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In a changing and uncertain world, most of us can agree that education is one of the single most important things in society today. Aside from imparting knowledge, it shapes who we are as people. Most of the top scientists I meet have something in common – they can all tell you the name of [...]
Curriculum studies has been in decline for some years in the UK. As an early career teacher in the 1990s, I was able to choose from a range of university Master’s-level programmes with a specialist focus on the curriculum. By 2019, only one university (the UCL Institute of Education) offers a dedicated curriculum studies Master’s [...]
Within the United Kingdom there has been a significant amount of curriculum reform since the late 1980s, but the directions taken by Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been markedly different. The authors have worked for a number of years in both England and Scotland (presently in the latter) so will focus mainly on [...]
Rhetoric?  Would you want to work in a school that had a narrow, unbalanced curriculum? How about one with a broad, balanced curriculum? The questions are rhetorical; the answers are obvious. From one perspective, ‘broad’ and ‘balanced’ are rhetorical terms used to persuade us of the value of whatever curriculum a writer or speaker is [...]
Ofsted’s consultation about its new education inspection framework, with its focus on the curriculum, is leading Early Years practitioners to wonder what a curriculum for the youngest children might look like. Yet the notion of a curriculum for young children is not new. For example, Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage (QCA/DfEE, 2000) was the [...]
The number of special schools is set to rise in the future (DfE, 2018). First and foremost, new special schools will need to ensure that they are offering and delivering an appropriate curriculum. Students attending special schools often have, or are going through the process to obtain, an education, health and care plan (EHCP). Many [...]
Principles of community curriculum-making Most people will be familiar with the African proverb that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Hold that thought. There are a range of pressing issues facing society in 2019. These are well represented in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include: affordable and green energy sustainable cities [...]
Since 1988, the curriculum has been a requirement of every school in England. Its earliest aims sought to ‘equip children for a lively and constructive place in society’ and ‘to fit them to do a job of work’ (Callaghan, 1976). Over the last 31 years, the world and the challenges it faces have certainly changed. [...]
No matter how much you prepare for your first headship, nothing can prepare you for what you will unearth when you finally take the role. Under interim heads, our school had been through something of a transition period up to my appointment in January 2017. There were three classes, one without a teacher, the other two [...]
At the heart of the British-American author Simon Sinek’s book Start with Why is the claim that the best organisations appreciate why they do something, as well as being able to articulate what they do and how they do it (Sinek, 2009). This idea became central to our methodology as a school, asking why we [...]
As history teachers and key stage leaders in an East London comprehensive secondary school, we have been working with subject leaders to introduce a version of the knowledge-rich curriculum over the past two years. Our starting point has been Michael Young’s argument that our curriculum should enable students to acquire knowledge that takes them beyond [...]
The recent development of ‘truth decay’, the diminishing role of facts and analysis in public discourse, makes the turn towards a knowledge-rich National Curriculum seem particularly welcome and well-timed in England. The National Curriculum in 2014 gave a steer towards knowledge but the current development of a revised school inspection framework is really focusing minds [...]
With a completely blank slate for education, where would you start? Suggestions abound in the British press regarding what ‘should’ be taught (Parents and Teachers for Excellence, 2018). But whilst we could teach almost anything, we can’t teach everything. Constraints on breadth are inevitable, so coherence is essential. A clear underlying purpose to education could [...]
What are the aims of our schools, and what do they communicate about values? The aims of education are contested (Garratt and Forrester, 2012), originating from a variety of stakeholders. For schools, this can often feel like a juggling act, adding newly emerging aims of education to current practices with limited time and resources. In [...]
Can mindfulness contribute to a broad and balanced curriculum that enriches life? Philippa Griffiths, PGCE (geography), University of Oxford Before embarking on my PGCE, research led me to an array of negative reports on poor teacher and student mental health. This sparked my interest in mindfulness, an intervention for improving wellbeing and has already been [...]
Rehabilitating marking A cursory online image-search under the word ‘marking’ reveals a sea of images that speaks volumes: frame after frame of tired, dejected and frustrated teachers slumped over mountainous piles of exercise books with no end in sight. Marking has always been the poor relation of teaching. Less creative than planning and less exciting [...]
