Building pupils knowledge sequentially in both the core and wider subjects – do you have the evidence?

Taking a look at the most recent OFSTED reports where inspectors have been into schools this term makes interesting reading.  There are several entries where schools have been judged inadequate or requiring improvement who were previously outstanding or good.  The change of emphasis to a much deeper dive into the way the curriculum is planned, sequenced and assessed is clear in the improvement strategies these schools are invited to address.  I have listed here several quotes that are typical of what is deemed to be missing,

“The school’s curriculum is not sufficiently sequenced and coherent. The breadth of the National Curriculum is not covered in all subjects.”

“Leaders need to make sure that the curriculum is planned so that teachers can build pupils’ knowledge sequentially, over time, allowing them the learn more and remember more.”

“The curriculum is poorly planned and taught. Pupils do not gain enough skills and knowledge of subjects outside reading, writing and mathematics.”

“Improve the effectiveness of leadership by ensuring that learning in the wider curriculum is carefully sequenced so that pupils make good progress within topics and year on year.”

“Improvements should be made by developing the curriculum, in both the core and the wider curriculum subjects, so that it is well planned, builds on prior knowledge and understanding, meets the needs and interests of all pupils and enables them to achieve well.”

The messages could not be clearer. There is a sharp focus on curriculum sequencing, building on prior learning and planning to ensure pupils develop deep knowledge and skills across all their learning.  I could have included several other quotes about issues relating to assessment and the concern about subject knowledge and subject expertise as well as issues about how the curriculum is taught but this is a news post and not an essay.

Over the past few months we have followed the development of curriculum research, commentary on curriculum design and finally the publication of the latest OFSTED handbook for schools in a series of news posts and comments.  You can read the story so far here. We have developed some outstanding resources and tools to support leadership teams, curriculum managers and subject leaders to plan and deliver a deeply knowledge rich and skills focused curriculum.  We have focused on how to make this happen using practical approaches and well-researched strategies that are receiving high praise.  Our training is practical and solutions focused and is based on the principles of coaching. There is no better way to cascade outstanding practice and build a culture of professional dialogue that is shared across the whole school.

Have a look at our website for the many other training courses that are both relevant and will enhance the CPD potential in your school. We run superb INSET training or off-site courses.  There is something for all the staff in your school or college.

Essential CPD to weave a learning culture through curriculum design and delivery

Work with the experts and ensure that all your staff including senior leaders, middle managers, subject specialists, teachers and support staff are all equipped and ready to deliver a seamless and sequential curriculum. Create a curriculum offer that is designed to embrace knowledge, focus on skills and identify cross-curricular and subject specific concepts that will allow pupils to see connections and deepen their learning over time.

If you haven’t already and many have, start with our Re-thinking the curriculum suite, we have places available throughout the summer and autumn terms.

Collaboration and positive professional dialogue are key to creating the right culture to ensure all staff build on what they do well and what needs to change. Creating a coaching culture is by far the best way to ensure all staff are working together using professional dialogue to share good practice, develop highly effective strategies for learning and achieve the school vision.  For leaders and managers developing the coaching skills that will empower others to deliver the vision, rationale and ambition for curriculum change is profound. Join us at one of our coaching events highlighted below.

For pastoral leaders who will have a pivotal role in assessing the impact of curriculum change on the well-being and learning potential of their pupils and for the SENCO where parity is high on the agenda as is a curriculum that meets the needs of pupils with special needs we have these tailor made training opportunities.

For Teachers and support staff coaching can have a significant impact on how well pupils can access the curriculum, deepen their learning, ensure that they become unconsciously competent in their use of skills and can access knowledge that will enter their long term memory as part of a process of deep learning over time. We have superb training opportunities with original and highly praised content.

Pivotal to ensuring that the vision, rationale and ambition is translated into positive outcomes for learners is ensuring that all staff know the part they play in the school’s journey towards creating successful outcomes. It is essential that professional development for all staff fosters confidence and provides opportunities for the sharing and cascading of good practice and the cascading of innovative learning opportunities. Ensuring the appraisal process and subsequent quality assurance processes will be a secure confirmation that the curriculum intent is translated into positive implementation and profound impact for all learners. Ensure performance management is linked to a professional development agenda using our training below.

