These considerations had a strong effect on the degree to which staff participated in the work of the exercise. Another factor was the way in which the schools first became involved in it, as outlined in Chapter 2. The great variation in the degree of staff participation in the decision had repercussions throughout the period of the exercise. Monitoring visits showed that there were teachers who still felt detached from the exercise, and this applied particularly to some junior members of staff: an extreme indication of this perception, but not entirely untypical, was the comment that "the enquiry was for the 'big shots' only". Certainly in the initial stages there were few indications that teachers perceived that they could make a contribution to curricular thinking, whether at school, LEA or national level, by their own


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involvement as partners in the exercise. Thereafter, the degree of staff involvement remained uneven from authority to authority, within the same authority and within the same school: sometimes it had been a few individuals or one or two departments which had become fully involved. However, as the activity grids which schools submitted revealed, in many schools all the staff had participated in conferences, and these were often seen as a particularly effective form of involvement.

The importance of heads

5.7.7 Much depended on how successful heads and deputies were in communicating the nature of the exercise to their staff. The style of the head's leadership could be a vital factor in encouraging teachers to identify with the work: as one group of teachers put it: "In the school the forces impelling the enquiry were an enterprising head, an enthusiastic senior staff and the desire of all staff to create a good comprehensive school in the neighbourhood". Some heads saw that they needed to make significant changes in their patterns of management in order to translate the aim of staff participation into practical terms. However, heads could inhibit as well as promote development. In one school junior staff suggested that the fact that the head took all important decisions on curricular questions had prevented them from becoming fully involved.

Heads of department

5.7.8 Heads of department who showed energetic commitment to the work also proved key figures in initiating activity, with a prime responsibility for dissemination to members of their departments. One group of teachers acknowledged the importance of heads of department as follows: "Without their leadership, clear direction and enthusiasm, staff involvement cannot be expected". Heads of department themselves often regarded their attendance at meetings organised by the LEAs as beneficial; however, sometimes members of their departments felt that insights obtained from these meetings had not been used to involve them in the exercise.

New and younger teachers

5.7.9 The test of effective percolation in an exercise of this kind is that teachers with less experience or responsibility become involved, and in this respect the exercise was not always felt to be successful. One group said that "Scale I teachers saw less relevance to them; they did not see how the enquiry would have any bearing on their day to day classroom routine". However, in the monitoring visits there was widespread recognition of the importance of trying to involve teachers of all levels of experience in thinking about overall curricular issues. One comment was: "It might be thought to be expecting too much of new teachers to be thinking deeply about curricular issues when their major concern is settling into the new profession; on the other hand, Scale I teachers are potential Scale 3 teachers". Younger teachers in particular often found that the manifold demands of their daily work restricted the opportunity to think more widely about overall objectives rather than about immediate classroom demands.

5.7.10 Despite such difficulties, there were certainly instances where the feeling of involvement communicated itself to a complete staff, and the effect of this corporate commitment were considerable, as this comment suggests: "Everyone was engaged at the same time: the school had volunteered; staff felt


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an obligation to work professionally and had valued the opportunity to contribute to a national debate".

The need for effective communications

5.7.11 Many teachers stressed the importance of effective communication between LEA and school and between heads, senior staff and other teachers. Apart from the need to establish working groups of staff to communicate issues to the whole staff, individuals with responsibility for the work of other teachers (heads, senior staff, heads of department) needed to be sensitive to the double aspect of communication - both the transmission of information and ideas and the reception of teachers' own contributions to the debate. Sometimes teachers felt that breakdown of communication occurred between departments: it was regretted in one authority that some departmental investigations remained confined within the individual departments and that opportunities for sharing ideas were therefore missed. Similarly, pastoral staff might feel detached from what were effective communications at the departmental level: one such group commented that teachers with pastoral responsibilities often felt "frustrated; on the sidelines, watching the others".

5.7.12 Much communication within the exercise had been on paper. This had posed problems for many teachers, who felt that there had been too much to read, especially as the ideas were found challenging and sometimes difficult to absorb. Sometimes teachers offered practical suggestions for rendering this heavy diet of paperwork more digestible, such as the establishment of reading groups to mediate the mass of reading matter for their colleagues, or a filter system within a school to ensure that teachers received only those papers which specifically related to them.

Various influences and constraints on the curriculum and curricular enquiry

5.8.1 In the course of the discussions, teachers mentioned a number of influences - some within the schools and some external- which had affected their work. I n some cases, their perceptions suggested issues relevant to the planning of any such enquiry, and it will be clear from the later sections in the chapter that there was a great deal of common ground between the thinking of teachers, advisers and HMI on these issues.

