Bridging unit part 3 - National Union of Teachers

When you think about the curriculum in this way several things
fall into place:
Each individual leaf does not seem quite so important. In
fact, one leaf could fall off and the plant could keep on
In fact, if the plant has good roots, all the leaves could fall
off and the plant could grow a whole new set.
In fact, it could do this year after year – and wouldn’t this
be called “life-long learning”?
And isn’t life-long learning supported by good roots?
There’s more about the Tree Model in:
Male B (2012) ”The Primary Curriculum Design Handbook” Continuum
And in
Male B & Waters M (2012) “The Secondary Curriculum Design Handbook”
So the question is, What happens in the trunk to link
the leaves to the roots?
The trunk is the ‘quality of pupils’ learning
experiences’ – and this is the key to successful
curriculum design.
In order to develop the competencies within the
context of subject knowledge, we need to engage
pupils in active approaches to learning in which they
have opportunities to investigate, think critically and
co-operate with others to solve problems. This
cannot be achieved whilst learners are sitting
passively listening to their teacher.
So the development of the competencies makes
learning more active – and more engaging.
Who were these two? Did you recognise them?
And what do they have to do with this?
They are Ference Marton and Roger Säljö of Gothenburg University
In 2008, Marton and Säljö considered “Deep and Surface Approaches to
Learning” and saw three levels, which they likened to coffee moving through
the cafetiere to make the final brew.
This is an interesting metaphor, because we often try to speed up the coffee
process by trying to ram it down with the plunger – but when it is ready it
sinks of its own accord. Then all you have to do is rest your finger on the
plunger and it sinks gently. And you get much better coffee if you wait for it
to have infused properly! This might conjure up an image of unfortunate
students having learning rammed down their throats, when the teacher
would be better advised to give them time to absorb their learning and to let
it sink in. The ramming down their throats will not make good learning
Marton and Säljö’s “Three Levels”
When you look at these three levels, you see that we are moving through Bloom’s
Taxonomy (down, not up this time! Bloom saw things as getting higher, Marton and
Säljö as getting deeper). You also see that the deeper levels are very akin to the
application of the competencies.
Earlier on, we asked who this was. Did you
It’s Emma Simms, now of Northampton University
but formerly of Head of Innovation at the
Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.
In 2006 she authored the SSAT publication:
“Deep Learning – a new shape for schooling”
Together with “Deep Learning 2” authored by David Hargreaves,
Sims puts forward a cycle of learning and argues that deep
learning is brought about by the greater involvement of the
learner in the process, so that they become active agents in their
own learning.
This greater involvement comes about when pupils are asked to
investigate things for themselves, to think about them, solve
problems and work with others. This requires particular
approaches to curriculum design and also to teaching. It requires
the building in of the competencies.
So, what is the implication of this for assessment?
(This is the second implication mentioned above)
Well, if we are promoting deep learning through the development of
competencies, then we need to take account of this in assessment.
And if deep learning can be promoted through competencies, then
we will be able to assess subject progress at a competency level. This
will take account of the deeper levels of learning.
This is not new or innovative. In fact, if you look at the old Level
Descriptions, you will see that many were written at this level anyway
– as are present GCSE requirements.
© Curriculum Foundation
And how does all this fit with the new National
It may seem at first that it does not fit well at all. Or will
cause a great deal of work and trouble.
But it could be the element that brings the curriculum to
life and makes it engaging and worthwhile.
And it could even make assessment much easier! More
about this in Unit 2.
© Curriculum Foundation
So, there might well be life beyond
the levels. And if we get it right, it
might even be a much better life.
The next five units will take us
through approaches that will help us
adapt and make life not only better –
but easier too!
Here’s one more person to recognise
before we finish:
© Curriculum Foundation
Do you recognise the man below?
It’s Howard Gardner of
can be
‘Multiple Intelligences’
undone fame.
if the
curriculum is too
This is what he said about
rigid”the curriculum:
(Howard Gardner 1999)
We need to move away from rigidity in the curriculum –
and in assessment too. This is what we shall be looking
at in the next set of units.
We are now at the end of this Bridging Unit – so there has to
be some homework!
Think back to the lists of competencies we looked at, and
then try to make your own list for your class or school. Now
take an element of the Programme of Study or syllabus you
are going to teach this term, and design a learning experience
that would put the two together. (There are some examples
in Unit 2 of Programme 1)
It does not have to be elaborate. It just has to involve young
people developing some of the competencies that you listed.
This will deepen subject learning and almost certainly make it
more engaging. It might even make learning irresistible! Try
it out – and let us know what happens…
In the next units we shall look at ways of assessing
that learning.
So that’s it for this unit.
There were two key implications for assessment:
• Wider aspirations need wider assessment
• Competencies will need a different approach,
but might make the job easier
Now, here are the answers to the face
recognition questions.
© Curriculum Foundation
How many did you recognise?
John Biggs
Lorna Earl
ED Hirsch
Prof Mark
Prof Laura
Roger Säljö
Prof Anna
Dylan William
Prof Sheila
© Curriculum Foundation
Prof David
Prof Usha
WB Yeats
Dr John
Sir Ken
Prof Mick
How many did you get right?
© Curriculum Foundation
And here are some definitions of
the curriculum.
© Curriculum Foundation
Definitions of “Curriculum”
“Think of the
curriculum as a
forecast of
possibilities within
an arena of
Carla Rinaldi
Head of the Reggio Emilia
Schools In Italy
Definitions of “Curriculum”
“The curriculum is about our
culture, life, identity and
survival, what we want to be
and where we want to go.”
Dr John Rutayisire
Director General for Curriculum,
Definitions of “Curriculum”
“All the planned
learning experiences
students receive
during their time at
Mick Waters
Director of Curriculum
Definitions of “Curriculum”
“When a nation sets
out its national
curriculum, it is
setting out its
ambitions for the
Jerome Bruner
Definitions of “Curriculum”
“The school curriculum
needs to prepare the
nation’s young people
for an ever-changing
(He needs no introduction!)
Bridging Unit
Coming to terms with the new National Curriculum
The author
of might
this unit
just wished
Why was the Suspension Bridge here?
it is aofbridge,
after all.from
you you
the supports
which the bridge is suspended, they go up and down, up and
But all the time they are giving good support to the road
beneath and keeping it straight and steady!
© Curriculum Foundation
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