Managing the Curriculum


Edited by: David Middlewood & Neil Burton

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  • Educational Management: Research and Practice

    Series Editor: Tony Bush

    This book, Managing the Curriculum, is the reader for the module Managing the Curriculum, one of the core modules of the MBA in Educational Management offered by the CELM, University of Leicester.

    The modules in this course are:

    Leadership and Strategic Management in Education

    Managing Finance and External Relations

    Human Resource Management in Schools and Colleges

    Managing the Curriculum

    Research Methods in Educational Management

    For further information about the MBA in Educational Management, please contact the CELM at For further information about the books associated with the course, contact Paul Chapman Publishing at


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    Series Editor's Foreword

    In many parts of the world, education is increasingly regarded as a vital element in the drive for economic growth. In developing countries, the focus is often on extending and improving basic education so that all young people acquire a minimum level of literacy and numeracy to contribute effectively to an emerging economy. In more highly developed nations, the emphasis is on increasing knowledge and skills to enhance their ability to compete in a global economy. This may be partly a matter of creating or improving the educational infrastructure, particularly in developing countries, for example in post-apartheid South Africa. In many advanced economies, however, there is increasing stress on the need to improve the quality of provision, often within the context of limited budgets for education.

    ‘Quality’ is one of the ‘buzzwords’ of the new millennium. It is frequently advocated, widely used and rarely challenged; few would admit to being anti-quality. However, the concept lacks clear definition and also suffers from a plethora of alternative terms, equally compelling but inevitably leading to overlapping meanings and lack of clarity. In education, as in other sectors, the term is value laden but there can be little doubt that it should relate primarily to classroom processes and to the management of these activities. The prime task of the education service is to promote learning, whether this be of young children, adolescents or adults.

    The definition of quality in schools and classrooms in England and Wales is increasingly dictated by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), whose remit has recently been extended to include further education. The periodic inspection visits and reports set the agenda for many institutions whose leaders are understandably nervous about being labelled ‘failing’. The inspection relates primarily to the National Curriculum and to successive governments' concern to ensure that it is delivered effectively and that national achievement targets are reached.

    Managing the curriculum, and the linked management of teaching and learning, are at the heart of the educational process. Heads and principals, senior and middle managers, and classroom teachers, all have a responsibility to promote learning and to ensure the implementation of both the prescribed and informal curriculum. It is this aspect of management which clearly delineates the role of educational leaders from that of leaders and managers in other organisations. What the Americans call ‘instructional leadership’ is the core task of managers in education which makes the British government's obsession with ‘best practice’ in industry and commerce all the more surprising.

    The development of effective managers in education requires the support of literature which presents the major issues in clear, intelligible language while drawing on the best of theory and research. The purpose of this series is to examine the management of schools and colleges, drawing on empirical evidence. The approach is analytical rather than descriptive and generates conclusions about the most appropriate ways of managing schools and colleges on the basis of research evidence.

    The aim of this series, and of this volume, is to develop a body of literature with the following characteristics:

    • Directly relevant to school and college management.
    • Prepared by authors with national and international reputations.
    • An analytical approach based on empirical evidence but couched in intelligible language.
    • Integrating the best of theory, research and practice.

    Managing the Curriculum is the seventh volume in the series and it is underpinned by the view that the prime purpose of educational organisations is to facilitate effective learning. The editors challenge the notion that the ‘curriculum’ is simply that defined by government and encourage readers to develop their own concepts of the term. The book examines different aspects of curriculum management, including planning, evaluation and monitoring, and focuses on the roles of managers at different levels of the organisation as well as stressing the importance of resourcing the curriculum. The purpose of the book is to present and debate the most effective ways of managing teaching and learning, the central task of leaders in any educational organisation.

    TonyBushUniversity of Leicester, November 2000


    The raison d'ětre of educational institutions such as schools and colleges is to facilitate effective learning. With hindsight, it may be found surprising that the focus in the management of schools and colleges was until recently much less on this and more on organisational systems, resources and staff management and such. These continue to remain critically important but the study of these areas now has at its heart the concern as to how they facilitate learning.