The public examination system

5.8.2 Frequent reference was made by teachers to aspects of the public examination system, which some teachers felt as a major constraint on curricular reappraisal. The comment that "external examinations inhibited the development of a balanced curriculum underwritten by the eight areas of experience" no doubt reflected the view of many teachers, though by no means all would therefore have wished for radical changes to the system. One observation was that examinations restricted the desirable scope, content and methodology of many courses because of the tendency to overemphasise the importance of a limited range of objectives. 'The content and assessment techniques associated with public examinations were perceived in some cases to exert a "backwash effect" on teaching and learning even before the commencement of formal work for examination courses in the fourth year. One teacher saw a conflict between the demands of the examinations and the growth of personal maturity: "At just the moment when young people want to make decisions for themselves, the public examination system determines and


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directs what they study". Moreover, uncertainty over the future of the proposal to replace GCE and CSE by a single system* was seen to have inhibited teachers' response and limited their willingness to work towards solutions to the problems they identified. Consequently, the government's decision early in 1980 to change the system gave renewed impetus to the attempt to establish a proper relation between curricular thinking and work done in preparation for external examinations.

Parents and employers

5.8.3 The attitudes and demands of society in general (as discussed in the second paper in the Red Book, 'Schools and society'), and of parents and employers in particular, were seen as a further important influence, and at times a constraint, on curricular thinking. "The parental view of the curriculum might well militate against what the school thinks to be a broad educational experience for the pupils", observed teachers from one school, and another comment along these lines was that schools faced the difficult situation of not knowing whether to respond to society or whether to declare their view of an appropriate education for living in the society of the future. A few teachers saw parents and employers as fundamentally conservative influences, resisting new or unfamiliar elements in the curriculum such as schools' growing attempts to take account of new technology.

5.8.4 There were others who felt that, if such a gulf did exist between the thinking of teachers and parents or employers, strenuous efforts should be made to improve communication, with teachers explaining to society what their aims and beliefs were and also seeking a better understanding of society's expectations of schools.

Lack of time

5.8.5 More generally, teachers identified lack of time as a constraint. "The practicalities of day to day teaching work against the notion of thinking across the curriculum", stated one teacher, and others recorded a sense of being too burdened by "the real job of teaching" to commit themselves fully to the enquiry. Teachers felt a need for time to be reserved exclusively for the exercise, and supported strongly day or half-day closures of the schools to pupils, to enable them to devote their thinking to the issues. There was occasional resentment of the fact that deadlines which served the convenience of the central machinery were not necessarily well suited to the particular needs or natural rate of development in the school. They had to rush pieces of work when they felt the need for considered thought, since effective changes could not be brought about overnight.

Other factors

5.8.6 Some influences which teachers mentioned affected only one authority, but others recurred in schools from several LEAs. A number of schools faced considerable difficulties as a result of industrial action taken by the teachers' unions: this had at one point produced a complete standstill in the enquiry. Many had also been influenced by falling school rolls, which on the one hand gave greater urgency to curricular thinking but on the other presented many pressing practical problems. In a few schools there were changes of head or other senior staff who had taken an important part in the organisation of the exercise; in many the arrival of new staff after the commencement of the enquiry presented problems of induction into the way of thinking. Severe limitations on financial and clerical support had considerable effects.

*School examinations (Report of the Steering Committee chaired by Sir James Waddell), HMSO, July 1978.


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Opportunities offered by the exercise

5.9.1 Despite all such constraints the monitoring visits and the reports of heads indicated many areas where the exercise had been seen to offer many valuable opportunities. Working with HMI and advisers had been appreciated by many teachers, and one head welcomed "the creation, once early suspicions had been dispelled, of relations with advisers and HMI which have allowed frank and confident exchange of thoughts and ideas". The value of contacts with other schools was also stressed, especially in the context of conferences and meetings organised by the LEAs. These occasions, like the visits of HM I and advisers, were seen to have promoted the "cross-fertilisation of ideas" within the schools. Several heads saw the increased involvement of their staff in curricular thinking as a positive achievement. "Staff have become more confident because they have examined what they are doing, using instruments for evaluation which they themselves have helped to devise", was one comment along these lines. Although constraints of time were frequently mentioned, there was also favourable comment on the gradual, unhurried nature of the enquiry: "it did not make a sudden or dramatic impact but the cumulative effect of the thinking which it has encouraged and the changes which have followed have been most significant".

THE PERCEPTIONS OF LEAs

The perceptions of LEAs

5.10.1 The monitoring format ensured that LEAs and HMI responded to issues broadly similar to those discussed above, and there is therefore some inevitable overlap between the sections of this chapter. Each LEA submitted a statement outlining effects of the enquiry on policy and organisation and giving its views on the exercise. (HMI also submitted such a statement.) These statements supported the evidence provided by the monitoring visits. The groups from LEAs which were interviewed contained mostly advisers who had been directly concerned with the exercise, but sometimes administrators also participated and advisers who had been on the fringe of the work.

