This case study from Two Mile Ash Initial Teacher Training Partnership is a focus on curriculum development in Initial Teacher Education (ITE).
An opportunity was created for teacher educators, specialists in curriculum subjects, theory and pedagogy, to have dedicated time to consider and reflect on what was taught on the programme, its purpose and impact and identify future development work.
The ITE partnership has been developing collaborative ways of working over the last two years, which directly coincides with the most challenging time experienced in education in England in recent history.
The concern was that teacher educators across the ITE partnership had not met recently in a professional capacity. Sessions for trainee teachers were implemented and evaluated, but we wanted to inspire future growth and innovation by reviewing in more depth.
In order to move forward and share specialist practice an opportunity had to be created for specialist curriculum teams to meet online and dialogue. It was important to create an atmosphere of trust, safety and respect.
A series of research questions were therefore identified, and are summarised as follows:
- What has worked well?
- What impact has the taught ITE curriculum had on trainee teachers and their teaching?
- What is the content and purpose of the training, including underpinning theories and pedagogy?
- Are core theories revisited in subject-based training sessions?
There was a task orientation to each day; the creation of pedagogical portfolios for each subject and theme, to be made available this academic year.
Over a period of six weeks, 12 day-long online Curriculum Development Days were organised. One teacher educator was tasked with facilitating all 12 sessions. This allowed for consistency of approach. Each day had its own identity and flavour. All subject areas across the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stages 1 & 2 were addressed, with additional days focusing on Theory and Pedagogy, Inclusion and Multilingual Childhoods.
Over the 12 meetings, 32 participants attended. Ringfencing the first hour for in-depth introductions set the scene well. The process followed the research questions as outlined above. All participants engaged actively and the rich well-informed dialogue was moving at times, as well as being interspersed with respectful humour and much needed laughter.
Feedback received about the Curriculum Development Days exceeded expectations: “I didn’t know what to expect but I thoroughly enjoyed the meeting and opportunity to have that professional dialogue” was a typical response.
The days were highly valued as a CPD opportunity for deepening understanding about what was being taught, the identification of related theories and pedagogy, and how each aspect of the ITE curriculum is interrelated.
Participants felt the process was an acknowledgement of their specialist knowledge. It was possible to identify the connectivity to the whole ITE programme; it had become a tangible entity for all.
The opportunity to reflect on curriculum development allowed participants to consider the direction of future travel. The co-constructivist approach (Lambert et al, 2002) embedded respectful participation for all and the creation of pedagogical portfolios that will steer the course for innovation going forward.
Dr Christine Parker is a member of the QA team and ‘critical friend’ of Two Mile Ash ITT Partnership