CfE vs PYP

IB Reflective Activity 4

The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and the Primary Years Practice (PYP) have many similarities. Engagement is a key area for both curricula with student centred learning being a method both employ as a way to achieve this participation.

PYP is built around 10 core attributes for the pupils to focus on as they grow and develop into inquiring, knowledgeable and caring people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. In teaching the learning is delivered in a transdisciplinary manner to add more relevance to the learning. Cross-curricular teaching can also be found in CfE where learning is given more breadth in teaching students more than one subject at a time. By teaching this way students are able to see the applications for their learning out with the school environment, leading to more engagement and hopefully more learning taking place.

As PYP is designed to be delivered across the globe, one major element to it is encouraging pupils to make connections with their learning and begin to understand the world they live and participate in. In investigating and understanding their own culture pupils can contrast, compare and have compassion for other cultures they come across in their life. CfE does not look outward in the scale PYP does. Despite this within CfE Religious and Moral Education offers a time and place to explore and develop pupils’ knowledge of the world around them and their place in it. Comparing the two curricula, PYP has more of an emphasis on this aspect of education however it is not lacking from CfE, just not as central.

In CfE Technologies is highlighted as a subject in itself that can be taught as an interdisciplinary lesson, or by itself however in PYP there is no subject for technologies. In PYP it is expected each lesson should include technologies in some way and pupils should gradually learn the technology skills they need throughout their time in PYP.

Overall both curricula equip pupils with the skills they need for life after and above school. Both curricula encourage an environment centred around life-long learning and constant improvement.

PYP Curricular Areas CfE Curricular Areas
Language Language and Literacy
Mathematics Mathematics and Numeracy
Science Sciences
Social Studies Social Studies
Arts Expressive Arts
Personal, Social and Physical Education Health and Wellbeing
Religious and Moral Education

Progressive trends in IB and Cfe

IB Reflective Activity 3

Looking at the ‘progressive’ trends highlighted in the IB documentation I can see they are more aligned with current values and methods I have seen implemented in practice in CfE  classrooms.

Transdisciplinary learning can be seen in CfE in the form of ‘interdisciplinary learning’. This can be through a central topic used to investigate subjects such as maths and science at the same time, or drama and religious education. Using interdisciplinary learning allows children to make connections between different areas of their learning and enables them to see the relevancy of the learning happening in the classroom. Learners can use the pairing of varying skills to apply to problems to enhance their critical thinking and problem solving skills .

Child-centred learning takes place in the classroom when the focus of the lesson changes from being didactic to pupil-lead. By focussing on listening and talking in the classroom (one element of CfE) the teacher can elicit new ideas and opinions from the class while simultaneously working on their communication skills. When the class are engaged and have the ability to take part in sharing they become active participants in the lesson and in turn the lesson becomes more specialised to the specific class being taught. Increasing the relevancy and therefore also raising pupil engagement.

Education of the whole child can be clearly seen in the SHANARRI wheel. By ‘getting it right for every child’ using the SHANARRI wheel teachers and other educational practitioners can provide a tailored education to each child in their care. SHANARRI provides a framework on what and how to educate topics going further than specific subjects such as mathematics or science. By looking closer at aspects of the pupil’s life such as; their knowledge on how to keep themselves safe; how to know when they are being respected; or how to live a healthy, active life. These life skills go past academic subjects but are just as relevant to equipping pupils with the necessary tools to succeed.


Extension Activity

John Dewey – focuses on the importance of tapping into students natural curiosity. This can be seen in CfE when looking at the attribute ‘successful learners’. This section of CfE looks at developing pupils’ enthusiasm and motivation for learning while nurturing a determination to reach high standards of achievement. In IB this same notion can be seen in the ‘learner profile’s 10 core attributes’ where both thinkers and inquirers are key areas of development for pupils throughout their IB education.

A.S Neill – focused on the idea of students developing in an environment free from constraints, having personal freedom for children in their education. Looking at CfE we can see this line of thinking in ‘effective contributors’ where pupils are guided towards an enterprising attitude, resilience and self-reliance. One of the Progressive Education Trends that are present in the IB curriculum is ‘multiple perspectives’. When applied to learning this gives the pupils autonomy in their own education to create and develop their own opinion and standpoints.

Jean Piaget – specialises in the idea that children develop academic intelligence through a cognitive cycle. Looking to CfE this theory is seen in the levels of the curriculum, and the skills that progress through these levels. They are tailored to the means and capacity of the age they are aimed at but can be accessed by anyone who requires that level of work. In IB curriculum the 6 transdisciplinary ideas can be worked to suit any level of cognitive ability and also have the added benefit of adding relevance to the pupil’s learning.

