How do you quality assure the curriculum that is delivered in your school?

There is an emphasis on quality as schools return to the rhythm of the autumn term. The stakes are high as the new OFSTED handbook becomes a reality.  Quality of Education is one of the major changes that inspectors will be asked to focus on. They must ensure that the planning, sequencing and delivery of curriculum content and knowledge delivers breadth, depth and challenge over time.

There is a move away from a focus on data obtained as a result of testing at the end of key stage 1,2,4 and 5. The picture and associated dialogue must be about HOW results that translate into data have been achieved.  Amanda Spielman has republished a speech she wrote in June focusing on accountability and autonomy. She suggests that the two are inseparable in the quest for high quality learning in schools and colleges.In other words achieving results that translate into a positive data set in order to define accountability are not enough. Measuring quality must look at the excellence of teaching, the depth and breadth of curriculum, the ability of pupils to know how their learning intertwines and connects as well as a focus on the work that pupils produce.

“…and government should be able to distinguish between the quality of the system in terms of data, and the quality in terms of substance. We need that balance in the accountability system.”

Amanda Spielman – HMCI commentary: the roles of inspection and autonomy

Autonomy should give all leaders the belief that they can look at quality assurance as part of the bigger picture. In primary schools the foundation subjects must have greater prominence. Subjects should be taught by experts, learning should be sequenced and knowledge and skills carefully built over time. In secondary schools key stage 3 must be seen as a time where pupils build on learning from their primary school and develop the skills and knowledge that will prepare them for future learning and deeper thinking.

The three areas that OFSTED plan to focus on are:-

  • high quality pedagogy
  • classroom management and the behaviour of pupils
  • the curriculum and how it is planned and implemented

The indicators they will look out for are:-

  • building on previous learning
  • depth and breadth of coverage
  • pupil progress
  • evidence that pupils have opportunities to revisit and practice what they know

However, managing quality assurance in the school system must have a much wider focus if it is to create the right evidence that all the above indicators achieve the desired outcomes for the school. Here at Learning Cultures we have focused on seven principles that underpin highly successful quality assurance that are tried and tested in all sorts of organisations and should be an integral part of a QA process in schools and colleges.

These include:-

  • A clearly defined policy for quality assurance as part of the structure of strategic management
  • A mechanism for defining and communicating the vision for the organisation including how the curriculum intent is integral to the vision and ambition for the organisation
  • Processes for the design and approval of the curriculum in terms of content, sequeuncing over time and intended learning outcomes
  • Clearly defined standards for classroom pedagogy, behaviour and the management of and assessment of learning
  • The management of information and data to ensure that analysis and use of data informs progress, intervention and challenge
  • A strategy for assessing staff development needs linked to achieving the school vision and the needs of individuals and teams within the organisation
  • A mechanism for sharing success within and outside the organisation

Quality assurance is all about effective communication. It is about high quality assessment of the indicators that underpin what is expected within each stage. It is also about the sharing and celebration of successful outcomes.  Professional dialogue, collaborative team-working and a shared commitment to organisational excellence will deliver sustainable educational outcomes and the related data to be proud of.

Join us at our event,

Quality Assurance – A framework for curriculum cohesion, collaboration and impact

Have a look at the Learning Cultures’ Curriculum offer. We have training linked assessment in the primary phase, assessment in the secondary phase. A look at transition from KS1 to 2 and from KS 3 to 4.  We can support you on your primary curriculum journey and your secondary curriculum journey and we can support subject specialists to re-define their approach to curriculum planning.

What are the curriculum priorities for the new term?

What are the curriculum priorities that will guarantee a rich and deep curriculum offer that sequences learning over time?  They must include,

Creating the right teams that can take forward the vision and rationale for breadth and balance of the curriculum. Teams that can work together to create a sequential curriculum that weaves concepts, knowledge and skills into a body of learning.

A balance of innovation and conventional pedagogy that creates informed choices for how the curriculum should be taught. Developing a culture of professional learning that means staff within teams and departments, across year groups and at transition points all talk to each other and learn from each other.