The purposes of the enquiry

5.10.2 A representative of one authority saw the fundamental task as "the description and evaluation of the curriculum using the Red Book as a framework for looking at actual practice". Others in the same authority, however, saw the purpose more in terms of the development of the curriculum, after an initial stage of describing and defining the territory. Another LEA took as the key elements the concept of partnership and the idea that teachers could be responsible for curricular development, after initial prompting and encouragement from advisers and HMI. Despite initial uncertainty about what involvement would mean, it had felt that the risks were worth taking. In two authorities there had been a view at the outset that the exercise was subject to political instigation; one adviser had thought that "if changes were imminent it would be better to be involved in the processes than to remain passively on the sidelines until change was imposed". Members of several authorities felt that the early lack of clarity both about general goals and about immediate, short-term tasks and objectives had presented considerable problems.

Attitudes to the Red Book

5.10.3 Comments were confined almost exclusively to the checklist and the subject statements. In one authority it was thought to be unfortunate that the


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strands of education outlined in the three main sections had been overshadowed by work connected with the checklist.

The checklist

5.10.4 Generally, the verdict on the checklist of eight areas of experience was favourable. It had been a strength of the exercise that the schools had used the checklist as a common starting-point. One authority felt that it was a helpful way to initiate discussion on the question of balance and the total curriculum, and this statement was echoed by others. In at least two LEAs use of the checklist in curricular reappraisal was seen to have potential for the development of LEA policy, especially in connection with the curricular and staffing implications of falling school rolls. In some cases, opportunities had arisen for using the checklist not only in the schools in the enquiry but in the authority's general in-service training programmes.

5.10.5 There were, however, reservations in the endorsement. In the opinion of one authority, the lack of assessment techniques in conjunction with the checklist was a severe drawback; another authority felt that it had been difficult to interpret and define the adjectives in the list satisfactorily and also to identify school and particularly classroom practices which could be said to contribute specifically to the areas of experience. Others saw a danger in "too facile a treatment of the checklist": it could be used as an escape route, to avoid further hard thinking.

The subject statements

5.10.6 In one authority it was felt that to issue the subject statements after the general chapters had prevented a proper consideration of the eight areas of experience. The statements reflected the independent considerations of subject specialists thinking as subject specialists; hence they tended to divert attention from cross-curricular exploration and reinforced a subject-based approach to curricular thinking. Another authority criticised some of the subject statements on different grounds: they were thought to reflect the work of a committee and to display a "lack of awareness of school and classroom realities".

Perceptions of partnership

5.10.7 I n general, partnership was warmly welcomed by those members of the LEA who had been most closely associated with the work of the enquiry. A member of one authority felt that a most valuable aspect of partnership had been "the growing recognition by all of those involved that despite differences of perspective and responsibilities the fundamental aim - to provide the best and most appropriate education possible - was the same. The style of the enquiry had been refreshingly free from hierarchical or status-conscious considerations". One group of advisers regretted that it had not had more opportunity to participate: its work in the area of subject specialisms had been isolated from the main developments of the exercise. These advisers had not been involved in the central administration within the authority, and felt that they had often been poorly briefed as to ho~ they were to proceed.

5. 10.8 As a result of the exercise, advisers had often found it easier to work in schools with both heads and assistant teachers. One authority felt that it now had a ready-made team of LEA advisers whose personal relationships and enhanced level of thinking about curricular issues enabled them to turn swiftly to new problems.


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5.10.9 However, partnership was time-consuming and not always efficient. A representative of one authority regretted the time which had been spent on routine organisation and administration, Instead of thinking about the curriculum. Others referred to the difficulty of sustaining momentum with the diversity of commitments facing advisers. Two authorities mentioned that, while partnership within the single LEA had proved effective, there were dangers of isolation within the exercise as a whole. One of these authorities had felt this to be a major weakness in the exercise; it had put forward proposals urging the development of a far more concerted programme of activities throughout the five authorities and had been disappointed that the other four had not accepted these.

Support needed by schools to engage in curricular reappraisal

5.10.10 LEAs were asked in their written submissions to give their perceptions as to the support which schools required in order to participate effectively in curricular reappraisal. The degree to which they identified similar requirements was very marked:

Financial resources (for materials and reprographic facilities, for example); good clerical and secretarial support; time, both for LEA officials and for teachers.

Regular access, if required, to LEA advisers and to HMI; a strengthened advisory team allocated to the work.

The opportunity to hold half-day or day conferences, by means of school closures.

Availability of supply staff to enable teachers to take part in meetings within and between schools.

Effective means of communication throughout the partnership.

5.10.11 One authority commented that virtually all the above requirements implied the availability of additional resources, at a time when resources were in fact contracting; but this did not diminish their desirability.

Opportunities and constraints: helpful and unhelpful features of the exercise

5.10.12 Among the positive features identified by one or more of the authorities were the following:

A common language for talking about the curriculum.

The opportunity for advisers to think deeply about the nature and value of their specialism.

The assistance to advisers in their general work afforded by talking with heads and teachers involved in the exercise.

