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

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


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.

How do we improve attendance through the curriculum?

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…

1

And within those sessions, children take part in a range of context. (or so we’d like to think!)

2

This may sound okay when looking at individual lessons but when we look at the type of learning children are doing throughout the day…

3

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.

Theme based learning – where does it fit in with the curriculum?

Term 1 is well and truly over so what did we manage to cover in Year 5 through our theme based curriculum?

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Science- Earth and Space

  • describe the movement of the Earth, and other planets, relative to the Sun in the solar system
  • describe the movement of the Moon relative to the Earth
  • describe the Sun, Earth and Moon as approximately spherical bodies
  • use the idea of the Earth’s rotation to explain day and night and the apparent movement of the sun across the sky.

Design and Technology

  • use research and develop design criteria to inform the design of innovative, functional, appealing products that are fit for purpose, aimed at particular individuals or groups
  • generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas through discussion, annotated sketches, cross-sectional and exploded diagrams, prototypes, pattern pieces and computer-aided design
  • 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

Music

  • listen with attention to detail and recall sounds with increasing aural memory
  • appreciate and understand a wide range of high-quality live and recorded music drawn from different traditions and from great composers and musicians

Theme based learning – where does it fit in with the curriculum?

Term 1 is well and truly over so what did we manage to cover in Year 3 through our theme based curriculum?

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Science- Rocks

  • 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.

 

Music

  • 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

 

History

  • changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age

 

Computing

  • 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