A clearly defined strategy for highly effective CPD that is agreed linked to individual and team development needs.  If change is fundamental to re-defining the curriculum and how it is developed and delivered all staff will have their own collective and individual needs.  It is vital that this is planned and implemented to ensure that all staff are able to collectively deliver curriculum intent.

How the learning is assessed must be woven into the curriculum plan, assessment is fundamental if we are to measure the impact of the curriculum being taught on learning and progression.  There needs to be a balance between formative and summative assessment and opportunities for those with pupil facing roles to plan their assessment approaches together to ensure consistency, consensus and cohesion. There also needs to be agreement across all teams, departments and year groups as to how and when to intervene when pupils fall behind.

Building a system of positive quality assurance is key to defining the success of the curriculum and its implementation.  It is essential that the process secures high quality outcomes while retaining any strongly supportive team culture.  The process should be qualitative and not quantitative. Data is the result of a lot of other processes that are measured over time.  Lesson observation, learning walks, measuring pupil outputs, student voice, parents’ views are all part of measuring quality. It is, however, essential that all are used to celebrate a learning culture and are not seen as a measure of what is going wrong.  If we build a highly effective quality assurance strategy it will highlight the strengths within the organisation, inform the need for change and provide the steer for next steps in the process of continuous improvement.

Wherever you are on the curriculum journey we have a superb range of training and development courses that have been specifically designed to bring clarity and deeper meaning.  We are a coaching organisation and we achieve outstanding results.  Our courses are set out on our website in three sections,

We are launching a coaching certification programme and some on-line training courses which we are calling CPD in a Box this term.  Have a look at our website for more details.

Make sure all your staff have a CPD offer that is sustainable and provides profound learning that can be cascaded to others and has an impact on the organisation, the team and the individual.


CPD for the Curriculum Journey

Continuing professional development (CPD) is an essential ingredient in the quest for high quality learning and teaching of the National Curriculum.  The current imperative is on how the curriculum is planned and implemented in the quest for highly effective quality learning. There are several themes that have emerged over the last few months that require deep thought to create effective strategies that will ensure cohesion, consistency and positive outcomes across all learning. These are,

In order to weave together the elements outlined above schools need to craft a whole school CPD strategy that ensures all staff who have a hand in delivering curriculum outcomes can articulate the part they play in ensuring pupils deepen their learning over time.  Teachers must work together using structured planning time and professional dialogue. However, in order to use time effectively they also need to have the skills and knowledge to shape the pedagogy that will deliver what is defined in the vision or intent.

Our team at Learning Cultures have developed their expertise in this field over the past 20 years.  We know what works well and how to plan for outstanding and high-quality learning. Collectively, we have an enviable range of skills linked to curriculum design, pedagogy for learning, the weaving of skills through all subject specific content and how to ensure assessment is part of a cohesively planned curriculum.

Our suite of curriculum CPD courses have been carefully crafted to create the right balance for schools to shape a learning culture over time.  They can stand alone or be part of a planned programme of training for leaders, managers, teachers and support staff.

If you are the Headteacher or part of the senior leadership team and are planning the journey, shaping the vision and intent and defining the priorities you should attend one of our Re-defining series

If you are leading a subject or focusing on quality of learning within a faculty or department you need to attend our course looking at the importance of the subject expert. You also need to focus on the importance of weaving literacy and numeracy and the wider skills through all learning.

If you are involved in ensuring seamless transition from one key stage to the next and want to focus on how to ensure there is an emphasis on the academic as well as the pastoral that will provide evidence of seamless learning don’t miss out on one of our transition courses

Make sure, if you have responsibility for the assessment of learning, to join us at one of our assessment events. Assessment is key to the focus on curriculum implementation and how it impacts on learning. Consistent high-quality formative assessment will be an essential ingredient in the development of a cohesive and seamless curriculum. 

If your role is to measure the impact, or you have a part to play in determining how quality assurance delivers clearly defined outcomes join us at one of our courses that focus on how to assess for quality across all learning.

Remember all of these courses will have an element of coaching woven through.  Developing a successful and sustainable coaching culture is a guarantee of success.


