8 things to think about when delivering a curriculum

Last month, the School Improvement Advisor visited the school to give us feedback and support on our curriculum.

There was some useful feedback on things we are doing well and things we could improve on.  All of which could be quite useful.

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  1. Quality of interactions – Make sure these are supporting and moving children on.  Gone are the days where we can mark our books and just let the class get on with it. (Thank goodness!)
  2. Coverage is more about progression and depth nowadays.
  3. Make sure that your school has a curriculum intent otherwise your curriculum can be a mess of initiatives that no one has really got a handle on.
  4. Sharpen your learning intentions. This will ensure that children know what they are learning, teachers know what to assess against and evidence of this will be much clearer.
  5. Have a range of evidence. It doesn’t all have to be writing.  Include photos, quotes, observations, drawings, labelling, mindmaps, learning.
  6. Talk to each other.  As a team, it is important to come together in creating the curriculum.  The most recent staff meeting we had gave teachers that opportunity to talk and bounce ideas off of each other.
  7. Improve subject leadership.  It’s one way where we can all lead the curriculum.  It shouldn’t be one person’s job if we want all involved in creating the best!
  8. See other schools – what a way to grab the best ideas from all places.

Subject Leadership: Audit to solutions

I created a staff audit about the curriculum last term and had some worrying results.  It was from the view of a subject leader and was incredibly useful.

Here are the questions.  Now of course the results only really help my school but what if there are problems in certain areas this could give some ideas.

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As best as you can choose subject leaders who are interested in the subjects that you are giving them.  As a teacher, pick a subject you too are interested in.  But be careful… there are some big subjects in the pile to pick from and some of these can be extremely daunting.  In my second year of teaching I was given PE.  I loved playing sport but couldn’t organise anything to save my life when I was 22 years old.  There are also teachers that wished they’d never picked art because there subject leadership is used to tidy up the art cupboard than to improve the standards of art.  Not fun!

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The Ofsted Inspection Framework is extremely useful.  If you look at the standards that we as schools should follow then you will know what standards in your subject are.

  • the quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • personal development, behaviour and welfare
  • outcomes for pupils
  • effectiveness of leadership and management.

For example, an outstanding school would be able to show:

  • Pupils love the challenge of learning and are resilient to failure. They are curious, interested learners who seek out and use new information to develop, consolidate and deepen their knowledge, understanding and skills. They thrive in lessons and also regularly take up opportunities to learn through extra-curricular activities.

If your subject encompasses this, then the standards are outstanding.

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Please, please, please read the National Curriculum.  Even if your school comes away from it every once in a while, it is worth knowing what everyone else is talking about.

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I had to write the curriculum overview myself but once staff have got their heads around their subject they should be able to contribute their ideas to the overview.  Staff meetings where subject leaders can talk to others from different year groups should help with gathering ideas.  They get the opportunity to share their subject with other members of staff.

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It is always worth leadership supporting staff with this as part of a training programme. Once this is in place and subject leaders are aware, building a culture of coaching and mentoring is amazingly supportive.  In my seventh year of teaching, I had a second year teacher observe a lesson and give me feedback.  The confidence that he had in doing this and my openness in receiving this feedback was helpful in improving my own practice as he could see things that I hadn’t.  Working together is much more beneficial than working alone.

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It is important that at the beginning of the year the vision of the school is shared with all staff. From Day 1, all staff should be aware of the aims of the school and how we are going to do this.  Strategic decisions need to be shared otherwise no one will be on the journey with us.

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Look at a range of websites, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook to get ideas to share with your team.  It doesn’t have to be expensive to get fun ideas to get your children into your subject. In fact most good things are free and you’ll find that your local schools will work together and share ideas.

This fantastic science task that was completed across the school  from Early Years to Year 6 was a great idea that was found for free.