The challenge of involvement in a national exercise, which had given advisers an additional sense of purpose; their outlook had been widened.

The opportunity to bring together the different views represented within the educational service.

The in-service training which the exercise had provided for all participants.


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5.10.13 Major areas where authorities identified constraints on the operation of the enquiry have been indicated above, but members of the LEA also perceived other weaknesses:

The need to try to keep the LEA in step with the national exercise, which had sometimes meant doing things at inappropriate times.

The lack of continuity in HMI teams working with some authorities.

The difficulty of maintaining a regular secretariat for the exercise.

Conflicts over demands on advisers' time.

THE PERCEPTIONS OF HMI

The purposes of the enquiry

5.11.1 Two groups of HMI were interviewed by monitoring teams. Some members of the original HMI group offered their perceptions, as well as others who had joined the exercise later. HMI stated that the enquiry had been initiated in order to explore, in the context of comprehensive education, pupils' reasonable entitlement in the years of compulsory secondary education. It had been intended to carry out this investigation, using a collection of HMI papers as a starting point, by means of a partnership with LEAs and schools,' in which LEAs were fundamentally in charge of how the operation proceeded; there was no attempt at imposition by HMI. Within this partnership, it was thought desirable to involve teachers of all levels of experience, and to start by looking at schools' curricular provision as it then was. Thus, as one group commented, the exercise was seen as an extension of and not a generic change from HMI's usual work: schools were being encouraged to undertake a process of self-evaluation, measuring what they were doing against an idea of what might be, by reference to such things as the checklist. HM I had seen their original function largely in terms of stimulating enquiry, but had subsequently found that they were often called on to initiate activities.

The Red Book checklist

5.11.2 HMI were also asked to comment on their perception of the value of the checklist. For some, this approach to curricular reappraisal had become firmly embedded in their thinking. However, the checklist was seen (as it had always been seen) as one possible model which the partners were invited to use, supplement or amend. There were many important issues (for example, questions of continuity and progression) with which the checklist could not deal. Other checklists might be equally important: it could be necessary also to check on 'areas of need' or 'areas of skills', and the original papers suggested a variety of approaches. Moreover, the difficulty of using the checklist to affect classroom practice directly was recognised. To reach this stage could be a long process, requiring a degree of in-service training.

Perceptions of partnership

5.11.3 The concept of partnership - although often tentative and gradual in its application - was seen to have been central to the exercise. It had led to valuable opportunities to establish durable professional and personal relationships, and it had done much to promote free discussion. However, for partnership to be fully effective, there needed to be a clear understanding of what each partner could and could not undertake. For example, because of


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the far-ranging demands of HMI's inspection programme, it was impossible to provide a great measure of local support to a few schools.

5.11.4 The exercise had shown that the cross-fertilisation of ideas between the participants was not easily achieved. Problems had sometimes arisen when those involved were insufficiently acquainted with a key issue or publication. HMI also recognised that some teachers had found it difficult to accept that the exercise really was conceived as a partnership, perhaps because they saw inevitable differences of function for the partners. However, the aim of partnership was not that one partner should usurp another's function, but that all should accept responsibility for decisions and enterprises in relation to the curriculum.

Support needed by schools to engage in curricular reappraisal

5.11.5 HMI recognised that it was unrealistic to expect the full and active involvement of staff at all levels in such an exercise unless there were adequate provision for this. Where teachers' time had been reserved explicitly for work in connection with the enquiry, this was seen as having great advantages. If time were committed in this way, a corresponding commitment was demanded from teachers.

5.11.6 HMI suggested a number of ways in which schools could gain from outside support:

To help them to identify curricular needs or deficiencies in the light of a proposed model.

To participate in the discussion and interpretation of such publications as the Red Book which were provided as fundamental raw materials for the enquiry.

To provide continuing and systematic advisory support both in a general capacity and in connection with subject specialisms.

To promote effective communications throughout the exercise.

Opportunities and constraints: helpful and unhelpful features of the exercise

5.11.7 HMI felt that the decision not to adopt a tight overall structure for the exercise had had both advantages and drawbacks. The main disadvantage was that it had rarely been possible to do much cross-referencing in the work of the five authorities; however, it had certainly been valuable to encourage authorities to develop their own interests and concerns, and there was a feeling that a common set of targets "might have precluded much of the work that had in fact emerged".

5.11.8 HMI wished to underline that the principle of involving both junior and senior teachers had been both important and difficult. The phrase "the Scale 3 barrier" had been coined during the exercise, and, while there were certainly individual Scale I and 2 teachers who took an active part in the work, it had proved no easy task to make such involvement general. However, it was sensed that over the three years increasing familiarity with the central ideas of the exercise had led to far greater confidence on the part of many teachers, and HMI could cite many examples of the productive working of the partnership, involving teachers of all levels of experience in cooperative ventures with advisers and HMI.


