Posted by: mrlock | June 23, 2017

“Pedagogy is overrated”

Festival of education 2017

I delivered this talk at the Festival of Education 2017. From my notes and my memory, here is what I said. It is very long and borrows from previous blogs and tweets.

Pedagogy is overrated

I want to argue that education suffers in the U.K. because we focus too much on how to teach, often in the name of pedagogy, at the expense of any real emphasis on what to teach.

This is basically an argument for thinking about curriculum in schools. My premise is that this is relatively absent from UK schools, but if you’ve been in some of the same sessions as me today you may believe me to mistaken as I’m pleased to report that curricular discussion has been evident. Perhaps there is a welcome change afoot.

According to a blog by my friend James Theobald, the word ‘truthiness’ was coined by the American satirist Stephen Colbert in the pilot episode of his popular daily show The Colbert Report in 2005. It is defined as:

‘the quality of seeming or being felt to be true, even if not necessarily true’;

‘the quality of seeming to be true according to one’s intuition, opinion or perception without regard to logic, factual evidence, or the like’;

‘the quality of being considered to be true because of what the believer wishes or  feels, regardless of the facts’.

You get the idea. Colbert used the words, “truth that comes from the gut, not books” in mocking condemnation of the cult of truthiness in politics.

Another word for it in 2017 might be “hashtaggy”.

The following has a truthiness about it. I don’t mean my talk, though that might be true – you can challenge me on that later but this:

The narrative is that Teaching and Learning fixes, leads and is the centre of everything.

To give an example, from the Steer report on behaviour (2005):

We believe consistent experience of good teaching engages pupils in their learning and this reduces instances of poor behaviour.

(All) schools should develop a Learning and Teaching policy that identifies the teaching strategies to be followed by all staff….

To ensure good standards of behaviour all schools should:

plan lessons well, using strategies appropriate to the ability of the pupils;
offer pupils the opportunity to take responsibility for aspects of their learning, work together in pairs, groups and as a whole class;
increase pupils’ involvement in their learning and promote good behaviour;

Now the Steer report also has some parts in it that I might agree with, so the above are selective quotes to make my point. But to emphasise my point at the time of the first Steer report I saw Sir Alan Steer talk and he told a room full of school leaders that his school does not have a behaviour policy. Its behaviour policy is its teaching and learning policy.

The narrative is that if only we get Teaching and Learning right, everything else about a school falls into place.

This has meant that the quality of teaching has been the thing that many, perhaps most, headteachers have focussed on. And hence they believe to focus on it you need to measure it. And if you’re going to measure it, you need to judge it.

But judging the quality of teaching is really hard. It is well documented that judging individual lessons is difficult, and grading them lacks validity and reliability – Rob Coe’s widely publicised work on this is vital – and I didn’t see his session today but I’m presuming he hasn’t gone back on this.

So we use proxies or bespoke ‘solutions’ to judge Teaching and Learning. Things like book scrutiny, triangulated data, performance management targets, various strands of assessment for learning, looking at lesson planning – I’ve even heard of a school where all lesson planning has to be handed in at the start of the week to ensure it is ready and is good enough. And so on.

And if you look at the structure of SLT of a school, there is always someone responsible for Teaching and Learning, sometimes more than one. Generic, cross-curricular Teaching and Learning. And a typical job description will include – and this is just the first one that was in the TES today, I haven’t gone through them in detail selecting one to make my argument:

Promote a clear vision for the highest quality teaching and learning
Establish a learning culture which values scholarship and promotes innovation and creativity
Develop a culture of collaboration and joint practice development
Lead the improvement of teaching and learning
Ensure teaching meets the needs of all groups of learners

Teaching and learning is said to be the only thing that matters in schools. Just yesterday I saw a Headteacher quoted approvingly on social media who said

“Leaders do not allow themselves to be distracted from their core business of teaching and learning. Delegate rest to others”

This has has some push back over the last decade or so as schools that focus on culture and ethos have shown – I think for example Mossbourne – for all of its founder head’s perceived faults – was a game changer in London that showed that pupils, including the most disadvantaged, could behave so that teachers can do their job.

