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Curriculum design & Inclusive Practices

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In this assignment, I will be discussing what curriculum means, who and what factors can influence and impact the design of curriculum. Also defining the main theories models and ideologies and how they contribute to my curriculum, and how they can change various teaching methods. Concluding with, proposed solutions to improve the curriculum within the Hospitality department. Curriculum is hardly new in fact it dates way back to ancient Greece and the famous Aristotle’s (384BC- 322BC) who was a Greek philosopher. A student of Plato came up with the categorisation of knowledge, which I will be discussing later on in the commentary. So curriculum has been around for years, but the way we understand it has altered over the years, and there remains considerable dispute as to its meaning. Kerr defines curriculum as “All the learning which is planned and guided by the school, whether it is carried on in groups or individually, inside or outside the school” (Kelly, 2009).

I feel this is a definition aiming at school, where as we will find in this commentary, the wider curriculum in which I specialise, goes far further than school or college education, with the introduction of vocational qualifications it opens up a whole new ‘classroom experience’ in a number of differing learning environments. Taylor and Richards (1985) on the other hand, have little patience with the broader definitions and have stated that curriculum can be as simple as ‘the course of study to be followed in becoming educated’ which can be translated into ‘the subjects to be studied’ these definitions are simple and easy to understand, but curriculum goes deeper into theories than Taylor and Richards definitions state.

How does the curriculum fit in with the Learning and Skills Council (LSC)? In pursuit of quality the LSC place a great deal of emphasis on the strategic development of curriculum, and their mission is “to raise participation and attainment through high quality education and training which puts the learner first”. Developing professional standards for teachers, tutors and trainers in the lifelong learning sector, and producing overarching professional standards, concentrating on the skills, knowledge and attributes required of those who perform the wide variety of teaching and training in the sector, with all education types being split into categories for example my speciality Hospitality and Catering falls into the category of ‘Commercial Enterprise’ and we need to follow these professional standards Professional values and practice

Learning and teaching
Specialist learning and teaching
Planning for learning
Assessment for learning
Access and progression
(Lifelong Learning UK)
These standards have a massive effect on how the curriculum is to be designed as well as how the teacher, trainer or tutor approaches each lesson. How does the learner learn, what motivates a learner to learn and does the curriculum encourage equality and diversity. Since April 2005 and the introduction of the LLUK a number of different qualifications have been introduced to allow for the ever changing learner. The vocational qualification has brought craft skills a new lease of life and making education available for the less academic students, allowing for on the job training as well as being part of a college system.

Not only do these qualifications run in Colleges, but are heavily spread across all areas, from the public sector where councils, prison services and schools teach the vocational subject of hospitality, to small cookery groups out in the local community, to the private sector, working alongside FE Colleges to produce the re-visited apprenticeship scheme from a number of years earlier. All qualifications whether they are academic for example the core subjects Maths, English to the more craft based vocational qualifications like hairdressing and Hospitality they all work on Aristotle’s influential categorisation of knowledge or curriculum models.

Here we can see some clear links – the body of knowledge to be transmitted in the first is that classically valued as “the canon”; the process and praxis models come close to practical deliberation; and the technical concerns of the outcome or product model mirror elements of Aristotle’s characterisation of the productive (Smith, 1996;2000). Product Model – This model is interested in the product of the curriculum: just what does it equip a learner to do? Tanner and Tanner (1980) argue that this model has been the most dominant model of the twentieth century.

However CALLAHAN in the 1970’s with his instrumentalism ideology of skilling the learner to be fit for work, stated ‘To the teacher, I would say that you must satisfy the parents and industry that what you are doing meets the requirements and the needs of our children’ (TES Magazine, 11/10/1996) From the Rusken College speech in 1976, a whole new approach to education was to be invented and from this came the introduction of the craft based qualifications, his idea of the government putting money into education and seeing very little return, made him concentrate on making people fit for work, in turn helping the economy and paying the government back on their investment. This is the main model used in my specialised curriculum.

