12th May 2022
Whether your school is starting from scratch or reviewing your existing curriculum, once the longer-term planning of your curriculum is done, the teachers must ensure that the curriculum is taught effectively in the classroom.
To help our schools develop a robust and comprehensive curriculum, our Cornerstones specialists recently put together the Six Steps of Curriculum Design, which outlines a successful design process. In this blog, Cornerstones Curriculum Adviser Manager, Rachael Ashforth, answers some frequently asked questions about Step 4 of this process: Planning the delivery of your curriculum.
Long, medium and short-term planning is essential for effective pupil learning. But before teachers can tackle any short-term planning, the school should have already made important choices about what to teach, when to teach it and why. The answers to these questions form the basis for effective short-term planning.
Whether you decide to organise your longer-term plans into subject-based or cross-curricular projects, it is vital to maintain the integrity of all subjects. Identifying the big ideas, concepts and aspects of your curriculum progression model will ensure that this is firmly in place before asking teachers to plan the lessons needed to teach the curriculum.
It is also essential that any longer-term curriculum plans clarify the connections between subjects, concepts and aspects, including revisiting and building across the curriculum year on year.
Tip: Check out the Six steps of curriculum design blog to see how to establish your curriculum’s big ideas, concepts and aspects.
A teaching narrative is the sequence and format of your short-term plans. There are many ways to organise the content of your curriculum; some popular methods in primary schools include using projects, thematic units of work and subject-specific chunks.
Whichever format you choose, it is crucial to begin with an overview of each project to help you understand the main ideas of what needs to be taught. This can help you plan out the finer details and make connections with other parts of your curriculum.
Once you have established what you need to teach in your project overview, you can begin to sequence the lessons and concrete tasks of your short-term plans. Each school will have its own requirements of what to include, and you may already have a specific proforma.
As a minimum, plans usually contain a reference to which programme of study it is linked to, the skills and knowledge that the children will be learning, and a summary of what you will be teaching with activities for the children.
Crucially, your short-term planning needs to show how the subject knowledge and skills outlined in your long-term plan will be taught, revisited and built upon over time. This process is very complex and takes time to perfect.
Once your plans are complete, you can move on to creating your supporting resources. Our blog post, How to create the best resources for your primary curriculum, has expert tips and guidance on the process of producing effective teaching resources.
Tip: You can book a demo with me or any other curriculum adviser to see how Curriculum Maestro and our new sequencing tool, CurriculumPRO, can help you build and sequence your shorter-term planning.
Differentiation and challenge must be key aspects of your curriculum, as per the Ofsted school inspection handbook, which states:
‘Leaders of good and outstanding schools adopt or construct a curriculum that is ambitious and designed to give all pupils, particularly disadvantaged pupils and including pupils with SEND, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life’.
Planning should reflect the school’s steps to teach an ambitious curriculum; in particular, it should demonstrate how pupils will acquire the necessary knowledge of the curriculum. This, of course, is an entitlement for all children, regardless of their starting points or prior learning.
There is now an expectation that all children are taught the same content, so teaching strategies and resources should enable all children to access the same curriculum. This requirement should be considered at a school level rather than by individual teachers. You can address this by asking questions such as:
These questions are worth discussing with all colleagues so that all teachers feel supported and use consistent teaching strategies.
Tip: Curriculum Director Melanie Moore explores the demands of implementing an ambitious curriculum and explains how adopting the Cornerstones Curriculum 22 can help schools manage those challenges in her blog post, Curriculum 22: Rising to the challenge of an ambitious primary curriculum.
When you have completed your curriculum planning, the next step is to regularly review its impact on teaching and learning. As you evaluate its effectiveness, you can make any adaptations or changes you need to improve it further. Low-stakes quizzes and tests can evaluate how effectively children have learned what has been taught. These tests can also provide the opportunity for retrieval practice at the start of another project to see what children have remembered about their prior learning, so consider their timing carefully.
Tip: You should expect short-term planning to change after evaluation. Adaptations to planning might include making a lesson more focused, changing a resource, or adding a different concrete task. Flexibility and adaptation are signs of good teaching and should be encouraged.
Fitting everything into a busy timetable is always a challenge. The curriculum is overcrowded, and teachers need to find creative ways to manage their time. Flexibility is undoubtedly crucial here, so don’t feel you must stick to traditional timetable slots just because it has always been that way. Combine lessons where it works; don’t make lessons any longer than they need to be. Sometimes tasks can be done in much shorter periods than the traditional timetable blocks.
If you find that your curriculum is overcrowded, it is worth reviewing it, looking for any unnecessary duplication, and seeing if there are any other creative ways to teach it.
Tip: Curriculum planning software such as Curriculum Maestro can help with all aspects of curriculum timetabling. The timetable tool on Maestro is a popular, much-used feature loved by class teachers. Get in touch, as I’d love to share this with you!
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