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5.11.9 Especially in the early stages of the exercise, HMI had not made regular visits to classrooms, because of the need to allay initial fears that the exercise would involve a long-term inspection. It was therefore difficult to assess accurately the ways in which the education received by pupils was being influenced by the exercise. In some schools and LEAs, there had been changes in policy, especially in order to broaden the common element in the curriculum, and a number of departments had modified their syllabuses and schemes of work in the light of the thinking which had taken place. It was hoped that in schools' future work classroom practice would be affected directly as a result of the re-appraisal.

Conclusions

5.12.1 The three sections above reveal important differences of emphasis and interpretation not only among the three partners but also within individual elements of the partnership. Some participants were disappointed that their initial expectations had not been realised; others had their fears and suspicions removed. Some felt that the exercise had lost direction; others that, as time had advanced, a clearer purpose had been revealed. Many individuals had been virtually untouched by the exercise; others had experienced a sense of revitalisation because of the work. This chapter has indicated many of the factors operating within schools and authorities which have produced such differences in commitment and appreciation. However, perhaps more striking than the issues on which perceptions diverge are those - and there are many - on which there is accord. The remaining task for this document, therefore, is to attempt to pick out clear pointers to development in such a way that mistaken paths may be avoided and encouraging leads followed.




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6 Future developments


THE FUTURE OF THE ENQUIRY

The commitment to continue the work

6.1.1 The five authorities and the individual schools involved in the exercise needed to decide, after three years of work, on the nature and scope of any future involvement. A decision to continue, like the initial decision to participate, required a voluntary commitment. For many, participation had led to a growing recognition that an enquiry of this kind could not have a fixed terminal point, and that continuation was both desirable and, in a sense, unavoidable.

Planning a second stage

6.1.2 The monitoring exercise and the preparations for the publication of this report rounded off one phase of the enquiry. In the first half of 1980, LEAs were able to think about their commitment to the next stage of the work, and the conference at Stoke Rochford Hall in June 1980 provided a focus for them, individually and collectively, to take stock and refine their thinking. At this conference all five authorities expressed a desire to continue into a second stage of the work. It was agreed that work already in progress would be further developed and that all five authorities should undertake to plan and carry out, as a central feature of the second phase, work in two main areas:

Schools, within LEAs, would evaluate aspects of their provision, from overall curricular policy to departmental aims and objectives, with an emphasis on improving the quality of learning.

This evaluation would inevitably involve the construction, analysis and' testing of curricular patterns.

6.1.3 Within these main areas of work LEAs and schools were to carry out studies of topics which were of particular interest to them, for example:
Assessment procedures.

The impact of the new technology on the curriculum.

Improving provision for the less able.

The influence of public examinations on the curriculum.

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF OTHER EXERCISES

The implications of beginning such work

6.2.1 Continuing interest in the curriculum is not restricted to the schools participating in this exercise. Publication of the Government's guidance on


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the school curriculum will strengthen the ever-present need for LEAs and schools to re-examine the education they are offering to pupils. Those who have taken part in the last three years of enquiry have learnt some - often hard - lessons about the processes of reappraisal, as has been indicated in the foregoing chapters. These are now drawn together and offered for consideration. However, there is no intention of dictating to LEAs how they should proceed; nor would it be wished that pointing out some of the difficulties encountered would deter them from undertaking their own work because, for example, additional resources were not available. Smaller exercises, with necessarily more limited objectives, would still have their place in the continuing debate.

6.2.2 Those most closely concerned with the exercise would certainly maintain that this kind of work should not be undertaken lightly. It takes time and it is not easy. An enquiry which proceeds gradually, and by cooperation, especially one which seeks to involve teachers of all levels within schools, does not yield quick results. The attempt to move towards establishing a coherent and fully thought out model of the curriculum - whether that of the Red Book or any other - is less comfortable than looking at existing subjects on a timetable and conjuring with time allocations; the process is time-consuming and often frustrating.

The need for preliminary thinking

6.3.1 If this is accepted, it follows that a great deal of preliminary thinking is needed before such an exercise is started. Within an authority, the desire to undertake this work might stem from various sources: from the chief education officer, from other administrative staff or advisers, or from heads or teachers within the schools. There is, of course, no reason why schools should not embark - as many already have - on an examination of their curricular provision, using similar materials and principles, without involving collaborating formally with other members of the educational service.

6.3.2 However, this section concerns itself with a pattern of working in which an LEA, through its chief education officer, has responded to the need to consider its responsibilities for the curriculum by involving schools together with administrative and advisory staff in an exercise of reappraisal. Many of the suggested principles would apply, with suitable modifications, to an exercise where the initiative arose within a school or group of schools. In what follows, the phrase 'an authority' is therefore used as a shorthand expression, to include all members of an authority's schools, administration and advisory service involved in establishing an exercise.

6.3.3 It is suggested that an authority wishing to undertake such work might consider the following issues:

Its reasons for wishing to embark on the work and what it hopes to gain from involvement.

