Looking at curriculum intent

This week the leadership team at my school will be discussing the intent of the curriculum ready for the new OFSTED framework. We already have an idea of what we are providing for our children but now we need to make that vision more succinct.

Starting the meeting with a discussion on the list of curriculum indicators will also give us a good start. Here we need to discuss the clear rationale for curriculum design. This is an important part of the job as you can then go to others and think of how to implement the ideas. There are many people out there with lots of great ideas so use them.


A rationale need to be clear and coherent setting reasons to why we are providing what we are providing for our children within the curriculum. When discussing this area of our intent, I will be looking at the areas of an outstanding curriculum that I shared on my first post.


Look at these areas and how you want these to look in your curriculum and then you can work on how to implement them. In order to do this, it is a good idea for Senior Leaders to decide what is working well, what needs to change and what can go. Getting staff and other stakeholders involved can also be extremely beneficial.

Number 1C of the curriculum indicators states that we have to be clear on the important concepts related to curriculum design such as knowledge progression and sequencing the concept. A curriculum overview and progression of skills will ensure that progression and a clear sequence is in place. There are many ideas on the internet and schemes which include these so that you don’t have to do all the hard work. However, you do need to think about how all children are going to make progress within your curriculum.

How are you going to include children with SEN needs?

How are you going to engage boys?

How will you keep children who have emotional needs focused?

How will you inspire disadvantaged children that they can do well?

Making your curriculum ambitious can be difficult when focus has been primarily on data but this is a good change. Coming away from this mindset can help with English and maths outcomes if you get it right. Developing learning behaviour can help get children on the right track and then providing deeper learning experiences can give children the scope to challenge themselves, as well as us. That’s ambition from two corners!

I have found that open activities or projects not only gives children the opportunity to the challenge themselves but also decreases work load on teachers. Children have the opportunity to work out problems and develop their skills while teachers can facilitate challenge and support.

I have seen some great examples of this:

Design a Saxon village, making sure that you can get to everything that you need. (Year 4)

Create an advert to sell a Victorian invention and persuade the teacher to buy it. (year 6)

Make an advert on road safety. (Year 2)

2B looks curriculum principles and there is a create article on this here: https://cornerstoneseducation.co.uk/curriculum-principles-important/

Values in a school are so important and these can give school’s a clear idea on what they want children to become. Think about these values and how you are going to deliver these, along with where your school is, the kind of children you have and what you really believe in. Just like Early Years leaders believing that child led learning helps children’s development. They and other practitioners have made this happen! If our ideas really work for your children and become embedded within the curriculum then it gives them the best chance of succeeding.

English and maths are also mentioned in these areas. This is impportant to. As Curriculum Leader, with colleagues who have roles for leading and maths and English, it is easy to let them get but it is important that the core and foundation subjects merge together. So many people see English and maths as a reason to push out the rest but they should all work together. It’s great to see that these are not seen as separate entities.

And that’s what I have concluded for the meeting. Hopefully it goes well and we can then all be clear on what we are providing for our children.

“It’s a lack of clarity that creates chaos and frustration. Those emotions are poison to any living goal.” 

“A lack of clarity could put the brakes on any journey to success.” 

Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free


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.

1

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!

2

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.

3

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.

4

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.

5

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.

6

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.

7

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.

9

8

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.

The New Framework- What’s occurring so far?

According to Amanda Spielman’s letter on 30th October, under the new framework, it is proposed that there will be a new ‘quality of education’ judgement.  This will look at curriculum intent, depth and breadth alongside the quality of teaching, the quality of pupils’ work and the resulting outcomes.

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Curriculum intent – What do we want for our children? How much substance is in the curriculum?

Quality of teaching (depth and breadth) – What are our children learning? Are they studying a curriculum that is rich, broad and deep?  How is our teaching showing that we are fulfilling the intent?  Are teachers empowered to feel like they are experts in their subjects?

Quality of pupils’ work- How are children showing that their work is fulfilling the intent?

