Chapter 7 Revised curriculum of guide for school governorsThis chapter describes the roles and responsibilities of the Board of Governors and the principal in relation to the curriculum, assessment and reporting.
In this chapter:
- Whole curriculum aim and objectives
- Education (Curriculum Minimum Content) (NI) Order 2007
- Pupil assessment
- Recognising and recording achievement
- Specialist schools programme
- The law
Role of the Board of Governors
The role of the Board of Governors and the principal is to exercise their respective functions in relation to the school so as to ensure that the revised curriculum
The Board of Governors has to determine and keep under review its policy in relation to the curriculum; that policy must be compatible with the law and the school Board must have regard to that policy when carrying out its management functions in relation to the school.
7.1. The curriculum of the school has to be a balanced and broadly based curriculum which
- promotes the spiritual, emotional, moral, cultural, intellectual and physical development of pupils at the school and thereby of society; and
- prepares such pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life by equipping them with appropriate knowledge, understanding and skills.
7.2. A revised statutory curriculum is provided for in the Education (NI) Order 2006 and in the Education (Curriculum Minimum Content) Order (NI) 2007. The revised curriculum is intended to better prepare young people for life and work and has a greater emphasis on skills as well as knowledge and understanding. It is more flexible than previously and gives schools scope to tailor their teaching to meet the needs of the pupils in their class.
The Revised Curriculum and the Entitlement Framework aim to empower young people to achieve their potential and to make informed and responsible choices and decisions throughout their lives.
The learning opportunities provided through all stages of the curriculum should enable teachers to help young people to develop as individuals, contributors to society and to the economy and the environment as shown below
Contributors to society
Contributors to the economy and environment
Personal and mutual understanding
Education for sustainable development
|Published by CCEA|
These objectives are supplemented by additional guidance produced by CCEA for teachers in delivering the Revised Curriculum. The guidance sets out the statutory requirements for these objectives and includes Human Rights, Equality and Diversity themes as Key Concepts.
7.3. In order to meet the requirements of the law, a school must provide learning opportunities in relation to Religious Education and Areas of Learning. The Board of Governors has to exercise its functions with a view to securing the following and the principal has to ensure that
- religious education is given in accordance with the provision for such education in the school's curriculum;
- the minimum content of each Area of Learning is taught as required by the school's curriculum as subsisting at the beginning of that year;
- access to the full range of courses specified under the Entitlement Framework is available to all pupils from 2013; and
- pupils are assessed as described later in this chapter.
7.4. Religious Education must be in accordance with the core syllabus drafted by the four main christian churches in the North of Ireland and specified by DE. The core syllabus can be accessed via the curriculum and assessment pages of the website www.deni.gov.uk.
Religious Education has a significant role within the revised curriculum as it provides pupils with the opportunities to learn about, discuss, evaluate and learn from religious beliefs, practices and values by supplying opportunities to engage with challenging questions about
- the meaning and purpose of life; and
- our place in society and the world around us.
This presents pupils with the chances to develop their personal understanding, moral character and enhance their spiritual and ethical awareness.
7.5. The Areas of Learning are as set out in the table below
Language and Literacy
Mathematics and Numeracy
The World Around Us
Personal Development and Mutual Understanding
Language and Literacy
Mathematics and Numeracy
Environment and Society
Learning for Life and Work
7.6. The Minimum Content for each Area of Learning and Key Stage means the knowledge, understanding and skills within that area which are required to be taught to pupils of different abilities and maturities during that stage and is set out in the Education (Curriculum Minimum Content) (NI) Order 2007 available via the DE website. The Revised Curriculum contains the following stages
- Foundation Stage for primary pupils in Years 1 and 2;
- Key Stage 1 is for primary pupils in Years 3 and 4;
- Key Stage 2 is for primary pupils in Years 5 to 7;
- Key Stage 3 is for post primary pupils in Years 8 to 10; and
- Key Stage 4 is for post primary pupils in Years 11 and 12.
