lesson of starter, main activity and plenary was suggested, content for each year group was specified and organisation of lessons into episodes of whole class, individual and group work with exact time limits apportioned to each were suggested (DfEE, 1998). Though the NLS was never made statutory, schools were effectively coerced through school inspections and pressure from LEAs into adopting it – few declined. The National Numeracy Strategy (NNS) followed a year later (DfEE, 1999b) but whilst it defined teaching content and methods it was widely seen as being much less prescriptive than the NLS. There was initial hostility to both strategies, seen by teachers as a further attempt at yet more centralised control, but after a bedding in period whereby many of the more draconian suggestions of the NLS were moderated by teachers, key elements of both strategies appear to have been assimilated and accepted as good practice by many primary schools 16
(Webb and Vulliamy, 2006). As was the case for content of the curriculum, mediation by teachers, especially in the primary schools, seems to have played a key role in development and change in the curriculum. Pressures to change pedagogy had been focussed for almost three decades on primary schools but in 2000, faced with successes of the NLS and NNS but criticism that standards in secondary schools were still woefully behind targets set in 1997, the Blair government decided finally to intervene in the pedagogy of secondary schools, the final corner of the secret garden The Key Stage Three strategy (see recommended websites) extended ideas seen as successful in primary schools such as the three-part lesson, clear objective setting, collaborative group work and more effective whole class teaching using ICT to secondary schools. The strategy was delivered through an extensively funded, locally organised scheme of in-service training supported by ‘Strategy Consultants’ appointed to work with schools in each LEA. The model of development was therefore shifted more to one of persuasion through teacher development rather than by central dictat, coercion and control. Evaluations of the KS3 strategy show that teachers have largely been warm towards the methods and approaches promoted by training and glad of the high quality of ideas and materials provided – themselves based on significant amounts of educational research into ‘best practice’ (OfSTED, 2004). The Key Stage 3 strategy, now known as the National Strategy, has been extended to all curriculum subjects and across the entire statutory age range of secondary schools. Towards a curriculum for the 21 st Century The pace and quantity of legislation and initiatives driving curriculum development over the last twenty years might seem implausible to those from outside the UK system, but perhaps there is now a general acceptance that there is no going back to a presumed ‘Golden Age’, if indeed there ever was one. That changes have been for the better is debateable and dependent on what is valued and used to evidence benefits of change. Whilst it is true that results in national end
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- Fall '14
- The Land, Secondary school, national curriculum, Better Schools