Halt the phenomenon of ‘curriculum dumping’

Preparing a presentation for a Chartered College of Teaching Creating Excellence conference in July, I came across a definition that, had I been wearing a tie and eating anything at the same time, would have resulted in a visit to the dry cleaners. Joe Nutt, an educational consultant and author writes inTes. 

It was a definition of “curriculum dumping”. According to the author of the glossary of UK education, it is “a phenomenon whereby politicians, journalists, public figures and commentators identify a need or failure in society and automatically decide that schools should be the ones to pick up the slack of that need; this is usually announced through the press using the headline format ‘Schools should teach X’.”

In the famous words of an old-school journalist, “here-today-gone-tomorrow politicians” feel at liberty to use today’s schools as a kind of Swiss Army knife for social reformers. Rising obesity levels? Prise open the PE department. Social media at anarchic levels? Where’s that pesky PSHE teacher? Not enough people voting, or voting incorrectly? Up pops citizenship teaching.

Teachers need to remind anyone and everyone who dumps on them in this fashion that their job is to teach children things they don’t know, usually in fairly large groups. If doing that has knock-on benefits for those kids, or for the nation as a whole, so be it. 

In a 30-page 2016 report on how charities can work best in the school system, 58 separate charities working with schools were referenced. When I searched the charity commission’s website for charitable initiatives providing training or services, and added the keyword “schools”, it stumped up a list of 3,675. I’m happy to assume a substantial proportion of these are putting external speakers into schools to get some socially improving message or other across.

Often, the medium is not the message. How these speakers behave is indelibly linked to the message they wish to convey. They embody curriculum dumping. A video clip would be just as effective and cheaper. 

The financial folly of this is the fact that it is a merry-go-round of taxpayers’ money: central government often supports a charity to carry out social-improvement initiatives for schools to purchase with money given to them by central government.

You are the one being dumped on by the parents and everyone else who sees your school as a potential source of income for their charitable works.

Read the full article Halt the phenomenon of ‘curriculum dumping’

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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Comments

  1. Graham Nutbrown

    “Teachers need to remind anyone and everyone who dumps on them in this fashion that their job is to teach children things they don’t know, usually in fairly large groups. If doing that has knock-on benefits for those kids, or for the nation as a whole, so be it.” Absolutely…but what things? Unless we have a clear understanding of what it is intrinsically valuable to teach, and what proportion of total curriculum time it should absorb, we leave ourselves open to the curriculum dumping Joe Nutt describes. We have to be clear about the intrinsic value of curriculum content to individuals before we speculate on possible instrumental benefits for society. If we don’t do that we might as well jump straight to the instrumental benefits and invite the “here-today-gone-tomorrow” politicians to keep dumping.

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