One of the attractions of this approach to curriculum theory is that it involves detailed attention to what people need to know in order for it to work. Lesson plans are produced with the main theme of ‘by the end of the session the learner will be able to’ portion a chicken, fillet a flat fish and so forth. The main concentration being on the product itself, with the learners being active and getting hands on with their qualification, it becomes a ‘liberal Humanist’ approach to learning. Where it would see the curriculum as an opportunity for learners to develop and provide for a fair, more equal society. (Scrimshaw, 1983)

When planning curriculum using the product model Ralph Tyler (1971) asks four questions

He then argues that each of those four questions requires careful thinking including an element of needs analysis from student and teacher. Thus the aims and objectives need to rest on the overall philosophy of the college. This model then becomes a behavioural approach to learning with measurable learning outcomes. While learning and assessment experiences are selected and organized to meet the objectives and evaluation. However this approach has encountered considerable criticism. Among the possible drawbacks are: At “lower levels” behavioural objectives may become trite and unnecessary It is difficult satisfactory objectives for “higher levels” of learning Behavioural objectives will discourage “creativity” on the part of both learner and teacher Behavioural objectives are “undemocratic” in that they aim to make the result of learning predetermined by outside control Use of behavioural objectives may imply a false division between “cognitive”, “effective” and “psychomotor” domains. (Neary, 2002)

The Content Model – This is an approach to curriculum interested in the passing on of existing knowledge to a new learner. This model rests with among others Paul Hirst (1974). He believed that there was seven to eight forms of knowledge which represents the way in which people learn. These forms where, mathematics, physical science, knowledge of persons, literature and fine arts, morals, religion and philosophy. This academically designed model is well represented in University establishments and is quiet old fashioned, as it results in the teacher being the main person in the class, and results in very if no interaction with students, more a ‘chalk and talk’ session. Structured qualification with ‘set pathways’ through content for example, compulsory modules and topics with the majority of assessments being summative and terminal. Rather than being, formative like the product model.

This type of model becomes a classical Humanistic approach to learning which is very much a knowledge and subject based curriculum, often associated with academic subjects where subjects develop abstract knowledge and cognitive skills (Scrimshaw, 1983). In the vocational qualification that I specialise in we have moved away from the ‘content model’. Students coming into this qualification from secondary schools, are choosing the qualification to move away from the academic way of teaching, but there is still some theory based learning needed for the qualification, this was classroom based a couple of years ago, but due to the funding cuts in the qualifications hours, we are unable to teach theory in a classroom situation, and are now having to provide the theory in the practical environment. If we were to look at the ‘Content Model’ being used in my area we would have to look at functional skills, where the learner is taught basic Maths, English and IT skills, but from observation the way in which this is taught has very little content that actually relates to the course itself.

However if we look at the progression routes for my qualification the models change from at the start with the NVQ’s being reliant on aims and outcomes, and the ‘product’ model to foundation degree courses and degree level courses becoming more of a ‘content’ based model of learning, where the emphasis is more around the collection of knowledge rather than the ability to be practically skilled. Another model to be discussed is one which is very hard to measure, pulling on a teachers ability to teach a ‘hidden curriculum’ something that has no aims or outcomes and can be different to each student, in my understanding these are things that the teacher, sometimes without knowing can pass onto learners. This model is known as the ‘Situational model’. Dennis Lawton (1983) and Malcolm Skilbeck (1976) are linked to this approach. Lawton sees education as being about the transmission of the key elements of a society’s culture to the new generation.

In my specialised subject we try to teach more than just the curriculum we have been given, we look at embedding functional skills into the practical classes without the learner actually knowing, time keeping, respect for others, attendance and other work related skills that a learner will need to get a job after leaving the college. To a learner these might not even register during their time at college, but later in life, when embarking on a new venture, and they may then remember the so called ‘hidden curriculum’ that we have provided. This model has a more progressive ideology, which takes into account the social context and experiential nature of learning. Focus shifts from didactic approaches and sees learners actively learning through experience (Scrimshaw, 1983). When planning or designing a curriculum we must take into account the equality and diversity issues that may occur in any one curriculum. As a College or any other public or private provider of education or training we must go along with the equal Opportunities Act 2003.

Equality means that all ages, gender and disabilities must be allowed access to a course, unless there are grounds or reasons why not. In my specialised area we have the Health & Safety Act 1974 which allows the college not to let certain disabilities onto the mainstream hospitality course. Due to the nature of the course we deal with a number of health & safety issues that would not allow a disabled learner in a wheel chair into the kitchen, due to accessibility as well as handling dangerous hazards, also sometimes we have to look at the visually impaired and deaf learners who could become a health & safety issue due to their disabilities. As a college rather than turn these learners away, we would look at running separate classes for these learners if the demand was high enough, and would look to get specialised support. When the word equality is mentioned we look to the main categories as mentioned above, but a major one we have in our department is financial issues with learners, we must ensure that all financial backgrounds have access to the courses, due to the qualification being practical and having to have specialised equipment, there is a funding issue.

