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Prioritizing social and moral learning amid conservative curriculum trends: spaces of possibility
journal contributionposted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Amanda KeddieAmanda Keddie
Conservative trends across western schooling contexts are signalling an explicit devaluing of social and moral learning within their official curriculum mandates. These mandates are increasingly privileging the ‘academic rigour’ of traditional subject disciplines. This paper draws on interview and observation data from a case study of a large and highly diverse English secondary school to explore this school’s prioritizing of social and moral learning. Such prioritizing is supported at this school by its ‘Academy’ status—which in the English context allows schools a measure of freedom over curriculum as part of broader government moves to increase school autonomy. The paper’s focus is on how these conservative trends are understood and disrupted to support a critical view of existing curriculum and a desire to modify and re-shape it to support more relevant and connected learning for students. The paper describes particular examples of practice at the school in the areas of Citizenship and Religious Education to illustrate this approach. Engaging with social and moral learning along these lines is argued as productive in working within and against the constraints of current conservative curriculum priorities.