Its been a while since I wrote the last blog and we are moving on nicely with our curriculum development. We have completed a whole school overview for most subjects using the giant excel sheet that I discussed in blog 2. The sheet has given us a real sense of where we are with our current curriculum and what needs to change to ensure that the narrative in each subject is clearly and methodically developed. We have now started a two pronged approach to:
- developing detailed knowldege of each curriculum strand as it progresses from Reception to Year 6;
- and using a new teaching sequence overview that helps us ensure that we enshrine all our teaching and learning ideals within the classroom.
Curriculum development has been almost become a struggle at times, as we could have added to workload massively by insisting that this was done quickly, however, we listened to all staff and feel that we are moving along with everyone on board and contributing to the development at a pace that means we can give each subject the time and attention it deserves.
So what are we doing now?
Firstly, we have a agreed a teaching sequence overview format that includes everything that we have all agreed should be considered when planning a teaching sequence. We have no further expecations on planning format beyond this, but agreed that a common format for the teaching sequence overview would make it much easier for subject leaders to get a detailed feel for each unit of work and the aspects of teaching that all staff agree should be thought about when planning.
Secondly, we are creating very detailed overviews of each strand within a subject. We have started with our Science Subject leader using staff meeting time to lead discussions on how we teach plant science throught the school ( we have ended up splitting biology in to plants and animals). Admittedly, at first, it felt like we were just repeating another version of the whole school overview that we made on excel. However, we were passionate that we wanted to really drill down into the details. I have to thank @primary percival and @ClareSealy for their inspiration on this front. After a few minutes of discussion, we were suddenly talking about the actual plants we used, integrating the school garden better into the curriculum, ways to reinforce prior learning and opportunities we were clearly missing in other parts of the school year. It felt whole school and cohesive. It felt joined up and driven by everybody. It felt meaningful and useful for the children. This is what we dreamed about at the start of the process and the magic was beginning to happen. We could feel vitality and purpose seeping back into the very roots of the curriculum and people were genuinely enthused. Within weeks we had done the same with Animals Including Humans, What Things Are Made Of (chemistry), Cause and Effect (physics). The History lead was chomping at the bit to get started as all subject leads could see the confidence the Science leader now has in their subject. It was clear that with the help of everyone, subject leading can be empowering and positive.
In the next few staff meetings we will be building more strand overviews, and reviewing the ones we have created to see where we think we might be missing opportunities to reinforce children’s understanding of the strand as a whole. Key questions will be:
Are there any inconsistencies in what we are teaching?
Are we using the same models and mnemonics throughout the school?
My next blog will focus on how we are handling the complex administrative beast that is spaced repetition so that it is manageable and effective for all, and how it is starting to help us address issues we never dreamt it would. We are using the Spark learning platform that allows us to put the knowledge from our knowledge organisers into digital quizzes. Spark then learns each individual’s forgetting curve and times question repetitions to be at the point that they are just about to forget.
The next steps will be:
- looking at our whole school overview and looking for opportunities to reuse subject matter in more than one subject.
- evidencing our new curriculum. Is it working – do the children and staff notice a difference? The early signs are positive but we want to be sure.
I will blog again as our journey progresses.