Not all learners are able to pay for uniform and knives, but are unable to enter the kitchen without appropriate uniform, due to the Food Safety Act (2003). The college are unable to pay for learner’s uniform outright, but look at giving out loans to learners, enabling them to pay monthly, but even then some families especially in Bradford are unable or unwilling to pay the money. On some occasions we have spare uniform left by students who have left, which we donate to the most deprived learners, but due to the Food Hygiene Act college policy stipulates learners need to provide uniform within a certain time frame or they have to be withdrawn from the course. When it comes to the diversity of learners for example gender or gender change the industry that I specialise in, probably has a very large percentage of ‘diversity’. It is the responsibility of the tutor to manage the situation if any problems arise, main problems that may occur for my course would be changing room issues. Due to the location and diversity of cultures, religious issues have to be taken into account.

The NVQ qualification in the past has been a very ‘classically French’ catering qualification, this leads itself to diversity problems within certain religions. City & Guilds have now developed a number of new qualifications to ensure diversity within the framework; these include ethnic and cultural modules. Inclusion in the curriculum is important, how do we as teachers make every learner part of the course. As we are aware not all learners, learn in the same way, so people learn by taking their time, thinking and planning what they need to do, some are hands on and like visual learning through demonstrations, while some learners in the same level qualification are slower than others. In the practical environment it helps to have a spread of different levels of learners, as this will allow for ‘peer’ teaching, diverting some of the pressure away from the teacher and on to the higher level learners, which can also free up the teachers time to help the learners of lower ability.

As I have mentioned my course is mainly based around the ‘product model’ and is measured on outcomes. When it comes down to inclusive practice the broader the outcomes the easier it is for inclusion, let me explain. In my specialised area two learners of different abilities can get the same outcome by doing two completely different tasks. Level two modules asks for a learner to roast white meat as one of the outcomes, a lower level learner could do something as easy as roasting a sausage, while a higher level learner on the same course could stuff a pork loin and roast. If the outcomes are more detailed then this causes a problem, which we then need to look at the learners’ ability and maybe have to look at a different qualification, knowing that they may be unable to complete the qualification, which will then impact on retention figures.

How can I influence the curriculum? This can be influenced by the way I teach, how much of the hidden curriculum is in my teaching, the way I am able to define the outcomes for each individual learner, but where does this stand with the final qualification result? Two learners of different abilities getting the same end product, is this fair? How do I not know in the future they could be going for the same job?. I mention in the commentary about the different ideologies, but what about my ideology, which in turn is different to my managers ideology, when we are ruled by student retention figures and staff redundancies due to lack of funding it seems to make a joke out of the curriculum. In an ideal world a vocational qualification should be as it sounds, vocational, done in the work place. Yes some colleges could justify it being a real working environment, having the correct resources, the footfall in the restaurants, but other colleges, like us are not justifying the term vocational.

When OFSTED come to visit, they should be looking to judge if it is a real working environment, has it the resources and the infrastructure to really run the qualification and do it justice, and if not then it should be downgraded, making specialised colleges for certain subjects. Apprentices are the new government scheme, but in reality it’s still just a NVQ qualification when all said and done, we should be looking at five year schemes, where specialised people from industry come in to colleges to teach the skills, pass, merit or distinction to move onto the next module, where failure is an option. Is this unrealistic, not in the private sector, but I feel it is a pipe dream in the educational sector, where FE Colleges are run more like commercial businesses rather than educational establishments.

References
Neary, M. (2002) ‘Curriculum studies in Post Compulsory and Adult Education’. Nelson Thornes
Yvonne Hillier. (2005) reflective teaching in further and adult education. 2nd edition London: Continuum
Armitage, A., Bryant, B., Dunnill, R,. Hammersley, M., Hayes, D., Hudson, A., Shirley, L., (1999). Teaching and training in Post-Compulsory Education Buckingham: Open University Press

Websites
Smith, M.K. (1996,2000) ‘Curriculum theory and practice’ the encyclopaedia of informal education, www.infed.org/biblio/b-curric.htm Richard, C. (1996) ‘Deconstructing the Curriculum, radical Hermeneutics and Professional Education’ www.bradfordcollege.ac.uk/moodle Bill Rammell (2004) ‘New overarching professional standards for teachers, tutors and trainers in the lifelong learning sector’ www.lifelonglearninguk.org Publications

Barber, M. (11th Oct, 1996) New Labour, 20 years on. Published in TES Magazine

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