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.

Active learning – reciprocity

The last learning muscle that I need to share from Guy Claxton’s Building Learning Power is reciprocity.

I have always used superheroes to support BLP.  It gives children a fictional context in which they can join in with and add to.

1Using imaginary and real life learning superheroes can help in promoting all learning behaviours.

By having a superhero for reciprocity, children are given the superheroes remit.  What he is going to help us with.

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Then children get children to design their own superhero that has the powers to help Reciprocity Ray carry out his duties.

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Action Planning

What is an action plan?

An action plan is a way to make sure your school’s vision is made concrete. It describes the way your team will use its strategies to meet its objectives. An action plan consists of a number of action steps or changes to be brought about.

Each action step or change to be sought should include the following information:

  • What actions or changes will occur
  • Who will carry out these changes
  • By when they will take place, and for how long
  • What resources (i.e., money, staff) are needed to carry out these changes
  • Communication (who should know what?)

What are the criteria for a good action plan?

The action plan for your initiative should meet several criteria.

Is the action plan:

  • Complete? Does it list all the action steps or changes to be sought in all relevant parts of the community (e.g., schools, business, government, faith community)?
  • Clear? Is it apparent who will do what by when?
  • Current? Does the action plan reflect the current work? Does it anticipate newly emerging opportunities and barriers?

 Completing an action plan

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Key area and aim List the issues identified in your subject audit and the school development plan
Key actions List of how you are going to work towards the key area
Who Identify the person in charge of the initiative or development and anyone who will be in a supporting role.

Include who will monitor the action and this may include Governors.

Resources/

Costings

Identify anything that will affect school organisation, e.g. release of staff; timetabling of -hall etc.

Provide approximate costs e.g. prices of books and equipment, cost of attending courses, cost of buying time (e.g. supply cover) in order to carry out your intentions.

Success Criteria/Impact Identify the criteria by which you will know your targets have been achieved.

Include the impact this will have on teaching, learning and standards.

How will you know that you are achieving that you planned to do?

Key judgements and points for further action.

Target date/

time scale

When do you expect to see the results of your proposed development?

Set realistic achievable timescales.

Plan dates for monitoring and evaluation.

 

 

Subject Leadership Guide

If you’ve taken on the role of subject leadership and you’re unsure of the role, this guide shares what is expected of you within your role.

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Introduction

It is the role of the subject leader to implement the aims of the school and contribute to the continued drive for improvement through their individual subject area.
All teachers, other than NQTs, are expected to contribute to subject leadership.

Core Purpose of the Subject Leader

While the Head Teacher, governors and the Trust have overall responsibility for school improvement, a subject leader provides leadership and direction for an individual subject and ensures that it is managed and organised to meet the aims and objectives of the school and the subject. A subject leader has responsibility for securing high standards of teaching and learning in their subject.

Role of the Subject Leader:  What subject leaders do?

1. Strategic direction and development of the subject – Standards and Progress

Subject leaders lead on a subject, developing the subject to ensure that it reflects on the school’s commitment to high achievement, ethos and values and effective teaching and learning. Subject leaders must evaluate practice and develop an acceptance of accountability.

They monitor the progress made by pupils and the progress towards achieving subject action plans and targets. They evaluate the impact of actions taken on teaching and learning, and use this analysis to guide further improvement, using a variety of Subject Leader tools including work sampling, planning sampling, teacher discussion, data analysis, pupil interviews, drop-ins and lesson observations.

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2.School Improvement

All subject leaders develop a ‘subject action plan.’  In their role, subject leaders support the development of the School Development Plan through the actions put into place. They carry out a cycle of monitoring throughout the school, ensuring that they are able to make judgements about the standards within their subject.   Evidence of monitoring is kept in the form of a monitoring form and feedback is given to teachers, along with next steps and actions.  A plan can be made to ensure that actions are planned for and put in place at the correct times through a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. These are then monitored at a later date and the cycle begins again.

Evidence of what has been done and what impact it has had on whole school development throughout the year can be recorded and presented at Performance Management.

 3. Curriculum

Subject leaders ensure curriculum coverage, continuity and progress in their subject for all pupils. Curriculum coverage is key and getting to grips with the National Curriculum and the Progression of Skills document within the subject area, will ensure that this is easier to monitor and support other members of staff.  Subject leaders have the role to review the curriculum within the school and ownership over what is to be covered is in the hands of subject leaders. This is to be shared with the Curriculum Leader when designing the final Curriculum Overview each year.

 4. Resources

Subject leaders ensure the effective and efficient management and organisation of learning resources to meet the needs of the school. Resources are kept up-to-date and relevant to the needs of the subject. Storage systems for resources need to be managed. Where new resources are needed, these need to be identified and costed as part of action planning.

5. Staff CPD

Subject leaders sustain their own motivation and that of other staff in their subject area. Subject leaders audit and/or identify training needs of staff and co-ordinate the provision of high quality professional development. Subject leaders act as a first point of advice for staff to provide the support, challenge, information and development necessary to sustain motivation and secure improvement in teaching.

6. Subject Leader File

Subject leaders must establish and maintain a file including information relating to their role. In the event that subject leadership roles change, the new subject leadership will clearly be able to see where the subject has been developed and build on this, rather than starting again.

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7. Guidelines for Implementation

Most aspects of the subject leader’s role can be discharged outside the teaching day – however, it is acknowledged that the role requires considerable investment of time and energy and that some aspects of the role require time during the school day. Therefore, subject leaders will be given or can request non-contact time throughout the school year for the purposes of monitoring.

8. Accountability

Subject action plans and evaluations will be monitored termly by the Senior Leadership Team.  Feedback following monitoring activities is also shared with the Leadership Team.