Decentralisation for Schools, but Not for Knowledge: the RSA Area Based Curriculum and the limits of localism in Coalition education policy (FORUM 2)



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Publication date: June 1, 2011


Use of local environments and stakeholders to illuminate the school curriculum, and increase ownership of it, has been demonstrated by international research as an effective means by which to make the curriculum more relevant and engaging to students. Localism is a key tenet of the Government’s policy platform, and in education policy the extension of structural freedoms for schools has been a key priority. However, a parallel process of democratisation of knowledge is unlikely to follow. The inadequacy of government thinking about the nature of knowledge, and weaknesses in the system that will not be addressed by current policy, mean that schools are unlikely to be in a position to take full advantage of their new freedoms with regard to curriculum. The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce’s (RSA’s) Area Based Curriculum is contributing to the debate and practice about how localism might apply to knowledge. The author argues that in a world where local, national and global knowledges are increasingly in conflict, localism must extend to knowledge as well as to the structures of schooling. Curriculum developed in partnership between students, local communities and teachers would better equip students to navigate ideas of what is important and what it is important to know.

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