But schools still, perhaps in some cases to a lesser extent, focus on generic “teaching and learning”.

My experience is that things are not fixed with that focus teaching and learning.


Schools should be places where pupils are obedient within a framework of strict rules, enabling a calm purposeful culture.

I don’t feel like I can mention the Steer report without mentioning this briefly. But I think this – behaviour – is the elephant in the room. Before we can talk about the what of teaching, and the how of teaching (if we even need to), we need to talk about the climate for teaching, and the culture that has to exist for teaching.

It is still the case in some schools that persuading or bribing pupils to do as you wish is the preferred model. Or that a teacher is expected to ‘engage’ their pupils in order to teach – often without really defining what engage means. This is not a surprise because I think it is quite hard to define engagement or to be engaged.


I believe schools need to defend this culture from the top: leaders are responsible for behaviour and ethos. This comes first.

I used to work in a school in very difficult the circumstances in East London. The school has tried everything in the past to deal with being a school in difficult circumstances – learning styles, student observations, learning walks, high stakes observations, low stakes observations, interventions from 7am-9pm including on Saturdays, Mocksted, Local Authority secondments, “Lazy Teaching”, and heaven knows what else, we were ignoring the elephant in the room.

And under new leadership, we did some simple things.

• Ban mobile phones
• Exclude students who behave badly, including for ‘persistent low level disruption’
• Ensure students see SLT a lot
• Enforce uniform standards
• Sanction poor punctuality
• Have whole school assemblies focused on ethos

Behaviour comes first…. but when it’s sorted and colleagues can teach without having to focus on “how to engage enough”, then I think schools should focus a whole lot more on the curriculum.


Most schools and hence teachers think about how to teach a lot – probably to excess given the opportunity cost.

When I did my Secondary maths PGCE in 1998 the group, including me, was sent home with homework after the first day. The homework was to watch Blue Peter. We were not told why, and the next day we had to discover why. We talked about it for about thirty minutes and we couldn’t work out why. I thought there was something specific on Blue Peter.

After thirty minutes of trying to work it out our PGCE tutor told us. Incidentally, how common is that when pupils are set to “discover” something through the teacher’s carefully designed lesson, and in the end the teacher just tells them anyway? Anyway, we were told that Blue Peter is 40 years old. It has astonishing longevity. And we should notice that the reason for this is that in the 20 minutes (or however long it was on) there were 9 things that happened. If our lessons were to have longevity, we had to ensure that similar occurred. i.e. there were a variety of activities that were short in length and regularly changed.

I used the analogy of Blue Peter approvingly, in interviews and arguments for many years. It was my first experience of considering how to teach, and for the first decade at least of my teaching career, I was obsessed with getting better at delivering Blue Peter lessons.

Some examples of things I’ve really done:

The 7 part lesson
Include ‘stickability’
Lots of AFL ideas
Use a broader range of questioning
Pose Pause Pounce Bounce
Cold Call
Wait time
1001 tips for outstanding lessons
Self assessment stamps
Peer marking
Group work – but ‘good group work’, not ‘bad group work’, including roles, rainbow groups, whatever….
Agreement timelines,
Animations, powerpoints, no powerpoints, board work, visualisers, kinaesthetic activities, no pen day, no table day, and so on.

I’m not saying any of these are inherently necessarily bad. You can make your own mind up about that. I’m saying that selecting and paying attention to these methods prevented us, at least in part, from looking at the what of teaching.

And we had to include many of them to make them match the variety of Blue Peter.

I want to mention as an aside that recently, John Noakes passed away, and I was able to see the footage of him climbing Nelson’s Column, via ladders tied to the column with ropes and no safety ropes in 1977. At one point near the top the ladder goes back at an angle so Noakes is sort of hanging over a lot of space. Apparently the cameraman filmed it from the top but had forgot to turn his camera on so they had to do it all again.

