Memorandum submitted by the Qualifications
and Curriculum Authority (QCA)
Building Schools for the Future is not simply
about bricks and mortar; it is about creating a school environment
that enables all learners to fulfil their potential. Similarly,
creating sustainable schools is not just about sustaining the
physical and natural environment of school buildings; it is about
creating a curriculum within the school where learning can flourish
now and in the future.
Environment and the national curriculum
1.1 One of QCA's goals is to develop a modern,
world-class curriculum that will inspire and challenge all learners
and prepare them for the future. The curriculum needs to be living
and dynamic, responsive to the needs and interests of young people.
1.2 The new secondary curriculum has three
statutory aims which are to create:
Successful learners who enjoy learning,
make progress and achieve.
Confident individuals who are able
to live a safe, healthy and fulfilling life.
Active and responsible citizens who
make a positive contribution to society.
1.3 The curriculum is the entire planned
learning experience, underpinned by a broad set of common values
and purposes. It will secure improved attainment, better behaviour
and attendance, civic participation, healthy lifestyle choices
and further involvement in education, employment or training.
The national curriculum has been designed to broaden the scope
of education beyond the traditional narrow focus on subjects and
to incorporate issues such as globalisation, creativity and sustainability
throughout. It allows links to be made between subjects which
makes learning relevant to pupils and helps them to see how their
experiences are influenced by what goes on around them and how
they can influence those processes. This thinking is set out in
"the Big Picture of the Curriculum" which is attached
at Appendix 1.
It is clear that the social and emotional aspects of a child's
development are a fundamental part of the curriculum. The Every
Child Matters outcomes are embedded in the structure of the curriculum.
It provides the framework for the promotion of wellbeing, the
construction of protective factors and resilience in the individual
and improving employability.
1.4 The term environment in the big picture
of the curriculum encompasses the physical aspects of the classroom,
the school and its immediate surroundings (eg playing fields,
playgrounds) and the culture or climate for learning in the school.
All of these can have a powerful impact on teachers' and learners'
engagement, expectations, attitudes and morale.
1.5 For example, schools have found that:
Pupils learn better when they feel
comfortable and secure in the physical environment.
If pupils have space for physical
activity at break times and lunchtimes they are more likely to
return to lessons ready to concentrate and learn.
Involving pupils in changing the
physical environment improves their morale and self-esteem.
Displaying relevant posters and photographs
around school can inspire and motivate learners.
Developing the school as a learning
community, with teachers as lead learners, creates a positive
climate for learning.
1.6 QCA believes that BSF offers significant
opportunity for schools to develop a curriculum which really encourages
young people to realise their potential and for teachers to demonstrate
their professional expertise and become more creative in how they
deliver learning to their pupils.
Developing the visioning process
2.1 The House of Commons Education and Skills
Committee report noted that "a regular theme in our evidence
was that people involved in BSF, particularly at the school level,
did not have sufficient time to think about what they wanted for
their new school. The participation of teachers, other school
staff and pupils in the planning process is vital to the success
of school redevelopment projects, and this needs to be acknowledged
by all those involved."
2.2 QCA is engaged with local authorities
including Knowsley and Sheffield who are embarking on the BSF
process. These two local authorities are the first "innovation
zones" for BSF and the QCA is engaging with them alongside
other agencies including Becta, TDA, NCSL and Partnerships for
Schools (PfS) to shape the rebuilding of secondary schools in
their areas. This engagement will help all of those involved in
the planning process consider how they want to create spaces for
learning that can fully exploit the opportunities provided by
2.3 In November 2007, two QCA staff and
nine teachers from Knowsley attended a "PAL Lab". The
purpose of this 5 day immersive event was to challenge thinking
about how teachers teach and explore new approaches to the planning
and development of learning particularly in terms of space and
time. It explored creative collaborations across disciplines and
uncovered new ways of working for the participants. The outcome
was that the teachers had developed a vision of how they could
work within the new set up which was being planned in Knowsley.
2.4 Knowsley has recently published a document
on Teaching and Learning in the Borough which builds on that experience
and QCA continues to work with Knowsley staff both to help them
and to identify good practice and lessons learned which can be
passed on to others. QCA are also supporting Sheffield in its
BSF programme. They are, however, at a much earlier stage in visioning
process. The experience of these local authorities and their schools
in the BSF process will be written up as an innovation project
in January 2009 and be available to all BSF areas.
