Curriculum United!

In Term 6, the teachers at school all worked together to create a new curriculum overview. This united us as a team and got us creating a curriculum that united us as a school.

This was not easy because the National Curriculum had to be shared out to ensure that there was complete coverage.  There are pros and cons to starting a fresh.

Pros:

  • Creating a curriculum that matches our intent, our values and our vision
  • Teachers can plan for what they enjoy.
  • Plan for the children
  • Make cross curricular links
  • Organising hooks early
  • Place the learning into context
  • Resource early on
  • Take on the changes within the local area
  • Link to national and international events (Olympics)
  • Talking to each other to find out strengths and what/who we know
  • Thinking about it with fresh eyes in terms of SMSC and BV

Cons:

  • Coverage for those children who have already been through Year 1, 3, 4, and 5 may be repeated again.
  • It’s easier to do what we know
  • Reliance in topics or learning known due to own subject knowledge
  • Sharing out the National Curriculum (it was much easier in KS1 than it was in KS2)
  • Linking subjects
  • Time

We managed it though.  The next step though was to get teaching staff to think about each piece of learning as part of a learning journey.  There needed to be a context and a reason so it was real life.

We looked at giving children big questions within the term to give children an area to work towards.  Children can work towards building the skills to answer these and you’ll find that all children can get involved. In Year 1, a child finding out ‘Which flowers are fit for a queen?’ will use a range of learning areas with some children learning from research, some children learning from being read to, some children going to the park with their family.  All of these experiences can then come together to create a wide range of fun and interesting outcomes.

Then there are topics which engage children through taking on professions.  It’s good if you can get a parent in that can share more.  In Year 2, children are bakers, advertisers, dancers, musicians, critics, event planners, engineers and film directors. Think how fun children find the concept of Kidzania.  We are giving children a little bit of that!

Designing a curriculum intent

Curriculum Intent

At our school, we have finally published our curriculum intent. We have been passing our intent back and forth between the senior leadership team with it not being quite right.  Lots of ideas and examples on the internet meant we had too many ideas so it took time but it was worth it.

The point in which we began was with all 5 SLT members giving their ideas on what we should have in our curriculum. We had so many great ideas but it was far too much. When you have a lot of commas in a statement just so you can get everything in, you know it is too wishy washy.  It needed to be more punchy.

Alongside this view, myself and the foundation stage leader knew all about the effective characteristics of learning and felt that these should be the centre of our intent.  It took a while to get everyone on side but once we had explained how this fits, we got it in there.  Result!

Every child is recognised as a unique individual where positive relationships and enabled environments result in strong learning and development.

We  shared our view on challenging ourselves and digging deep in our learning and felt that this needed to go in. We didn’t want what we taught children to end up just been worksheet lessons.

We believe that all children should be equipped with skills to enable them to ‘dive into learning’ and strengthen their ability to learn at a deeper level – ultimately allowing them to welcome challenge, articulate their learning, demonstrate quality thinking, apply skills/knowledge, solve problems and reflect on their journey.

We picked three main areas that we felt summed up what our curriculum was designed to do. Most of this came from what we already implement so it was easy to come up with these (maybe a little too easy)

allow children the opportunity to explore, learn actively and become critical, creative thinkers.

Then there was our intention for staff. What they should share in terms of what our children’s education should be like:

Our staff share the ethos that childhood should be a happy, investigative, enquiring time in our lives, where there are no limits to curiosity, possibilities or ambition

And what the role of our staff is in providing our curriculum:

 where children lead and adults facilitate a thirst for new experiences and knowledge.

The whole thing put together is great and really gives a feeling of what we want to do.  But now… we need to implement it!

Phase 3 Curriculum Research – Expectations of Subject Leaders

The Phase 3 Curriculum research stated that inspectors have been collecting information about a  school’s curriculum in a uniform way and this ensured that they were assessing the curriculum in a reliable way.  No school left under fire more than others.

The visit included:

  • Monitoring the quality of at least four subjects. These were not just English and Maths so be prepared.
  • Discussions with subject leaders about the standards of their subjects.

So what do subject leaders need to do?

Triangulating evidence involves taking at least 3 independent approaches to reviewing the variable being studied, for example by using different sources of evidence.   This can be a useful way of improving the quality of the conclusions drawn.

In assessing teaching and learning within your subject, you could carry out the following:

  • Data Analysis
  • Learning walk/Lesson observations
  • Book/work scrutiny
  • Pupil Voice

This is incredibly useful but make sure to get an even bigger picture, look at different groups of children. Also, when monitoring is completed, make a note of your next actions. These can be the next steps and how you use your time next time you have your subject leadership time.

10 steps to creating a world class curriculum

learning ex

  1. Make sure you have the characteristics of effective learning – you need to be thinking about the individual children and making learning engaging while giving children opportunity to learn how to learn from their environment, experiences and activities.
  2. Learning experiences can support attendance and behaviour – think through how children learn. If it is a whole day of sitting, listening to the teacher and writing, not all children will be able to engage in learning.
  3. The learning environment- Your learning environment (classroom and whole school) should support all children in accessing the curriculum, promote the vision of the school, be engaging and exciting and demonstrate a sense of pride in what children are doing and have done.
  4. Provision and opportunities – visitors and trips always add something to the curriculum but adding after school clubs that relate to the curriculum and develop skills further is another way this can be done.
  5. Get all involved- decisions about curriculum development should be made by pupils, teachers, SLT, governors and parents. Making it a whole school vision helps support the vision of the school and the outcomes of our children through their journey through the school.
  6. Supports the national curriculum and early years – there are still knowledge, skills and understanding and using the National Curriculum gives us less work in ensuring children get the coverage.
  7. Backs up the school values – we want all involved to take on the behaviours needed to give our children the best learning possible.
  8. Gives children life skills – children are on a journey to independence and we need to get them ready for this.
  9. Makes children lifelong learners – we are not just thinking of children now but we are preparing them for the future. A lifetime of learning can keep both the body and mind in shape.
  10. SMSC and British Values are big in the framework at the moment and also support in building a well-rounded individual so make sure that you incorporate these into your curriculum.