chapter  2
12 Pages

School-based Curriculum Development and Action· Research in the United Kingdom

WithJohn Elliott (United Kingdom)

The idea of action research in the field of education emerged in the United Kingdom (UK) in the context of school-based curriculum development during the 1960s. At the time, curriculum development was perceived to be a solution to a widespread problem in basic education; namely, the alienation of large numbers of students in secondary schools from a form of schooling which emphasized the systematic transmission of bodies of knowledge organized around the 'subjects' taught in the universities. Following the 1944 Education Act, secondary modem schools were created for the 'non-academic' student, judged to be of only average or below average academic ability, on the basis of their failure to pass the 11+ IQ tests for entrance into the secondary grammar schools. Students in these schools followed a watered down curriculum modelled on the academic subjects taught in the grammar schools, with the addition of highly gendered practical craft subjects, e.g., metal and woodwork for boys and home economics (cookery and needlework) for girls. Those who passed the 11+ were prepared in the grammar schools for academic examinations at 16 years, and those with the best passes proceeded to specialize in a narrower range of academic subjects for further examinations at 18 years. The latter provided a passport into university.