Keep your eyes on the workload

It was heartening to find that heads and unions that TES Cymru spoke to over the Easter break broadly agree that the draft proposals for a revised curriculum are moving in the right direction (see page 1).

It seems "skills-led" and "learner-centred" are the new buzz words in education. Only one consultee we asked for an opinion was unhappy, claiming the changes did not go far enough.

"Pupils will still be bored," predicted Dr Phil Dixon of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in his response to the consultation, his disappointment at what he saw as a missed opportunity clearly in evidence.

But while the mood is generally optimistic and teachers read up on the new subject orders, that dreaded word and proverbial complaint of all school leaders in Wales rears its head again in another consultation exercise: workload, workload, workload. How many times do we have to hear it before action is taken to reduce it? Brian Lightman, head of St Cyres school in Penarth and vice-president of the Association of School and College Leaders Cymru, hopes all aspects of the curriculum will be well managed. Certainly, there will be a need for sharing good practice as it beds down, but many schools are already ahead of the game.

Change had to take place as soon we started to listen to our learners. How many of us were ignored when we complained, "Please sir, when will I ever have to use a quadratic equation again?"

The curriculum was simply not meeting the needs of a generation who get bored in a 10-minute car journey. Young people are constantly stimulated today - by the latest computer game, the latest way to download music or the most happening chatroom.

It is also obvious that the current curriculum is not meeting the needs of industry. So let's welcome in the new era of skills and Shakespeare for all. Whether the proposals do go far enough is another thing. But, whatever the result, the curriculum is probably heading for more change in the next review - and yes, you've guessed it, more long hours inside the school gates trying to get to grips with the workload implications. Who said life was easy?

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