Blog on The Blackboard

Texts for the term

Across the school we use texts links to our topic.

In Year 1, the children’s ‘Where the wild things are’ topic is booked up with… you’ve guessed it… ‘Where the wild things are’

The geography links here are great and so enjoyable for children. Map skills are made more interesting by looking for wild things.

Year 2 are doing talk for writing with ‘The Three Little Pigs.’ Perfect for the topic ‘Clever Construction.’ After learning about engineering and architecture, children can create their own story with different buildings that they’ve learnt about. A pig living in The Shard makes for an interesting read.


In Year 3, our doing ‘The Prehistoric World’ and linking it to ‘How to wash a woolly mammoth’ really engages children. It’s great for transition into KS2 and having thought about what the children enjoyed in Year 2 (dinosaurs) gives them the opportunity to link their learning experiences.

Blue Abyss in Year 4 has been supported by Flotsam, a wordless picture book with many opportunities for inference and imagination and It links to real life in history (the camera) and environmental issues.

Year 5 and their topic based around South America has been supported by The Explorer is a thrilling adventure that moves around a group of children. Fantastic for year 5s to put themselves in the Amazon.

Revolution – a topic themed around the Victorians is a favourite in Year 6. Some fantastic opportunities to look at how the victorians have influenced our lives now. Street child helps our children to imagine themselves in another child’s shoes. Some great writing coming from this!

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!

Implementing a 21st century curriculum

There are many schools that are still behind in their curriculum development. Unfortunately, it has been seen that

  • some subjects not taught well,
  • curriculum intent still needs to be implemented
  • focus on curriculum is narrow
  • there is no accountability
  • the strategies used in planning and delivery is pre-2014 National Curriculum.

There are also schools that have a good curriculum where teachers have good subject knowledge and there are good checking systems. These are the schools we need to learn from.

My next step into curriculum development is to develop subject leaders in leading their subject so that we can ensure that all subjects are implemented well, teachers have good subject knowledge and there are good checking systems.

The following video shows Heather Fearn talking about what we need to think about in implementing our curriculum intent.

In creating a curriculum that moves into the 21st century and develops subject leaders’ knowledge we need to think about:

  • What is taught?
  • How it is taught?
  • Assessment

Bringing the school together on the curriculum intent

A lot of work has gone into the curriculum and supporting staff in understanding and implementing our school intent.

In Term 4, I carried out a staff meeting to support subject leaders and teachers with delivering the curriculum.

Sharing the indicators

I started with giving staff members the indicators for intent, implementation and impact. The sorted them into what we are doing, what we are beginning to do and what we need to improve. This was something that we did as an SLT team but it was interesting seeing it from the point of view of teachers and subject leaders.

Sharing the curriculum intent

Sharing the intent is key to get everyone reading from the same page. There are aspects of it that some teachers may not understand so we discussed the Characteristics of Effective Learning.

Teachers needed to see what this entailed and more importantly, that we already do most of this. By using a record grid to record how we use this, teachers really got to see where we were doing well and what needed to be done next.

This was a really useful activity and really got us together in the view of our intent.

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!

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