Engagement in Learning
In releasing the new National Curriculum, the current government have explained that they are outlining the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’. In other words, the National Curriculum outlines minimum expectations but does not stipulate or suggest how schools should achieve them. We know that the ‘how’ is critical to nurturing successful and confident learners.
The Learning Challenge concept is built around the principle of greater learner involvement in their work. It requires deep thinking and encourages learners to work using a question as the starting point. The Learning Challenge approach is used as a structure and ethos for curriculum design. In designing the curriculum teachers and learners are using a prime learning challenge, expressed as a question, as the starting point. Using the information gained from pre- learning tasks, the new National Curriculum and the school’s context a series of subsidiary challenges are then planned. Each subsidiary learning challenge is also expressed as a question. The subsidiary learning challenge is normally expected to last for one week but this does not need to be the case. (However, initially it may be useful for the learners and indeed the staff to get used to the weekly learning challenge.) The important point is that the learning challenges need to make sense to the learners and it is something that is within their immediate understanding. See below for an example of how this looks in practice:
The Learning Challenge approach is designed to reach the Ofsted expectation that, ‘The school’s curriculum promotes and sustains a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning’. (Ofsted leadership descriptor, Jan 2014).
Curricular change sits within a priority of quality first teaching – good and better. The diagram below indicates the critical elements of ensuring success as a leader of pedagogy. Curricular change is only part of the recipe.
The process of managing curricular change requires careful planning and an acceptance that it will take time to embed.The diagram below is a reminder of the ingredients necessary for managing successful change.