Impact – The results and wider outcomes that children achieve and the destinations that they go on to.

Best get on with strengthening my curriculum intent then….

Curriculum and the new education inspection framework

curriculum

Having the role of Curriculum Lead means that I need to keep up to date with current affairs. There is a lot of talk going on about the curriculum in terms of how it will be inspected by Ofsted. On 18th September, research findings were released about exactly this and what Ofsted could be looking at when they come to inspect schools. It is not only a useful document for school leaders but also subject leaders and teachers, as we are all keen to know where to go next and how to improve experiences for our children.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/hmci-commentary-curriculum-and-the-new-education-inspection-framework

We need our teachers and leaders to think deeply about what we want our children to learn and how to teach it. This is not always easy because there are so many different forms the curriculum can take on. The research states three types of curriculum- a knowledge-led approach, knowledge-engaged approach and a skills-led approach. Not every leader is entirely sure what their curriculum is and I must have to admit, until now, I had also been blind sighted. Leaders and teachers need to be clear of this. What do they want for their children? What is best for their school? What are their teachers fully engaged with implementing?

I have never been one for a knowledge-led curriculum as our children are not all going to end up appearing on ‘The Chase’ or ‘Eggheads’ however, children need some knowledge in order to use the skills needed to go out into the wider world. Only today I was teaching programming but what use is programming if children do not know what an algorithm is?

The knowledge-engaged approach uses knowledge to enable to application of skills. There are some schools that place more value on the type of skills we could teach children. This makes me worry but only because I wonder if the progression of skills I have created actually teaches them the right skills. I use Bloom’s Taxonomy as a side part to our curriculum but what if I need to use this theory more explicitly to get real value out of it. I may have to rewrite the whole of my curriculum.

I have some time though and that is my solace. My curriculum has been a year in the making and we have come so far from what it was before and there is still another year before the new framework comes into fruition. So what can we all do this year to prepare?

Children need to have access to the whole curriculum. I know the importance to schools that they do well in end of key stage assessments but the curriculum needs to support these not hinder them. We need to find a way in which the two go hand in hand. After visiting a local secondary school for my son, I realise that secondary schools are starting to see it in this way. Their job is to get children work ready but I think we all have to admit that teaching to a test is not the only thing needed to get children through life.

Schools need to know their curriculum intent. It needs to match the beliefs and values of the school and everyone; teachers, children, parents and stakeholders need to understand the intent of the curriculum. It is part of creating a community and with everyone understanding the intent, it is clear what we are all trying to achieve. Working together is best for everyone.

Reasoning within the curriculum has been pushed hard in subjects such as maths and there is so much guidance to support schools with this. However, in foundation subjects it is not so clear. Sending my subject leaders off to find out what mastery looked like in the curriculum was a difficult task. However, the fantastic professionals I work with were able to discover ways that children could reason within their subjects. A step in the right direction!

Successful curriculum design is paramount. We started off with using Cornerstones, a fantastic curriculum that engages children, develops them and allows them to use the knowledge and skills learned in a range of different contexts. Not all of it matched our needs though so we slightly changed the curriculum design. This was through another important aspect – regular curriculum review and renewal. Since starting my role as curriculum leader, the staff and I have made many changes due to reviewing our curriculum as we went. We are now in a place where hopefully we no longer need to add anything new to our curriculum but we can renew aspects of it.

At the beginning of my journey, I looked at the progression of skills, linked to the National Curriculum and later on, Bloom’s Taxonomy. A clear progression model has been extremely useful in supporting teachers in knowing what to teach children and how to develop them further so that they are getting breadth and depth of learning. From this assessment, which was non-existent, is beginning to take shape. We need thoughtfully designed assessment so that we can address gaps and continue our journey to inform and improve on future curriculum design.
Curriculum will have greater coverage in the new Ofsted Framework and I am glad of this. It is our job to develop well rounded individuals who are not held back due to their lack of interest and ability in reading, writing and maths. These are important, yes, but other areas of the curriculum running alongside these skills make for a much more interesting world.