Put students at the heart of the curriculum, not political ideologies

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18 August 2015 by Anne Heavey
Stanley Park High recently hosted a visit for ATL members. In my last blog, I explained about their Excellent Futures Curriculum, and the pupil-led graduation ceremony that we observed.

ATL members from a wide range of different educational backgrounds, including the independent sector, further education and other secondary teachers, also heard from school head David Taylor, the head, on how the school values were formed and how “igniting a passion for learning” is embedded across the whole school. We then observed two lessons which included preparing a mural as part of the “Immigration Nation” project and an outdoor team-building lesson on the assault course.

Members had an opportunity to look through student work portfolios and find out how the Excellent Futures Curriculum worked on a practical level in the school on a day to day basis. Some of the things that members took away from the day included:

  • Seeing creative use of learning spaces – including using communal and outdoor spaces as an extension of the classroom.
  • How the role of the tutor had been developed to support students in their learning in a meaningful and well thought out way.
  • How different teams within the school, be they subject teams, or non-teaching teams (such as the catering team) can work together to create real and exciting projects.
  • The strength of vocational education and the teaching of soft skills.
  • That strong school values can enhance all aspects of school life.

It is safe to say that everyone that took part in the visit enjoyed the day and took away plenty of ideas to try in their schools and colleges. Stanley Park’s willingness to share their work and welcome visitors to the school is a real strength, and the day highlighted the value that many teachers find in visiting other schools as part of the CPD process. We hope to repeat this visit again in the next academic year.

It is notable just how far removed the Excellent Futures Curriculum is from the national curriculum, this I suspect is because the school has worked hard to put the needs of its students at the heart of the curriculum, not the needs of political ideologies. Skills, careers education and critical reflection are core parts of the Excellent Futures Curriculum and essential factors in its success, why aren’t these an integral part of the national curriculum? To find out more about Stanley Park High, their Excellent Futures Curriculum and other exciting curriculum approaches, visit A Curriculum that Counts.

By Anne Heavey, Education Policy Adviser at ATL.

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Visiting other schools is so important for teachers. Allows them to not only see new ways of doing things but to evaluate their own ways.