Curriculum Development for Inclusive Practice
Unit 6 Curriculum development for inclusive practice What do we mean by the word ‘curriculum’? A definition given by John Kerr and quoted by Vic Kelly is ‘All the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school’. (quoted in Kelly 1983 P10). The idea of curriculum is not exactly a new one; the word itself has its roots in ancient Greek and Latin. But the way it is understood and the way that it has been theorised has altered over the years. There are two key features and four main curriculum models which we will look at now.
We have to stipulate in advance what exactly we are looking to achieve and how we are to achieve it, in other words learning is planned and guided. We should also recognise that our current understanding of curriculum theory and practice has emerged from the school in relation to other ideas such as subjects and lessons. We will at this point consider the four main approaches to curriculum theory and practice; syllabus, product, process, and praxis. Syllabus, again comes from Greek and Latin origins, meaning ‘to list’, or a concise statement, the contents of a treatise, the subjects of a series of lectures.
We can look at it as a body of knowledge to be transmitted or delivered to the students in the best and most effective means we have at our disposal. Curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted is concerned only with content, it is designed for the student to gain various information to enable them to pass an examination, for example an ‘A level’ in, say, History the content will be dictated by the examination board in the form of the scheme of works, and the delivery will more than likely be in the form of a lecture, which is not inclusive to all learning styles.
Curriculum as product is concerned with specific outcomes. Objectives are set, lesson plans are devised and applied, and the outcomes, or ‘products’ are measured often by the completion of set practical tasks, along with the unpinning knowledge, to form the learning objectives. It is in this way that has given rise to more vocational courses, NVQs, VRQs etc. in schools and the concern on how the curriculum was thought about, as to what its objectives and content should be. Knowledge can be seen along the lines as a manufactured product.
In other words a student starts by knowing very little or nothing about their chosen subject, is then taught, they then turn that knowledge or skill into action. One drawback with the product model is that students are generally left out of the curriculum design; they are simply told what to learn. The product model, by having a pre-set plan or program, has the tendency to direct attention towards the teaching, or how the information is given. It is quite inflexible, but its systematic approach is easily measureable.
We can now contrast the product model and look at curriculum as a process. The students in this model have more of a clear voice in the way that the lessons evolve. This model is about interaction, variable and experimental learning. This can mean that the focus shifts from teaching to learning; it is an interaction between teacher, student and knowledge. Curriculum as process is a cognitive way of teaching, and a learning which emphasises that students should ‘learn how to learn’ and make full use of their experience rather than simply meeting a set of objectives or outcomes.
We are looking at the gradual development of the student and therefore the curriculum should not be too prescriptive as we have seen in the product model. The kinds of courses that fall easily into this model are art and leisure classes. One of the weaknesses of the process model is that it depends upon the attributes of the teacher. There is no ‘get out’ in the form of prescribed curriculum materials if the interaction breaks down. The approach is highly dependent upon experimentation and the inclusivity within the classroom, which can impose a certain amount of limitation…or not.
This brings us now to the last of our four main models, the curriculum as praxis. The praxis model is a development of the product model to some degree, but it is a lot harder to put into practice. It is also a lot harder to define. This model is one in which education is seen in terms of emancipation or freedom, one where both the teacher and the student collaborate so that the curriculum can develop through an active process that emancipates the human spirit, to develop ‘good human beings’. The praxis model is high on inclusivity and equality.
We are dealing with broader moral, social and global issues. These curriculum models work within various contexts; I will now compare and contrast two such curriculum contexts, the 14 to 19 group of learning and work-based learning. Curriculum contexts can vary immensely, we ca have Further Education, Offender Education, Community Learning, 14 to 19, work-based learning and so on. It is the last two contexts that I will be looking at as these are the areas I work within. There are two main curriculum models that can come into play with the 14 to 19 group of learners.
At 14 learners can choose to do a mainly GCSE programme of courses or they can opt to do a VRQ or diploma course along with GCSEs. I teach a Young Apprenticeship Programme in Automotive Technology at level two, commencing at 14. Here they study to gain a VRQ technical certificate, which is the equivalent to five GCSEs. As part of this course my learners also learn key-skills, which are soon to be changed to functional skills, in numeracy, literacy and ICT. All my learners are also studying GCSEs.