I’m glad I didn’t watch that footage in 1998, because replicating something like that in my maths lessons would have been quite hard. Competing with that is hard. But isn’t that the point? There are things that young people should know that they don’t know, and they don’t know they should know. How can they appreciate the beauty of Wagner, Van Gogh, mathematics, the wonder of periods of history, Dickens or Wilde without knowing these things. And they do learn interesting things outside of school. That’s why we have kids with amazing ability to produce youtube videos or do brilliant* tricks with fidget spinners. But there are a number of things that are quite boring to learn, and they need to learn them because they are important. And isn’t the point of school to make sure that kids learn those things that are boring but necessary in order that we may expand what we enjoy and experience later in life, and can pass on to our children?

Maths is probably one of those subjects that can be boring. “Mathematics is a difficult subject to teach and learn” said the Cockroft report, published in 1977 while Noakes was climbing Nelson’s Column. It is a difficult subject to teach and learn, but it’s a beautiful and rewarding subject. This is arguable when you’re learning it. I believe it to be far less arguable when you’re good at it. Mathematics is an awe inspiring beautiful art when one is good at it. So it is the job of school to induct pupils into mathematics.

But we don’t talk about this as much as we should, because to a greater or lesser extent, we’re talking about how to make our lessons more Blue Peter like.

And we’re doing so in the name of pedagogy. This is shorthand for focusing on how to teach, not what to teach.

RS Peters, reflecting the concerns of the liberal educators, suggested that an understandable focus on the centrality of the child in education had led teachers to focus on the manner of education at the expense of the matter of education.

I want to make the case that references to pedagogy appear to do this now. If someone wants to reply to me to redefine ‘pedagogy’ to mean *what* is being taught or even to be led wholly by what is being taught, then I have no argument – though I would say that the lack of a shared understanding of what ‘pedagogy’ means makes use of the word rather redundant.

I never heard the word pedagogy until several years into my teaching career. I didn’t enquire as to what it meant for a while. I just carried on teaching maths. Then I was at the stage of my career when I wanted to become an Assistant Headteacher. So I needed to know stuff to get through the interview.

I genuinely thought it meant ‘the science of learning’. Then ‘the science of teaching’. And then ‘teaching’. What does it mean? I don’t know. I said this on twitter and someone recommended me Robin Alexander’s definition, and I read a paper, but his book is £75 and I thought that a little harsh for a definition.

And I asked a few people today and I got various answers, including my boss who when I said “do you know what pedagogy means?’ he replied…

“yeeeaahhh, maybe not now you’ve asked”

And most people reached for their phones and google to define it.

I’ve used the word enough times. I mean, I’m a Headteacher so I can clearly talk the buzzword bollocks. And my criticism of the word in the title of this talk is partly reflected by the fact that I believe it to be a weasel word – at least in how it is used. What I mean by this is that the word appears to mean whatever people want it to mean. And when they start to be specific about what they mean by the word, they no longer need it.


*How* to teach matters a lot less than we think. Certainly a lot less than what we teach. And *how* should be driven by *what* anyway.

Most schools don’t think about curriculum enough.
They think they do. Because they use the word curriculum. But think about the structure of the average SLT. As I just said, I think you would find it extremely hard to find a school, primary or secondary, that doesn’t have someone responsible for Teaching and Learning. That isn’t the case when it comes to curriculum. Many schools do not have someone on their leadership team accountable for curriculum.

And when they do, they often actually mean qualifications or the timetable. That person will design which subjects the school can afford to put on at 16 or 18. How much time each subject will get. The options process and how many, if any, pupils must take the EBACC or how they make sure the pupils are Progress 8 compliant. They will discuss whether to take an hour from PE to give to Citizenship or maths, because the maths results weren’t very good.

Usually, there is no-one ensuring that in school there is explicit very hard thought about what pupils should learn, and in what sequence.