    For virtually the whole of the twentieth century (and many would claim it is still so), the primary means of facilitating learning has been teaching, which is why so much of this book concerns itself with learning and teaching. Indeed, the phrase ‘learning and teaching’ is gradually taking over from ‘teaching and learning’, as if to emphasise a shift in the relative importance of the two. An examination of a typical school or college in most developed countries, up to the mid-1980s at least, would have had the features of Carl Rogers's (1980) ‘teaching organisation’. The context in which schools and colleges exist at the beginning of the twenty-first century is beginning to be different at least in developed countries, and changing rapidly the whole time. We may describe it as a new context for learning.

    This context for learning resembles what Ferguson (1982) argued for as a ‘new paradigm’ of learning. He stressed the learning rather than methods of instruction or teaching. ‘Learning is kindled in the mind of the individual. Everything else is more schooling’ (ibid., p. 316). This new paradigm, as adapted by Law and Glover (2000), focuses on features such as:

    • learning how to learn
    • learning as a process, a journey
    • learning as a lifelong process
    • the teacher as a learner.

    There are a number of developments in the 1980s and 1990s which have significantly influenced the current emphasis on learning, including:

    • increasing discovery of how the brain works (it is claimed that 80 per cent of all we know about the human brain has been found out since 1990)
    • ideas of multiple intelligences (Gardner, 1993; Handy, 1994)
    • the recognition of the importance of emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1996)
    • understanding of the different learning styles of individual (e.g. Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic (VAK) or the reflector, theorist, pragmatist, activist model of Honey and Mumford (1986)
    • the influence of information and communications technology (ICT) upon education
    • the interest in schools and colleges, as with businesses, in being learning organisations.

    As this new emphasis is likely to increase as new discoveries occur, so the role of the teacher in learning will continue to evolve. Thus the management of the learning in a school or college and of the role of the teacher in facilitating it will continue to be central to the organisation's success or otherwise. At present, it is still possible – and convenient – to call this management of the curriculum.

    Curriculum, according to Richmond (1971, p. 87), is a ‘slippery’ word, meaning in the broadest sense the ‘educative process as a whole’ and, in the narrowest sense, ‘synonymous with the syllabus, a scheme of work, or simple subjects’. Curriculum management therefore is a concept that is not easily grasped and its development may be ‘more piecemeal and incremental and less rational and coherent than is generally supposed’ (Law and Glover, 2000, p. 178). The ability to ‘manage’ teaching and learning in this context is further complicated by the very indirectness of the impact of teaching upon learning outcomes.

    A book on ‘Managing the Curriculum’ therefore cannot possibly embrace all the definitions in terms of their application in all contexts. What it can do, as this one attempts to, is to focus on the needs of the educational managers at school or college level with a view to helping them to become more effective through understanding, reflection, awareness of effective practice, and application of the fruits of these to their individual contexts.

    Since the needs of the learner lie at the heart of educational management, especially at school or college level, our belief is that effective leadership and management begin with clarification and understanding of the values and philosophy that underpin concepts of the curriculum. One of the depressing situations for the editors and colleagues is to hear some teachers occasionally refer to ‘the curriculum’ as if its exclusive meaning was that national curriculum prescribed from the centre by governments such as those in the UK, South Africa or Hong Kong. The first section of the book therefore enables readers to explore concepts of the curriculum in order to clarify their own thinking. As the chapters in Section A illustrate, particular concepts of the curriculum inevitably have implications for which model of organisation the school or college will have and what choices may be made concerning approaches to managing learning and teaching.

    The task of the manager of the curriculum at school or college level is to ensure effectiveness. In that respect, planning the curriculum and then monitoring and evaluating its effectiveness are essential. Section B has chapters which deal with these three aspects respectively.

    As mentioned above, the role of the teacher continues to evolve but it remains pivotal in learning. However prescribed the curriculum, whatever the level of resources available, teachers still have what Kelly (1999) calls a ‘make or break’ role in curriculum development. Constant decisions and judgements by the teacher at classroom level remain crucial and these are made with an appreciation of the rationale of any activity. If the curriculum is seen as essentially about ‘education’, not merely learning via instruction, then this appreciation and understanding of educational experience at school or college level is the business of all those operating there, from headteachers and principals to classroom teachers and support staff. No matter how widespread and stringent are the measures to influence or ‘control’ curriculum activities at school or college level (assessment processes, inspections, performance appraisal, etc.), the influence of those working in schools and colleges is paramount. Section C therefore examines some of these key roles and some of the tensions referred to here.

