June - Present. Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:
The romantic notion that teachers need not focus on knowledge and instead turn their attention to developing creativity or communication skills has gripped many countries around the world. In particular, the teacher-centred educational culture is being replaced by more pupil-led ways of working.
Thanks to the result of the general election, the English education system did not undergo further skills-focused reforms. Thanks to the work of Tim Oates and others, the new National Curriculum put knowledge back at the centre of schooling. And knowledge is — rightly — back at the heart of discussions about the curriculum.
It is a significant contribution to our national education conversation. In her foreword, Leora Cruddas describes the importance of E. Hirsch — someone who has deeply influenced my thinking on education: The influence of E.
Hirsch on educational thinking has been profound. At its heart is the idea that returning to a traditional, academic curriculum built on shared knowledge is the best way to achieve social justice in society. His work has also encouraged schools to focus on the concept of building cultural capital as a way to close the attainment gap.
A knowledge-based curriculum is too often tarred by opponents as entrenching social divisions, whereas a well taught knowledge-rich education is a driver of true meritocracy — as the headteachers who contributed to this pamphlet well know.
Knowing those things — and not just recalling the bald facts but deeply understanding them — gives you an upper hand. It gives you the confidence to discuss a wide range of live topics with those around you, it gives you social status. It makes you part of the club that runs the world, and the inside track to change it.
And the pendulum swing towards knowledge and away from skills that has taken place over the past few years has been profound. Academies and free schools have control over the curriculum they teach, and with the National Curriculum setting the standard high, innovative schools led by exceptional head teachers have developed world-class curricula.
In reality, we are just over one year into a long-term job. There is no moving on to another initiative; we are playing the long game. This is what is important in schools, and hence is our continued focus for development over the next few years. Everything is subservient to curricular questions.
So pedagogy, assessment, tracking and qualifications must lead on from us developing further our understanding of what makes a pupil knowledgeable, and ensuring we get as close to that understanding as possible.
Their excellent free school serves a disadvantaged community in Bradford, and is one of a number of high performing free schools and academies that demonstrate that a stretching, knowledge-rich curriculum, a sensible approach to behaviour and evidence-informed teaching result in exceptional results for all pupils.
High performing free schools and academies are providing empirical evidence of what it is possible to achieve when teachers and headteachers — given freedom to innovate with their curriculum — pursue an evidence-based approach.
The exceptional results achieved by schools such as King Solomon Academy, Mossbourne Community Academy and Harris Academy Battersea demonstrate that disadvantage need be no barrier to achieving academic excellence. But the excuse-making has shifted. Increasingly, there is a chorus of nay-sayers who claim that only schools in London or the south east can achieve top results.
Dixons Trinity Academy — along with the likes of the Tauheedul Education Trust — shows conclusively that geography need be no barrier to academic achievement.
A knowledge-based curriculum is about harnessing the power of cognitive science, identifying each marginal gain and acting upon it; having the humility to keep refining schemes of work, long term plans and generating better assessments.
Unlike the easy-sounding promise of generic skills, there is no doubt that developing a knowledge-rich curriculum is hard. But, unlike a skills-based curriculum, the rewards are worth it. The West London Free School — run by Hywel Jones — is determined to provide a classical liberal education for all of its pupils.
Too often, when considering what comprises a knowledge-rich curriculum, the arts are not given the prominence they deserve. In tired arguments against the English Baccalaureate, opponents of the policy sometimes characterise proponents of a knowledge-rich curriculum as opposing the development of human creativity and appreciation of the arts.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Analysis published earlier this year by the Department for Education showed that there is little correlation between the change in EBacc entry and the change in arts uptake in state-funded mainstream schools.
The small correlation that does exist suggests that schools where EBacc entry has increased tend to have also seen an increase in their arts uptake. In an earlier NSN report showing the same trends, the Culture Minister Matt Hancock and I wrote that there should be no battle between the arts and other subjects, but instead a battle for stronger, better, well-rounded education.
Arts and culture are part of the fabric of our society and the government firmly believes that every child should be taught a high-quality arts curriculum. That is because music — along with other important arts subjects — has an important role to play in ensuring that pupils leave school with the cultural literacy they will need.
And cultural literacy is a vital goal of a knowledge-rich curriculum, as Hywel explains in his essay:In essence, freedom, including freedom of movement, permits a child to act responsibly, and responsibility, in turn, brings about true freedom.
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