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:
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)
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.”
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.
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!)
Coverage is more about progression and depth nowadays.
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.
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.
Have a range of evidence. It doesn’t all have to be writing. Include photos, quotes, observations, drawings, labelling, mindmaps, learning.
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.
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!
See other schools – what a way to grab the best ideas from all places.
There are any ways to support our children’s attendance such as:
Celebrating and promoting attendance through assemblies with certificates and class rewards.
Including attendance on school newsletters
Opportunities to teach about the importance of attendance and arriving on time as a life skill.
Monitoring the attendance of our low attenders and support their parents.
But the curriculum is where we can really inspire children, especially as our role as teachers. However, we need to look at what we are offering our children in terms of the curriculum.
Often the school day looks a bit like this…
And within those sessions, children take part in a range of context. (or so we’d like to think!)
This may sound okay when looking at individual lessons but when we look at the type of learning children are doing throughout the day…
It is pretty boring! And it’s easy to see why some children may not want to come into school.
So give children a range of experiences as much as possible. After all most of us came into teaching because every day is different, which makes it engaging and exciting. This is exactly what we are trying to do with our children.
Term 1 is well and truly over so what did we manage to cover in Year 3 through our theme based curriculum?
compare and group together different kinds of rocks on the basis of their appearance and simple physical properties
describe in simple terms how fossils are formed when things that have lived are trapped within rock
recognise that soils are made from rocks and organic matter.
play and perform in solo and ensemble contexts, using their voices and playing musical instruments with increasing accuracy, fluency, control and expression
improvise and compose music for a range of purposes using the inter-related dimensions of music
changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age
select, use and combine a variety of software (including internet services) on a range of digital devices to design and create a range of programs, systems and content that accomplish given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information
Design and Technology
select from and use a wider range of tools and equipment to perform practical tasks [for example, cutting, shaping, joining and finishing], accurately
select from and use a wider range of materials and components, including construction materials, textiles and ingredients, according to their functional properties and aesthetic qualities
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Backs up the school values – we want all involved to take on the behaviours needed to give our children the best learning possible.
Gives children life skills – children are on a journey to independence and we need to get them ready for this.
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.
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.