How was the conceptual framework developed?

When Andrew Pollard (from the Institute of Education in London) and Lesley Saunders (then of the General Teaching Council for England) first explored the UK and international literature on pedagogy and teaching methods, they found a huge but disparate collection of ‘big ideas’ about teaching and learning in classrooms.  They consulted through the other UK GTCs and convened workshops with teachers to discuss the issues.  Various research studies of teacher thinking and discourse were reviewed and pedagogic concepts were collected, presented and discussed at international academic events.  To begin with then, a complex mass of words used when talking about pedagogy was assembled – many of which also embraced issues in curriculum and assessment.

Initial attempts to analyse this collection were not very productive. However, a breakthrough came when they focused on the relatively stable set of concepts which are often used to discuss curriculum design – for example, breadth, balance, relevance, differentiation, progression.  Interestingly, these were all promoted in a 1985 HMI publication, The Curriculum from 5 to 16.  How had these stood the test of time so well? Could they be related to contemporary vocabulary on pedagogy and assessment?

Patterns began to emerge.  In particular, there seemed to be a number of enduring educational issues to which these long-lasting concepts relate – those concerning the aims, contexts, processes and outcomes of education. Pollard and Saunders felt this was an important insight, because it began to describe the ‘epistemological work’ (contribution to knowledge) which such concepts must carry out. 

The conceptual framework is thus based on the idea that concepts concerning curriculum, pedagogy and assessment can be organised through the ‘work’ which they do in enabling discussion and understanding of enduring classroom issues. Perhaps, they reasoned, making this logic explicit could enable progress towards a more robust and sustainable conceptual framework for the professional expertise of teaching. 

The framework was first published in a TLRP/GTCE Commentary entitled Professionalism and Pedagogy: A Contemporary Opportunity (Pollard, 2010) and can be seen here.