Jerome Bruner – looked at how self-discovery of information improves the problem solving skills of pupils. In CfE problem solving is focused on in one of the four capacities – ‘effective contributors’. In this the ability to solve problems, apply critical thinking and new contexts and to take the imitative and lead are all key elements. In being transferable skills these aspects can be used in other curriculum areas. A main focus of the IB curriculum is to develop effective teaching and learning approaches. In doing so the pupils have the tools to learn knowledge and facts without a guide such as a teacher and can embark on a learning journey in applying their skills to problem solving where ever they desire.

Is IB Any Different to CfE?

IB Reflective Activity 2

When comparing the IB curriculum to the Curriculum for Excellence we can see both similarities such as relevancy, pupils’ wellbeing, and independence and differences such as a more specific curriculum or a more global world view. A key underlying focus central to both curriculums is the wellbeing of the child – physically, emotionally and mentally.

Looking closer at the similarities I can see relevancy is a central goal in both curriculums. In Curriculum for Excellence the importance of the relevancy of the childrens’ learning can be seen when looking closely at ‘Responsible Citizens’. One requirement of this is to have knowledge of histories and culture in Scotland and the similarities and differences to the histories and cultures of the rest of the world. Leading on from this the Curriculum for Excellence also looks at ensuring pupils can participate responsibly in political, economic, social and cultural life. For this they need the knowledge of Scotland’s way of life, and other ways to contrast and find their own viewpoints and opinions.

In the IB curriculum we can see the same focus on relevancy and place in the world in the focus ‘works within global contexts’. This is important as the IB curriculum is designed to be delivered across many countries and cultures. This part of the curriculum looks at increasing pupil understanding of cultures and explores globally significant ideas and issues, similar to the focuses of ‘responsible citizens’ in the Curriculum for Excellence.

A second similarity is the methods both curricula want the children to be able to communicate and work in. in IB the focus is children ‘developing effective teaching and learning approaches’ and within this developing characteristics such as communication, reflection and inquiry. In Curriculum for Excellence skills such as working in partnership, and taking initiative fall into the ‘effective contributors’. Looking closely at this section of CfE we can see a spotlight on transferable skills such as resilience, taking leadership roles and problem solving.

Where there are similarities between International Baccalaureate and Curriculum for Excellence there are also differences as they are different curricula at their cores and have different main goals. While CfE is very broad in that there are only 4 capacities (within these each main focus is broken down), IB has more specific requirements of the pupils in the ‘Learner Profile’ containing 10 core attributes each pupil must stive towards.  On top of this the CfE, while having some requirement for looking out with Scotland, does not do so in the amount of detail as IB looks at global ideas and issues.

The 10 learner profile attributes found in IB are prevalent in other curriculums, such as CfE, and also out with education as a whole. In my personal experience as a pupil in both Scottish education system and English education system I have experienced some of the attributes myself. These being; ‘communicators’, ‘caring’ and ‘thinkers’. In CfE classrooms in my experience being ‘effective contributors’ is similar to both ‘communicators’ and ‘caring’. From my experience on the other side of the curtain, being a teacher in the classroom, I find myself striving to assist in the growth of other attributes for example ‘open-minded’, ‘risk takers’, and ‘principled’. I think this shows the IB curriculum to be both relevant to life beyond school and life in all countries as I experienced the same values with 2 other curricula.

Introduction to IB

IB Reflective Activity 1

From my preliminary look into the main beliefs of the IB programme can see the major focus on looking outward from each pupil and each school towards the wider world. At the core of the curriculum and it’s values, is the community created by having hundreds of schools worldwide following the same curriculum. Also emphasised within the aims is the focus on human values. Modelled by both the adults and children involved in IB, values such as inquiry, knowledge and care are developed from kindergarten to high school.

The IB learner profile shows the holistic approach to the cognitive, social, emotional and physical wellbeing of each child. The ten core attributes are; reflective, open-minded, inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, risk-takers, carers and balanced. These support the learners in becoming responsible members of local, national and global communities.

Reflecting on what I have seen so far in the main aims of the IB curriculum I think the main similarity I can see between Curriculum for Excellence and International Baccalaureate is the emphasis on relevancy of learning. Rightfully so, relevancy is consistently looked at in both curriculums. This is important as when the children are learning new information and methods to succeed, they are aware of how and where they can use the new knowledge. This will increase engagement and therefore create a better learning environment in each classroom.

Do children really have the choice to be Bob the Builder or Barbie?

How much do we make girls feel they have to be reserved, docile, and saveable to be feminine?

How much do we make boys feel they must be strong, powerful, emotionally unavailable to be manly?

How do differences between men and women, that have evolved over many years, contribute to expectations about how male and female infants differ in temperment? (Boyd & Bee, 2014, The Developing Child).

