The Nuffield Foundation (1990s)

A fresh start
In the mid 1980s the Nuffield Foundation once again returned to direct involvement in curriculum development. It had become clear that the commercial returns from innovative curriculum development could not sustain an independent unit.

Guided by Anthony Tomei (then Nuffield assistant director with responsible for education work) the Foundation accepted once again the case for making large grants for innovative curriculum projects. He took the view that successful interventions had to start with good people with good ideas.

A curriculum centre
Soon the in-house projects were growing too fast to fit into the Nuffield Foundation’s offices. Universities could no longer offer a suitable home for curriculum projects, so Anthony Tomei decided to find a home for a Nuffield Curriculum Projects Centre in offices in Rathbone Street, not far from Bedford Square. Andrew Hunt became the Centre director.

Part of the justification for setting up the new Centre was the way that the Government was dismantling the existing structures for dissemination, in-service training and support. The focus for initial teacher training was moving from universities to schools, while the trainers in higher education were being judged more by their research than their involvement in curriculum innovation.

The first projects:

Aftercare and support
Up to the mid-1980s, teacher trainers in higher education and local authority advisers provided training and support for Nuffield projects as part of their own work. HMI also offered high-quality in-service training, and there was an era of twenty-day courses for primary teachers which brought about a step-change in the expertise and confidence of primary science coordinators. 

Some projects, however, had taken on a life of their own with support and aftercare passing from the project teams to the users. Part of the brief for the Nuffield Curriculum Centre was to take the lead in promoting the dissemination and implementation of new projects while providing sustained support for existing courses - including the courses inherited from the Nuffield Chelsea Curriculum Trust. This was particularly important at a time when some of the national provision of training was being dismantled or reorganised.