Rethinking Curriculum: Q&A

Unleash the power of curriculum

Have you ever wondered how to revolutionise education? Rethinking Curriculum is not just an idea; it’s a dynamic project with a bold mission. We invite you to explore the exciting journey ahead as we delve into its core and answer some of your frequently asked questions.

What is Rethinking Curriculum and what are its aims?

Imagine a world where teachers are empowered, and school leaders equipped with the knowledge and skills to shape a curriculum that’s truly transformative. Welcome to Rethinking Curriculum, a visionary long-term curriculum development endeavour. Our aim? To ignite a revolution in the English Primary sector, making education sustainable, context-specific, and impactful. We’re not here to ‘fix’ the curriculum; we’re here to amplify the brilliance already happening in our schools, giving it a resounding voice.

We are now in the initial phases of the project having completed extensive sector research (Rapid Evidence Assessments, Focus Groups, Interviews) and now using this evidence to shape a pilot co-design year with 6 primary schools across the country.

The schools will be involved in developing their own curriculum supported by experts commissioned by the Chartered College of Teaching as well as developing resources that we can share with the wider sector in our next phase, piloting and improving work to ensure that it is as supportive as possible.

The project is not about finding the ‘fix’ to the curriculum but really empowering our primary sector and giving a voice to the great work that is happening in our schools now so that others feel confident to try too.

How did schools get involved in the co-design pilot?

Our co-design schools were selected from their applications through a rigorous, blind recruitment process. They’re a diverse mix in size, focus, expertise, demographics, and location. What unites them is a burning passion for curriculum development and a commitment to sharing their innovations with the broader primary community.

What are the co-design pilot schools looking at?

Picture six schools, each with a unique starting point and focus. Some are crafting a framework for peer-to-peer support, nurturing a safe space for professional growth. Others are reimagining their curriculum, seeking to offer in-depth learning experiences. Then there are those revamping pedagogical approaches, focusing on the magic of oracy and pupil voice. It’s a vibrant mix of innovation in action.

Two of our schools will be developing a framework for peer-to-peer support as we have identified that this is a real area of interest for primary colleagues. A framework to support peer work in a safe environment (avoiding the high stakes discussions that add pressure to leaders) and allow for professional challenge in a research informed manner. All of the schools will then be asked to pilot and work with this and other schools in their area, expanding our network.

One of the schools has completed extensive work on progression, mapping of knowledge and staff CPD but have now identified the need to reduce the content so that their curriculum delivers more in-depth learning opportunities. We will be supporting them in the review of their curriculum and identification of opportunities to refine their content and develop opportunities to do so.

Several of the schools have identified that their pedagogical approach between EYFS and KS1 is currently not working in terms of curriculum delivery, and we will be supporting them to explore the options, research and plan a change in their delivery method for their curriculum.

Schools have identified the power of oracy and pupil voice as an area they would like to focus curriculum development in. We again will be working with them to explore their current expertise and areas for development, engage with research and experts in the field and then design and implement changes that will enhance their curriculum moving forward.

How will the co-design pilot year work?

Our co-design year unfolds in three exciting phases:

Phase one: Schools evaluate and scrutinise their current curriculum in a detailed and purposeful way, celebrating their strengths, and identifying priorities for change. 

Phase two: We will elevate staff understanding of curriculum design and implementation, harnessing their expertise and building capacity for the future and ensuring that the expertise within the teams is used effectively. Peer-to-peer support takes centre stage, creating a robust framework for collaboration in a challenging yet supportive manner.

Phase three: It’s all about enriching the curriculum, with a focus on oracy, pupil voice, sustainability, outdoor learning, and more. These themes were born from focus groups, school input, and expert guidance.

What resources will you be developing, and can we use them?

We will be developing toolkits for leaders, classroom teachers and for curriculum enrichment. These will include research evaluations, evaluation frameworks, implementation support, case studies, webinars and a wealth of resources. Dive in and be inspired!

How can I get involved?

Here’s how you can get involved in this ground-breaking journey:

Curriculum experts – Are you an expert in oracy, pupil voice and agency, experiential learning, play-based and continuous provision, community and place-based curriculum, outdoor learning and sustainability and/or climate change? Join us to craft invaluable focused curriculum development tools that will benefit schools far and wide.

Class-based experts – Share your classroom insights in our focus groups to help shape the future of curriculum design. We will be hosting focus groups to identify the needs for classroom teachers in curriculum design and implementation in the various areas identified (oracy, pupil voice and agency, experiential learning, play based and continuous provision, community and place-based curriculum, outdoor learning and sustainability and climate change).

This will be informal work that can really shape the project moving ahead.

Expert schools – If you are a school that has successfully implemented a curriculum that has a central thread of oracy, pupil agency, experiential learning, play based and continuous provision, community and place-based learning, outdoor learning or sustainability and climate change we want to hear from you. We would like to build case studies around the implementation of these and learn from those who have already completed this work (as completed as curriculum development can be!) We would also like our pilot schools to visit schools and learn from you and your colleagues.

We will also be hosting a series of webinars about how schools have implemented curriculum change with a focus on the above areas and would love to have panels of school leaders and teachers who can share their experiences and answer questions from others in our sector who have identified that area as a potential development for their school.

If you think you could help in any of the above areas then please do drop Jen Crittenden an email and register at Rethinking Curriculum Project for our regular newsletters and opportunities.

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