The Practice and Theory of School Improvement

pp 169-181

Curriculum Reform, Educational Change and School Improvement

  • Gary MccullochAffiliated withUniversity of Sheffield

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In many countries and throughout the modern era of educational change, curriculum innovation has been regarded as an essential strategy for educational reform. Yet, as Gary McCulloch argues in this chapter, the positive impact of planned curriculum reform has been at best equivocal. In reflecting on the recent history of educational change in England and Wales he first considers curriculum reform in relation to the role of schools, and then the changing position of teachers. McCulloch focuses on the different strategies that have been devised to promote curriculum reform in this context and the tensions and contradictions that have developed as a result. In particular, he examines the strategies of ‘independence’ and ‘absorption’ in relation to specific curriculum initiatives in order to assess their relative impact both in terms of educational change and with respect to the more limited aim of school improvement. Later in the chapter he compares the espousal of teacher freedom’ so characteristic of the reforms of the 1960s, with the emphasis on control and accountability in the reforms of the 1990s. McCulloch concludes the chapter by assessing the relative importance of these issues for curriculum reform for school improvement.