As part of a well-balanced education, the PSHCE curriculum at St Mary’s includes initiatives to help pupils develop social and emotional skills, personal confidence and self-esteem. These focus on pupils’ academic achievement, character and wellbeing, with a philosophy that the latter two elements can support the former (Bott et al., 2017). St Mary’s is a [...]
Over the 30-plus years of National Curriculum, balance and breadth have largely been a debate around the amount of time allocated between core and foundation subjects, with attendant concerns for standards of achievement in the former and quality of provision in the latter. In the context of high-stakes accountability, balance is skewed by attention to [...]
When in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century the Oxford-educated historian and best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari asks, ‘How can we prepare ourselves and our children for a world of such unprecedented transformations and radical uncertainties?’, he is effectively highlighting a concern about curriculum (Harari, 2018, p. 259). There are two schools of thought on [...]
Writing in the Autumn 2018 edition of Impact, Tim Oates effectively asserts that the ‘oppositional discourse’ maintained through a debate between knowledge and skills within a curriculum fails to ‘reflect the most effective pedagogy from around the world’ (Oates, 2018, p. 16). With an emerging focus on building powerful knowledge (Young, 2013), there is a [...]
Impington Village College (IVC) is proud to have been an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for over 25 years. Our international sixth form has students from 27 countries, from Brazil to the United States, and 20 different first languages, including Korean, Norwegian and Tagalog. We believe that the IB Diploma (IBDP) and Careers Programme (IBCP) [...]
Much has been written about the curriculum as a product, but less about what qualifies as a broad and balanced process of curriculum development. We offer here our reflections on what that process should look like, from our experiences of leading change at whole-school and subject level. We did not set out with a fully [...]
In March 2019, the British Academy hosted a launch event for Language Analysis in Schools: Education and Research (LASER), at which a number of speakers presented their reflections on the importance of skills in language analysis for a range of subject areas currently taught in schools. Below are links to papers, co-published with Languages, Society and Policy (LSP), [...]
The research context and the focus of the study Talk is critical to the education process as it is the medium of instruction as well as a way for children to present knowledge and develop ideas together. The latter quality identifies talk as a tool for collaborative ‘meaning-making’. Meaning-making is where understandings are co-constructed through [...]
In considering the importance of knowledge and subject-specialist teaching, Lambert (2018) highlights that ‘the curriculum: the quality of its contents, its sequencing and its enactment are all curriculum enactment responsibilities that fall to teachers’ (p. 363). Therefore, any concern for developing high-quality curriculum cannot be separated from how teachers’ curriculum understanding is developed and subject [...]
What is spatial ability? Spatial ability involves perceiving the location and dimension of objects and their relationships to one another. We use it to pack a suitcase, when stacking a dishwasher and even when getting dressed (e.g. turning clothes around, aligning buttons and button holes). We also need to be able to negotiate our way [...]
There is increasing concern within and beyond the teaching profession at how the primary curriculum in England in recent years has become unbalanced, with the emphasis on decontextualised literacy and numeracy skills and measurable outcomes. This was a major concern of the Cambridge Primary Review (Alexander, 2010), which critiqued and provided direction for practice in [...]
Over the last 50 years, the concept of ‘science literacy’, or ‘scientific literacy’, has increasingly become the term used to describe the goal of science education (Roberts, 2007; Feinstein, 2011). In their seminal report ‘Beyond 2000: Science education for the future’, Millar and Osborne (1998) reviewed the purpose of science education, the focus of which [...]
We can find a justification for music as an important part of human development right back to Plato. In the Middle Ages, music continued to be seen as a tool for the ‘formation of the adult who would best fulfill those functions expected of him or her by the society of which he was a [...]
A UNICEF report in 2013 on the 29 most wealthy countries placed the United Kingdom as lowest in terms of children aged 15 to 19 remaining in education. Although, since then, there have been legislative changes to the ages of compulsory education in the UK, it is a telling comparison. It is particularly compelling when [...]