At 16 learners have the chance in school or college to study for a higher or advanced diploma, GCSEs or A levels, an Apprenticeship or work-based learning. As we looked at earlier GCSEs and A levels very often come within the Syllabus model as we are looking at a body of knowledge to be delivered to the student, and it is only concerned with content designed to give the student the information dictated by the examination board to enable them to pass an examination. Whereas the VRQ or NVQ courses taken by my Young Apprentices or the work-based learners come under the model of Product.
Here we are concerned with specific outcomes or products measured by the completion of set tasks and tests. As we can see the two contexts that I teach in merge, as I teach 14 to 19s in a work-base environment, not everything in education is cut and dried. What is the impact of different stakeholders on my area of teaching? What or who do we mean by ‘stakeholders’? Stakeholders can be any person, group, or organisation that can affect, design and develop the curriculum. This ranges from the Awarding body, the tutor, the students, the students’ parents, the employer, the school board of governors, the list goes on.
But what sort of impact can any of these stakeholders have? The Awarding body, in the case of the subject I teach is the IMI, the Institute of Motor Industry, for example, dictates what they require the students to learn. This is in the form of the scheme of works. The scheme of works is prepared in advance, and will include the aims and objectives, as well as the assessment criteria. It is from this that the teacher can prepare the lesson plans. Very often the scheme of works is an indicator of how effective and inclusive the curriculum is, and has an impact on the main ser of it, the teacher. Other stakeholders, such as the school’s board of governors or Ofsted will often want to examine this document to ensure that teaching and learning meet with their current way of thinking. In some cases the scheme of works can have a negative effect on the teaching and learning experience due to the fact that everything is rigidly set out in advance. All the aims and objectives are dictated by the awarding body and do not always leave scope for the teacher to expand or alter the content.
However in the case of my subject, being vocational, and product based, we are concerned with measurable specific outcomes. The wants, needs and objectives of all stakeholders are not always necessarily the same. And we need to identify who the stakeholders are in any given situation. For example, we could think about a class of pupils or issue, and reflect upon who the stakeholders are and the way they would see that particular issue, bearing in mind their needs and wants. Of course it is important to include the student as a stakeholder.
By looking at different perspectives from the various stakeholders can be the key to the development of practice. When we talk of including the student as a stakeholder, we must not forget the parents. Parents have an in-depth and intimate knowledge of their own children, whereas the teachers need to balance attention to the individual with the needs of a wider group of learners, and therefore their relationship with individual children is less in-depth and more detached. I interact well with my learners’ parents and have a fair amount of contact with them.
The workshop where I deliver my course is away from the main school site, and because of this I can allow parents the freedom to visit if they need to. I have a direct telephone to the unit so parents can contact me easily. As a result I get a lot more parent input than perhaps I would on the main school site. An additional effect of having parents being involved and seeing the work that their children do, is the parents would like to learn more about motor vehicle maintenance. As a result I am planning to start an after-school course aimed at parents and school staff.
At this point I will look at how social, economic and cultural difference can affect curriculum design, in particular how does equality and diversity issues affect my courses. What is equality? Equality is ensuring individuals or groups of individuals are treated fairly and equally. That no one person or group is treated any less favourably than any other. This is specific to their needs, race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age (over 18). Bullying, harassment or victimization are also considered as equality and diversity issues. What is diversity?
Diversity aims to recognise, respect and value people’s differences to contribute and realise their full potential by promoting an inclusive culture for all. How do we as teachers ensure that equality is practiced in our classes? As we saw at the beginning of this assignment a definition of ‘curriculum’ is ‘All the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school’ so we start at the planning stage. We take into account the individual needs of the learner; this is achieved using the initial assessment, the scheme of works, the ILP.
We make sure that the learning environment is conducive to learning, for example; in the case of my specialist area, I could not offer Automotive Technology courses without a fully equipped motor vehicle workshop. We take into account a variety of learning styles, are the courses being offered able to suit these styles? Are we able to offer additional support throughout the course? We can also ensure that our resources are accessible for all learners, and that we have addition resources to help them access information.
