Teaching and learning in a competence-based curriculum: the case of four secondary schools in England

Byrne, Jenny, Downey, Christopher and Souza, Ana (2013) Teaching and learning in a competence-based curriculum: the case of four secondary schools in England Curriculum Journal, 24, (3), pp. 351-368. (doi:10.1080/09585176.2012.731008).


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This paper focuses on four case study schools that have adopted innovative competence-based curriculum projects in Year 7 for a variety of educational and social reasons. The paper discusses the issues and challenges posed by the competence-based curriculum for teachers in the daily life of the classroom. Philosophical ideas about the purpose of education vary because they are driven by ideological positions. Consequently the nature and structure of the curriculum influenced by the stance adopted inevitably affects approaches to teaching and learning. It is contended that changes to the curricula in the case study schools have revealed tensions between traditional approaches to teaching and learning with ‘strong’ classification and framing and the new more progressive approaches with ‘weak’ classification and framing (Bernstein 1973). These tensions impact on teachers’ identities and this can make effective classroom practice problematic. The paper concludes that managing the tensions between traditional and more progressive pedagogies is worthwhile as this will enable students to become more fully integrated, and successful participatory members of 21st century society rather than simply reproducing the socio-economic status quo, or the requirements of current dominant educational discourse in England.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1080/09585176.2012.731008
ISSNs: 0958-5176 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: competence-based curriculum, multidisciplinary, learning, teaching
Organisations: Southampton Education School
ePrint ID: 342207
Date :
Date Event
September 2013Published
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2012 14:43
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 16:41
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/342207

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