Enquiring Minds 4th year report: Innovative approaches to curriculum reform

Enquiring Minds is a research and development project exploring questions of educational change. The aim of Enquiring Minds is to enable students to take more responsibility for the content, processes and outcomes of their learning. This report draws on evidence of curriculum development in 25 schools collected during 2008 and 2009.

Teachers are at the sharp end of school change; it is teachers who interpret and shape innovation and interventions. In all the schools in this study, curriculum change required an adoption of new approaches to teaching and learning in the classroom. As a result, teachers reported changes to their classroom role and their relationships with their students and they experienced challenges to their sense of their professional identities. During the fourth year of the project researchers worked alongside teachers as they began to incorporate the principles of critical enquiry into their curricula. Informal conversations took place between them and researchers before and after lessons, they were interviewed, and in some cases selected lessons were observed. The report presents a discussion of the teachers’ experiences of curriculum change in relation to their sense of professionalism, their practice, the challenges they faced and the issues that have been raised for further developments in the curriculum.

Enquiring Minds advocates developing a partnership approach to the curriculum in which students and teachers are involved in a process of negotiation over the content, processes and outcomes of learning. This involves a shift from the traditional roles of teacher/student in the classroom which are enshrined in longstanding notions of the authority of adults over children. Indeed, at a time when many young people are more confident and experienced in the use of ICT than their teachers, there is a very real disruption to existing notions of authority and expertise in the classroom. In developing pedagogical partnerships with students, a teacher’s role changes from one of expert transmitter of subject knowledge to a more reactive role, one that is responsive to the needs and interests of students.

If you would like to read this report, please follow this link.