NC25: Memorandum submitted by Oxfam Education and Youth
Oxfam hopes that the Children, Schools and Families Committee will take seriously during the inquiry into the national curriculum the need to set learning within a global context. We live in a world of accelerating global change and education needs to keep pace. As a result of this enquiry the committee must urge the government to make the necessary changes to teacher training, assessment and inspection to support the creation of a curriculum fit for the twenty first century.
IMPROVING FITNESS FOR PURPOSE
1. The National Curriculum should be seen as providing a common framework in which teachers, schools and communities develop a relevant and engaging experience for children and young people. We support the increased flexibility being introduced by the new secondary curriculum from September 2008 and hope that - with the appropriate support to teachers - it provides a better balance between central prescription and professional-led teaching practice.
2. A central aim of the National Curriculum must be to prepare children and young people to overcome the challenges and thrive on the opportunities of our globalised and interdependent world. The Oxfam 2007 Survey of Teachers shows 99% of teachers think education for global citizenship is important, but confidence in teaching the subject is low.
3. In order to improve the fitness for purpose of the National Curriculum appropriate support must be given to teachers to foreground the global dimension in all learning. Teacher training and Continuing Professional Development must enable teachers to, among other things, explore the global context, develop active and collaborative learning methods and handle controversial issues in the classroom with care, confidence and competence. Only 8% of teachers say they have accessed such continuing professional development (CPD) on Global Citizenship (Oxfam Survey of Teachers 2007).
4. Oxfam is clear that teachers who teach in a global context develop the critical thinking, teamwork, cooperation, communication, conflict resolution and adapting to changing circumstances skills that are crucial for overcoming the challenges - and thriving on the opportunities - of a globalised world.
KEEPING BAD COMPANY
5. The National Curriculum is at present keeping bad company. The testing, assessment and inspection regime do not support the development of a relevant and engaging experience for children and young people that the National Curriculum aspires to achieve.
6. Evidence submitted to this Select Committee's own inquiry into assessment clearly showed that a decade's focus on testing means an increasingly narrow and shallow education experience. A clutch of GCSE's at A-C does not, on its own, mean that school leavers have the skills, knowledge and values needed to make a positive social and economic contribution - securing their own well being and that of others, locally and globally.
7. In order to strengthen the National Curriculum, assessment should maximise personal development and sense self worth, combine self, peer, teacher, parental/carer and employer assessment, use methods that work for learners and the school community and values breadth of achievement and collaboration. The development of such assessment tools would promote a broad, engaging curriculum and inform teaching practice.
8. Inspection - to ensure children and young people have a relevant and engaging education experience - should set a clear national expectation that the global context is fundamental to learning. National guidance from Ofsted should encourage inspectors to recognise the teaching styles and methods that are best used to develop important skills and competencies needed for work and life.
FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATIONAL CURRICULUM
9. Learning in its global context is extremely relevant to the lives of children and young people. National arrangements for assessment, inspection and teacher training/CPD should empower teachers to fulfil the right of every child to a quality education that is fit for the twenty first century.
10. The National Curriculum should be strengthened in the future by;
- Supporting teachers to undertake appropriate CPD to ensure learning is brought to life in a global context
- Changes to assessment and inspection policies which emphasise and create space for creativity and professional autonomy
- Developing a range of local and national assessment tools for tracking skills progression.