Wales, 2004). That document featured a Learning Core that identified ‘the skills, knowledge, understanding, values and experiences that all learners need to prepare them for further learning, employment and personal fulfilment so they can contribute to our bilingual and diverse society, whatever learning pathway they choose to follow.’ In July 2004 the DfES published its Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners (DfES, 2004) and set a clear direction for policy development in England. In relation to 14 -19 education, it offered a ‘vision for a reformed and personalised system’ to provide a ‘world class curriculum offer for all’. The 14 -19 Education and Skills White Paper (DfES, 2005a) sustained the commitment to personalisation and it featured equally strongly as an underpinning rationale for new education investments in the Chancellor’s 2006 Budget (HM Treasury, 2006).
‘Education tailored to the individual’ is seen as a way of both tackling exclusion and raising standards in England. Scotland and Wales have put their faith in more systemic reform. The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF, 2006) has been developing clear progression and credit transfer pathways that build on earlier curriculum and qualifications reforms, while the Welsh Assembly Government is developing the Welsh Baccalaureate in order to provide ‘the breadth and experience so critical to young people if they are to make their way in the world - and to take it in much greater numbers than currently achieve advanced academic or vocational qualifications’ (WJEC, 2004). In Northern Ireland the Department for Employment and Learning published the Skills Strategy for Northern Ireland in February 2006 (DELNI, 2006). This sets out reforms whereby ‘all young people will have the opportunity alongside their academic curriculum, to take high quality, high value vocational education courses’ as part of a Vocational Enhancement Programme in Northern Ireland.
This policy divergence may make it appear that more personalised learning is primarily an English concern. But from a TLRP perspective, a growing focus upon teaching and learning seems to underpin policy and practice in all four countries.
The TLRP’s first Commentary was on Personalised Learning (Pollard and James, 2004) and drew mainly on school sector projects. It found that Personalised Learning’s emphasis on learners and learning was important and timely and was being tackled in evidence-informed ways, and applauded its focus on improving teaching and learning to enhance outcomes. But we added that, given the pressures, constraints and expectations of the last decade, it would need considerable resolve to prevent discussion of Personalised Learning losing its focus on learners and learning, and shifting back into an over-simplified consideration of teaching provision and associated systems. In particular, the current concept of personalised learning might need to be extended to address lifelong learning issues such as the development of learning dispositions and learning identities.
Standing back from the specifics of particular projects or policy initiatives, TLRP has also been working to identify underlying ‘principles of teaching and learning.’ These were the subject of the second TLRP Commentary (James