The BBC article “‘Free up curriculum’ teachers say” cites a survey of British teachers finding they overwhelmingly support the idea of having more instructional autonomy in the classroom:

ATL leader Mary Bousted said the system was failing to engage children and should be replaced by a skills-based curriculum drawing on local knowledge.

But the government says the national curriculum is broad and balanced, with scope for flexibility and innovation.

Dr [Mary] Bousted said: “We believe giving teachers greater freedom to set the curriculum would help raise results and keep more children engaged in learning so that fewer leave school at 16 feeling failures, having been failed by the system.”

I heartily agree with these educators across the Atlantic. We need educational deregulation which supports instructional autonomy, rather than further regulations that only add to time-pressure and stress for both teachers and students. I love these quotations from Mary in the article also:

Paradoxically the government’s focus on functional maths and English skills was not the way to raise standards in reading and writing. Instead young people needed to be shown the connections between things, through integrated subjects and lessons that related to their local environments. “We say first look at the skills, then at the knowledge constructs you need on which they can be developed,” she said. “The nature of thought is to connect – and we don’t enable our children to connect.”

Time remains one of the biggest obstacles and challenges to improving the quality of education in many places, I think. We don’t need more testing and more rigor– we need more instructional flexibility and support for our teachers, combined with high expectations for student achievement measured in “messy ways” as well as traditional tests. We need to encourage teachers and administrators to embrace complexity and messy assessment— rather than force-feeding students content under a false, transmission-model of education which flogs students instead of empowering them.

Testing and standards alone can’t improve education– we need to address the problems with rigid and traditional curriculum and empower teachers to teach with passion and creativity.

Article Via GLEF’s Project-Based Learning e-newsletter.

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One Response to British teachers support instructional autonomy

  1. Doug Belshaw says:

    Over the last few weeks I’ve had about a half timetable whilst being in school full-time. I’ve been expected to do more than the average amount of cover for other teachers, as the main reason for my employment at the school is to take over from a teacher who is going on maternity leave at the beginning of December.

    Although at first I thought I had too much free time, as the weeks progressed I have found that it’s just enough time to deliver the types of engaging, relevant lessons I want to teach, whilst finding time for assessment and all the other things that one has to fit into the school day.

    And that’s on a half timetable. Teachers need way more free time to develop lessons around a core curriculum. Why do teachers teach boring lessons? Because they don’t have time to deliver anything other than the bare minimum. We should campaign for more PPA time! 🙂

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