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Policy, Politics and Curriculum and Assessment Change in Northern Ireland
Policy, Politics and Curriculum and Assessment Change in Northern Ireland
Policy, Politics and Curriculum and Assessment Change in Northern Ireland
Policy, Politics and Curriculum and Assessment Change in Northern Ireland
Policy, Politics and Curriculum and Assessment Change in Northern Ireland
Policy, Politics and Curriculum and Assessment Change in Northern Ireland
Policy, Politics and Curriculum and Assessment Change in Northern Ireland
Policy, Politics and Curriculum and Assessment Change in Northern Ireland
Policy, Politics and Curriculum and Assessment Change in Northern Ireland
Policy, Politics and Curriculum and Assessment Change in Northern Ireland
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Policy, Politics and Curriculum and Assessment Change in Northern Ireland

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Presentation by Carmel Gallagher and Ruth Leitch, Queen's University Belfast at ECER 2010. : Curriculum Reform in Four Nations: a home international perspective: A network 23 symposium

Presentation by Carmel Gallagher and Ruth Leitch, Queen's University Belfast at ECER 2010. : Curriculum Reform in Four Nations: a home international perspective: A network 23 symposium

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  • 1. Curriculum Reform in 4 UK Nations A Home International Policy Symposium <ul><li>Policy, Politics and </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum and Assessment Change </li></ul><ul><li>in Northern Ireland </li></ul><ul><li>Will the assessment tail </li></ul><ul><li>continue to wag the curriculum dog? </li></ul><ul><li>Carmel Gallagher </li></ul><ul><li>Ruth Leitch </li></ul><ul><li>Queen’s University Belfast </li></ul>
  • 2. Structure <ul><li>Theoretical frameworks </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum Reform Processes </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment Reform Process </li></ul><ul><li>Main Messages </li></ul><ul><li>Recommendations </li></ul>
  • 3. Theoretical Framework re: Curriculum Reform Processes <ul><li>Evidence informed policy making </li></ul><ul><li>Harold Lasswell ‘Founding father of public policy as a field of study’ </li></ul><ul><li>Purpose of policy analysis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ not to produce &apos;evidence&apos; to drive policy. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rather a process of public learning in which decision making is opened up and made more democratic </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Donald Schon (1972) </li></ul><ul><li>in an increasing unstable and uncertain world, there needs to be </li></ul><ul><ul><li>less centralised government control </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>more opportunity to innovate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>people and institutions need to be flexible and agile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not bogged down in protocols and bureaucracy that are slow to change. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>governments should be concerned less with controlling and managing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>more with acting as a facilitator of society’s learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ designing policy processes and institutions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>capable of bringing about their own continuing transformation’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Schon 1973: 28 cited in Parsons 2002: 6). </li></ul></ul>
  • 4. Theoretical Framework re: Curriculum Reform Processes <ul><li>Evidence- based policy making (EBPM) </li></ul><ul><li>David Blunkett speech to ESRC Feb 2000 asking for </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a more rigorous approach to inform government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ what works and why </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>what types of policy initiatives are likely to be most effective’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>favours ‘overwhelmingly quantitative approaches’ that </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ can be ‘managed’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to inform ‘overall strategies’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>to exercise strategic control’ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Approach characterised as </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a form of governmental &apos;control freakery‘ to secure objectives and policy &apos;targets&apos; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Stacey, 2002: 50) </li></ul></ul>
  • 5. Processes informing the development of the Revised NI Curriculum <ul><li>Pupil Cohort Study (3,000 pupils over 7 years) </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher Monitoring (face to face critical feedback) </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum 21 Conferences </li></ul><ul><li>Commissioned research </li></ul><ul><li>Literature reviews </li></ul><ul><li>Independent advice to government </li></ul><ul><li>Phased development involving stakeholders </li></ul><ul><li>Proposals </li></ul><ul><li>Widespread consultation </li></ul><ul><li>Research-informed implementation strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Support materials </li></ul><ul><li>Pilot projects </li></ul><ul><li>Phasing in of requirements </li></ul>
  • 6. Constraints on Assessment Policy Development <ul><li>Performance culture </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment data (age 8, 11, 14, 16, 18) </li></ul><ul><li>Selective education system </li></ul><ul><li>Contentious abolition of 11+ </li></ul><ul><li>Search for replacement mechanism to assist transfer to post-primary e.g. pupil profile </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to achieve consensus </li></ul><ul><li>The development of unregulated tests </li></ul>
  • 7. Literacy and Numeracy Strategies Audit <ul><li>Prominence given to Literacy and Numeracy Strategies </li></ul><ul><li>VFM audit of £40 million expenditure on Strategies </li></ul><ul><li>Hearing before House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct of PAC hearing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ politicians talking nonsense about educational outcomes’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Audit report ‘qualifications’ ignored </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Invalid comparisons made and demanded (Glasgow, Liverpool, Belfast) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Statistics misinterpreted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of awareness of impact of selective systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of understanding of target setting and adjustments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No awareness of comparable (worse) performance in England </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Suspected manipulation of English National Statistics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reprimand by Statistics Office </li></ul></ul>
  • 8. Impact of PAC and NI Policy <ul><li>Continued narrow pre-occupation with Literacy, Numeracy and Assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Retention of old levels to assess new curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Retention of voluntary tests at Key Stage 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Delay in approving new cross-curricular levels </li></ul><ul><li>Reluctance to absorb thinking skills levels </li></ul>
  • 9. Main points <ul><li>Incongruence in policies </li></ul><ul><li>Backwash effect of narrow assessment pressures on curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Mixed messages to schools </li></ul><ul><li>Tensions / pressures on teachers and schools </li></ul><ul><li>Limitations and fallibility of narrow assessment statistics &amp; standards </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of understanding / misinterpretation of statistics and over-simplistic reporting by media </li></ul><ul><li>The effect on parental and public perceptions </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Society sees results as the major goal of schooling </li></ul><ul><li>rather than a useful but fallible indicator of achievement’ </li></ul><ul><li>(Gipp 1990: 27). </li></ul>
  • 10. Recommendations <ul><li>Effort and expense expended in ‘policing’ poor quality assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Focus resources on professional development for </li></ul><ul><ul><li>quality curriculum planning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>quality assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>development of higher order thinking </li></ul></ul>

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