Are people from diverse backgrounds and people with disabilities represented in any course or curriculum material? We must also ensure that the correct terminology is used in any literature we use, for example, we do not use the words ‘invalid’ or ‘handicap’, we say ‘disabled person’. Or use ‘normal’ which implies that disability is ‘abnormal’. Throughout my time teaching I have attended many meetings, open days, and option evenings where I promote my courses and encourage new learners. Without fail I am always asked the same question “Can girls do this course? Of course they can! Automotive technology, or ‘mechanics’ is traditionally a male area, but I have been trying to change that. There are now many opportunities within the motor trade for girls, whether it is as a mechanical technician, or in an after-sales capacity. To promote this I have offered taster courses to encourage all learners. The Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth Consortium schools are pleased with the positive attitude and growth in self confidence in the pupils from Birchwood High School and Leventhorpe School, who are the current participants.
However they are disappointed that no girls have expressed an interest yet. To counteract this, and to provide good role models, Skillnet offered car maintenance tasters to sixth form girls. Young apprentices surprised everyone, including themselves, by how effectively they supported the girls. It is hoped that this initiative will encourage more girls to consider joining the Young Apprenticeship scheme. (Ofsted Good Practice Database 2010) I have never experienced a problem with discriminatory behaviour in any of my classes.
As can be seen in the previous quote from Ofsted, the boys effectively supported the girls. I have also never encountered racial discrimination of any kind in my classes. In my opinion far too much emphasis is put on any ‘differences’ and I feel that by making allowances for different cultures, race or background is not going to help improve matters. If everyone is equal then there are no differences. Why do I have to tick a box on every form I fill in stating that I am ‘white and British’ surely this is pointing out that I am different.
I was brought up in a time when racial prejudice was more openly common. As a child in the 1960s I witnessed my own mother being sworn at and spat on in the streets on several occasions, because she fostered children that were a ‘different colour’ than us. In my classes all my learners are simply just that…my learners and I treat everyone the same regardless of race, gender, background and so on. When I first came into teaching from the motor-trade, I took over a class in a school in a different area of the county than where I am working now.
I was surprised by the fact that every member of my class had some form of learning difficulty, dyslexia, ADHD, and Tourette syndrome. I was not informed by the school that this was the case, so I was not prepared and uncertain how to deal with these learners with quite complex needs. At my current school there is a provision for learners with learning difficulties with a special educational needs department. I can call on this department if I require any help with my own learners, but as I cannot predict the future I intend to enrol in a course to help me understand and deal with learners’ needs within my own courses.
How can I develop or improve my current curriculum design? As a result of the recent report by Professor Alison Wolf concerning vocational courses, I will be developing my curriculum to suit the changing requirements of the stakeholders. At the moment my Young Apprentices do two full days a week on my subject. To enable them to spend more time studying the required core academic subjects, this will be reduced to a more intense one day a week.
For the new students who would like to follow a career in the motor-trade but may find the more intense level 2 course too demanding, I will introduce a level 1 vehicle fitting course to suit their needs. I also intend to widen my curriculum to incorporate post 16 apprentices working in local businesses. To conclude, the curriculum models give teachers an insight into both the theory and the wider social context within which we to teach our particular subjects. As we can see from the previous paragraph, we have to have the flexibility to change to please all stakeholders.
The teacher has the power to plan and deliver individual lessons, and to meet their learners’ needs while being completely inclusive, but only within the restraints of a curriculum often already designed and set out by other stakeholders. References: Infed www. infed. org [accessed 25-3-2011] Connections http://cnx. org [accessed 25-3-2011] Excellence Gateway www. excellencegateway. org. uk [accessed 25-3-2011] Herts. Directwww. hertsdirect. org [accessed 25-3-2011] City and Guildswww. cityandguilds. com [accessed 25-3-2011] Kelly, A. V. (1983; 1999) The Curriculum. Theory and practice 4e, London: Paul Chapman. 1