Certification in Coaching – Cascading a culture of learning and collaboration

Developing a coaching culture is the most positive way to ensure the curriculum is the fulcrum for quality learning outcomes across the whole school or college.

Ask yourself:-

  • How is curriculum intent, rationale and ambition accurately translated into positive classroom practice?
  • How is learning sequenced over time and across phases, year groups and key stages?
  • What is in place to ensure all staff engage in professional learning conversations about their practice, curriculum content, concepts, and learning outcomes?
  • How is CPD planned to deepen knowledge and understanding linked to the vision and ambition for excellence and improvement?

The Learning Cultures’ coaching and curriculum teams have worked together to develop a Certificated Coaching Programme for schools and colleges to use to embed coaching successfully and sustainably over time. There is, within our schools and colleges a wealth of talent.  Current policy and good practice create an imperative to tap this by creating the right strategies that allow for collaboration and highly focused learning conversations that will provide the best solution to ensuring cohesive outcomes for pupils, teachers and their leaders and managers.

Coaching is the conduit that will provide the thread to linking subject specific and cross curricular learning. Coaching will help to create the dialogue that ensures skills and knowledge are woven through all learning. Coaching will ensure all staff embrace change, feel safe to innovate and can find their own solutions that deliver powerful learning outcomes.

A Journey in Coaching – Certificate in Coaching Competence provides a framework within which a school can begin to embed coaching.  We work over three terms with six members of staff (smaller or larger groups can be an option) who want to train as coaches and who will be the catalyst to begin the coaching journey for the whole organisation.  We provide all the materials, research documentation, three days training and on-going, on-line and telephone support.  We have opted for a certification rather than an accreditation route as this requires more on-the-job outcomes defined through evidence where the theory is applied in the context of educational learning. Read more by looking at the certification page on our website. Contact us here for more information.

We also have a range of coaching training courses for all staff including leaders, managers, teachers, support staff and those with a pastoral role.

We are continuing our highly acclaimed Redefining the Curriculum courses for both primary and secondary schools.  Have a look at our new course focusing on the role of the subject specialist.  Booking early is highly recommended.

Call us on 01746 765076 or Glynis directly on 07974 754241 if you would any more information.  You can also email Glynis at If curriculum cohesion is part of the question, coaching is without doubt the answer.

Preparing for subject specific ‘deep dive’ conversations and observations

The phrase ‘deep dive’ is the latest new terminology to come out of OFSTED’s focus on the curriculum and how it is planned and delivered.  I can’t help it, every time I hear the phrase it conjures up for me an image of an OFSTED inspector, in a rubber swimming hat, goggles and baggy trunks preparing to dive into the depths of murky subject knowledge or the dearth of it. Let’s unpick what this means for subject specialists or leaders.

Managing how the curriculum is implemented should fall to the subject team leader or subject expert.  It is their responsibility to create opportunities for that in-depth look at what is happening in the classroom to ensure that the content of subject learning is rich, builds on prior learning and prepares pupils for the next stage of their education. It is their role to translate the curriculum intent into clearly defined strategies for implementation.

This includes a focus on what the National Curriculum is asking for in their particular subject or wider area of study.  English, Maths and Science have a much more in-depth overview of what should be taught than the foundation subjects.  There is a degree of choice and opportunities for subject teams or departments to use their own local context, expertise and knowledge as the starting point for determining the content of their curriculum plan. The essential ingredients are,

  • the sequencing of learning over time
  • creating opportunities for pupils to make connections within and across their learning
  • ensure pupils understand the key concepts that link their learning within a subject and across subject boundaries
  • highlight the key skills that pupils will use and strengthen as part of their learning

In order for the subject or department lead to build a continuum of learning they must define the strategy that ensures schemes of work identify all of the above.  They must look closely at their own criteria for ‘deep dives’ into evaluating the quality of teaching and learning within their subject.  This will include collaborative planning meetings, opportunities to share through the use of professional learning conversations, highly interactive lesson observation and the review of pupil outputs such as in their written work, question and answer sessions and what they have produced in terms of models, presentations, art work and other media.

