Activity 8

Continuity and Progression

Look again at the lesson planning format above from The Harry Gretton School in England. The checklist of learning opportunities identified in the bottom right hand corner of that planning format reflect the breadth of learning styles which are currently recommended in the English National Curriculum. Teachers in England are expected to deliver a breadth and balance of such opportunities over any particular unit of work.

In addition to breadth and balance, the notion of ‘relevance' is also important. It is expected that pupils are entitled to a curriculum that will serve their present and future needs as adults and workers.

Schools and departments are also expected to ensure that their Schemes and units of work are ‘coherent', in other words, that they fit together so that one unit leads on seamlessly to the next.

While ‘coherence' can be defined in terms of curriculum, it can also be defined from a constructivist viewpoint in terms of the pupil's own conceptual framework - in terms of the ‘zone of proximal development' (ZPD) which was discussed in Module 2.

From a constructivist viewpoint, ‘coherence ‘ and ‘continuity' are seen from the pupil's eyes rather than the curriculum planner's:

"It is the student who ultimately establishes the continuity between existing knowledge, concepts, skills, ways of working, teaching and learning styles in her own mind, even though we might be able to facilitate that process of building links" (Cohen, Manion and Morrison 1997, page 130).

REFLECT: Review your notes from Module 2, Unit 4 on Vygotsky's explanation of the ZPD - the distance between a child's actual and potential intellectual, social, cognitive and emotional development.

WRITE: Consider one individual child's curricular experience in your school over one day. How could the concept of the ZPD help teachers to lay a more child-centred basis for coherence and continuity in the planned curriculum?

(Allow 30 minutes)