This report addresses the challenge of teachers not only being asked to design curriculum, but to collaborate with local stakeholders to do so.
Current education policy devolves more control over curriculum to state schools, and renews emphasis on ‘teacher quality’. At the same time, there are moves towards increasing localism across public services, and the idea of civic activism is influencing the ways in which public services relate to the communities they operate within. These policies speak directly to the RSA agendas of democratisation of schooling and citizen
participation in public services. They also present an opportunity for the development of a form of teacher professionalism that meets the complex and multiple needs of contemporary society, and a more localised and engaged education system.
The RSA’s Area Based Curriculum requires teachers to be curriculum designers as well as work with local stakeholders to elicit the knowledge resources held in local communities. It therefore draws on ideas of localism and co-production being advocated by the Coalition government, but goes further than current central education policy in terms of how the relationship between schools and communities
is configured. Drawing on experiences from the Area Based Curriculum, this pamphlet highlights some of the challenges concerning teacher identities and
capacities raised by both Coalition government ambitions for schools and teachers, and the RSA’s work. It argues that a) accountability driven by attainment outcomes, coupled with an absence of support for teachers as curriculum developers may mitigate against real creative autonomy in the profession, and that b) there is a danger that overly narrow definitions of ‘teacher quality’ could undermine the possibilities for engagement between schools and communities. Taken together, these challenges mean that the opportunity presented by structural reform for the development of a new model of teacher professionalism that supports a more collaborative relationship between schools and communities may be missed.