What the resource is:
This is the final report for the research review on pupils' experiences and perspectives of the National Curriculum, carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) on behalf of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). It draws together the work from the six years of the project, the first report for this project being produced in February 2000. A series of annual updating reports were supplied by the NFER to the QCA from 2001-2005 inclusive and this overview covers this period and extends to 2006. Over the six year period, the review has been extended to cover the areas of assessment, careers education and work related learning. In total, 314 publications have been summarised for the review, 23 of these are from this, the latest update to the review.
The review consists of five sections: a summary, the research review, key findings, current research and implications, and conclusion.
The reviewers were asked to consider research which:
- took into account the pupils' experience and perspective
- focused on the curriculum (including the whole curriculum, the National Curriculum, individual subjects, assessment, cross-curricular themes and skills, and work-related learning)
- was published from 1989 onwards
- was conducted in England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.
The aims of the resource:
The aims of the review were to examine and categorise the key themes, findings and methodologies employed in the research papers studied.
Key findings or focus:
The conclusions and recommendations made by the review fall into a number of different themes all of which have implications for curriculum development, teaching and research. The key themes are :
- Assessment for Learning.
- Enjoyment and achievement
- Personalised learning
- 14-19 education and skills
- ICT and e-learning
Ongoing themes are the need for more visible messages about the relevance of the curriculum to daily and future life and the need for cross curricular links to be made within the curriculum.
The report concludes:
- Most learners have a view of the curriculum which is associated with perceptions of subject status, assessment and exam grade success. Contextualisation and vocational and practical application of subjects are greatly valued by pupils.
- Learners' enjoyment of the curriculum reduces across the key stages, including a dip in Year 8. In key stage 4 there is some improvement in pupils' enjoyment, particularly of their options.
- Learners need to be set the right level of challenge to ensure their engagement, enjoyment, progression and achievement. They would like less subject content.
The quality, authority and credibility of the resource:
As a National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) review for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), which is based on papers from a wide range of reliable and authoritative sources, the review is a highly creditable resource which is both interesting and easy to read.
The implications for ITE tutors/mentors:
As a scoping document that was written to inform government policy, the importance of this paper lies in the themes found in the recommendations. These will be of great value to ITE tutors and mentors who wish to have an insight into the direction that the government might be taking with regard to curriculum development, teaching and research. In addition, this review offers a fascinating insight into the thoughts of children about an education system which is imposed upon them. It would be accessible to a wide audience, although rather than reading it as a whole, I would suggest that sections be used to support and illustrate the themes which ITE trainers are teaching as representing the ‘pupil voice'.
The relevance to ITE students:
The paper covers a number of areas which are currently high on the agenda for education. This includes ‘pupil voice' (to be found in the research methodology as well as the outcomes) which links to Every Child Matters via the themes of ‘enjoying and achieving' (getting the most out of life and developing the skills for adulthood) and ‘making a positive contribution' (being involved with the community and society and not engaging in anti-social or offending behaviour). Personalised learning and the links to Assessment for Learning are also explored in the review through a number of papers which offer a useful insight into what learners think. 14 to 19 Education, in the wake of the Tomlinson Report, its aftermath and subsequent changes in the 14 to 19 curriculum, continues to be a topic for discussion for ITE trainers and trainees. In addition, ICT and e-learning and how they impact on the themes above will be of interest to all ITE students.
Pippa Lord and Megan Jones
Article Id : 13484
Date Posted: 16/6/2007