    Talk of a new context for learning may sound remote for circumstances in some countries where one teacher may have a class of 50 children in a building of minimal sanitation, and access to ICT is a fantasy. Yet even in Zambia where one in ten families is headed by a child and one out of three children has a parent who has died of AIDS, relationships between children and teachers are seen as on a par with the importance for schools of running water and cool classrooms (Riley, 2000). This is a perhaps surprising parallel to the research carried out in the UK on an effective classroom climate. In Section D therefore, which deals with resources, the word ‘resources’ embraces human and physical as well as financial support.

    Debate about the meaning of ‘curriculum’ is destined to continue, but deciding upon a precise meaning is unimportant compared with ensuring that the learning experiences of children, young people and adults in individual schools and colleges are of the highest order for the appropriate purpose. Achieving this is ultimately the business and responsibility of those who lead and manage in these places. If this book helps some individuals and organisations in some part of this, it will have achieved its purpose of clarifying and understanding aspects of curriculum management and relating them to practice.

    We are above all extremely grateful to all the contributors to this book for their time and commitment, as well as their scholarship. The book would not have been possible without the support of colleagues at the Educational Management Development Unit (EMDU), and we particularly thank Felicity Murray for all her work on the manuscript, as well as Christopher Bowring-Carr for the index and our families for their support during the period of working on this volume.

    DavidMiddlewood and NeilBurtonNovember 2000
    Ferguson, M. (1982) The Aquarian Conspiracy, London, Granada.
    Gardner, H. (1993) The Unschooled Mind, London, Fontana.
    Goleman, M. (1996) Emotional Intelligence, London, Bloomsbury.
    Handy, C. (1994) The Empty Raincoat, London, Hutchinson.
    Honey, P. and Mumford, A. (1986) The Manual of Learning Styles, Maidenhead, Honey Publications.
    Kelly, A. (1999) The Curriculum: Theory and Practice, London, Paul Chapman.
    Law, S. and Glover, D.(2000) Educational Leadership and Learning, Buckingham, Open University Press.
    Richmond, K. (1971) The School Curriculum, London, Methuen.
    Riley, K. (2000,) Speech to National Union of Teachers Conference, Stoke Rochford, April.
    Rogers, C. (1980) A Way of Being, Boston, Houghton Mifflin.

    Notes on Contributors

    Les Bell joined EMDU of the University of Leicester as its second Professor of Educational Management in October 1999. His research interests include school organisation and management. He has written extensively on educational management and has worked throughout the world as an educational consultant and is a member of the editorial board of the British Journal of Educational Research and the Journal of Educational Administration.

    Ann Briggs is a lecturer in educational management in the EMDU of the University of Leicester. She has considerable experience of secondary and further education, including a range of middle management posts. She has researched and written on issues of resource management and accessibility to learning. She contributed to the Managing Finance and Resources in Education text in the Research and Practice series, and is co-editor and contributor to the forthcoming volume Research Methods in Educational Leadership and Management.

    Mark Brundrett is programme leader for the MBA in Educational Management by Distance Learning at the EMDU of the University of Leicester and is highly experienced in National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) training. Prior to moving into higher education, Mark gained experience of teaching and managing in both primary and secondary schools, becoming a primary school headteacher for a number of years. He has most recently edited Principles of School Leadership for Peter Francis Publishers and is currently editing a second volume of case studies focusing on Beacon Schools, with Neil Burton.

    Neil Burton is a lecturer in educational management with the EMDU of the University of Leicester on Ed.D and MBA courses and course leader of the BA (Hons) in Primary Education. Neil has taught and managed in both the primary and secondary sectors as well as having posts in initial teacher training and a school curriculum advisory service. He has published journal articles and chapters on educational management (most recently in Brundrett (ed.) Principles of School Leadership) and is currently editing a second volume of case studies focusing on the experience of Beacon Schools, with Mark Brundrett.

    Hugh Busher is a senior lecturer in the school of education, University of Leicester. Having taught in comprehensive schools for many years, he is particularly interested in the interactions of individuals and organisations and the policies and processes of change. His publications include work on teacher professional development, managing school exclusions and subject leaders as middle managers in schools.

    Brian Hardie has taught children and adults in a variety of schools and universities for 35 years and is currently an associate tutor with the EMDU of the University of Leicester. Ten years were spent in three secondary schools including being a head of department. Fifteen years were spent teaching in primary schools, first as a teaching deputy and subsequently as head of a middle school. In three universities he has taught master's students Education Management for over ten years in the UK, USA and Israel. He has published books on educational management, including Evaluating in the Primary School (1995, Northcote House) and contributed a chapter to Strategic Management in the Research and Practice series.