I think most things to do with teaching are subject-specific and phase-specific.

Most people in my experience agree with this to some extent. It’s rare to find a maths teacher who is as comfortable teaching drama as maths. It’s rare to find a secondary PE teacher who can teach a phonics lesson to early years. It’s not even that easy to find a subject specialist in secondary school comfortable with teaching all of years 7-13 in their subject. Primary and secondary teachers alike are quite defensive over their phase, and in secondary at least, though increasingly in primary they are somewhat defensive over their subject. In my experience, primary schools have been crying out for more subject specialism – particularly in maths, humanities, languages and PE.

But I wonder if we could go further. Could we not have specialists in teaching certain topics? I know this has happened in some schools, where groups rotate so that they each experience the best teacher with the best knowledge of statistics or Greek myths. We do it ad hoc – I hate teaching transformation of curves – mainly because I always explain it badly – so my head of department does it. It probably helps that I’m the head, but anyway.

I have a problem with the idea that teachers are generic teachers. That we teach children, not subjects. Because while it is true that we teach children, it is through the introduction to subjects that we allow children access to understanding the world, and further, access to that that is beautiful in human life.


We’re starting to engage with the subject-specific aspect of this in my school, not yet the phase specific.

But we’ve started to use new words in our school, partly as a result of a training day we ran in January 2016 with Christine Counsell.

Some subjects, like maths and physics, are explicitly and obviously hierarchical. You need to be able to do a, b, c and d in order to be able to access e.

Some subjects are more cumulative, arguably like literature and history. Usually at this point a historian says that actually, they’re much more hierarchical, and I can’t argue really – I’m no historian – so I just ask them to find Christine Counsell. But those subjects which are more cumulative probably have some very important hierarchical aspects to them.

How many schools talk about the difference between hierarchical subjects and cumulative subjects? And how many talk about substantive knowledge and disciplinary knowledge – particularly relevant to science or history education?

And contrast this with how many talk about 7 part lesson plans, or hooking the kids, or a structure that includes a plenary, or… all of the things I talked about before with “I’m going to try this with my kids on Monday” as if it hasn’t been tried before.


There are some things that all pupils are entitled to know when they leave school. This is the stuff that educated people take for granted.

This is vital. I was given an extract of Robert Macfarlane’s Mountains of the Mind to read, and I went away and bought the book. I just want to share a paragraph with you:

“August 1672 – The high noon of a continental summer. In Milan and Geneva the citizens are sweltering beneath a strong European sun. Many thousands of feet above them, among the snows of the Simplon Pass – one of the major crossing points of the European Alps – shivers Thomas Burnet. Shivering with him is the young Earl of Wiltshire, great-great-grandson of Thomas Boleyn, the father of the ill-starred Anne. The boy, his family have decided, needs educating and Burnet, an Anglican churchman possessed of a prodigious and restive imagination, has taken what will be a decade-long sabbatical from his fellowship at Christ’s College, Cambridge to act as chaperone and cicerone to a succession of teenage aristocrats – of whom the young earl is the first.” (Macfarlane, p23 Mountains of the Mind, 2003)

The whole book is like this. It’s a beautiful book that is an amazing read. It was an educated person who recommended this to me. Why can we share this book – that appears to be about mountaineering but is actually about mountaineering, history, geography, religious education, literature and so much more? It’s because we’ve been explicitly introduced to the knowledge that educated people take for granted. I don’t even follow every piece of assumed knowledge in reading it, but I do follow enough to derive a lot of pleasure from the experience of reading it.

All young people are entitled to know the things educated people take for granted.


As professionals we should debate very hard what this knowledge is, accepting we may not be 100% right, but that we will be closer to right via debate

This is the case that E.D. Hirsch makes in his 1987 book cultural literacy. The idea that what separates good readers from poor readers, once we get beyond the mechanics of instruction and phonics, is their background knowledge. Hirsch talks of the schemata of knowledge that we stick other knowledge to. Knowledge begets knowledge. This is very convincing, particularly with more recent insights from cognitive science.

