Cross-Curricular Approaches to Teaching and Learning


Edited by: Chris Rowley & Hilary Cooper

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    Recent and ongoing developments in the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) Futures programme suggest that we are entering an exciting period in which opportunities to place subjects alongside processes, values, social justice and broader areas of learning make this book timely in exploring existing work that is taking place in schools now.

    All the contributors to this book are committed to the development of a more integrated and coherent primary curriculum which makes links between different subjects. They recognize the achievements of the National Curriculum in identifying the concepts and core questions which lie at the heart of each subject and of progression in the skills associated with those questions. They wish to explore ways of taking the curriculum beyond simply linking subjects under a theme, although there are many ways in which this can be done. They are also exploring ways of creating a curriculum which has values education at the heart, not just of classroom organization, relationships and ethos, but also within the core of each subject. For reasons which are explained in Chapter 1, planning for each case study starts with a humanities subject, history or geography – or both – linked to other subjects.

    In each example we focus on types of enquiry in which values are embedded in the enquiry itself and not seen as an ‘add on’. Values development is part of the teaching of both history and geography, it is a central part of the subjects which cannot be ignored and offers great opportunities to enrich the curriculum.

    The case studies, covering Reception to Year 6, are a way of not just explaining and justifying this approach but of sharing with readers, reflecting upon and evaluating what happened when it was put into practice. Most took place over a short period of time in which teachers and teacher trainers worked together to plan and implement them in real classrooms.

    It is hoped that these case studies will serve as a stimulation – even an inspiration – for modifying in the context of other school environments. It may be that after the initial integrated unit the contributing subjects develop separately and traditionally within the values theme, and that, at certain points during the longer unit, opportunities are found for further integrated work. This would seem to be a manageable, flexible and developmental model.

    What we think is most innovative is that the subjects in each case study are truly integrated, not running alongside each other, and this integration is deepened by the overarching theme which permeates the unit of work, which is an aspect of values education.

    Finally, we hope that we have taken both a reflective and exploratory approach. We have experienced a great deal of prescription and the notion that ‘someone else, out there, knows best’. It is time to return to applying and evaluating our considerable professional expertise. Recognizing that there are always different and perhaps better ways of doing things and thinking about them deeply, and in relation to our very different professional contexts and understanding that we may all do things differently but equally well, is what attracts well-informed, creative, committed and enthusiastic colleagues to our very important and sometimes undervalued profession. Read on!

    Contributor Biographies

    Jennifer (Jen) Ager is a primary school teacher in High Hesket, Cumbria. She graduated from St Martin's College in 2002 with a physical education (PE) specialism, and has since taught in Plymouth and Cumbria, as well as squeezing in a three-year career break travelling the globe. Jennifer has a keen interest in thematic approaches to the curriculum and uses as many opportunities as she can to link topic work through cross-curricular approaches in her class teaching.

    Jan Ashbridge is Subject Leader and Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education at the University of Cumbria. She has been a Foundation Stage teacher for 12 years and also a senior advisory teacher for the Foundation Stage within Cumbria Local Education Authority (LEA). Jan has been involved in planning and delivering training to students, and early years educators across the north-west of England in all aspects of young children's learning and the skills adults need to support this.

    Chris Barlow lectures in primary geography and history at the University of Cumbria. With 18 successful years in primary education, Chris has been a deputy headteacher and has worked as an advisory teacher for Lancashire LEA. Chris is an experienced subject leader, with an interest in the global dimension, creativity and the development of effective cross-curricular approaches to learning.

    Andrea Brook is a senior lecturer in Art and Design at the University of Cumbria with particular interest in book arts and art history and she strongly believes that art can stimulate children in all aspects of their schooling. She has taught in primary schools in the UK, Greece and Austria, where she co-ordinated art in the International School of Vienna.

    Dr Hilary Cooper graduated in history and taught for many years in London primary schools. Her doctoral research was on young children's thinking in history, undertaken as a practising class teacher. She was a lecturer in education at Goldsmith's College, London University, before becoming Head of Professional Studies in the Education Department of Lancaster University, and subsequently, Professor of History and Pedagogy at the University of Cumbria. She has published widely on the teaching and learning of history.

    Donna Hurford, while working as a primary school teacher, Donna sought opportunities to introduce development education into the curriculum. Her school experience and responsibilities for information and communications technology (ICT) co-ordination enabled her to attain a lecturer post in initial teacher education (ITE). Her current teaching role in higher education, at the University of Cumbria, straddles ICT education and education studies, while her core interest remains with what is now called global citizenship. Part of her role is to support colleagues in the education faculty with the introduction and application of global citizenship themes and principles through a broad range of ITE courses. She has recently returned from a Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) post in the Maldives where she worked as an adviser for the country's Professional Development Unit, a wonderful professional and personal experience which gave her the opportunity to work in partnership with Maldivian colleagues and to experience living in a very different country.

    Jo Josephidou has been an early years teacher since 1988. During her career she has worked in both primary and nursery schools across Foundation Stage (FS) and Key Stage I (KS1). Her main areas of interest are early literacy, primary geography, and personal, social and emotional development in young children. She has led on creative curricula in her current role.