Curriculum concepts, knowledge for sequential learning and the core and softer skills are at the heart of ensuring the curriculum weaves deep understanding and creates opportunities to build on prior learning and informs future learning.  Ensure all staff can see how the skills are essential to accessing knowledge and deepening learning over time.

All our courses are designed using the most up-to-date sector led research.  We have created a CPD offer that means all the materials and resources are available for you to use following on from the training so that they can be used to cascade yours and your colleagues learning to others.  Build a learning culture that delivers seamless learning with a curriculum packed with concepts, skills and knowledge using prestigious and expert training programmes.

 

 

 

 

Curriculum matters-the story so far

I am Glynis Frater, the founder of Learning Cultures, a leading provider of coaching and other professional development services for the education profession.  I have followed the developments that have unfolded as Amanda Spielman has slammed the lack of attention many schools have given to ensuring pupils have access to a broad and balanced, deep and rich curriculum.  She is right, of course, but she isn’t a head of a school battling with the only accountability measures that currently count at the end of key stage 1, 2 and key stage 4.

Let’s take what she says at face value, change needs to take time (this is an evolution not a revolution). There is a need to focus on communication, collaboration and professional learning conversations, (OFSTED want to listen and communicate with school leaders, middle leaders and teachers), the subject specialist, subject leader, subject expert is at the heart of ensuring changes to how we deliver the curriculum can make a difference, (content, concept, knowledge and the skills that help pupils access them are the key to building this deep and rich curriculum offer) so subject teams must work together effectively to create sequential learning that ensures all pupils, whatever their ability, achieve their full potential.

The team at Learning Cultures has been working hard, deepening our own knowledge of the research, creating innovative resources and creating solutions focused training materials. The work we do here and the messages within our training echo many of the indicators that OFSTED have based their new handbook on.  We have not changed any of our programmes, courses or support packages to accommodate the new handbook and the messages from OFSTED because many of our messages and the skills and knowledge we bring already mirror the philosophies and indicators that are simply good practice and embody the characteristics of a good or outstanding school

Read the news-posts that I have written, week by week I have followed the unfolding change in emphasis for how schools should be judged. They are all on our webisite, Since Christmas, these have included,

Have a look at our curriculum courses that challenge you to re-think your curriculum strategy, delivery models and clearly stated impact. Then focus on our coaching programmes and decide to make the decision to use coaching to create the culture that will ensure high quality professional dialogue drives positive change where all staff know how the curriculum intent delivers a learning strategy for all the pupils they teach, provides them with the time and resources to create that innovative, creative and deep content that will build on learning over time and design the blueprint for all pupils to have the skills they need for the next stages of their education. Add in our teaching and learning courses that are designed to foster outstanding pedagogy, raise the bar on assessment and focus on how to ensure knowledge and skills weave a positive curriculum offer.

Planning CPD for the curriculum journey

What are the implications for school leaders now that the draft OFSTED handbook to be used from September 2019 has been published?

Creating a strategy for highly effective, cost effective and sustainable CPD is an essential component. All staff must know the part they play in contributing to the vision. They need to assess and refine their current provision and look at ambitious and new content and approaches that will provide profound evidence that what is planned and implemented has breadth and depth and is sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before and move the learning towards well defined end points.

OFSTED recognise the need for training and development as one of their 25 indicators published as part of their research into the quality of education through curriculum intent, implementation and impact.

Leaders ensure that ongoing professional development/training is available for staff to ensure that curriculum requirements can be met.

We already have a CPD offer that matches what is being asked for here.  The research and suggested indicators for delivering a high-quality seamless curriculum for learning has been a part of our thinking over many years. We don’t have to change very much at all in reaching out to schools we work with across England with an offer that mirrors exactly the CPD that will make a significant difference to how schools manage change in this context.  Build a CPD plan with us. Use coaching to cascade learning, shape content and share ideas.  We help you define a pathway for ensuring professional dialogue delivers a profound high-quality education for all.

Clearly there is need to focus on what is different, what needs to change and how leaders, managers, teaching and support staff will contribute to creating the evidence that the quality of education linked to how the curriculum is planned and delivered creates opportunities for outstanding learning deeper, understanding and progression over time.

Remember, take advantage of our second delegate rate if you book different members of staff onto several of our courses.  We can also deliver all our training as INSET for your school are your partner schools where this applies.