Enabling personalisation and other educational
3.1 There are a number of different concepts
of personalised learning but the Gilbert Review 2020 Vision:
Report of the Teaching and Learning in 2020 Review Group gave
a broad definition in the introduction to the report:
3.2 "Put simply, personalising learning
and teaching means taking a highly structured and responsive approach
to each child's and young person's learning in order that all
are able to progress, achieve and participate. It means strengthening
the link between learning and teaching by engaging pupilsand
their parentsas partners in learning." Personalisation
needs to take account of the diversity of society as a whole and
of pupils. Pupils might be newly arrived, SEN, gifted and talented,
disabled and so on. Moreover, they may be in more than one "category".
3.3 A pupil for example may be gifted and
talented, disabled and a traveller. A personalised system is a
responsive one which rises to the challenge of making entitlement
work in the best interest of the pupil. For learning to be maximised,
the learning offer needs to be personalised so that all children
can learn and develop to achieve their full potential. This entails
teachers having a good knowledge of individual children, and allowing
them to be stretched where necessary and supported where the child
faces more of a challenge. Sound and relevant information for
each child needs to be collected through assessment methods which
are sound and well understood by pupils, teachers and others and
passed not only between institutions as the child moves between
the key stages of education but also within each institution as
the child moves from one year group to another.
3.4 Schools in the 21st century need to
recognise the value and contribution of children and young people
to society and the different "roles" they play, including:
As drivers of the economy.
As citizens, both now and in the
future, who make decisions and choices about their own lives.
As consumers of goods and services
(including education health and social services).
As members of communitiesvirtual,
physical and social.
As learners and teachers.
As drivers of popular culture.
As custodians of the future.
As a diverse group of citizens with
diverse cultural and social wants, requirements and expectations
both of society and of their own lives.
3.5 These may apply to some or all children
and young people at different stages in their lives and many have
more than one "role" at any one time. There are many
others. QCA tries to structure its work around this view of those
we serve and believes that the BSF programme offers an opportunity
to take advantage of the flexibilities afforded by the new secondary
curriculum to address these different facets of young peoples
3.6 In developing its pedagogical framework
for its BSF schools Knowsley has taken the concepts of the big
picture of the curriculum, together with the Every Child Matters
outcomes and personalised learning to enable all young people
to fulfil their potential as learners. Knowsley defines pedagogy
as having four components: subject and curriculum knowledge; teaching
and learning models; teaching repertoire of skills and techniques
and conditions for learning. In the framework the role of assessment
for learning is seen as pivotal in developing a personalised education
and the education professionals need to be flexible enough to
respond to the outcomes of formative assessment as well as the
3.7 The way in which personalisation and
other educational strategies are taken account of in the BSF process
is also of interest to QCA. This is because it is important to
know what learning looks like in order to design the spaces in
which learning takes place. Learning spaces can be designed in
order to facilitate a learning experience, and to maximise the
ability of learning activities to inspire and engage learners.
For example, learning experiences in schools of the 21st century
may not be suited to a traditional classroom where thirty desks
face a teacher. Does space need to be flexible to enable it to
be changed as pedagogy evolves during the life of the building?
Are small rooms needed to enable independent learning? What does
learning look like in terms of the technology used (such as libraries)?
What does the structure of the school in itself give to the learning
experience (such as carbon footprint, the harvesting of sunlight
3.8 The QCA is working with the DCSF capital
division to undertake joint presentations on curriculum and school
design. For example Devon Headteachers will explore how the big
picture of the curriculum can be integrated with building design
advice from DCSF. A group of head teachers in the North East will
be receiving a similar presentation.
3.9 QCA is also engaged with "Leading
Learning in London" (the BSF partnership across London) helping
them look at how the curriculum is evolving and the different
spaces needed to achieve the aims of the curriculum (for example,
ensuring that specialist facilities are provided).
3.10 BSF will fundamentally shape the way
in which learners are educated in the 21st century, and QCA is
engaged with the process in order to ensure that not only the
physical aspects of the classroom, the school and its immediate
surroundings are considered when planning new schools, but also
how opportunities to create compelling learning experiences can
be exploited. QCA will continue to engage with BSF to assist schools
in the delivery of a modern world class curriculum that will inspire
and challenge all learners and prepare them for the future.
2 Not printed. See www.qca.org.uk/qca_5856.aspx Back