Curriculum Innovation – Seize the initiative and inspire outstanding learning and teaching

Outstanding pedagogy, inspiring curriculum content and a commitment to ensuring every learner achieves their full potential is what every leader in education wants to see happen on their watch.  So, let’s seize the initiative through carefully looking at what Amanda Spielman is saying and change the emphasis away from planning for results to planning for curriculum breadth and balance and creating a continuum of learning that deepens knowledge, builds skills and fosters creativity. The data, the positive results and the highly energised school staff and pupils will follow.

The political charge surrounding OFSTED’s foray into how the curriculum should be delivered is already in full swing.  Many commentators are having their say, some negative, some positive, most sceptical.  It is, in my opinion, the most welcome and pragmatic reflection on what needs to change in order for schools to win back the autonomy to use the talent they have to develop a curriculum that meets the needs of all their pupils.

Amanda Spielman talks about bringing back the ‘substance of education’.  I am sure all leaders of education including myself would agree that it never went away except in the fact that in order to keep our jobs and our sanity we have had to shape strategy towards data driven outcomes linked to SATs and GCSE results.  Free us from accountability regimes linked simply to one quality control measure at the end of primary and secondary schooling and the substance or whatever we would prefer to call it would blossom and grow like the pupils who receive that education.

This is an opportunity for all school leaders and their teams to review their curriculum and ask the questions:-

  • What are our intentions in relation to learning outcomes for all pupils?
  • How do we plan to ensure that all learners can build skills and access knowledge across all their learning?
  • How well do we build on prior learning to deepen knowledge and understanding?
  • How collaboratively do we build a cohesive and seamless curriculum that weaves the skills through the development of core and foundation or subject learning?
  • How can we measure impact and have the evidence of successful outcomes that are qualitative as well as quantitative?
  • How will we ensure all staff have the skills, knowledge and resources to build on what they already do well, embrace change and have the confidence to innovate?

The above is linked to what is deemed outstanding practice from national and international research.  It also echoes the current messages from OFSTED. What is being said so far makes sense.  Start the conversation and reflect on current and future curriculum intent, implementation and impact linked to the questions above and positive change will ensue regardless of what OFSTED or policy makers say.

Our training programmes focus on how you can achieve a cohesive, collaborative, skills focused and knowledge rich curriculum offer that will lead to successful outcomes for all learners. The two courses below are a starting point for all senior and middle leaders with responsibility for curriculum design.

Then put coaching at the heart of your CPD strategy and develop a culture of collaboration and structured learning conversations and watch positive change create outstanding futures. Have a look at our Coaching in Education courses.

Curriculum Conversations and Professional Dialogue to Shape a Learning Culture

Curriculum conversations and the power of coaching

We need to start to have curriculum conversations especially about the three questions that emerge from the latest announcement on changes to the OFSTED handbook for next September relating to the curriculum.  Amanda Spielman’s speech to Schools North East summit

  • What is it that schools want for their pupils? (Intent)
  • How well does teaching and assessment fulfil this intent? (Implementation)
  • What is the impact on results and the wider outcomes that children achieve? (Impact)

These questions are explored in our Re-defining the Curriculum courses.

The fundamental changes link closely to how well leaders, managers and teachers can articulate their intent in relation to the content of the curriculum and how it is sequenced. There is a clear emphasis on ensuring leaders and their managers are able to show through collaboration and professional dialogue that there is consistency of curriculum delivery across all year groups, subjects and key stages.  The flow of learning is seen as important and all those involved in delivering the curriculum need to understand fully the debate about skills and knowledge and how this impacts on the way the curriculum is taught and assessed to ensure breadth and deeper learning over time.

The shift in emphasis is clearly drawn.  The focus for those involved in planning for curriculum change is in ensuring there is an unambiguous vision. The vision must be translated into a consistent and cohesive plan for delivery that focuses on excellent teaching, learning and assessment. Success can then be measured through a well-crafted quality assurance process.   Cohesion, consistency, the use of structured professional learning conversations and opportunities for cross-curricular and cross-phase interaction are important components.   The essential ingredient that will create the right conditions to make this happen is coaching.  Essentially, coaching encourages high quality professional dialogue, the sharing and cascading of good and outstanding practice and encourages collaboration, positive conversations and a willingness to embrace change.  Have a look at our comprehensive suite of coaching courses and plan your coaching journey linked to curriculum intent, implementation and impact.

Amanda Spielman: OFSTED speech to Schools North East summit.