The allocation of staff to the work:

a) There might be great advantages in involving administrators as well as advisers.


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b) Those involved should themselves be willing participants, preferably with a stake in the original decision.

The number, type and variety of schools to be involved in the work. The desirability of drawing others into the partnership, with a clear understanding of the kinds of collaboration which were wanted and which. could be expected from such outside sources. In particular, an authority might wish, as in the present exercise, to seek cooperation from HMI. Consultation with governors, parents and elected members could also be found to be most valuable. Moreover, partnership might be extended to take account of such outside agencies as Schools Council, universities or institutes of higher education, including those concerned with teacher training.

The allocation of resources

6.3.4 Issues of this kind imply the value of a careful scrutiny of any resources which could be allocated to take account of the work. Some of these considerations necessitate a financial commitment; others require, above all, time and goodwill. Examples of provision which might be needed are:

The appointment of an adviser as the nominated coordinator of the schools' work, with senior status and protected time.

A supporting team of advisers who also have time assigned, as a priority, to the needs of the schools. This group might include, for each school, a link adviser who could call in specialist colleagues as required .

Clerical and secretarial support, to enable advisers and administrators to concentrate on overall policy and working with the teachers, and to assist teachers in responding to requests or initiating their own work.

The provision of reserved time to permit teachers to engage in sustained thinking about the curriculum, such as the one-day staff conferences within a school which have been found particularly valuable. In some instances, there would be great advantage in an allocation of supply teachers to cover work done in connection with the exercise.

A link between the exercise and the authority's running programme of inservice training for all its schools. In this way, teachers from schools in the enquiry may communicate ideas to other schools. Authorities could perhaps think of ways of dovetailing the topics and speakers selected to meet the requirements both of the exercise and the normal in-service work. They should also give consideration to the planning of conferences and seminars in connection with the exercise, trying to ensure that these occur at the most useful time for teachers and that there is effective follow-up.

Satisfactory means of communication, such as a regular newsletter or progress report to be circulated to all those engaged in the enquiry. Certain papers produced in the course of the enquiry would need to be distributed to all of the schools (or selectively, to appropriate departments) and copies of such documents should be held centrally. The importance of supporting such written communication with regular personal contact, especially between teachers and members of the advisory service, was also emphasised.


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The invitation to schools

6.3.5 The culmination of the process of preliminary planning is the invitation to schools to participate. The work in the five authorities suggested that the way in which this invitation was made could be of considerable importance. An authority might therefore wish to ask itself such questions as the following:

1 Should the opportunity to volunteer for the work be offered to all schools

or only to some? If the latter, what criteria for selection should be adopted?

2 What preparation, by personal contact with the schools or by documents, should precede a formal invitation?

3 H ow clear a statement of the purposes of the exercise should be offered in making the invitation? To what extent should schools be free to define their own aims within the work?

4 How could the willingness of staff as a whole to participate be ensured?

Could the difficulties caused by a chain of communication (chief education officer to advisers; heads to senior staff to junior staff) be overcome?

The work within schools: some general principles

6.4.1 The preceding sections envisage a process of preliminary thinking, consisting of a definition of aims, the planning of necessary resources and the invitation to schools to participate. The next stage is the establishment of work within the group of schools which have chosen to take part in the exercise.

6.4.2 As with the authorities' overall planning, schools would need to devote time and thought to some basic issues concerning participation. There might well be a function for advisers in helping with this initial thinking, which might focus on some of the following:

The identification of schools' aims and objectives for the work, related both to principles enunciated within the authority for the exercise and to overall beliefs and philosophy.

A recognition of the likely timescale of the operation, with some intermediate staging posts and clear tasks to be completed.

An awareness that work needs to affect classroom practice.

An appreciation of the importance of heads of department in encouraging the involvement of their departmental colleagues.

A realisation of the limitations of working exclusively through departments and the need at some stage to cut across them, involving both pastoral and academic staff in considering the total curriculum.

An understanding of the systems of communication operating in the exercise.

A decision as to whether to review the whole curriculum from 11-16 or to concentrate on selected aspects.

A definite sense among teachers as a whole that they are full partners with an essential contribution to the work.


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The expectation that teachers will receive the time, opportunity and encouragement to develop the skills needed to take on a management function which, for many of them, will be quite unfamiliar.

Consideration of appropriate staff structures for coordinating the work, with membership of committees and working parties representing all levels of staff.

The appointment of a senior member of staff with a designated responsibility for the work of the exercise and for liaison with the link adviser.

The nomination of another teacher to be responsible for the documentation of the exercise, keeping a central file of papers.

Encouragement to schools to keep a diary of their activity, both for their own use and to contribute to the flow of ideas and information throughout the exercise.

An understanding from the outset of the importance of evaluating critically the work being done.

