What is the best type of curriculum?

Curriculum

17th November 2017

What is the best type of curriculum?

Melanie Moore, author of the Cornerstones Curriculum, asks the question, what is the best type of curriculum and how do you achieve it?

What is the best type of curriculum?

What is a curriculum?

How would you describe the curriculum? Is it a programme of learning? The national curriculum? That which is taught or untaught?

Well, a curriculum is the total experience of learning. It encompasses aims, content, pedagogy and assessment. Moreover, it includes the ‘taught curriculum’ and ‘untaught curriculum’. A curriculum develops children’s skills, knowledge, and character, with the best growing from the principles set out by the school itself.

What type of curriculum is best?

Currently, there is a lot of debate about different types of curriculum. Labels, such as knowledge-based, skills-based, creative, thematic, and child-centred, are all popular, but often they can be at best confusing and, at worst, stress-inducing for schools. While all these approaches are valid, when the populace begins to favour one, rather than another, it is not unheard of for schools to begin questioning, ‘Do we have the right kind of curriculum? Do we need to change our curriculum to meet the needs of any particular type? Is this the sort of curriculum that Ofsted is looking for?’

There are merits to any curriculum, but often buzz-words, trends, or whatever you might want to call them, can be damaging and dangerous, and they may encourage a swing in one direction or another, usually at the expense of other essential curriculum features.

For example, there is currently much talk about the importance of knowledge and knowledge-based curricula. While knowledge is an important part of a curriculum, and indeed, forms most of the national curriculum in England, it is important not to lose sight of other aspects of a curriculum, such as skills and creativity, which balance it out.

Achieving the right balance

In 2014, the national curriculum underwent a comprehensive review. There was much criticism of the result of that review, with many saying the curriculum was too slimmed down. However, in slimming down the curriculum, the government encouraged schools to be innovative as to how best deliver it. It did not favour one particular approach, and thus, was an exciting opportunity for those schools ready to rejuvenate their curriculum.

More recent commentary from Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, has again raised the profile of the curriculum. Through their research, Ofsted has identified some common features and challenges for schools, mostly centred around the pressures of testing and the expectations of inspectors, both cited by schools as the cause of narrowing the curriculum.

The commentary addresses the need for schools to strive for a broad and balanced curriculum and admits that a good look at the inspection regime may help schools to feel less pressured. However, some schools are already questioning the reality of this, when test result data still has such a significant impact on how schools are measured.

Doing what is right

With so much information and misinformation out there, how can schools be expected to know what to do? Well, the best any school can do is what it knows to be right: right for the children it teaches and their context. The best way to begin, is to establish its curriculum principles and articulate its intent. Only when a school achieves this common understanding and shared purpose will it be on the right footing for designing its own curriculum. There are lots of places to look for help after that, but this is undoubtedly the best starting point.

Part 2 – What are curriculum principles and how can they help a school design its curriculum?

If you want to find out how Cornerstones Maestro can help you develop your school curriculum, then contact us to arrange a free online demonstration.

  • Expert advice
  • Tailored to you
  • At a time to suit you

Helping schools to transform the lives of children through powerful curriculum and meaningful assessment

Book a demo
Request A demo with our staff

Enter your details to download

    Download your file below

    You can download your file by clicking the button below.

    Download file
    Reviews Book a Demo Reviews
    10/12/2021

    We are in a much better place with CM than with our old curriculum. We will be making it more bespoke in the second year.

    Conrad Fox – Headteacher, Hunmanby Primary School, England

    16/11/2021

    I have used Cornerstones from its first launch. The product has been refined over time as it is driven by feedback from schools and teachers delivering the content. The company is also responsive to a school's needs.

    Lindsey Wain – Deputy headteacher, Hartburn Primary School, England

    04/11/2021

    Maestro is a real time saver, particularly for leadership teams and subject leaders. There is a wealth of information and resources which can be used and adapted by creative skills teachers. The way the curriculum is mapped is excellent and was commented on in a very recent Ofsted inspection.

    Charlotte Gibbins – Thurlstone Primary School, England

    17/09/2021

    I have recommended and told many other schools and school staff about it. I would always though suggest that they need to ensure it is right for their school setting and the needs of their staff and pupils.

    Kathryn – Teacher, Langton Primary School

    20/01/2021

    It has been a revelation. Staff are finding their way through it and if we have any questions, the support from Cornerstones is amazing. We always get answers to our questions. It is now our one-stop-shop for curriculum with linked up thinking and approach through an intuitive and user-friendly system.

    Moira Cross – Executive head, Dordon Primary School