    Jacky Lumby has taught in a range of educational phases including secondary schools, adult and further education. She is currently a Deputy Director of the EMDU of the University of Leicester. She has written extensively in the field of educational management and edited the titles Strategic Management and Managing External Relations in the Research and Practice series. She has also authored Practitioner Research in Education: Making a Difference (with Middlewood and Coleman) and Managing Further Education: Learning Enterprise within the series.

    David Middlewood is Director of School-Based Programmes at the EMDU of the University of Leicester. Prior to joining the university in 1990, David spent many years teaching in schools, including ten as a head-teacher. David's publications include Managing People in Education (with Tony Bush) and Practitioner Research in Education, and he has edited and contributed to other volumes in the Research and Practice series. His main research interest lies in staff development and teacher performance and appraisal. His next book on this topic reflects international research undertaken in countries such as New Zealand and South Africa.

    Richard Parker is headteacher of Lodge Park Technology College in Corby, an 11–18 comprehensive technology college in the East Midlands of England. Prior to his appointment there in 1993, Richard had teaching and management experience in a number of secondary schools. Since gaining his MBA in 1997, Richard has written articles on staff development with David Middlewood and his school is the most successful in the country for school-based management training. Richard is co-editor of Headship Matters and is on the management committee of the Technology College Trust Council.

    Margaret Preedy is a lecturer in the Centre for Educational Policy and Management at the Open University. She has written extensively in the field of educational management including, most recently: Educational Management: Strategy, Quality and Resources (1997) and Organisational Effectiveness and Improvement in Education (1997) and contributed a chapter to the Research and Practice series' Managing External Relations in Schools and Colleges.

    Peter Silcock is visiting Professor of Education at the University of Hertfordshire and national chair of the Association for the Study of Primary Education. He has published widely on theories of teaching and learning and their implications for school curricula. His most recently published book is New Progressivism for Falmer Press.

    Daniela Sommefeldt is a senior tutor at the EMDU of the University of Leicester where she co-ordinates the Headlamp programme and is also involved in the East Midlands NPQH Centre, as well as teaching on the school-based MBA programme. Before joining the EMDU, she worked for many years as a headteacher of a special school for children with severe and profound learning difficulties.

    Christine Wise completed her doctorate with the University of Leicester and is a lecturer in the Centre for Educational Policy and Management with the Open University. She has published and made conference presentations on the role of middle managers in schools, the training of subject leaders, the role of Advanced Skills Teachers and the change for former grant-maintained (GM) schools to foundation status.

  • Glossary of Terms

    CACHECouncil for Awards in Children's Care and Education
    CATcognitive ability test
    CPDcontinuing professional development
    DfEEDepartment for Education and Employment
    EBDemotional and behavioural difficulties
    EMDUEducational Management Development Unit
    FEfurther education
    FEFCFurther Education Funding Council
    GMgrant maintained
    GNVQGeneral National Vocational Qualification
    HEhigher education
    HEADLAMPHeadteacher Leadership and Management Programme
    ICTinformation and communication technology
    EEPindividual education plan
    HPInvestors in People
    KSKey Stage
    LEAlocal education authority
    LMSlocal management of schools
    LPSHleadership Programme for Serving Headteachers
    LSAlearning support assistant
    MBWAmanagement by walking about
    MLDmoderate learning difficulties
    NASENNational Association for Special Educational Needs
    NFERNational Foundation for Educational Research
    NPQHNational Professional Qualification for Headship
    NQTnewly qualified teacher
    QBEOutcomes-Based Education
    OECDOrganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
    OfstedOffice for Standards in Education
    PMLDprofound and multiple learning difficulties
    PSHEPersonal, Social and Health Education
    QCAQualifications and Curriculum Authority
    SATstandard assessment task
    SENspecial educational needs
    SENCOspecial educational needs co-ordinator
    SLDsevere learning difficulties
    SMSCSpiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural
    SMTsenior management team
    STAspecialist teaching assistant
    TOCTarget-Oriented Curriculum
    TTATeacher Training Agency
    TVEITechnical and Vocational Educational Initiative
    WWWWorld Wide Web
    ZBBzero-based budgeting

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