The Key Stage 4 statutory curriculum requirements have been significantly reduced to give young people more choice and flexibility. The statutory requirements are
- to develop the cross curricular skills (communication, using mathematics and using ICT);
- to develop the other skills, defined as problem solving, self management and working with others;
- learning for life and work;
- physical education; and
- religious education, based on the core syllabus specified by DE.
7.7. The Entitlement Framework (EF) is an integral part of young people’s education within the Revised Curriculum at Key Stage 4 and post 16 and is the counter-balance to the reduced statutory requirements outlined above. The overarching policy objective is to guarantee all post-primary pupils aged 14 and above, greater choice and flexibility by providing them with a wide range of learning opportunities suited to their needs, aptitudes and interests. From September 2013 it is the Minister’s intention that schools will be required to provide all pupils with access to a minimum number of courses at KS4 (24) and a minimum number of courses at post 16 (27). In both cases, at least one-third of the courses must be general courses and at least one-third applied courses.
7.8. While some schools will be able to deliver the requirements of the EF, many others will have to work in collaboration with other schools, FE Colleges and other providers to provide their pupils with access to the full range of courses. Significant progress has been made with many more schools now engaged in innovative and creative approaches to collaborative working and this represents a culture change. There are now 29 Area Learning Communities (ALC) established within which schools, FE Colleges and other providers are working to increase the range of courses for pupils in local areas. This will ensure that pupils have access to a broad and balanced curricular offer covering both general and applied courses and each of the Areas of Learning.
7.9. The curriculum for a grant-aided school, in other words, the Areas of Learning and Religious Education has to give pupils the opportunities to develop the cross-curricular skills and the other skills specified by DE. The cross curricular skills are
- using mathematics; and
- using Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
7.10. The Board of Governors has a duty to determine and keep under review its policy in relation to the curriculum for the school and to make, and keep up to date, a written statement of that policy. The policy determined by a Board of Governors must be compatible with
- the Minimum Content specified under Article 7(1) of the Education (NI) Order 2006;
- any specification for a course of study which forms part of that curriculum and leads to an examination for an approved qualification; and
- the statutory provisions relating to education, including in particular those relating to children with special educational needs.
7.11. In discharging this duty, the Board of Governors has to consider in particular the range of the curriculum, and the balance between, and coherence of, its different components. The Board of Governors has a duty to
- take account of the findings of any inspection of the school by the Education and Training Inspectorate under Article 102 of the 1986 Order;
- consider any representations made to it regarding the curriculum by the Education and Library Board, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools and any other body or person connected with the community served by the school; and
- consult the principal of the school before making or varying its curriculum policy statement.
7.12. The Board of Governors is required to ensure that the principal
- is allocated such functions under the scheme of management for the school as will, subject to the resources available, enable the principal to determine and organise the curriculum and ensure it is followed within the school; and
- send a copy of every such statement made by it to the relevant education and library board and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools in the case of a Catholic maintained school.
7.13. School Boards of Governors may establish a Curriculum Committee to deal with aspects of their curriculum responsibilities.
7.14. The principal is in charge of the day-to-day management of the school and is responsible for the delivery of the curriculum policy. He/she will keep the Board of Governors fully informed about
- statutory requirements in relation to curriculum and assessment;
- the policies of the school;
- the organisation of the school;
- the progress of the school; and
- the management of the school.
7.15. While the Board of Governors is responsible, in consultation with the principal, for formulating and agreeing the school’s curriculum policy, it is the principal’s responsibility to ensure that it is implemented. The principal is responsible for determining, in consultation with the teaching staff, the methods and organisation used to deliver the curriculum. The principal should make sure that the governors are aware of the educational philosophy behind the methods used and should be willing to explain them if asked to do so.
7.16. If, for example, a principal and staff should decide on a major change in homework policy, it would be good practice to discuss this with the Board of Governors and parents beforehand and by so doing gain their support. Similarly the Revised Curriculum and the Entitlement Framework have brought about changes and, therefore, it would be prudent to discuss and explain these to parents and governors.
7.17. In delivering the curriculum the principal should take account of the views of the governors, the parents, the teaching staff, the pupils and the community. The principal should also take account of
- statutory requirements in relation to curriculum and assessment;
- reports issued by the Education and Training Inspectorate;
- the needs of local business and potential employers;
- the requirements of examining bodies; and
- the ethos established by the school owners and promoters.
