How is progress assured as part of a well designed and sequenced curriculum?

How pupils make progress as they travel through the curriculum must be at the heart of curriculum planning.  An essential part of this is to ensure we can accurately assess that progress is being made and that learning is sustained.

It is therefore essential that assessment of learning is a critical part of the substance of the curriculum design.  The introduction of the National Curriculum in 2014 saw the end of a generic system of assessment linked to clearly defined levels. Learning curriculum content and deepening knowledge and understanding is now much more of a focus for defining pupils’ progress whether in the primary or secondary phase.

The emphasis is more on progress linked to the knowledge and skills pupils develop incrementally within subjects and across the curriculum.  There needs to be a cohesive whole school strategy where teachers work together to ensure that the learning is sequential and developmental. Reading is a critical skill, as are all the other literacy skills embodied in the programmes of study across all subjects.  Maths is taught conceptually but mastery will come when pupils can make connections and apply the concepts they learn in Maths in contexts across the curriculum.

The curriculum programmes of study are a blueprint for creating a progression model. What pupils will learn and how they will learn it needs to be clearly defined in order that teachers can assess whether progress has been made. A rich curriculum offer will recognise that subjects are interwoven, that concepts transcend subject learning, that the core and wider skills for learning are an integral part of every subject and pupils need to know where and how to apply them in and across all subjects.

This won’t happen unless time is given to shared planning across year groups, within and across curriculum subjects and at transition points. There needs to be a culture where professional learning conversations articulate the ambition for what pupils will achieve as they journey towards well-defined outcomes and achieve their potential. School leads to a final end point which is life and work but there are steps along the way and assessing learning and progress must define these carefully.

We have an outstanding range of CPD that will support leaders, managers and teachers to be at the forefront of this curriculum evolution.  Our knowledge and expertise are highly praised and we have a wealth of well-researched resources that provide a platform for future learning across the whole school or college.  Below is a flavour of our curriculum offer. Coaching is the best way to build a culture of professional learning, have a look at our Coaching in Education section.

For primary schools

For secondary schools

 

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.

Leading an Evolution that Delivers High Quality Education for all

The third phase of OFSTED’s research into curriculum intent, implementation and impact is detailed, evidence based and provides a lot of information for leaders in primary and secondary schools. We discussed in our last news-post that the research highlights 25 indicators they have used to test whether it is possible to assess curriculum quality across a range of different school types.  In this post I wanted to focus on how these indicators provide a positive starting point for headteachers and their teams to assess their readiness for leading an evolution that will ensure their current and future strategies continue to deliver high quality education for all.

Putting the spotlight on the curriculum gives all leaders across the education spectrum an opportunity to reflect on their own understanding of their curriculum rationale and how that translates into a set of centrally prescribed curriculum aims that are ambitious, deliver depth and breadth of learning and ensure the acquisition of knowledge, the development of relevant skills and allow for sequential progression.

The research highlights the critical importance of how this is communicated in order to ensure high levels of accountability of subject leaders and teachers in ensuring they have evidence of informed planning, equitable delivery, progression and depth of content.

The indicators underpin a series of fundamentals that are essential to effective leadership and how the communication of a vision, a rationale and centrally prescribed aims are implemented coherently and consistently and deliver high quality education for all. Putting the curriculum at the heart of a whole school quality assurance strategy makes perfect sense and will embrace many other indicators that create an outstanding school such as strong principles of assessment, the embedding of literacy and numeracy, highly effective classroom pedagogy and differentiated learning that together create an inclusive learning platform.

Leaders must focus on their vision and rationale for the curriculum and audit the skills and gaps of their teams in order to build a coherent professional development programme that will highlight current successes, determine what needs to change and plan for new innovations.  Using coaching CPD as the catalyst for reviewing and improving quality is proven to be the most effective, sustainable and cost-effective way to manage change. Coaching encourages reflection, opportunities for learning conversations and will ensure the focus is on curriculum content, pedagogy and the desired outcomes for learners.

Join us to review and reflect on curriculum issues and how to respond to the current narrative.

Focus on leadership, middle leadership and teaching and learning with our highly praised coaching courses

What is being proposed by OFSTED is not new, it is, however, good practice linked to an approach that focuses on the learning and is not simply about data and end of stage testing.  The principles and ethos have been at the heart of our own well-researched and highly successful training programmes for several years.

 

 

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.

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.