I’m not sure that I agree with everything that Hirsch writes about how to decide on this knowledge. In Cultural Literacy Hirsch has a list of knowledge that all American children should know. This list, which is derived from the assumed knowledge that is taken for granted by readers of the New York Times, is contentious.

Far better, I think to make this the job of the professionals. So who decides? We do. We do because we are a part of a community of subject specialists. Subject specialists who argue about what parts of history make up a schema of knowledge that we should be introducing pupils to. Subject specialists who argue about sequencing of knowledge in mathematics, and the difference between different forms of mastery, and whether the so-called spiral curriculum has any merit. But we don’t only argue about it, and write about it, and reply and debate and bitterly oppose each other. We live it, reading academically – most teachers have a minimum of two degrees – and debating what the best possible curriculum could be. What do we need to introduce people to, in our subjects, in order that they may live a fulfilling life that understands the world, experiences beauty and joy, and makes a contribution?

That debate is the one that teachers should be engaged in. School leaders should be engaged in. Governors should be engaged in. That debate is the one that changes lives. Not the how of teaching but the what.


Because that is the purpose of education: to induct pupils into the conversation of mankind; the community of educated citizens.

Liberal philosopher Michael Oakeshott’s phrase stands tall here for me:

“As civilized human beings, we are the inheritors, neither of an inquiry about ourselves and the world, nor of an accumulating body of information, but of a conversation, begun in the primeval forests and extended and made more articulate in the course of centuries. It is a conversation which goes on both in public and within each of ourselves.”

Put me in a chemistry laboratory, and tell me I am free, and I can do nothing. Induct me into the traditions that make up the conversation that chemists have and put me in a laboratory and I can further that conversation. I can participate in that conversation. I can challenge that conversation and maybe I can ever undermine that conversation.

And if that is true for chemistry, it is all the more true for democracy. For how can one full participate in the conversations that are going on here if one is ignorant of the knowledge that educated people take for granted.

And this is a matter for inclusion. Because if we are not able to induct children into the community of educated citizens by the age of 16, then they are destined to be excluded for life.


If pupils are excluded from this community at the age of 16, they are very likely to be excluded for life, so we must get this right.

To me this means that we should be considering what pupils should know if they were never to sit an examination. When we interview candidates for posts, this is what we ask them. What should young people leave school knowing? And I think this is true for subjects across the board.

I believe that those pupils who choose to go on to do vocational training at 16 or 18 are entitled to this knowledge. I want pupils who become hairdressers or builders able to access and enjoy 19th century literature, or opera, or art galleries, or the assumed knowledge behind popular science magazines. The same as I want those who go on to university to have this breadth of knowledge. I mean that it is a right, and we can only treat it as a right if we are professional about spending time discussing and debating, living and breathing our disciplines rather than debating how to engage and assuming these curricular decisions are made for us.


Even before we get to the content of the subjects, some subjects are more important than others.

I’m not going to make a case here for one subject over another, nor am I going to call Geography colouring in or point out that history and literature are just fighting over who has the best stories. I have my opinions, but the point is that if reading is the most important, and I think it is, then we should be able to say that mathematics is more important than tiddlywinks, or whatever. Mainly, I want to argue for breadth.

I want my own children, and hence all children, to study least maths, literature, history, biology, chemistry, physics, history of art, Latin, music (and be able to perform), theatre, experience competitive sports, , RE, computing, a couple of languages and probably others until the age of 16. I realise this is probably not possible. But I believe in breadth.

This is important because even amongst some colleagues that I agree with on most things in education, there is a ‘depth before breadth’ approach promoted. And to be honest, I’ve said it myself before – if a pupil can’t read we need to teach them to read to the exclusion of everything else – that’s real depth before breadth. But I worry that depth before breadth produces pupils who are great at passing examinations in a narrow range of subjects, but know less than we think. And since we should be introducing them to the conversation of mankind, then we need to really promote the actual knowledge our kids are going to leave with rather than the specs of a few examinations.