As a teacher of mathematics, I heard many conversations about whether GCSE is a two- or three-year programme of study and in what order we should teach the various interconnected topics in mathematics. I agree that the second question deserved much consideration and deliberation but could never understand the first point. My belief is that [...]
Our students are growing up in unsettling times. Climate change, plastic pollution, political polarisation, isolationism, social atomisation and anxiety are just some contemporary challenges. However, there is a compelling case to make for a rebalancing of the curriculum towards a more positive outlook, and I offer some suggestions for how this rebalancing might be achieved. [...]
The author of this article is the Director of CreativeKids, an organisation offering chargeable workshops to children and young people in Hong Kong.  Fear of failure is one of the blocks to children’s thinking and can act as a barrier to learning (Fisher, 2005). Conversely, children’s curiosity can fuel exploration of possibilities. Art in particular [...]
Getting the balance right: Using technologies in Early Years This case study is about how five nursery schools in our teaching school alliance worked together to explore which technologies might complement and enhance teaching and learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). We drew on the work of Professor John Siraj-Blatchford (2015), who proposed that [...]
To provide students with the best opportunity to thrive throughout their education, the Early Years curriculum must be highly effective. The challenges experienced by some pupils entering Reception can limit their learning (EEF, 2017). Encouragingly, the EEF report that it is possible to narrow the attainment gap if schools can find ways to ‘effectively and [...]
Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough but because they can be even better. Dylan Wiliam’s comment (Wiliam, 2012) is often cited because it rings so true, encapsulating everything that needs to be held to heart with teaching and learning. Who are we? The City of Peterborough Academy opened in [...]
As a teacher and international school leader, I have always been interested in early leadership opportunities in school to help develop students’ skill sets. This article explores experiences of building opportunities for leadership within school to increase student impact in the community. A review of published literature relating to schools and higher education proposes a [...]
As teachers, we know the importance of vocabulary for accessing and meeting the demands of an increasingly challenging secondary curriculum. One way that schools are addressing the vocabulary gap is through explicit teaching of, and reference to, not only subject-specific (Tier 3) words but also general academic (Tier 2) words, as the glue that helps [...]
Over the past 25 years, I have been involved in supporting the inclusion of students who have complex communication needs in mainstream education. In particular, I have worked with schools to support students who rely on AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) in developing their literacy and accessing the curriculum. Students who rely on AAC typically [...]
Much has been written regarding how classroom teachers can support students’ educational achievement and progress. Numerous pedagogic practices, strategies and approaches have been put forward – for instance, cooperative learning, differentiated instruction and inquiry-based learning. While many of these seem innovative and student-centred, and can arouse students’ interests, when it comes to the end of [...]
Spaced practice and the spiral curriculum Elizabeth Mountstevens, Sir John Lawes School, UK When the new GCSE science curricula were introduced in 2015, the chemistry department at Sir John Lawes School took the opportunity to tailor the curriculum to our needs. Our specification – OCR Twenty-First Century Chemistry – has a narrative-based approach in which [...]
School reports are an enduring feature of the education landscape. They form part of our personal history, fondly retained by parents well beyond a child’s school leaving age. The Department for Education requires schools in England to report to parents annually (Department for Education, 2015). There is widespread variation in reporting practice, and many schools [...]
In January 2019, Damian Hinds announced that the DfE would be supporting schools to implement flexible working practices such as job-sharing, whereby two teachers perform the role of one full-time staff member, as part of the ‘Teacher recruitment and retention strategy’ (DfE, 2019). Hinds notes that job-sharing is relatively uncommon in teaching compared to other [...]
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. (Nelson Mandela) Over the past decade, online programmes have become an increasingly common method of learning for an increasingly diverse population of students (Allen and Seaman, [...]
When curriculum is focused on knowledge that takes students beyond their everyday experience, it has the potential to contribute to an increase in social mobility and higher educational outcomes (Young et al., 2014). Acknowledging these claims, Ofsted’s new Inspection Framework (2019) is attempting to measure the intent and implementation of the curriculums of schools across [...]