“I’ve used the word ‘conversation’ a number of times in this speech.  The nature and impact of the conversations in an inspection are fundamental. As we shape the new framework, with your help, we really are thinking about how each inspection can be the most productive exchange between a school and its inspection team: how we can make it about substance, more than about numbers.”

“I am firmly of the view that a focus on substance……will move inspection more towards being a conversation about what actually happens in schools.  Those who are bold and ambitious and run their schools with integrity will be rewarded….”

There is to be no prescribed curriculum model, no preferred approaches. The emphasis is on how individual leaders and their teams can justify their strategy and how it is delivered and can demonstrate clearly the impact their approach is having on their particular and unique pupil cohort.

Our Rethinking the Curriculum courses are essential for leaders and managers. We offer well – researched resources, in-depth information and expert advice linked to a coaching model.

Planning your curriculum for 2019 and beyond. Intent, implementation and impact

OFSTED want schools to communicate their curriculum intent, plan a strategy for successful implementation and create a culture where collaboration and positive professional dialogue delivers a curriculum that builds on prior learning, deepens knowledge and enhances skills that foster learning and achievement. This is the third news post linked to the latest news from OFSTED and other influential researchers. Read the first post here and the second post here.

We have put the main priorities into the mnemonic below.

C.U.R.R.I.C.U.L.U.M.

  • Curriculum intent communicated through distributed leadership
  • Unified approaches to assessment across the whole school
  • Realising potential through breadth, depth, stretch and challenge
  • Reflecting on what currently works and building from there
  • Implementing a curriculum that builds on prior learning
  • Creating opportunities for cross phase, stage and subject collaboration
  • Understanding the focus on knowledge and/or skills and how pupils learn
  • Learning from colleagues, partners and research to inform planning and strategy
  • Using a common conceptual language and coaching to share cross curricular success
  • Measuring impact using qualitative and quantitative data

The Curriculum and Assessment team at Learning Cultures are using the growing body of research and comment to ensure our curriculum training courses provide the resources, information and practical strategies to ensure that all schools can:-

  • build on their current good practice
  • focus on how to create a continuum of learning
  • define how the curriculum will be taught and assessed
  • ensure all staff are involved through effective CPD
  • create the tools that will measure positive impact

Join us for one of our interactive and solutions focused training courses for those with responsibility for strategic and curriculum planning.

 

Skills versus knowledge – Let’s explore the conundrum using a haiku poem

What is the poetry form of Haiku?

There is a clear form

To write haiku poetry

That I need to know

——-

Two fives and a seven

Syllables are key to this

Carefully structured

——-

To use the form well

I must pull the words apart

For this I need skills

——–

 I need to know words

To make my prose explain

About haiku poems

———-

Reading and writing

Are the skills I need to have

To finish the poem

———–

I love the genre

No need for anything to rhyme

Just rhythm and style

Glynis Frater

Just a bit of fun but hopefully it demonstrates what I am saying,

Carry on reading more about my thoughts below

I wrote last week about the latest information from OFSTED about their intended changes to the Inspection Handbook for September 2019.

Their research into how the curriculum is planned and implemented focused on three different approaches to curriculum planning,

  • Knowledge led
  • Knowledge engaged
  • Skills led

The College of Teaching’s new magazine IMPACT focused in its 4th edition on the curriculum.  It is well worth a read.  The conclusion I draw from both the OFSTED report and the collection of essays within the IMPACT magazine is that skills have their place as an integral part of learning in the first as well as the second and third of the suggested approaches.  In one article, Designing a primary knowledge-rich curriculum which focuses on the knowledge-led approach, there is clearly an emphasis on rich and deep subject specific learning. However, the need for pupils to have access to materials and resources that are ‘text-rich’ is cited as essential.  In order to access rich text linked to knowledge acquisition requires the skill of comprehension, the ability to read and draw inference and the competence to sift and select the relevant information in order to demonstrate understanding.  The term skill was deftly left out of the observation of the need for rich text.  Reading is an essential skill and one that is fundamental to all learning.  Subject specific learning requires the same level of comprehension skills as scaffolded learning in English or literacy and those teachers who are not specialists in English may not have the relevant skills or understanding to ensure that pupils can access the complex language in say a piece of History source material or an unfamiliar piece of science explanation.

I don’t disagree with the three approaches to curriculum design. My thoughts are that we need to ensure that we always identify the skills that are fundamental to deepening learning and to building a seamless continuum that ensures pupils become unconsciously competent in their ability to apply their knowledge across a wide range of contexts within the national and the wider curriculum.

We have two courses full of ideas, resources and well researched practical suggestions, the testimonials and praise we have received for these two events are outstanding.  Book now and have a powerful plan ready for implementation in time for September 2019.