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There are websites that support in the ideas for SMSC and British Values, such as…

http://www.doingsmsc.org.uk/

https://www.smscqualitymark.org.uk/

Also if you use a curriculum programme such as Cornerstones, you may find examples for your subject.

If all else fails, other schools have done the work so get on that search engine and get looking.  You’ll find lots.

Theme based learning UKS2 – Where does it fit in with the curriculum?

Key Stage 2 have had a fantastic term with lots of interesting learning going on. Despite the crazy Christmas term, a lot has happened.

Year 5

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The geography curriculum was covered by Year 5 during their Pharaohs topic.

Geographical skills and fieldwork

  • use maps, atlases, globes and digital/computer mapping to locate countries and describe features studied

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We have found that geography can be quite a difficult subject to teach across the school due to making sure there is progression. Finding countries on a map is something that a Year 3 or 4 child could do so it is important to be showing that we are moving children on…  Think about how this could link into another area of learning.

Year 6

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The topic all worked around TASC.  Children were given the task of creating a David Attenborough style video to show to parents.  All their science and geography learning built up to this super moment.

Geography

Human and physical geography

  • describe and understand key aspects of physical geography, including: climate zones, biomes and vegetation belts, rivers, mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, and the water cycle

Geographical skills and fieldwork

  • use maps, atlases, globes and digital/computer mapping to locate countries and describe features studied
  • use fieldwork to observe, measure, record and present the human and physical features in the local area using a range of methods, including sketch maps, plans and graphs, and digital technologies.

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Even children are using their learning to complete something that they were interested in, away from school.

Science – Living things and their habitats

  • describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to common observable characteristics and based on similarities and differences, including microorganisms, plants and animals
  • give reasons for classifying plants and animals based on specific characteristics.

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Theme based learning in LKS2- where does it fit into the curriculum?

Key Stage 2 have had a fantastic term with lots of interesting learning going on. Despite the crazy Christmas term, a lot has happened.

Year 3

In Year 3, the theme was called Predator!

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The science matched nicely with the National Curriculum and there were opportunities for working scientifically.

Animals, including humans

  • identify that animals, including humans, need the right types and amount of nutrition, and that they cannot make their own food; they get nutrition from what they eat
  • identify that humans and some other animals have skeletons and muscles for support, protection and movement

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Not only were the science and foundation subjects covered but also the English.  Through using Power of Reading, our topic based learning is even stronger.  Children gain more information, they are able to link more areas together and the standard of writing is improving because children have the information and interest to support them.

 

Year 4

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At the beginning of each topic, we have an engage activity to hook children in then the learning begins!

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In Year 4’s topic their focus was on History – the Roman Empire and its impact on Britain.  The National Curriculum is quite open on what to cover so to support newer teachers, we have our History progression of skills.

This term children worked on the timeline of the Romans and then  on a project to find out which part of Roman has affected our lives the most now. With independent research and presentations in which they had to argue their case, teachers got a really good idea of what their children were interested in and what they understood.

 

 

Theme based learning – where does it fit in the curriculum?

We’re now into the second term and therefore into a new theme.

Key Stage 1 have planned for the themes – Street Detectives and Rio De Vida after looking at how we can fit in the National Curriculum.

Street Detectives Year 1

Geography

  • Locational knowledge

    • name, locate and identify characteristics of the four countries and capital cities of the United Kingdom and its surrounding seas

    Human and physical geography

    • use basic geographical vocabulary to refer to:
    • key human features, including: city, town, village, factory, farm, house, office, port, harbour and shop

    Geographical skills and fieldwork

    • use world maps, atlases and globes to identify the United Kingdom and its countries, as well as the countries, continents and oceans studied at this key stage
    • use simple compass directions (North, South, East and West) and locational and directional language [for example, near and far; left and right], to describe the location of features and routes on a map
    • use aerial photographs and plan perspectives to recognise landmarks and basic human and physical features; devise a simple map; and use and construct basic symbols in a key
    • use simple fieldwork and observational skills to study the geography of their school and its grounds and the key human and physical features of its surrounding environment.