This is important, because while we obsess with pedagogy so that pupils can learn and relearn what is handed down via specifications of GCSE exams, to a greater or lesser extent, we are impoverishing our curriculum.

Some schools that take an approach that I mainly agree with risk doing this as they focus on the how rather than the what – and they correctly challenge the orthodoxy on the ‘how’ but I think they simultaneously accept a part of the orthodoxy via their focus on a ‘how’. We need a paradigm shift back to curricular thinking, not to accept that the focus on different forms of pedagogical thinking will enable all kids to join the conversation to the extent that we wish.


I think maintaining breadth is vital, and that we should teach *subjects* not the specs, i.e. the domain not the sample.

Our subjects – the way that knowledge has been organised – are what we want to introduce pupils to. And we might not be able to teach the whole of our domain. However, the GCSE specification is a sample from our domain.

If we teach to the GCSE or KS4 specification, as I said we are impoverishing our curriculum. We have to start with the domain and select, via argument and discussion in subject-specific communities that live the curriculum, the most essential knowledge for our pupils to join the conversation. And we have to trust knowledge. To believe that if we genuinely teach to the domain, not to the sample that is the specification, or worse, the sample that is the test, then the test will actually be okay because we’ve spent our time on an ambitious curriculum and our pupils will know lots about a lot and hence be able to make links between knowledge in their heads. In fact, they if they know lots they won’t be able not to make links between the knowledge they own. Train them for the exam at the very end of Year 11. But teach them the subject you love for the other 4.7 years (at a minimum, but hopefully 10.7 or 11.7 years) you get to show them how amazing your subject is.

And like I’ve said, most things are subject-specific. So in mathematics we’ve had a pretty agreed curriculum for many years. The sequence and assessment is something that is up for debate and, as I hinted at earlier, is central to curricular discussions in mathematics. It’s the reason I think that the mastery debate centres in mathematics. In history or literature I think the content is more up for debate.

Now I haven’t really talked about assessment. I can if there’s a question on it, but basically Daisy Christodoulou is at the festival somewhere and knows a lot more than me, and it’s a whole another talk anyway.

Suffice to say that I think assessment is a curricular question. And any sense of ‘progress’ should *be* the taught curriculum.

Maintaining breadth and making assessment a curricular question, demands that schools take curricular development seriously.

Which takes us back to the start. Focusing on ‘teaching and learning’ – the how of teaching – and arguably ‘pedagogy’ – is a level of truthiness that is impoverishing to the education of our pupils.




(* not brilliant)
Most of what I said in this talk has been heavily influenced by Christine Counsell, Michael Fordham and colleagues at my school. Thanks to them. If there is anything wrong or that doesn’t make sense, it will be my error or lack of knowledge.



  1. So sad I missed you delivering this ..But reading I can imagine. It is great. Thanks for sharing. And yes and no…

    Here we have a national curriculum, so detailed for some subjects that it’s a plain joke. It’s impossible to cover all. Especially as there is time – actual hours – stipulated for each subject. Only really passionate subject experts were assigned to put that content together.
    There are also requirements for grades, attached to all that content, filled with words of value that are meant to be help teachers set grades, but more than anything invite to endless discussions of assessment (very good, good or satisfactory, etc) and I should say lead to anxiety among teachers plus a troubling grade inflation.
    The “how” on the other hand is nowhere to be found. Only that it should be adjusted enough so that all students succeed. As a result summative assessment is very much discussed. Not so much why a group of students reach or do not reach the specific goals of knowledge and skills in all that text.
    It’s not very helpful and it’s strange that it has to be either this or that. .


  2. Why the ‘conversation of mankind’ model of knowledge? Why not the ‘how the world works’ model?


  3. Really enjoyed reading this, especially feeling that after reading, my view of the importance of the breadth of study was not alone.

