Driving to the MacDonald Bath Spa Hotel on Tuesday 29th January I was full of anticipation for the day ahead. As Curriculum Development Officer for our Department of Education, I had been invited to support their away day: Pursuing Opportunities for Curriculum Transformation. The day had been meticulously planned by Elisabeth Barratt Hacking, Sue Martin and Andrea Abbas in the department. It had a clear rationale in terms of its structure and attendees, but most importantly its focus: there was a common understanding that we have an opportunity, an opportunity to work collaboratively to identify strengths, to further develop relationships with stakeholders, and to have space to reflect and craft a vision for the future.
Some key features of the morning session led to the success of the whole day. Firstly, the Department invited alumni from each of their programmes to attend. Each alumnus was provided with reflective stimulus questions in advance, ensuring that course development teams acquired feedback about their current programme offering efficiently. The four Student Engagement Ambassadors (SEAs) from the Centre for Learning and Teaching also presented each of their themes (Research Engagement, Citizenship & Sustainability, Employability, and Inclusivity), with each SEA spending time with each course development team and their alumni. Consequently, a framework and focus had been provided for subsequent discussions, ensuring these remained seated within the big picture of Curriculum Transformation.
Following a fabulous lunch, the alumni and SEAs departed, leaving course development teams with time to reflect collaboratively on the morning’s discussions. Drawing on other stakeholder data that had already been collected, course development teams determined the strengths of their current programme in terms of the eight Curriculum Transformation Principles. This activity also aided them in identifying areas of their programme that they want to focus on and improve.
To conclude, the department reconvened and shared their reflections. A few comments struck me:
“We’ve been passionately talking about the principles and where our strengths lie. We inspire each other. It’s great to recognise that we have so many strengths…to take stock of good practice. There are things we have identified that we can work on and there are practical solutions. It’s exciting.”
“It was a very useful discussion. We’ve identified small things we can do now, which are steps towards our bigger goals.”
“We obviously know what we do in our course but we realised we need to dissect why we do it that way.”
“We had a wide-ranging and rich discussion today. We realise we need to get together and discuss things. It was good to have a moment of quiet for reflection”.
I left feeling truly inspired. The day was immensely productive. Staff were fully engaged throughout. There is real excitement about where the Department goes next. I feel incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work with them as they progress towards their goals.
Curriculum Development Officer, Centre for Learning & Teaching