This term, to support subject leaders, I put in the opportunity for them all to work with a member of SLT. This was support in monitoring and recognising strengths and weaknesses within their subject as well as looking at the deep dive process.
Although deep dive process is not the be all and end all of education, if can give us an idea of what to look at with out subjects.
How do you assess children? How is this fed back into teaching and learning?
What CPD is there for all staff including the Subject Leader?
How do you ensure all staff have subject knowledge?
How do you support new staff?
How do you support children?
What interventions are there?
How are all children catered for?
Workload and wellbeing
Are you supported by SLT?
Do you have the tools to do the role?
What do you do to provide a good work/life balance?
Some questions are repeated within other areas so they were put together to make it more manageable. After this we looked into the intent and how we were implementing this by looking at our curriculum folders.
A learning walk would have been great but an hour is simply not enough. However, just by looking at the key questions above and our learning intent, we could pick up on our strengths and weaknesses and work out what was the main priority for monitoring.
Recently, I asked my team about their views on assessment and how they use it to help them to plan. There were many things that came up but luckily there were some great conversations about how we can do it, especially as the curriculum is sequenced, built upon and challenging.
I think most schools have a progression of skills nowadays and these are more than likely from the National curriculum. Using these to assess against is key.
One thing that I found was in some subjects there were skills that were done in Year 1 and later in Year 5 for instance. We may want children to show control over their drawing techniques in art but subject knowledge is key. It’s all about knowledge and skills.
This is where key vocabulary can come in very handy for each year group showing a progression in this area.
From the vocabulary and the skills we can build upon what children already know and what we are teaching them at that moment. A success criteria based on Bloom’s taxonomy shows children, teaching assistants and the teacher how they can support children within the lesson or series of lessons to reach their full potential.
In structuring it this way, it has a range of benefits such as assessing, planning, focusing teaching and learning but it needs to be shared well so that there is a understanding amongst all stakeholders.
I have found it hugely beneficial for children too. If you are giving children more independence in their learning then giving them the tools to be able to do this is so important. Eventually as the children go through the school, especially if they are immersed in the ideas of Bloom’s Taxonomy, the skills and the knowledge, they may very well be able to take control of their own learning.
Even within a Year 2 lesson, you can open it up and give them real purpose for their learning by showing them greater depth, real life, in the work place (whatever you see fit) examples.
Assessing within learning is huge and opens up so many opportunities.
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!
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.
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
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
Sharing out the National Curriculum (it was much
easier in KS1 than it was in KS2)
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!
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: