4. Learning in context (inter-disciplinary learning)
Q3: What are your views on the proposals for recognising achievements in knowledge and skills in action?
As in the main analysis, a number of respondents were very positive about this element of the model, with benefits for learners including development of a wider range of skills including social skills, working on real life problems, and positive effects on wellbeing.
"I think that it is a very good thing, allowing students to develop not just through their school work but through their beliefs, working together and working on real-life problems. It will prepare students for when they enter the world of work and life outside of school. It will also help with students' mental health and social skills too."
"This would be beneficial for all learners. Development of skills is crucial for all and a single skills framework would be beneficial to support professional understanding."
"This is incredibly helpful for those learners that find learning easier in context of using practical skills that they have developed and put into practice."
Some school respondents outlined pupil feedback on the proposal in their responses. The feedback indicated enthusiasm for the proposal, although there was recognition that it may not suit all learners. To address this, it was felt that adequate time in school and specialist/trained members of staff were essential.
"Pupils felt that, at times, learning in subjects was driven by the need to pass exams/assessments as opposed to developing appropriate skills…The pupils would like broader learning experiences that allow the development of skills in more 'real-life' situations/scenarios. Engaging in project based, inter-disciplinary work would be a positive context for this to occur however, would have to be meaningful in relation to pupils' future pathways. Some pupils felt that quality work experience should be embedded within any new curriculum model."
"Might not suit everyone so it should be structured carefully… Important to give them time in school to work on the project and have a member of staff that has been trained or specialises in these projects to guide you."
4.1 Professional development
Reflecting the findings in the main analysis, respondents were often in favour of the proposal, but had questions/concerns about its implementation. These respondents felt that professional learning and engagement, alongside changes in staffing and timetable, were essential to make the proposal possible.
"In principle, we support this proposal but have many questions around the practicalities and detail of implementation. A great deal of professional learning and engagement is essential before such a shift can happen, both with current practitioners and new entrants into teaching. Responses from our stakeholders suggest enthusiasm for interdisciplinary learning but also anxiety about having the skills, resources and time to do this well."
"Looks very good on paper but would be very hard to execute in practise. We have very limited experience in IDL. This type of teaching is vastly different to what is currently being offered - there would need to be significant training required.
A concern raised many times during our meeting was the planning time required/ the prep time required/ the timetabling of required/the physical resources required/the space required. Fair to assume that this would require a drastic impact on the school day."
4.2 Relative weight of components
Some respondents indicated concerns about the relative focus that would be placed on IDL compared to the other two areas in the proposal, and the potential knock-on impacts this could have on issues such as subject choice and consistency of practice.
"How do we maintain an equal focus on this section when competing against the subject/curricular areas aspect - it is going to be very difficult to change mindsets in relation to this. The concern would be the quality here may be compromised and inconsistent across the board."
"If mandatory, and a separate subject column, this aspect would reduce subject choice, therefore narrow the desired range of studies… A mandatory IDL project in S5 or S6 could prevent students meeting prerequisite qualifications for competitive courses, particularly if universities choose not to support or recognise this type of qualification."
"This would be welcome but there are questions about where this would fit in the curriculum whilst still allowing young people the opportunity to excel in subject areas."
Finally, there was a concern among some of those who were in favour of the proposal of how to achieve equity and ensure that all learners have the opportunities to benefit. They raised concerns about how those in socio-economic disadvantaged areas, and/or have fewer opportunities in their geographic location, will be best supported to complete this element.
"It sounds very exciting. However, there must be a determination to achieve equity in terms of pupils' experiences and opportunities in undertaking such a qualification."
"This is an excellent idea - but we would need to think very carefully about how we ensure that young people in financially, socially, culturally and geographically less favoured areas are not disadvantaged.
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