Choosing a starting point

6.4.3 Principles of this kind may play an important part in establishing a framework for schools' response to the exercise. However, there is also a need for a clear starting point to the actual work. For the work in the five authorities, the Red Book, and in particular the checklist, provided such a starting point. A number of other approaches would be possible, drawing on the wide range of recent writing on the curriculum, both official, including the Government's statement on the curriculum, and unofficial.

Since the appearance of the Red Book, HMI had also published their statement A view of the curriculum, in which a number of propositions were presented as a starting point for schools' review of their own curriculum.

The three main headings of the original Red Book papers - education and the individual, society and the world of work - would make another simple introductory model.

Checklists which concentrated on skills, concepts and attitudes could form a basis for work within and across departments.

Schools could start with some very simple questions about their curriculum:

a) What are you doing?

b) Why are you doing it?

c) If you want to change, how and why?

These could lead to a more detailed programme of action, as follows:

a) Schools would examine their existing curriculum, looking at staff deployment and curriculum analyses and at subject syllabuses, schemes of work and classroom practice. These would provide a basis of factual information.


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b) Schools would identify aims and objectives, in the light of their beliefs and philosophy.

c) Schools would then be led on to the processes of working: appropriate resources and materials for pupils; pedagogic principles and classroom techniques; teachers' needs in the area of professional development; assessment of pupils; evaluation, both internal and external.

Planning the work

6.4.4 Selecting a common starting point for schools within an authority could then lead to the production of a plan of the programme of work. The following suggestion of what such a plan might look like makes no attempt to be prescriptive or definitive: any plan would be liable to modification, with sufficient flexibility to take account of a variety of possible influences.

Heads and teachers meet other members of the partnership and discuss the implications of involvement.

Teachers receive initial documents to stimulate early thinking.

Time is made available for reading, discussing and absorbing these papers, together and with other partners.

Staff meet to consider their overall aims and to identify areas of possible activity in the light of the agreed introductory model.

Analysis takes place within departmental groups, with teachers using models to assess their subjects' contribution to the curriculum: concepts, skills and attitudes; continuity; cross-curricular possibilities (for example, within the eight areas of experience); relation to school's overall aims.

Such analysis is related to existing classroom practice and departments develop any necessary changes to syllabuses, schemes of work, teaching materials and methods.

Heads of department and if possible assistants pool their findings with those from other schools at inter-school meetings coordinated, perhaps, by specialist advisers.

Composite statements on the various subjects may at this stage be produced.

Individual schools again hold full staff conferences, identifying shared conclusions and differences of perspective; they then plan work in interdepartmental groups to consider issues raised.

Further consideration of the effect on classroom practice, perhaps assisted by continuing visits from advisers.

Schools measure their curriculum again against the stated objectives and note improvements and further necessary work.

Activity continues within the schools in the recognition that there is no final point to be reached in the process.

The process of change

6.4.5 The head of a school in one of the five authorities offered an analysis of considerations for modifying the school system to facilitate effective curricular review and change. This offers a specific interpretation of the


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essential elements in the process, looking in particular at the effects on the management structure of a school.

1 The desired change

To clarify the purposes of change.

To define the means (tasks and activities) by which these purposes might be achieved.

To decide criteria for assessing the extent to which they have been achieved.

To match them with the school's stated objectives.

To support and prepare staff in acquiring the necessary skills and attributes to adapt to the implications of change.

2 Facilitating change

To develop a school management system which is open to the possibility of change.

To set up a curriculum group within the staff with particular responsibility for working towards change.

Members of this group should have:

(i) Accepted status among the staff and recognised functions in the school management structure, to allow them to communicate effectively with the staff as a whole.

(ii) The clear commitment of the head and senior staff.

(iii) The encouragement and support of whatever outside agents are considered appropriate.

3 Managing the process of change

To spread responsibility for and involvement in the work among key staff, in order to ensure their commitment.

To enable all staff to participate in those decisions relating to the changes which affect them most directly.

To encourage a problem-solving approach by means of the professional development of staff.

To scrutinise and where necessary modify the school's administrative procedures so that the process of change can form a part of them.

4 Controlling the process of change

To recognise, be prepared for and withstand the strain and ambiguity of novelty by careful guidance of staff.

To arrange for effective links between the curriculum group and the school management system, by improving communication throughout all levels and groups of staff and by giving the group the autonomy needed to operate effectively.


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To arrange for regular progress reports, keeping all staff fully informed of developments.

To arrange for planned, regular evaluation of the process of change, using the previously agreed criteria.

5 Points to consider in assessing the process of change

Changes in perspective, such as staff knowledge, perceptions and attitudes.

Changes in relationships, for example between heads and staff, and between heads of department and their own teaching staff.

Changes in organisation, such as greater involvement of more, if not all, staff in policy and decision making; changes in administrative priorities, with the emphasis on attaining objectives rather than maintaining the system; modifications in the use .of resources of various kinds.

