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What's the point? Meaningful learning through curriculum integration (archived)

Introduction to the NLC

The sector leader chose the title 'What’s the point?' to reflect the NLC’s ongoing journey towards greater meaning and relevance for students in their learning process and for teachers leading the integrated studies programmes and taking part in the NLC.

This NLC was formed in 2009. A total of 15 secondary schools have been involved in this NLC with the participant teachers coming from many different subject areas. Most other secondary NLCs are based around a curriculum area; this one is focused on integration, on breaking down the traditional secondary school silos. Its size and integration focus make it particularly interesting. The schools involved vary widely in the extent to which they have implemented an integrated curriculum, both in the type of approach and the level of experience in delivering an integrated studies programme.

The purpose of the NLC has been to provide an opportunity for schools that already have an integrated curriculum programme to share their experiences and explore effective ways of reviewing and developing their practice. The focus of the NLC work is on sharing good practice both from within the NLC and externally.

Activities and processes

The NLC meets approximately once a term. Agendas are circulated by the sector leader prior to the meeting. The format of the meetings has evolved over time to focus strongly on individual teacher’s stories of implementing integrated studies and the shared learning possible from these through discussion and debate. What works is evaluated both through the experiences of others and professional readings.

The benefits and highlights for those involved

The main benefit from involvement in the NLC is learning how other schools would approach things and what they would do differently to avoid past mistakes. Getting feedback on their own programme and having time to discuss and debate ideas were also mentioned as benefits. The collegial support that has been provided, including affirmation from others was also mentioned as a benefit.

For the school communities the main benefits were in the ideas and enthusiasm the participant teachers brought back into their schools. For example, one participant discussed how her involvement in the NLC had helped increase the focus in her school on integration and collaboration between teachers of different subjects. Further, there were reports of increased engagement from students engaged in integrated programmes, positively influencing their learning.

Ingredients for success

The ingredients for success, as mentioned by the sector leader, included having a group of committed and motivated teachers to work with and support from their schools. Also important was having a clear purpose or goals and a diversity of ideas to share. Funds to allow payment for release time were also seen as an important ingredient.

The other participants mentioned ensuring the meetings were focussed and based on teacher needs and having access to the right people to ensure there is mentoring and support. They also mentioned the need for flexible but structured meetings and having a strong, well organised sector leader who is able to keep the meetings on track.


Published on: 17 May 2011