Getting to know the E’s and O’s

I know, I know. The experiences and outcomes have been around for ages now. Surely we’re long past getting to know them? In my experience however, this simply isn’t the case. Many of us seem to have taken something from them first time through, but now that we’re approaching the blunt end of assessment and reporting we’re beginning to wonder if we got them right.

Through our work with Myra Young, we’re being encouraged to take another look at the experiences and outcomes – this time starting with the purpose. This can often lead to a quite different approach to planning. Rather than looking at the experiences and outcomes and jumping straight to the activities we’d carry out, we think first about what the purposes of the outcomes are in terms of learning, how this could be evidenced and what the success criteria are.

On our inservice days next week at my new school, we’re lucky enough to be receiving CPD from teachers at Cramlington Learning Village with a view to planning our lessons using the accelerated learning cycle. But first I’m going to suggest that we need to ensure we understand the curriculum before jumping into detailed collaborative planning of lessons based on the learning cycle.

This can be illustrated with one of our science experiences and outcomes. Whilst in the past this might have led to us planning a series of lessons covering all the various organs of the systems we feel we need to ‘cover’, a fresh look at the purpose of the learning outlined in the curriculum brings a different emphasis and therefore quite different lessons.

We often complain the experiences and outcomes are vague and complex (which they are…but do we really want a version of the National Curriculum instead?) but if they are how can we expect to be fully familiar with them already? As difficult as it is to accept from the perspective of development work (which is going to get worse when the new NQs start arriving), the reality is that our understanding of the curriculum is going to evolve over time and I’m doing my best to try to keep my mind open to that…

Cross-posted on Fearghal Kelly’s thoughts

5 thoughts on “Getting to know the E’s and O’s

  1. Liz Sutherland

    This is really helpful – it sounds so simple now that you say it, ie think of the purpose – the outcome – and work back from there re Es and Os. Very useful in the current discussions about CfE assessment – and in line with the ‘backward planning’ approach (Ruth Sutton). Thanks.

  2. Bob Hill

    I have thought for some time that CfE is misnamed. It actually should be something like Pedagogy for Excellence as it is about method not necessarily content. However the waters have been muddied by the powers that be taking the opportunity to change the curriculum (small c) which has not helped the teacher in the street.

    There is also the elephant in the room, sorry Mr W about mixed metaphors, which is the question of really radical changes in assessment. Every subject has a core of facts which you have to be aware of to study the subject in any depth. To date most final assessment models have been about assessing that content. This leads sometimes to more and more minutiae of the subject being assessed the higher you go up the school. The trick will be to shift from just examining content to examining understanding, the ability to build on the bare facts and hypothesize which is what subject specific academics do.

    1. Fearghal Kelly

      I completely agree Bob. What surprises me however is that we seem to be in the minority on this from my experience. Any suggestion of a change in approach to assessment amongst teachers seems not to go down very well…

      1. Bob Hill

        Fearghal, I can see that for many teachers the idea of yet more change is not nice which adds to an inbuilt conservatism. We have been teaching pretty much the same way for a couple of hundred years.

        After all somebody way back consciously decided on 40 minute periods, not an hour or half an hour, and it is only very recently that it has been challenged not always with much success!

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