Evaluating the work

6.5.1 This analysis identifies some issues relating to the task of evaluating the work in schools, which is concerned above all to bring about improvement in how pupils learn. Authorities may wish to provide guidelines to assist schools in evaluating their work, and the documents already produced by some LEAs on self-evaluation might well prove useful for an exercise of this kind. It is important for teachers to recognise that self-evaluation is a continuous process, and that what goes on in the classroom is central to it. Authorities may also wish to undertake their own monitoring of the exercise, and the procedures developed by the monitoring group (see above in Chapters 3 and 5) indicate a number of possibilities for such a process. For schools, the most important criteria for evaluation are those which they themselves have established, although teachers may decide to seek the opinion of external agents on the value of work they are doing.

Conclusions

6.6.1 This section of the report has attempted to draw on the experience of the work within the five LEAs, in order to erect some signposts for others contemplating similar work. It would certainly be hoped that other authorities would keep in mind those features which members of the partnership felt had proved of particular value. These included:

The concept of partnership, in which schools, LEA officers and HMI had been involved together in the process of enquiry.

The development of a common language and common approaches to curricular reappraisal.

The recognition of the contribution to the process of reappraisal of junior as well as senior staff in schools.

The opportunity for subject departments to take a critical look at themselves and their contribution to the curriculum.

The fact that many subject teachers learned to step outside their specialisms, familiarising themselves with the thinking of other departments.


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The many opportunities for teachers to develop professionally through the exercise.

The links with other schools in the same authority and with outside expertise.

The contact, however tenuous, with a national network of ideas.

Summary

6.7.1 The following summary highlights the main suggestions which are offered in this chapter in a form .which could easily be extracted for use by authorities preparing to embark on any exercise of curricular reappraisal.

1 There is a need for authorities to undertake careful preliminary thinking and planning.

2 It would be desirable to set down overall aims at the outset of the exercise.

3 To these should be added shorter-term objectives and specific intermediate tasks.

4 Authorities should consider in detail the assignment of staff to the exercise.

5 An adviser with senior status, or perhaps a seconded head, should be designated to coordinate the exercise.

6 Decisions are needed about what resources can be allocated to the exercise.

7 In particular, it is important to consider the extent to which the work can be supported by secretarial and clerical staff and, within the schools, by supply teachers.

8 Initial approaches to schools need careful planning, especially to ensure voluntary participation.

9 There is a need to identify the support required from external agents.

10 Schools should receive documents, as an initial stimulus, early in the work and in sufficient quantities.

11 It may be valuable to decide on a common starting point for all schools in the authority to promote common thinking and a common language.

12 Those involved should understand from the outset that work is intended to affect classroom practice and the quality of pupils' learning.

13 Opportunities are needed to enable junior teachers to participate in the work and feel that they have a stake in decision making.

14 Effective, two-way systems of communication need to be established throughout the exercise.

15 From the outset, principles and practices for evaluation should be established; these need to take account of the assessment of work in the classroom.


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Appendix


THE SCHOOLS IN THE ENQUIRY

Cheshire

The Grange County Comprehensive School, Ellesmere Port
Penketh County High School, Warrington
SS Fisher and More RC Aided High School, Widnes
Tarporley County High School
Kingsway High School, Chester
Poynton County High School
Alsager County Comprehensive School

Hampshire

Redbridge School, Southampton
King Richard School, Portsmouth
Romsey School
Frogmore School
John Hunt of Everest School, Basingstoke
Hardley School
Broom Field School, Havant
Fareham Park School

Lancashire

The 'national' group

Upholland County High School, Orrell
Lostock Hall High School, Walton-Ie-Dale
St Michael's CE High School, Chorley
Towneley High School, Burnley
Barden High School, Burnley
Ribbleton Hall High School, Preston
William Temple CE High School, Preston
St Augustine's RC High School, Billington
Darwen Moorland High School
Haslingden High School
Edge End High School, Nelson
Fleetwood Hesketh High School

The 'Lancashire' group

Skerton County Secondary School, Lancaster
Greaves County Secondary School, Lancaster
Rhyddings County High School, Accrington
Fearns County Secondary School, Bacup
West Bank High School, SkelmersdaIe
Parklands High School, Chorley
Billinge High School, Blackburn


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Cross Hall High School, Ormskirk
Walton-Ie-Dale High School
Tulketh High School, Preston
Balshaw's High School, Leyland
Larkholme County High School, Fleetwood

Nottinghamshire

Portland Comprehensive School, Worksop
Manor Comprehensive School, Mansfield Woodhouse
Ashfield School, Kirkby-in-AshfieId
Eastwood Comprehensive School
Roland Green Comprehensive School, Nottingham
Dayncourt Comprehensive School, Radcliff-on-Trent
Redhill Comprehensive School, Arnold
Grove Comprehensive School, Newark

Wigan

Golborne Comprehensive School
Whitley High School
Shevington High School
Whelley Middle School
Hesketh Fletcher CE High School
Rosebridge High School.