    Lisa MacGregor has been a primary school teacher for 14 years. She has had experience of teaching children from Nursery to Year 6 in a range of schools. At present she teaches part time in a primary school in Newcastle upon Tyne and lectures part time at the University of Cumbria.

    Hugh Moore is a senior lecturer in primary history and early history at the University of Cumbria. He is a trained teacher and museum curator and in a former life ran the museum's education service in Lancaster and in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

    Graham Reeves is Director of Fieldwork Education Services and has been with fieldwork education for 10 years. Graham was formerly head teacher of a large primary school in the UK and has been an inspector for the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), a member of the Special Education Needs Tribunal, visiting lecturer at the universities of Greenwich, London and East London and an acting regional officer for the National Union of Teachers. Graham now works with international schools in many countries. He was responsible for the early development of the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and has provided IPC training to schools in many locations throughout the world.

    Chris Rowley is a senior lecturer in environmental and geographical education at the University of Cumbria. He was a member of the committee of the Society to Advance Philosophical Enquiry in Education (SAPERE) from 1997 to 2003. An interest in children's understanding of the environment led him to work with teachers around Morecambe Bay between 2003 and 2004 to co-produce the book Thinking on The Edge (Lewis and Rowley, Living Earth, 2004). In 2006 Chris was co-editor of Geography 3–11 (Fulton).

    Martin Skelton is one of the founders of Fieldwork Education. He designed and was Founding Director of the International Primary Curriculum and continues to be closely involved in its development including the recent direction of its Assessment for Learning Programme. Martin also designed the Looking for Learning protocol which is being used by an increasing number of schools in the UK and elsewhere. He is Director of Learning for the WCLS Group of Schools in the USA and Qatar and is currently leading the writing of the social studies curriculum for a country in the Middle East. Martin has worked with thousands of teachers, administrators and schools around the world, and for the past seven years he has been immersed in brain research and its implications for classroom practice.

    Sue Temple graduated from Sunderland Polytechnic and specialized in special educational needs with an M.Ed from Newcastle University. She taught in primary schools in the North East for 17 years, teaching from Nursery to Year 6, including special needs responsibilities and acting head of a nursery school. She is currently course leader for primary history at the Carlisle Campus of the University of Cumbria.

    Rob Wheatley taught in inner London for 20 years, first at North Westminster Community school and then at Langdon Park School in Tower Hamlets. His subject was Geography but he taught in a humanities faculty throughout his career. He was Head of Humanities at Langdon Park for 12 years. He has written contributions to books on geography and ICT and was the author of a General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) geography textbook. Since 1997 he has worked in teacher training, first at the Urban Learning Foundation and, since 1999, at St Martin's College London base in Tower Hamlets, now part of the University of Cumbria. He teaches ICT and geography and is currently undertaking research in newly qualified teachers' experiences of teaching geography.

  • Conclusion

    ChrisRowley and HilaryCooper

    We began this book by wanting to provide case studies of how enquiries in the humanities could be used as the starting point for integrated work in the primary school. In addition, we wanted to show how the core values of the National Curriculum can emerge from an enquiry-led curriculum where those enquires investigate real questions in history and geography while drawing upon and developing skills learnt in other subjects.

    Each chapter has, we believe, demonstrated that this can be done in quite different ways. However, a number of common factors have emerged, which seem to be needed for such enquires to be successful:

    • Collaborative planning in which different teachers bring different skills and interests. See, for example, the plans produced for the work on Chapter 6.
    • Opportunities for visiting other places which introduce new perspectives to the children. Chapters 5 and 8 both, in different ways, depend upon specific places as their stimulus.
    • Opportunities for open dialogue in which children can feel that they can contribute to the enquiry regardless of their writing skills. Chapter 10 specifically uses dialogue to develop PSHE alongside geography.
    • Clear identification of specific skills from other subjects which are rigorously developed. For example, see the way that art was developed with geography in Chapter 4.
    • An understanding of the importance of what children bring to the lesson, particularly well illustrated in Chapter 2.
    • Recognition of the importance of connections, both in the ways that our brain works and also in the connections between subjects. This is evident throughout the International School Curriculum discussed in Chapter 9.
    • Opportunities to try to ‘get into the shoes’ of others, whether they are from the past or from other places. Chapter 7 specifically works on this in moving children into a Tudor period.
    • Awareness of opportunities for real application of skills from other subjects. In Chapter 3 the need to apply mathematical skills becomes a seamless part of the theme rather than a false ‘add on’.
    • Ensuring that there is a genuine enquiry into a real question, something that all the case studies have attempted to achieve.

    These nine key factors will not, of course, be possible, or indeed desirable, in all circumstances. We believe, however, that they offer real opportunities to develop a curriculum which is not only rigorous, but also practical, forward looking and enriching for both children and teachers. We hope that these case studies have inspired you to modify and develop the ideas we have explored in your own contexts.

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