When thinking about curriculum in our Trust, the first step is to understand how we learn.
It’s important that decisions about curriculum design and content are rooted in evidence. Schools in our Trust therefore ensure that teachers and leaders develop a secure understanding of cognitive science, which informs their decision making.
The schools in our Trust are unique and whilst there is alignment in mission, vision and values, the curriculum offer needs to respond to the school’s individual context and so, curriculum leaders determine the content of their school’s curriculum. The process that schools go through in designing their curriculum and the thinking that sits behind what is taught, is however, more consistent. The curriculum should be broadly aligned to the National Curriculum, ambitious for all learners, well-sequenced and coherent.
We know that there is too much to cover and the risk is that we end up with a curriculum which is ‘a mile wide and an inch deep.’ Therefore, we need to make choices about what to include, and what to leave out. If we’re not clear about how these choices should be made, we create a lack of coherence in the system and subject leaders make decisions based on their own preferences or stick with what has gone before. At Learning in Harmony, we follow some key principles from the Ambition Curriculum Design programme about the habits of effective curriculum design, and this begins with schools identifying the purpose of education for their school.
Education has many purposes: to teach knowledge for its own intrinsic value; to further social justice; to prepare students for the world of work; and to build character. It can be argued that we should aim to serve all of these purposes (and more), but this denies a key aspect of good leadership of curriculum design: prioritising (Turner, 2006). Within the Trust, schools define their own purpose of education as the foundation of their curriculum, and this allows subject leaders to plan with this in mind, setting a clear vision for their subject, defining the key concepts that will be the golden thread for their curriculum and setting challenging end points. Our subject network groups collaborate on these things and create a supportive culture, which enables them to learn together, share ideas and ultimately, improve the quality of education in their own schools.
A similar approach is used in our special schools and specialist provisions, but learning in these contexts is highly personalised and dependent on priorities in the student’s EHCP and based on an ongoing assessment of their needs.
If you would like to find out more about the curriculum in our schools, please visit their websites or contact us at email@example.com