One of the great criticisms of the Scottish secondary school curriculum is that it has been overly influenced by university entrance qualifications and that the subsequent “trickle down “ effect dominates the curriculum all the way down to S1 – despite the fact that less than 50% of all children go on to university.
It was whilst pondering this fact and struggling with my attempts to sketch out a curriculum model for secondary schools that I wondered if I could turn this phenomenon to my advantage. My problem had been that I had followed what I thought to be the logical approach to developing a curriculum model by starting at the foundations and building from there, i.e. start at S1 and move on from there taking each year group in turn. The problem I kept coming up against was that I seemed to create what might be termed stubs i.e. they tended to be end points in themselves and didn’t naturally lend themselves to a flowing curriculum.
If, in reality, most secondary school curriculum models are actually based upon a “trickle down” effect why not recognise the power of the reverse engineering of the curriculum and seek instead to build a different engine – which would still serve the needs of higher education – but which would also serve the needs of every young person and the needs of society.
As I’ve started to experiment with this approach it has become apparent that the building blocks and connections between different year group experiences have been much easier to fit together. Perhaps it’s because I can see where I am going as opposed to feeling my way into the dark, e.g. As opposed to “That’s the S1 curriculum finished – now what will the S2 look like?” but rather “OK if that’s S4 what do people need to have in place to allow them to get best value from that”
Over the course of a series of posts I intend to try to imagine what an S6 curriculum would look like and also describe a young person’s timetable of study. The more I talk to people it’s this kind of concrete detail which they are seeking – even if it’s only to disagree with. Of course the model created here will reflect the aspirations and official guidance relating to A Curriculum for Excellence as opposed to be a flight of personal fancy.
Having completed the S6 model I’ll then imagine the S5, then S4 and so on. I hope people will comment and contribute to the exercise as I’d hope to eventually share it formally with my colleagues in schools as a series of curricular scenarios with which they can actively engage and in turn develop their own models.