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Curriculum development is often viewed as lifecycle, it is an ongoing and iterative process/product event, which is continually tracked, monitored and evaluated, and results fed back into the cycle. Curriculum development is widely viewed as either a process or a product. The process model invariably is student centred and explores the way student can be facilitated in the learning process, in other words “enables us to focus attention on developing the understanding of the pupil rather than delivery of predetermined content” (Kelly, 2004). Whereas the product model attempts to achieve certain objectives and is linked to changes that take place in the student’s behaviour.

Although curriculum has just been described as a product or process there are two other recognised approaches to such curriculum development. Firstly, some see curriculum as a transmission of knowledge, whilst others describe it as a praxis, a development of the process model but linked to specific values. In reality the definition of curriculum that best describes my development work is the product model, “A programme of activities (by teacher and pupils) designed so that pupils will attain as far as possible certain educational and other schooling ends or objectives” (Grundy, 1987)

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Influences on Curriculum

Until quite recently legislation Government legislation focused primarily on structure and provision of education but until the 1970’s there was very little attention paid to the curriculum. This was mainly left to the educationalists themselves to decide upon. However possibly due to the massive technological advances and concern from employers about the future workforce the Government has recently put curriculum development on its agenda and as a consequence the and the 1988 Education Act and the ’14-19 White Paper Routes To Success For All’ report now addresses many of these issues.

Some of the key issues addressed were the low numbers of post 16 participating in FE, re-engagement of the disaffected and strategies to stretch all young people. Another important issue the Act looked at addressing was to equip students with a combination of technical skills, academic knowledge, and transferable skills that employers are increasingly demanding. In particular the embedding of key skills into curriculum development is proving fundamental if we are going to meet the needs of employers by equipping people with good communication and numeracy skills alongside their IT expertise.

This legislation alongside other direct influences such as the Skills for Life initiative play an increasingly important role in curriculum development. Furthermore the continual need to work with businesses was emphasised as a key issue in the recent Foster report which stated that “the values of greater clarity, improved leadership, organisation and management and a relentless focus on the needs of learners and businesses as the criteria for progress.” (Foster, 2005)

Rationale for development

Wakefield College’s main aim is to the enable students to achieve their potential through a wide and varied access policy to education and specifically offers students the opportunity to achieve the BTEC national diploma in IT. Progression to Higher Education (HE) at Wakefield is achieved through access to the HND courses, and can then lead to the Degree course in computing that is run in partnership with Sunderland University. The development of the curriculum is therefore aimed at meeting the following college objectives: Address shortages of skills in the national and regional economies. Enhance student’s employability. Widen participation in Further and higher education and contribute to lifelong learning.

Policy Issues in Post-compulsory Education

Globally and nationally the advent of Information Technology and a knowledge hungry society offers enormous opportunities to improve the quality of life and enhance our national prosperity. Therefore in order to take advantage of these opportunities, there is a growing need to educate and prepare the next generation with the skills needed to ensure that this country maintains it competitive edge. It is vital that we provide the appropriate education and training particularly on areas that are already in short supply. Evidence produced by the National Skills Task Force shows that one of the sectors likely to experience the greatest demand for these skills are is IT. With this in mind the computing faculty at Wakefield College continues to provide a wide variety of IT courses aimed at meeting these needs.

Over the last couple of years much work has been undertaken to explore the education and employment needs of the local community consequently the BTEC National Diploma in IT was introduced in September 2004 in order to provide a specialist work-related qualification. The overall aim of the qualification is to prepare IT students for employment within the IT sector. The qualification is linked to the National Occupational Standards for the sector where these are appropriate and are supported by the relevant National Training Organisations (NTOs) or Sector Skills Council (SSC). On successful completion of these qualifications, learners may progress into or within employment and/or continue their study in the vocational area.

In the broader context other Government legislation that is a major influence on education within FE, is the 1992 decision that was made by the Further Education Funding Council to fund only the adult educational courses that led to recognised qualifications consequently meaning that FE is more focused on vocational skills, basic skills and other such like accredited courses. The popularity of these vocational among the post 16 population has led to the development of courses such as Advanced Vocational Certificate of Education (AVCE) now replaced by the Applied GCE and in particular the BTEC Nationals for IT Practitioners has meant that a great deal of curriculum development work is being undertaken.

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