Defining the Substance of Education – Creating the right culture for deep learning

The substance of education, says Amanda Spielman, will be at the centre of the draft new education inspection framework which will be published for consultation in the new year.  The substance, is essentially, the curriculum and how it is taught. This is re-inforced in the speech Ms Spielman has given following the announcement of her second Annual Report as Chief Inspector.  The message is clear, whilst the data is important as a measure of outcomes, it is the breadth of curriculum content that is under the spotlight especially poignant at key stage 2 and 3.  She says,

Here as in every country, the home language and maths are the spine of children’s learning.  But they can’t be the limit. They are the gateway subjects to a broad curriculum that includes humanities, science, languages and the creative subjects too.  Children should learn about the events that shaped our nation’s history, the forces that create our natural environment, the key scientific principles that underpin the world and universe around us, the ability to appreciate and participate in art and music, and develop some practical skills in crafts and technology.

The actual Annual Report focuses on four key themes:-

  • Getting the basics right
  • The impact of a lack of capacity and its effects on standards
  • The danger that schools are expected to become a panacea for all of society’s ills
  • The importance of focus on the substance of education

The over-arching message is that the profession is doing ok but there is still room for significant improvement. The report explains what has gone before. We as education professionals must look to the future and take control of what we believe is the right ‘substance of education’.  There is an implied criticism that across the whole sector, “there is a mentality of ‘what is measured is what gets done’ and this trumps the true purpose of education and curriculum thinking – the consideration of what needs to be taught and learned for a full education – has been eroded.”  A Spielman December 2018

If what is being said is to be believed and I can see no reason to doubt it we do have an opportunity to be a part of this evolution in the role OFSTED want to play in shaping the future ‘substance of education’.

Further research about how the curriculum is designed, delivered and assessed is due to be published this week. It will explain some more about how OFSTED  intend to inspect the curriculum and the draft new education framework will be published for consultation by the profession in January.  What has been said so far and what is due to be published give us the opportunity to shape an innovative curriculum offer. It should be pupil focused, rich in content and create opportunities for pupils to develop the skills for learning that will help them access a wide range of knowledge. It will also, incidentally, give pupils the ability to know how to answer SATS questions and respond with depth to the challenges of GCSE and beyond.

In conclusion I will quote from the most recent speech from Amanda Spielman,

What we will be interested in is the coherence, the sequencing and construction, the implementation of the curriculum, how it is being taught and how well children and young people are progressing in it. So, please, don’t leap for quick fixes or superficial solutions just to please OFSTED. That would be the wrong response.  From September, we’ll be interested in where you are going and how you intend to get there, not just whether you’ve arrived there yet.

We echo with such passion the sentiment here. The next two terms need to be a time for conversations, incisive discussions about subject knowledge and how pupils can deepen their understanding; questions about how we create opportunities for pupils to make connections across their learning; time to reflect on how the content relates to pupils’ own experience, interests and prior knowledge and time to share and cascade good practice linked to pedagogy, assessment and planning.

We have the CPD strategies and resources to support you and your teams.  There is no prescription here just a profound opportunity to make a difference.

Use coaching to foster the professional dialogue and challenge needed to create a cohesive, consistent and content rich curriculum that builds on prior learning and prepares pupils for the next stage or phase of their education.

Re-define your Curriculum Emphasis – Focus on learning and deepening understanding

The current emphasis on how the curriculum is planned and delivered should be a welcome opportunity for all senior leaders in schools to focus on ensuring their curriculum is all about learning and deepening understanding across a range of different topics, themes or subjects.  Amanda Spielman OFSTED’s Chief Inspector  started the debate, her concern, that the curriculum is narrowed to accommodate the need to teach to the test in Years 2 and 6 and in year 11 if not 10 as well is, in some cases, well founded.

Alongside this criticism is an acknowledgement that OFSTED may, in the past, have focused too much on the data and not enough on how that data is arrived at.  I have a long-held belief that focusing on passing tests and examinations at the expense of deepening learning over time is counter-productive.  Creating opportunities for pupils to access deep and rich text, apply numeracy skills to help to consolidate understanding of a problem or how to write to explain bias, cause and effect or express an opinion help to deepen their competence, strengthen their understanding and give them the resilience they need to see questions in a test or examination from different perspectives and give them a much better chance of coming up with the right level of response.

