Is the Curriculum Working? The key stage 3 phase of the Northern Ireland curriculum cohort study

John Harland, Helen Moor, Mary Ashworth, Key Kinder

01 January 2002

Research summary

This report presents the findings from the Key Stage 3 phase of the Northern Ireland Curriculum Cohort Study, a major piece of longitudinal research tracking pupils' experiences and perceptions of the curriculum from upper Key Stage 2 to the end of Key Stage 3. For this report, evidence was collected through:

  • annual questionnaires to 2,600 pupils in 50 schools and their senior managers
  • case-study fieldwork in five schools which involved biannual interviews with the same 60 pupils, interviews with teachers and senior managers, and observations of lessons.

The research is one of the few UK studies to explore pupils' experiences and perceptions of learning across the whole curriculum. The study's longitudinal dimension, its whole curriculum focus, its concerns with key curriculum design principles and its preoccupations with the pupil experience are all qualities that allow the research to make a distinctive contribution to the debate about the efficacy of national curricula. It is hoped that the report offers evidence and analyses that will help schools and policy makers to contribute to develop a curriculum that meets the needs and expectations of young people.

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