    Thank you for posting. This has helped me to frame my curriculum job from September in a much more principled way (as opposed to being limited to discussions surrounding how the curriculum underpins school measures).

    Best wishes,


  4. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.


  5. Hello,

    An interesting read. I need to digest it all, but in the meantime an initial thought if I may.

    Some of the issues you identify are, in my view, precisely because teachers have not been enabled or encouraged to engage with pedagogy. Observations, book scrutinies and the like are in fact about maintaining a certain kind of practice, depending upon who is pulling the stings. They have been used to reinforce a pedagogical paradigm via performance management and so on, and have often actually reduced the autonomy of teachers to investigate their own practice, engage with theory, trial and reflect upon strategies, and to actually discuss pedagogy. Instead, we’ve had people in positions of power over teachers telling them that they’re not doing it right and how they need to be doing in order to be “outstanding”.

    A genuine engagement with pedagogy is necessary.


  6. […] The problem with any thing like TLAC (as I’ve noticed with some of the reaction to my blogs on knowledge organisers) is that schools use this kind of stuff as a bible rather than a suite, an emperor’s new wardrobe, as it were. As far as I can tell, a fundamental misunderstanding of something like TLAC is to try to use everything. Instead, know your subject. Focus on the ‘what‘, rather than the ‘how‘; wow them with your acumen, as Stuart Lock makes brilliantly clear here. […]


  7. Thanks for this Stuart. So interesting, I missed my tube stop!

    This reminds me of the faith or works argument. Faith without works is dead. What without how is dead. But what does come first, and how flows from it. When you are convinced that teaching means passing on knowledge, then you realise you must define that knowledge, but you also realise that you must use the best methods so that pupils will remember that knowledge.

    There is first and foremost a philosophical argument to be won. Many teachers are uncertain about whether they really should focus on knowledge transmission.


  8. Fantastic read! I agree with a lot of the sentiment of this. Teaching and learning is far too often seen as the ultimate solution. I think it is important to emphasise that teaching and learning should imply that the ‘what’ is being thought through as much (and probably more) than the ‘how’. In addition, the ‘how’ should be a consequence of the ‘what’. I would personally say that Fordham and Counsell’s comments, on the increasing generic nature of the education system, is certainly relevant to this. For me all school leaders first priority should be on curriculum, but too often is swept up in what is ultimately generic data and monitoring. I guess I would hypothesis that the issue is therefore a lack of focus on the uniqueness of subjects, rather than the notion of pedagogy (which should ultimately be subject specific).


  9. I have read and re-read this piece a few times. There is no example from the author of what to add or remove from the current National curriculum as is currently constituted. Exam specification ( which the author has nothing against except that ”it is a sample of the domain” is a function of the National curriculum). This is a broad sweep by one stroke or an overlook of the National curriculum ( it’s history, it’s development, it’s criticism, it’s contributions and contributors, it’s modern or recent make up and other). I think the later is the case. Tim Oakes was the latest to be adviced by ‘front-line professional’ to re-frame the National Curriculum. I hope the author does not think Tim only removed level descriptors? If not then what does the author understand Tim and his commission’s work was about?
    I have no problem with what the new National Curriculum requires citizens to know. Granted the debate of updating this should be a live one. Since Tim’s frame work was implemented what has the author found we should add or remove rather than debating ‘what’ constantly so as to out-number the number of debates of ‘how’.


  10. This sounds like it would have made for a great talk, Stuart. I hope it went down well. I completely agree with you about depth before breadth, as you may have noticed from my own blogpost after hearing the Learning Scientists the other day. Thank you for reposting that: I have enjoyed reading a few of your blogposts on here.


  11. […] teach alongside discussions about curriculum. Pedagogy was, and still is in some parts, overrated (Stuart Lock, 2017), but the how should have an interwoven, richly tapestried relationship with the what, dictated by […]


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