Building the Curriculum 3, a recent framework for developing learning and teaching approaches to Curriculum for Excellence, is a thought-provoking read. For those keen to get on with it, it provides a very comprehensive checklist of dos and don’ts, and it’s generally quite readable.
That’s not to say it would win any prizes from the plain English people. Some parts would have benefited from more ruthless editing, such as this on Principles of Curriculum Design:
The principles of curriculum design apply at all stages of learning with different emphases at different stages. The principles must be taken into account for all children and young people. They apply to the curriculum both at an organisational level and in the classroom and in any setting where children and young people are learners. Further consideration to applying these principles is given in the sections of this paper looking at the different stages of learning.
There’s much less mention of vocational education than I’d expected, but maybe my expectations had been raised by recently reading the OECD report on Quality and Equity in Scotland’s Schools. The OECD’s recommendation for a bolder and broader approach to vocational studies in schools is mentioned, and the entitlement specified. But as it’s almost completely absent from the rest of the paper, the net effect is to tilt the status balance once more towards the academic subjects, which is a pity. Peter Peacock was right.
The biggest concern with it has to be, though, where the resources are going to come from to get the planning done. The paper makes it clear that the responsibility lies with schools and partners to produce these programmes, but this is happening just when schools are under more efficiency pressure than ever.
Perhaps one way to square this circle might be to break with our normal practice of a few expert people doing most of the work, and engage a lot of people in doing a small amount each, using collaborative software such as wikis? That would reduce the barriers to involvement to an absolute minimum. Wikipedia, after all, started out as the expert-written Nupedia. After only 12 articles were published in the first year, the wiki was introduced to help create content more rapidly.