A Connected Curriculum: using collaboration and peer teaching to support an integrated response to curriculum change in Wales

This paper aims to share the findings of four secondary PGCE course leaders who are in the process of developing constructive teaching links between what are traditionally discrete subject areas. This is the third year of a developing initiative within the PGCE programme of a Welsh university, which reflects wider educational developments within Wales.  The presentation will initially provide background context, including a picture of current school curriculum developments in Wales, following the curriculum review by Professor Graham Donaldson in his Successful Futures report (Donaldson, 2015). Donaldson warns against a curriculum that is ‘unwieldy, overcrowded and atomistic’ and inhibits opportunities to learn ‘more holistically’ and across subject boundaries (Donaldson 2015 p.35). Instead, the new curriculum should ‘promote coherence and encourage children and young people to make connections across different aspects of their learning’ (ibid.) by encouraging subjects to work through six areas of learning.  The presentation will go to describe ongoing collaborative work and research by ITE colleagues in four secondary subject areas as they respond to the changes in the curriculum. It will outline cross-curricular collaborations in two distinct projects, Music and Drama and Drama and English.  Each project has a different focus in terms of content, but there is a common pedagogic thread in that each project utilises peer teaching as a method for facilitating a cross-curricular approach. Peer teaching and learning has been in existence since ancient times, but might be considered is ‘an underutilised, yet highly valuable resource for higher education’ (Krych et al. 2005, p.296). It is ‘a two-way, reciprocal learning activity’ which should be ‘mutually beneficial and involve the sharing of knowledge, ideas and experience between the participants’ (Boud 2001 p.3).   Findings from data collected from students involved in the project, considering the efficacy of this approach, will be considered, including how these might relate to ITE more widely.  Finally, the presentation will contemplate future developments.  This project focuses on practice in Wales explicitly, but the approach of collaborative practice is relevant more broadly, and it may be particularly relevant to ITE providers with smaller cohorts where education and training are perhaps more likely to involve training/development in cross-curricular groupings.