7.18. The principal has an obligation to monitor and evaluate standards of learning and teaching throughout the school, using data effectively, and report on the outcomes of this process to the Board of Governors. The principal should seek to involve all teaching staff in the process of monitoring and evaluation, so as to arrive at a shared view of the standards being achieved.
Complaints about the Curriculum
7.19. Parents and other interested parties have a right in law to register a complaint if they feel that a school is failing to meet its statutory duties in relation to the revised curriculum. It is important that Boards of Governors have written procedures in place for handling those complaints and for obtaining all the information necessary to reach a decision on whether or not to uphold the complaint. The Department expects most complaints to be resolved at school level. However, where a complainant is not satisfied with the school’s decision, the Board of Governors must provide him/her with the address of the local ELB and a copy of the DE Circular about Curriculum Complaints.
7.20. Under Article 9 of the Education (NI) Order 2006, the curriculum for every grant-aided school requires each pupil in each Key Stage at the school to be assessed in each school year in accordance with such assessment arrangements as are specified by DE in relation to that pupil and that Key Stage.
7.21. Revised arrangements for annual statutory assessment are being introduced to support the introduction of the revised curriculum. These arrangements are based on the principles of assessment for learning. From the 2009/10 school year, schools are required to carry out diagnostic assessment for pupils in Years 4-7 during the autumn term, using the computer-based assessment method specified by DE in literacy and numeracy. By the end of the autumn term, schools have to report the results to parents in writing (from the 2009/10 school year) and to offer a meeting to discuss the outcomes and how best to meet the pupil’s needs. By the end of the summer term, schools are required to assess pupils in all year groups across each key stage and report in the following areas
- Areas of Learning – by assessing the pupil’s progress during the year;
- the cross curricular skills of Communication, Using Mathematics and Using ICT, which are to be assessed at the end of Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 with reference to the Levels of Progression to be specified by DE; and
- the other skills (Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities) – by assessing the pupil’s progress during the year.
7.22. The main means of reporting progress will be the annual report, which schools must send to parents by 30 June each year.
7.23. Detailed guidance on the assessment arrangements is provided to schools by DE through circulars issued to principals, and for the attention of Boards of Governors and these can be accessed at www.deni.gov.uk. The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), also issues guidance to teachers on the detailed arrangements for carrying out statutory assessment.
7.24. At Key Stage 4 and Post 16 pupil assessment is carried mainly through external public examinations. Under the Entitlement Framework, all courses offered in schools, which lead to qualifications, are quality assured through their accreditation within the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). For 14-16 year olds the qualifications taken are mainly at Level 1 and 2 within the NQF and for 16 to 19 year olds the qualifications are at Level 3.
7.25. At age 14 the curriculum is shaped by the choices offered by the school and opted for by a pupil. At Key Stage 4 (14-16 year olds) Level 2 courses such as General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) should be offered with an emphasis on improving the range of applied courses available to young people by 2013. Pupils will study a range of courses, the number and nature being decided after discussion with teachers and parents, and in the light of individual needs, aspirations and abilities.
7.26. At age 16 decisions are taken with the options of
- continuing at school;
- switching to a college of Further and Higher Education; or
- taking up an apprenticeship or other form of employment.
7.27. At post 16, for those pupils staying on at school Level 3, courses such as Advanced Level General Certificate of Education (‘A’ level GCE) should be offered with an emphasis on increasing the range of applied courses available by 2013.
7.28. Boards of Governors have a statutory duty to ensure that pupils are entered at the appropriate times for examinations for which they are being prepared, unless there are educational reasons for not doing so, and the parents of such pupils agree they should not be entered; or the parents request in writing that their child should not be entered.
7.29. Boards of Governors should be aware of the importance of recognising and celebrating young people's achievements at all stages of their school lives. In primary schools the Record of Achievement brings together a summative overview of the highlights of pupils' efforts and interests. In addition, the annual report will set out for parents their child’s achievements across the curriculum on an annual basis.