Some of OFSTED’s research provides a starting point for what subject leaders can use to determine how they can assess the quality of education and learning within their sphere of influence.  Specifically phase 3 of their research which includes 25 curriculum indicators that define what good curriculum design might look like. Also, the more recent publication of their research into lesson observation and workbook scrutiny. These documents give us clues as to a definition of high quality in education outcomes. Individual leaders and managers can add their own deep knowledge and understanding and create a powerful strategy for change or maintaining the status quo.

There is a lot to do and a lot to think about but now I think it is time for a deep dive into rest and recreation as we head for a well-deserved holiday for everyone with a pupil or curriculum centred role in a school or college.  We will continue to dive into the research, create our own and strengthen the Learning Cultures’ CPD offer based around our own deep expertise knowledge and understanding.  I will also keep publishing news-posts through the summer to highlight anything new that emerges.

Happy Summer and we look forward to working with you next term.

Glynis Frater

Observing Quality in the Classroom – measuring the impact of curriculum design

The quality of education is defined by OFSTED as ensuring pupils learn the content of a well sequenced curriculum across all subjects.  This re-balance (their language) requires leaders and their teams to look more closely at what is taught and how it is taught linked to their rationale and ambition for curriculum intent.

The clues to how this can be managed in school are linked to the myriad of speeches, publications and research that OFSTED have published over many months.  My post from last week, Curriculum Coherence and Coaching Conversations talks about a triangulation. This includes, lesson observation, book scrutiny and professional conversations with all stakeholders. The imperative to translate what is planned (intent) into education outcomes that deepen learning over time (implementation) and clearly define how all pupils will achieve their full potential (impact) is critical.

What we have to work with can help to create highly useful best practice models. The result of using these will deliver curriculum clarity to satisfy the inspectorate but will, more importantly, also foster a culture of highly interactive collaboration and the sharing of positive pedagogy that will have a lasting impact on morale, motivation and high quality learning.

Observation of learning is the key. This includes observing pedagogy and the learning outcomes that emerge from that. It also includes assessing the learning through what is written, how well pupils read, how pupils answer questions and what is performed, played, displayed or recorded for practical subjects including drama, PE, design technology, music and art. I have taken the observation indicators that OFSTED are using as part of their own validation and added to them a set of indicators of what observers and teachers might be looking for in terms of learning outcomes. Essentially, a far less subjective set of indicators that are linked directly to evidence of what pupils produce, learn, what they retain and their attitudes to learning.

So, when defining the quality of education, focus on the questions below so that you are clear as to what you would like to see when you observe pedagogy, practice and learning,

  • what are you expecting to see in the classroom, what do you want to see happening?
  • how does the content of this lesson fit into a sequence of lessons and other learning?
  • how is the learning assessed to ensure understanding and next steps?
  • to what extent are all pupils challenged to achieve more?
  • how involved are pupils in their own learning and how well can they articulate how they have accessed and retained knowledge over time?

We are as up to date with all this as it is possible to be. We continue to offer our suite of curriculum courses, including an in-depth and up to date focus on Re-defining the Curriculum.  One of our Leadership and Management courses looks specifically at Lesson Observation. The Art of Positive Lesson Observation – How to use powerful feedback that nurtures reflection, learning and outstanding teaching looks in-depth at the power of positive two-way observation that focuses on learning and successful outcomes for the teacher and their pupils.  At this crucial stage of change you may be looking at performance management and we have a highly acclaimed training day Re-thinking Appraisal and Performance Management- Influencing learning, empowering people and creating a culture of positive change  which will provide a focus on how to ensure every member of staff has a deep understanding of the contribution they can make to high quality education outcomes.

Make time for positive and highly praised CPD from Learning Cultures that is solutions focused, informed by sector led research and delivered by experts in education.

Curriculum Coherence and Coaching Conversations

Creating a coherent and well sequenced curriculum requires a culture change. The imperative is for collaboration and opportunities for leaders, managers and teachers to share in a professional dialogue that defines the quality of curriculum design and how it is delivered.

