Learning comes first: shifting the focus from examining to the curriculum

Learning comes first: shifting the focus from examining to the curriculum

Ample evidence shows a curriculum is at the heart of the learning experience a school offers its pupils, and at the heart of the mission and vision of that school. Good curricula develop learners’ understanding, knowledge and skills. So what should a good curriculum – or, a good education – look like?

Critics say that the current focus on assessment in Britain means that the public debate is overlooking how schools are engaging young people and preparing them for the future. Our concerns over the narrowness of the debate led us to investigate the issues in greater depth. We hosted an event in London on 31 January 2012 to debate the key issues and to examine what a good programme of learning should look like. More than 150 people including teachers, assessment experts, employers and journalists attended. The debate was streamed live and more than 900 people watched online.

Group Chief Executive, Simon Lebus, said: "It seems to me that the major consequence has been an excessive focus on exams and examining, as exam results are so easily used as instruments to measure change, and that this has been at the expense of coherence and curriculum. We should think of education as an ecosystem, and of course this ecosystem will be damaged if these major elements fall out of balance."

Presenters included Jon Coles, former Director General for Education Standards, Department of Education and Dr Nadia Touba, Project Director of Nile Egyptian Schools NES – Egyptian Education Fund, Cabinet of Ministers – Egypt. Nansi Ellis, Head of Education Policy & Research, ATL; and Richard Earp, Education & Skills Manager, National Grid were among the panellists. Dr Stephen Spurr, Headmaster of Westminster School, and Paul Pritchard, Chair of Governors at the JCB Academy gave an insight into different types of programmes of learning.

Below you can watch films from the event or download podcasts.

Related materials

Research Matters

Research Matters 32 promo image

Research Matters is our free biannual publication which allows us to share our assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community.