Curriculum for Excellence - The Challenge Ethos
One of the main reasons for the continuing success of the Summer Academy @ Strathclyde is that the educational programme is based on the unique Challenge Curriculum. Challenges are a proven way of engaging young people by offering new, interactive routes into familiar subject areas.
The Challenge ethos is closely linked to the idea of 'stealth learning'; young people work together to solve a series of problems and in order to do this they must employ a wide range of academic and practical skills. This approach has been remarkably successful at building pupils' interest and confidence in subject areas that may have previously seemed inaccessible.
The starting point for a Challenge is either a relevant global issue (renewable energy, social enterprise) or a particular school subject ('Cant Cook, Won't Cook' in French, the chemistry puzzles of 'Alien Invasion'). However, each challenge is cross-curricular and the range of hard and soft skills involved is designed to give pupils more confidence in both an academic context and in their ability to make a positive contribution while working effectively with others. The end result is achieved by the group, and each individual is given a responsibility to contribute.
Young people develop their organisational skills, creativity, problem-solving, teamwork and ability to apply learning in new and challenging contexts. The practical, creative aspect of a challenge allows pupils who may not be as academically strong to show their abilities and the young people are required to not just discuss important world issues, but to take them on in a practical and empowering way. They are then encouraged to follow this on, either by implementation in their own lives or in the daily life of their school.
Such has been the success of the Challenge Curriculum that the Innovative Routes to Learning team at Strathclyde University has developed a full day CPD package that will allow teachers in schools to build and implement their own Challenge Curriculum.
Structure of the day
Completing a Challenge
Teachers first take part in one of our most popular and long-running challenges, working together to solve a series of problems and presenting their work back to the other groups.
Analysing a Challenge
Teachers analyse the components of the Challenge they have just completed: what subjects it is, or could be made, relevant to; how it can be developed for different age levels; what hard and soft skills are involved; which students it is most challenging for and which areas of the Curriculum for Excellence it applies to. From this we extrapolate the basic ethos of the Challenge Curriculum.
Building a Challenge
A presentation and discussion raise the topic that will form the basis for the afternoon's challenge building: Renewable Energy. Teachers are then divided into groups and asked to design their own challenge based around the issue. Teachers are grouped according to the age level that they teach but each group will feature teachers from a range of subjects, all of whom will be able to add a relevance to their subject area and give the Challenge its essential cross-curricular nature.
Teachers will leave at the end of the day with a Challenge structure that is ready to be used in their school. The IRL team will stress the progressive implementation of the Challenge Curriculum; beginning with a half day Mini Challenge, moving through a one day Maxi Challenge on to a 2 ½ day Mega Challenge. Schools can host a progressively longer challenge in each of the school terms, culminating in a Mega Challenge in the third term that can be done over 2½ days or a period of eight weeks. At the same time, we will look at how the Challenge ethos can be applied to the school curriculum and how aspects of Challenges can be implemented in every lesson.
We feel that our Challenge Curriculum is a remarkably efficient way for teachers to build interactive lessons, develop pupils' academic confidence and match the criteria of the Curriculum for Excellence. If you would like to find out more about our full day in-school events, please download our CPD leaflet or contact Iain Mitchell at email@example.com