IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


VIRTUAL EVENT: The knowledge-led curriculum in turbulent times

22 February 2021, 2:30 pm–3:10 pm

Teacher holds up a worksheet in front of a class

Join IOE Coffee Breaks to review the contemporary debate on the school curriculum.

Event Information

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Kate Thomas

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The past decade has seen a strong push towards a ‘knowledge-led’ curriculum for schools in England, as reflected in reforms to the National Curriculum. Nevertheless, the surrounding debate remains a confusing one to navigate.

Polarised discourse that pits ‘Gradgrind’ against child-centred learning continues, with each variously presented as the route to ‘twenty-first century skills’ such as creativity and problem-solving.

Meanwhile, although curriculum policy has long been highly politicised, this became all the more apparent in late-2020, when the government identified additional organisations and perspectives to proscribe from the delivery of the curriculum. While in some ways in keeping with a knowledge-led approach, these policies also spoke to the wider ‘culture wars’ with which the work of schools inevitably intersects.

In this episode of IOE Coffee Breaks we hear from the editors of two new books, What Should Schools Teach? and Knowing History in Schools, to review the contemporary debate on the school curriculum. Join us to put your questions to our panellists, Dr Arthur Chapman and Dr Alex Standish.


About the Speakers

Dr Arthur Chapman

Associate Professor in History Education at UCL Institute of Education (IOE)

Dr Arthur Chapman, IOE
Dr Arthur Chapman is a member of the research team at the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Historical Association, managing editor of The History Education Research Journal and a series editor of the International Review of History Education, and of the new UCL Press book series Knowledge and The Curriculum.

Arthur taught history for 12 years prior to beginning to work in universities full-time in 2005 and he has worked as a history educator and history education researcher in the universities of Cumbria, Edge Hill and London.

More about Dr Arthur Chapman

Dr Alex Standish

Associate Professor in Geography Education at UCL Institute of Education (IOE)

Dr Alex Standish, IOE
Dr Alex Standish is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. At the IOE he works in teacher training and supervises masters and doctoral students. Alex is an advisor to the Department for Education, the Mayor’s Office, Cambridge Examinations, as well as several London schools with respect to curriculum and teacher education. Alex is also a member of the Cambridge Assessment Higher Education National Forum. He is the co-organiser of Fawcett Lectures and the Fawcett Fellowship scheme both for geography teachers. Alex previously taught at Western Connecticut State University and completed his PhD at Rutgers University, New Jersey.  More about Dr Alex Standish

Chair: Dr Sandra Leaton Gray

Associate Professor of Education at UCL Institute of Education (IOE)

Dr Sandra Leaton Gray, IOE
Sandra is an applied sociology of education specialist and has published extensively on issues of education professionalism, professional training, education policy, the knowledge economy, curriculum, biometrics and children, artificial intelligence in education and conceptions of time in education.

She has served as an education consultant and advisor to national and international organisations including the UK Government, the European Commission, the International Baccalaureate Organisation and the UK's Royal Colleges of Medicine. Sandy is currently directing the My Life Online research project, investigating young people and their social media algorithms.

Prior to joining the IOE, she held posts at the Universities of East Anglia and Cambridge. Her recent publications include Invisibly blighted: the digital erosion of childhood (2017, with Andy Phippen) and Curriculum Reform in the European Schools: Towards a 21st Century Vision (2018, with David Scott and Peeter Mehisto).

More about Chair: Dr Sandra Leaton Gray