'Brave new world' is explained

11th January 2008 at 00:00
North Lanarkshire has become one of the first education authorities to publish detailed direction for its schools on how to implement A Curriculum for Excellence.

Jane Liddell, head of education quality and development at the council, said: "It is clear that colleagues, while welcoming changes, are also worried that existing structures will not be relaxed sufficiently to allow for the creativity and innovation now expected of them."

A steering group representing all sectors, including community education, met over five months to produce the framework, which was endorsed before Christmas by the council's learning and leisure committee. The guidance builds on much of North Lanarkshire's Raising Achievement for All agenda, which incorporated initiatives such as co-operative learning, formative assessment, vocational education, enhanced comprehensives and, most recently, its active literacy and "learning naturally" programmes for early years and primary.

Mrs Liddell summed up the approach as looking at what they were doing, keeping what they were best at, and putting aside things that weren't working. She recognised that staff had not been used to working in the creative way demanded by the new curriculum, and that the prospect of this "brave new world" could be threatening. The council acknowledged the anxiety created by trying to implant creativity and personalisation in the curriculum while still operating in a framework of Standard grades and Highers.

The steering group has identified six action areas for delivering ACfE: l curriculum design for learning - how to interconnect subject areas, streamline the curriculum and focus on transition stages;

- teaching for learning - particularly active experiential learning;

- places for learning - helping pupils make more use of the world outside the classroom;

- school-community learning - providing opportunities for team-working through volunteering and working with the community;

- professional learning - focusing on teaching practice through continuing professional development;

- leadership for learning - putting the emphasis on shared leadership.

Brian Miller, head of Dalziel High in Motherwell, said that, while everyone in education had bought into the ethos and ideas of ACfE, nothing concrete had come out of it so far: "Schools are reticent about how to go forward with it for fear of 'doing something wrong'."

He welcomed this move because it was not only advising schools, it was encouraging them to go outside their comfort zone and it showed the authority would back schools as long as their ideas were well thought-out and reasonable.

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