Last week in my last news post I talked about the triangulation that OFSTED describe in their research into lesson observation and ‘book scrutiny’. The third element of this triangulation is creating opportunities for professional learning conversations with those who deliver the curriculum and those who are recipients of it.  Here at Learning Cultures we know that developing a coaching culture within a school will create the platform for highly effective partnerships to emerge that will translate intent, rationale and ambition into powerful pedagogy and learning.

A coaching dialogue is more than a conversation, more than a discussion. A coach develops the skills to ask questions that probe for deeper meaning to answers given. The first step in a coaching discourse is to establish the goal an individual has set and the parameters within which he or she needs to work in order to achieve that goal.  Where the coach has a profound understanding of the curriculum rationale and ambition for change, he or she can influence and challenge their coachee to determine how their goal or target will contribute to achieving the vision for curriculum design and implementation.

Coaching is about trust and where a coaching culture exists all staff know that they have a part to play in the school’s determination to be successful in their quest for high quality education outcomes. Staff in school know they can innovate, take risks and move out of their sphere of comfort without fear of judgement or reprisal. It is, undoubtedly, this approach that will foster a whole school model that will deliver a well-sequenced curriculum that builds on prior learning, fosters challenge and ensures a tapestry of knowledge and skills.

To complete the list we also have Coaching for Teaching Assistants, Coaching for Cover Supervisors and Coaching for Pastoral Leaders, Coaching in the Classroom and Coaching for SENDCOs or we can design a coaching programme exclusively for your school linked to our considerable curriculum and coaching expertise.

Book scrutiny and lesson observation – evidence for curriculum implementation that defines high quality education outcomes

How intent is translated into the delivery of high-quality educational outcomes must come from looking closely at pedagogy and how and what pupils learn. OFSTED have recently published research into ensuring they can assess this accurately. Lesson observations and ‘workbook scrutiny’ are seen as an essential part of what will provide a spotlight into the quality of curriculum implementation. They see an essential triangulation between observation, a deep review of pupils’ book work and opportunities for face to face conversations. Their research is small scale but it is thorough. ‘How valid and reliable is the use of lesson observation in supporting judgements on the quality of education?‘ and Workbook scrutiny – Ensuring validity and reliability in inspections’

The research is designed to inform the systems that will ensure accurate and valid inspection.  Some of the indicators and research questions could be useful in creating meaningful models for defining a school’s own internal standards that define the quality of education within subjects and across the wider curriculum. The imperative for quality assurance in schools is to ensure that classroom pedagogy reflects how the curriculum intent is translated into classroom practice that leads to effective and deep subject learning and skills competence.  For this there needs to be an opportunity to observe lessons across a range of learning contexts. The quality of teaching and the depth and sequencing of subject knowledge need to be reflected in the quality of work output that is included in pupils’ books, in displays and within their ability to articulate through conversations with adults and with their peers.

For ‘book scrutiny’ four indicators were selected as those that would be observable in workbooks, the focus will be on how subject matter is taught and learned to allow for efficient and meaningful acquisition of new knowledge and whether and how pupils consolidate knowledge so that it remains in the long term memory. The indicators are,

  • Building on previous learning
  • Depth and breadth of coverage
  • Pupils’ progress
  • Practice

The research into the reliability and validity of lesson observation is documented in a slightly larger piece of work. In this document there are a list of 18 lesson observation indicators that inspectors will use as a guide to ascertaining how accurate their judgements are at assessing the quality of education through lesson observation. We have included the indicators in a separate PDF which you can download here.