Design and Technology

Design

  • generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas through talking, drawing, templates, mock-ups and, where appropriate, information and communication technology

Make

  • select from and use a range of tools and equipment to perform practical tasks [for example, cutting, shaping, joining and finishing]
  • select from and use a wide range of materials and components, including construction materials, textiles and ingredients, according to their characteristics

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Year 1 make homes and then place them in line to make a town.

Evaluate

  • evaluate their ideas and products against design criteria
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Technical knowledge

  • build structures, exploring how they can be made stronger, stiffer and more stable

Rio De Vida Year 2

In Year 2, we have used this to really focus in on the geography skills.  It wasn’t easy!

Geography

Locational knowledge

  • name and locate the world’s seven continents and five oceans
  • name, locate and identify characteristics of the four countries and capital cities of the United Kingdom and its surrounding seas

Place knowledge

  • understand geographical similarities and differences through studying the human and physical geography of a small area of the United Kingdom, and of a small area in a contrasting non-European country

Human and physical geography

  • identify seasonal and daily weather patterns in the United Kingdom and the location of hot and cold areas of the world in relation to the Equator and the North and South Poles

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    Year 2 are given the challenge to order their prediction on which country is the hottest after learning about the Equator and Poles
  • use basic geographical vocabulary to refer to:
  • key physical features, including: beach, cliff, coast, forest, hill, mountain, sea, ocean, river, soil, valley, vegetation, season and weather
  • key human features, including: city, town, village, factory, farm, house, office, port, harbour and shop

Geographical skills and fieldwork

  • use world maps, atlases and globes to identify the United Kingdom and its countries, as well as the countries, continents and oceans studied at this key stage

Art

  • to develop a wide range of art and design techniques in using colour, pattern, texture, line, shape, form and space
  • about the work of a range of artists, craft makers and designers, 
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    Year 2 use their observation skills to find out what might have influenced Adriana Barra, Brazilian textile artist

How do we improve attendance through the curriculum?

There are any ways to support our children’s attendance such as:

  • Celebrating and promoting attendance through assemblies with certificates and class rewards.
  • Including attendance on school newsletters
  • Opportunities to teach about the importance of attendance and arriving on time as a life skill.
  • Monitoring the attendance of our low attenders and support their parents.

But the curriculum is where we can really inspire children, especially as our role as teachers. However, we need to look at what we are offering our children in terms of the curriculum.

Often the school day looks a bit like this…

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And within those sessions, children take part in a range of context. (or so we’d like to think!)

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This may sound okay when looking at individual lessons but when we look at the type of learning children are doing throughout the day…

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It is pretty boring! And it’s easy to see why some children may not want to come into school.

So give children a range of experiences as much as possible.  After all most of us came into teaching because every day is different, which makes it engaging and exciting.  This is exactly what we are trying to do with our children.

Theme based learning – where does it fit in with the curriculum?

Term 1 is well and truly over so what did we manage to cover in Year 5 through our theme based curriculum?

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Science- Earth and Space

  • describe the movement of the Earth, and other planets, relative to the Sun in the solar system
  • describe the movement of the Moon relative to the Earth
  • describe the Sun, Earth and Moon as approximately spherical bodies
  • use the idea of the Earth’s rotation to explain day and night and the apparent movement of the sun across the sky.

Design and Technology

  • use research and develop design criteria to inform the design of innovative, functional, appealing products that are fit for purpose, aimed at particular individuals or groups
  • generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas through discussion, annotated sketches, cross-sectional and exploded diagrams, prototypes, pattern pieces and computer-aided design
  • select from and use a wider range of tools and equipment to perform practical tasks [for example, cutting, shaping, joining and finishing], accurately
  • select from and use a wider range of materials and components, including construction materials, textiles and ingredients, according to their functional properties and aesthetic qualities

Music

  • listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory
  • appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians