Designs on engaged learning

22nd January 2010 at 00:00

What a shame that Stephen Heppell's excellent Comment article was published in the New Year's day edition of The TES before schools returned (or didn't ...) and so will have been missed by many ("Education is dead, long live Learning").

Thankfully, spending on the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme continues despite the economic situation and it is obviously crucial that the nation makes the gains it needs in terms of improved learning.

Professor Heppell's passionate prose eloquently conveys the necessity of engaging young people in real learning rather than subjecting them to the traditional, counter-productive experience of "us educating them".

He highlights the two types of school emerging from building programmes: "gleaming factory schools" driven by "incrementalism and managerialism" where "children are timetabled to the point of despair and beyond the point of disengagement", versus ambitious "learning-centric schools" which are community-focused and "full of engaged effective learners - both staff and students".

Colleagues involved in BSF programmes across the country would do well to heed Professor Heppell's warning if we are to avoid the ire of future generations over both lost opportunities and wasted money.

The curriculum needs to be the starting point for school design if the full benefit of the BSF programme is to be achieved. The Curriculum Foundation is working with schools and local authorities across the country to help them develop a curriculum that meets the needs of learners in the 21st century and fulfils Professor Heppell's vision.

David Peck, The Curriculum Foundation, Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

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