7.30. In post-primary schools the annual report will continue to record achievement across the curriculum. The Progress File records broader achievements. At this stage of the pupil’s career it is important that increasing personal responsibility is taken. The Progress File can support the development of the skills which are valued by employers, in particular the ability to work as a member of a team, to solve problems and to take responsibility for their own learning. These are the other skills that will be developed from Foundation to Key Stage 4 through the revised curriculum. The Progress File also links to career planning and includes a personal statement indicating the direction that it is proposed to take.
7.31. Schools participating in the Specialist Schools Initiative are selected by an independent panel and represent a range of management types, rural and urban schools and large and small schools. Schools have been able to apply for Specialist Status in the following curricular areas:
- Arts (performing, visual or media, drama)
- Art and Design
- Business and Enterprise
- Health and Social Care
- Leisure and Tourism
- Mathematics and Computing
7.32. The core objectives of the Specialist Schools Initiative are
- to provide opportunities for pupils to benefit from wider learning experiences and to ensure maximum impact of the available expertise and resources, by promoting co-operation and collaboration among schools and between schools and Further Education colleges;
- to provide parents with greater choice among a range of schools, which have differing areas of focus;
- to raise standards and realise performance improvement for all young people; and
- to develop links between schools, their local communities and the economy to ensure that all young people are given a strong foundation for lifelong learning and work.
7.33. The Specialist Schools programme contributes to the broader framework of the School Improvement and Raising Standards agenda, particularly regarding 14-19 provision.
7.34. Specialist Schools identify their particular strengths and, by sharing good practice, secure whole school development, foster strong collaborative links with partner schools and contribute to the development of good school leadership in their area. Specialist Schools are also required to take forward a community dimension by collaborating with other schools, FE colleges, businesses and the wider community.
7.35. Schools selected for participation receive additional resources of £100 per pupil per year for the period of each school’s designation and a one-off support grant of up to £25,000. Each participating school is expected to raise £25,000 of private sector sponsorship.
7.36. The Minister of Education announced on 22 April 2009 that the 10 schools recommended for inclusion in the Specialist Schools programme from September 2009 will be the final cohort of specialist schools designated under the current programme and that they will be designated until August 2011.
7.37. The Specialist Schools programme will be revised to ensure a more inclusive model will be developed that has a much sharper focus on
- raising standards;
- tackling the barriers to learning that too many of our young people face;
- sharing and learning from one another; and
- ensuring that the voice of pupils is sought and listened to in schools.
Education (NI) Order 1989 - Article 136
Education (NI) Order 2006 – Articles 4-13
(requirements and duties relating to the curriculum and assessment arrangements in a school)
Education (NI) Order 2006 – Article 24
(reporting pupil progress)
Curriculum (Complaints Tribunal) Regulations (NI) 1992, as amended by the
Curriculum (Complaints Tribunals) (Amendment) Regulations (NI) 1997
Education (Curriculum Minimum Content) Order (NI) 2007
Education (Assessment Arrangements) (Foundation to Key Stage 3) Order (NI) 2007
Education (Other Skills) Order 2007
Education (Core Syllabus for Religious Education) Order (NI) 2007
DE Circular 1993/1 Curriculum Complaints Tribunals
http://www.deni.gov.uk/1993-01.pdf PDF 24 KB
DE Letter of 27 November 2009 to all schools 'Delivery of the Revised Curriculum and Handling of Complaints from Parents and Other Parties'
http://www.deni.gov.uk/curriculum_complaints_tribunal_-_letter_to_schools.pdf PDF 41 KB
DE Circular 2009/08 Delivery of the Entitlement Framework by 2013
http://www.deni.gov.uk/ef_guidance_2009-08.pdf PDF 210 KB
DE Circular 2009/11 Delivery of the Revised Curriculum in Irish medium Primary schools
http://www.deni.gov.uk/2009_11_-_delivery_of_the_revised_curriculum_in_irish-medium_primary_schools_and_units.pdf PDF 56 KB
Further information on the revised curriculum and teaching resources can be accessed via www.nicurriculum.org.uk