Reflecting on the reading, pairing it with my previous readings from modules such as values and psychology, I cannot not talk about the impact a child’s environment has on thier development and growth. Beginning as early as gender reveal parties, gender norms are established and reinforced to the extent of stopping boys from playing dress up and discouraging girls interested in trucks and cars. This gets extrapolated into careers later in life.

Picture a nurse – are they are a woman or a man? An engineer? A flight attendant?

Infants imitate from a very early age so if adults are changing their behaviour depending on whether they belive the child in front of them is a boy or a girl, the child will develop differently to their peers. If a boy is given toys that enable them to develop fine motor skills, such as building kits, and a girl is given soft toys or dolls both be allowed to learn creativity and use imagination through play but the girl will not be able to build on her developing fine motor skills.

This is shown in the experiment below completed by the BBC:

Acknowledging this difference will only be the first step in allowing boys and girls to be equals in all areas – physically, mentally and emotionally. To change the outcome for infants and children adults need to change their behaviour, something that requires a lot of self awareness and reflection.

Refrences –

Chapter 10 (p318) of Boyd, D.G. and Bee, H.L. (2014). The Developing Child. 13th edn. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Is Anyone Even Good at Maths Anyway?

When maths is mentioned in a conversation, be that in or out of a school, the discussion normally progresses to a point where each person in the group identifies as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at maths. As a society we have embedded the idea that not being good at maths can be because of genetics, bad past teachers or simply “not having a maths brain”. This fixed attitude has the possibility to lead children to dismiss maths at a young age – preventing them from developing maths into the transferable skills needed for many aspects of society and future careers. My experience of maths both in Primary and Secondary school was for the most part positive. Obviously, I had some bad experiences with topics that I had to work harder to understand or teachers who did not hold such a positive attitude towards maths however maths was something that I always did. There was never a point in school where maths was not part of my life. Reflecting on this I think that children deserve a place to explore maths the way they would a subject they had never done before, without the immediate catagorisation of being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at it. A haven for maths where children can decide how they feel about maths without the opinions of others impacting their decision. I want my future classroom to be this place.

Me or Miss Queen?

Classroom organisation and management are two practices whereby a portion of the process is influenced by the person behind the teacher. I mean this in the most basic way – personal pedagogy and values will impact outputs such as the choice of what subjects to display on walls, the seating plan and the priorities within it, or even the main behavioural rules within a classroom. Possibly to an unconscious level. Competing with and complementing personal beliefs I find my ‘teacher persona’. What I say and how I say it when in ‘teacher mode’. This gets created from a recepie of the school around me, my teacher training and the standards and regulations underpinning teaching. Non-verbal communication supports important aspects of maintaining control over a classroom – personality, emotional regulation and self presentation. Managing a classroom effectively boils down to the Classroom Management Plan regarding behaviour and physicalities. The approaches taken to rewarding supportive, enthusiastic, overall positive behaviour and sanctioning disrespectful or disruptive behaviour. Reflecting on the reading and the new learning I have to say that I don’t know how to present the ‘Miss Queen’ representative of this control of the classroom. I know my values and beliefs and can try to expand that into an environment such as a classroom but beyond that I need to tentitively step into the role I need to fill – Miss Queen.

T-minus 23 hours

When reflecting on my first semester in university and trying to identify a moment that allowed me to develop as a professional a specific experience stands out in a way that others do not. One of my frist academic essays at university – in what way do values underpin society. Looking back, I can safely say I underestimated the length of time a university level essay takes to write. Well not the writing as much as the editing: a process that should have its own minute in the limelight. Culling, refining and remodelling an essay with multiple avenues to go down for your answer started off being a daunting thought but dividing the essay into each paragraph made the bitter pill easier to swallow. Reflecting on the experience of leaving myself under 24 hours to complete an essay that was worth 100% of one of my three modules I can say that it will not be happening again. The unnecessary amount of pressure put on myself by a cocktail of ever-decreasing time and personal desire to get the best grades I am capable of lead to a productive, but needless, all nighter.

Bicarb Volcanoes, Electrical Circuits and Sketchers Sandals

Why do I want to be a teacher? A question I’ve been asked since I applied, even before. The answer is the same as most; inspiration from a teacher I had in primary school. However, it was not for writing or music but for maths and science. My teacher, with her signature Sketchers Sandals, allowed us to explore science and maths in a way, until then, I had not had the ability to do. I loved it. Her passion and confidence for the subjects that were not typically ‘fun’ created an environment that allowed us to grow as pupils. I want to do this for the next cohort of children – show them that maths can be enjoyed and that science is fun. To give them a space where maths can be explored with the same level of curiosity as other subjects, without the automatic categorization of children being good or bad at maths.