John West-Burnham in a research paper suggests that shallow learning is all about memorisation and leads to compliance and dependence and contributes very little in the pursuit of deep learning.  Read the whole paper here.Planning the curriculum should focus on what outcomes we want for pupils in terms of their knowledge and the skills that they need in order to access and apply that knowledge in a range of cross-curricular, thematic and subject contexts. Each school is different and that is why there is an imperative to focus on intent in relation to curriculum design that defines the right approach for individual school contexts.  Implementing that stated curriculum must focus on high quality pedagogy, teaching  that delivers inspirational learning and uses assessment strategies that lead to high levels of progression.  A positive impact is where all pupils have deepened their knowledge, are developing the core skills that will help them continue to make connections across all their learning and are mastering the wider cognitive skills that will ensure successful outcomes when they are tested or examined.

A good starting point is to have a detailed pro-forma scheme of work that everyone uses as part of planning in all departments, across all year groups and where appropriate for topic or sequential learning.  The headings should be built to ensure a consistency of purpose that mirrors the vision for deep knowledge and the development of the skills that will allow that vision to be realised.  These could include:-

  • What is the sequence of learning?
  • What do pupils know already to build on their knowledge and understanding?
  • What are the literacy skills that are intrinsic to the learning that are to be developed/further developed?
  • What are the numeracy skills that are intrinsic to the learning that can be developed/further developed?
  • What other learning skills will support the learning linked to deepening knowledge, fostering progression and demonstrating mastery?
  • What are the expected outcomes from this topic/series of lessons/theme?

The skills must be those that are naturally occurring as a part of learning. They do not need to be shoe-horned into the learning.  Also, pupils need to be a part of the process, continually re-enforcing their role in how they deepen their own learning, articulating what they need to do to make progress and improve their own work.

Whatever you do, don’t start from scratch.  In our last news-post we provided a tool called L.E.A.R.N. It starts with what will you leave in.  Always focus on what you do well before thinking about what needs to be changed.

Join us at one of our highly successful training days looking at how to re-define your curriculum, not for OFSTED but to reflect on how to make sure your curriculum is all about learning, highly effective pedagogy and the best outcomes for all pupils.

Read our news post that focuses on the skills/knowledge agenda

Focus on formative assessment to ensure the curriculum and how it is assessed is seen as a seamless process.

Coaching and Curriculum Cohesion – Create a culture where excellence is cascaded across the whole school

To create a culture where excellence and high-quality learning is cascaded across the whole school is best achieved through coaching.  Using coaching to ensure there is curriculum cohesion across all phases and stages will ensure all staff exceed and surpass expectations. Coaching encourages the use of positive and deep questioning that will enhance professional learning and challenge pupils. Coaching inspires innovation, helps individuals to embrace change and creates opportunities for the sharing and cascading of good and outstanding practice.

Amanda Spielman’s latest communication, her letter to the public accounts committee’s request for information confirms her intention to pursue a new category for the forthcoming changes to the OFSTED Inspection Framework ‘Quality of Education’ which will include curriculum intent, depth and breadth alongside the quality of teaching, the quality of pupils’ work and the resulting outcomes. The diagram below is my interpretation of the main components that need to be in place in order that schools know how their vision is translated into powerful learning over time.

Creating a culture that ensures all of the components above are carefully planned and implemented requires highly effective communication. Leading a Coaching School. Talented teams need to work together to manage change, create new approaches and build on what they currently do well.  Coaching from the Middle – How to influence change, build outstanding teams and lead innovation.

All teachers need to have a range of pedagogies and strategies for learning and assessment that will support pupils to build on their prior learning, deepen that learning and be ready to embrace challenge through the acquisition of knowledge and the use of associated skills. Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning.  Pupils need to be an integral part of this and learner voice can be highly effective as part of an overall strategy. Coaching in the Classroom with Pupils.  Using coaching as the CPD vehicle to achieving the above is highly effective.

