Parklands School ran a project called ‘Undressing Manchester: the Urban World’ as their part of the Manchester curriculum. This programme was run for half a term in the summer term with all year 7 pupils. It formed one unit of the Year 7 Competency Curriculum which focuses on developing students’ personal, learning and thinking skills.
The Manchester curriculum was, as discussed in the main report, an ambiguous proposition. Without a clear vision statement, ‘the Manchester Curriculum’ was, to a large extent, shaped by the teacher groups in each school. This meant that before beginning to plan activities, the teachers had to negotiate their educational objectives and to get to grips with what the project was trying to achieve. There were also significant debates about the scale of ambition that was feasible within the project, both for planning and for delivery of the new scheme of work. With very few parameters, highly divergent opinions and experiences, the Parklands team was faced with a major challenge in designing and developing a curriculum within the time made available at the residential workshops.
Moreover, there were real difficulties in making staff available to attend the residentials, with the result that some teachers were only able to join in the evening and on Saturdays, giving them a sense of having missed important experiences.
Because of the scale of the challenge – the need to define aims, the need to work out what the project ‘was’, the need to determine the scale and feasibility of the project, and because of the difficulties of getting all staff released to attend all of the residentials, the planning time had to expand outside the residential time. Because no funding was made available in the project for teacher planning time other than the residentials, the staff took it on themselves to continue planning in the evenings after other meetings.