It is not possible for individual schools to carry out their own research on the scale that OFSTED and other researchers they cite have undertaken. It is eminently possible to use the findings from research to inform internal action planning. There are opportunities to model the research criteria as part of a structure that clearly defines the intention for high quality curriculum design and delivery. From this schools can then focus on identifying the strengths within their school, recognise the gaps and subsequently fulfil the professional development needs that arise. This will create the right culture to build a platform of continuous improvement, positive collaboration and professional learning conversations that will cascade good and outstanding practice.  Creating a triangulation for quality assurance that ensures the rationale and ambition for the curriculum is implemented to achieve a high level of success for all learners. This triangulation is essentially,

  • lesson observation that celebrates positive pedagogy that ensures curriculum implementation linked to the school intent, rationale and ambition
  • looking at learning outcomes within books and as part of displays and other media
  • creating opportunities for a curriculum dialogue to exist for leaders, managers, teachers TAs and pupils

We are continually updating our curriculum suite of courses  to create for schools a series of solutions focused and resource rich experiences linked to well-respected research and our own considerable expertise.



Sequencing learning, mapping subject concepts, content and skills to build a continuum of learning

This is one of the articles in our latest Newsletter Crafting a Creative Curriculum: Planning for a Continuum of Learning . Read the whole newsletter here.

Learning is made up of all sorts of stimulations that force the brain to open up neural pathways that will eventually ensure that what we are learning remains in our long-term memory.  The curriculum offers us a wealth of experiences so that learners can make connections, build on their prior understanding and use the skills they have learnt in English and Maths across a range of contexts or subjects. The careful sequencing of the knowledge and skills learners will learn as they follow the National Curriculum is essential.

OFSTED clearly states in the Quality of Education judgement of their new framework that curriculum planning must demonstrate how content builds on prior learning and leads learners towards stated end points that define progress made. It is not always easy to see clear pathways for learning the knowledge. For instance, in History, the teaching of certain periods does not necessarily have to be chronological. What is taught in one year may focus on the Romans in the next the Tudors. If there is no synergy and no communication across the whole learning spectrum it is unlikely that a sequence of learning will emerge.  It is therefore essential that there is a collective and whole school map that defines the content of the foundation curriculum in primary school from early years to year 6, with an eye on what will be taught in year 7. In the secondary school the map needs to cover what will be taught in year 7,8, and 9 with an eye to what has already been taught in at least years 5 and 6. The content and requirements of GCSE or vocational specifications should also form an integral part of the planning process so that pupils can have an opportunity for exposure to relevant concepts during their key stage 3 experience.

This is quite difficult to manage and requires a degree of expertise in the understanding of the relevant subject in its entirety.  The place to start is with the aims of the National Curriculum programmes of study. If we focus on History, once again, the specification does not prescribe in any way a logical sequence to the learning. It is suggested that there should be a coherent, chronological narrative and the need to deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms (concepts) such as empire, civilisation, parliament and peasantry.  The programme of study suggests that key stage 1 pupils should ‘develop an awareness of the past’ in key stage 2 ‘they should note connections, contrasts and trends over time..’ In key stage 3 ‘Pupils should understand how different types of historical sources are used rigorously to make historical claims and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed.’ It seems clear that part of the planning must be to look at concepts that are key to how the learning should be sequenced. If time is a concept then deepening our understanding of how where we are now has been carved by past historical events should shape the content of the planned curriculum. To take a generic example, an understanding of the concept of power has a very different meaning in History, Geography, Science or PE.  The concept however that power can be destructive, can drive change and can shape and form something new will aid understanding and allow for connections to be made by pupils across a range of learning experiences.

However we determine the sequence of knowledge acquisition, skills competence and conceptual understanding it is essential that subject specialists and leaders create opportunities for serious collaboration across year groups, in departments, across the curriculum divide and at points of transition.  We need to ask the questions,

  • ‘What are we sequencing and how can we create a continuum of learning that will be meaningful for all pupils?’
  • ‘How will pupils learn the curriculum and remember the important learning points that will support them in the next phase of education?’
  • ‘How can we identify and develop the skills pupils need to access knowledge that will ensure they deepen their learning over time?’
  • ‘What are the essential concepts that run through many subjects that will support pupils to recognise the connections that knit their learning together?’

The curriculum is not a strait jacket, it is a guide and gives those with subject expertise an opportunity to be innovative and create seamless learning that will knit together a rich vein of conceptual and subject specific vocabulary, opportunities to use a wide range of literacy, numeracy and the wider skills that lead to deep learning and high levels of progression. The key to this is positive collaboration, joint planning and a map of learning over time. We explore these ideas as part of our course for subject leaders and Heads of Departments.