CPD is an essential component in creating a culture where staff accept positive change and work together to achieve the stated vision for excellence and improvement. What emerges from this particular cycle of change is exciting and should create a curriculum that is fit for purpose for the school, its pupils and the local and wider community within which it draws its cohort. However, the CPD and associated training must be relevant, sustainable and have an impact on learning and achievement for all.  Coaching is non-judgemental and non-directive, provides individuals with the opportunity to find their own solutions and learn how professional dialogue leads to successful outcomes for the school, teams and individual staff and pupils. It is the sharing and cascading of the learning both as part of an actual coaching training programme and how that is then cascaded to others to enhance its efficacy that makes the coaching training we offer so powerful.

Have a look at our Coaching in Education section on our website that has something for all staff.  Join us at one of our curriculum courses to look in great depth at how to ensure readiness for the changes:

or ask us about our INSET packages where we can help you to plan your CPD and curriculum strategies for intent, implementation and impact.

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.

 

OFSTED, the Curriculum and moving towards a change of emphasis

OFSTED have this week released a commentary on the second phase of their research into curriculum design, implementation and impact. Amanda Spielman is clear in her assertion that the real substance of education is the curriculum and how it is structured so that all pupils can access it, learn through it and make progress linked to how it is delivered and assessed.
There will be, the report states, a new approach to inspection that moves away from simply focusing on outcomes linked to end of key stage data and more towards looking at what complements that data.

This, it suggests, includes evidence of:

  • a clearly defined and fit for purpose curriculum design that is linked to the school vision and purpose
  • positive leadership that includes devolved leadership to subject specialists and teachers
  • collaborative and whole school involvement
  • pedagogy that deepens subject knowledge and challenges the pupil’s ability to make connections across different subject disciplines
  • how pupils demonstrate competence in their use of skills that help them to access curriculum knowledge
  • a carefully sequenced content that builds depth and breadth of understanding over time

The research found that the sample schools used one of three approaches to planning their curriculum.

  • Knowledge – led approach -skills come from knowledge, “skills are the bi-product of knowledge”. Through the deepening of knowledge comes the ability to use associated skills. The characteristics of this approach are fewer topics that are taught in greater depth
  • Knowledge – engaged approach – “knowledge underpins the application of skills” This approach focuses on how the skills and the knowledge are integral, the pupil learns skills alongside knowledge acquisition. This involves planning which skills the pupil will use to access knowledge. Within this approach there is a greater emphasis on cross-curricular teaching, ensuring an understanding of how knowledge applies in a context
  • Skills – led approach – Skills have the higher priority in the planning process, knowledge is seen as a series of disconnected facts unless the pupil has the skills to place them in their context

There is no suggestion that one approach is better than another and schools remain free to make their own decisions as to the best model in their specific local setting. However, it is the reasons behind the choices made that will need to be clear and focused on holistic, deeper and sequential learning and not simply on how to achieve the best outcomes for the schools at times of testing or examination outcome.

Curriculum design, the report concludes, is a reflective process involving leaders, subject specialists and teachers. It suggests that there needs to be much more evidence of progression models that show how pupils will build their subject knowledge and their ability to use associated skills adeptly and competently. It is also clearly stated that curriculum and assessment are inseparable and welcome evidence that leaders in the sample schools believe that skilful formative and summative assessment strategies are integral to deep learning and are useful in identifying gaps in learning.

In conclusion:

  • No one design fits all, the National Curriculum is the benchmark, but the choice of design is up to the school and linked to the school’s context and the expertise of those involved
  •  The curriculum should be linked to the school vision and purpose. It should be the yardstick for what leaders want their pupils to know and be able to do by the end of their school life
  • The curriculum design should be clearly defined, the content should be carefully sequenced, have thoughtfully designed assessment practice and include an appropriate model of progression
  • The curriculum should have substance, depth and breadth and be more than preparation for tests and examinations
  • There should be a rich web of knowledge where skills weave opportunities for a continuum of learning that deepens understanding and allows for progression

The Learning Cultures Expert Curriculum team have developed two outstanding training opportunities that will give school and curriculum leaders an opportunity to reflect on what currently works well and how to ensure that new strategies and innovations create a curriculum design for now and the future that enriches learning and deepens knowledge and understanding. We weave our deep knowledge of curriculum design with our expertise in coaching to explore how to create a whole school, collaborative curriculum and assessment model that inspires and nurtures learning and achievement.

Re-defining the Primary Curriculum – Content, cohesion and purpose
Re-defining the Secondary Curriculum – Defining purpose, designing content and delivering impact