Adaptations to major curriculum change: the case of Further Education lecturers.
The Open University.
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In the late 1980s and 1990s, like other sections of the UK education system, Further Education (FE) was subjected to major institutional change. Furthermore, there were significant government interventions in the curriculum of FE colleges: the introduction of General National Vocational Qualifications (GNVQs) and subsequently of the Advanced Vocational Certificate in Education (AVCE). The introduction of GNVQs in the early 1990s involved a substantial change in the working practices of FE lecturers. Not only was there modification to the content to be taught but the roles of lecturer and student were transformed. In 2000, GNVQ was replaced by AVCE. This too involved considerable modification in the work of FE lecturers, in some respects a shift back towards the situation prior to the introduction of GNVQ, but also introducing new elements.
These changes are the focus of this thesis. The fundamental character of the switch to GNVQ, and the subsequent move away from it, provide a distinctive context for exploring lecturers’ responses and adaptations to dramatic and rapid change. Understanding these is important if we are to grasp the factors shaping the implementation of curricular policies, and their effects. This case study attempts to deepen understanding of the significant factors which influence policy implementation by investigating how recent curricular reforms in FE came about, and how lecturers responded to them, on the basis of data from documents and interviews.
The conclusion reached is that how a policy gets implemented will reflect previously prevailing working practices, along with practitioners’ views about the sort of education they are engaged in, about their central professional task, and about how it ought to be carried out; views which will be shaped by different career trajectories. These factors determine attitudes both towards the goals of any new policy and towards the operational procedures it imposes.
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