For Senior and Curriculum leaders

This is one of the articles in our latest Newsletter Crafting a Creative Curriculum: Planning for a Continuum of Learning . Read the whole newsletter here.

Governance and OFSTED – Curriculum content linked to aspirational learning

OFSTED’s Amanda Spielman’s latest speech to Governors at the NGA conference reinforces here conviction and commitment that the curriculum will be and to some extent is already at the centre of inspection.  She starts her speech talking about substance and integrity.

“Getting to the heart of it, this new framework is about two things: substance and integrity. It puts the real substance of education, the curriculum, back at the centre of inspection and supports leaders and teachers who act with integrity.”

We are assuming here that by integrity she means we put the pupils first before results and data! Substance has been a word widely used as the developments about the new approach to curriculum intent, implementation and impact have unfolded.  In terms of substance we need to look closely at the concepts that are upheld as important facets of curriculum design.  Breadth and depth, differentiation, relevance, coherence and continuity all figure as essential components.  Essentially, we must focus on a deep and rich curriculum that weaves concepts, skills and knowledge and sequences learning over time.

Amanda Spielman tells Governors that what OFSTED are clear about is that the curriculum is a core part of the ‘Quality of Education’ judgement.  The outcomes will focus on what the school chooses to teach, but more essentially it is about how the content is taught and how well the curriculum is ordered and structured.  Having a clear focus on the what and the how as part of a strategy for intent and implementation are clearly important.

We all want to know the answer to the question she poses ‘What is a good curriculum?’ Her answer cites the second phase of research published by OFSTED that suggests that there are several approaches to curriculum design and all can work.  She prompts Governors to ask the questions,

  • ‘What do you want your children to know?’
  • ‘What is going to help children in later life?’ 
  • ‘What will help children develop cultural capital?’ 

Cultural capital in the National Curriculum is described as,

“The essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.”

OFSTED judgements will be based on how much schools are giving pupils the knowledge and cultural capital to succeed.  She suggests that for some that should be recognising what is lacking in the home life of some pupils. She also suggests that we identify gaps in knowledge, skills and understanding and that content should be ambitious linked to aspirational learning. What she says OFSTED want to see is a deep and rich curriculum offer that does more than ensure pupil engagement but that creates opportunities for deeper and richer content that will stretch, challenge and provide a range of different contexts within which pupils work outside what is their normal experience.

She makes the statement already said many times before which is undoubtedly true but is sometimes difficult to reconcile,

“If a broad and balanced curriculum is well taught the exam results should almost take care of themselves.”

There is also a within this speech on the role of assessment in determining quality outcomes for pupils learning the curriculum.  The message to Governors is clear. Assessment should be linked to learning, deepening that learning ensuring that pupils can make sense of their learning. This in relation to what has already been taught and understood and how the learning leads to the development of a range of skills linked to reading and writing but also to the wider skills that support pupils to continually develop and grow in their learning.

“Progress should be measured by how much a child has learned the curriculum, rather than when or whether they are hitting a particular target”

Everything said here reinforces the messages from many of the speeches, research papers and the new handbook.  It reinforces for us the importance of a totally collaborative approach to ensuring the curriculum is about substance, depth and breadth. How do staff across subjects, year groups and transition points work together to sequence the learning? How do they define the concepts that underpin the learning and draw out the numeracy and literacy skills that allow pupils to access the knowledge? What assessment strategies ensure pupils know how to use increasingly higher levels of response to demonstrate their understanding?

We have now trained over 500 educators to look closely at their approach to curriculum design and delivery. We have developed some outstanding and well – researched materials and tools to support change where change is needed.  We know that our approach is having a significant impact and are proud of our record so far.

Join us at one of our innovative and hugely well-received training courses. We haven’t changed our ethos and understanding of powerful drivers for learning. OFSTED have though and we can support you to make the right changes where they are needed. Here is a snapshot of our valuable training.