Resources – the final foot soldiers of your curriculum

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04/10/2018


With the recent attention on reducing workload and the publication of the influential Policy Exchange report, Completing the Revolution, the issue of resourcing your curriculum is once again at the fore. Referred to as the ‘final foot soldiers’ of a school’s curriculum, resources can make or break a lesson. Catherine Scutt, Curriculum Manager and resources expert at Cornerstones, takes a look at how to think more broadly about ways to resource your curriculum and save time.

I have seen and used a huge range of teaching resources in my career. The quality of these has varied from ‘can’t live without’ to ‘waste of time’ and everything in between. As part of my work at Cornerstones, I am constantly in dialogue with teachers about what they need to make their lessons easier to deliver. I have also learned what makes a good resource and have seen how high-quality, tailored resources can save teachers’ time. To help you think more broadly about ways to resource your curriculum and source those that are high-quality, I’ve put together this quick guide that includes some of my handy time-saving tips.

Video resources

Video resources are commonplace in schools today. The internet is full of vibrant, entertaining videos and trusted sources such as BBC Bitesize offer high-quality examples that are free to use and cover major curriculum topics. At Cornerstones, we make videos and animations that match perfectly to the lesson intention, so no time is wasted searching for appropriate examples. We also offer ‘Useful stuff’ documents that help teachers locate appropriate videos online.

Objects

Objects are vital teaching resources. A fifty pence piece can be used to embed key knowledge about the role of the King and the value of money in society. The reproduction of plants can be explored using a flower head and tweezers. The concept of geological periods, specifically the Cambrian Period, can be discovered through close inspection of a fossilised ammonite. Children can make amazing discoveries and deeper connections when using a wide range of stimulating objects. Identify where objects can be used in your curriculum and be prepared. You don’t always have to use paper-based materials.

Passionate people

People are also a valuable resource. A quick letter to parents asking about their interests, skills and availability could yield beneficial results and enhance your curriculum coverage. A talented, amateur printmaker sharing their passion for linocut could inspire a young artist, a doctor or dentist could share important knowledge and information about teeth or the digestive system and a well-travelled parent could share important geographical knowledge about places visited. Just a few well-chosen volunteers could turn out to be some of the best resources you use all year.

Local environments

Your local environment can also be a great resource. Your high street, a small park or an industrial estate can all provide children with inspiration, information and knowledge. The high street is a fantastic historical resource for showcasing change over time, so take a walk with an old photo, spotting which shops have changed, and finding clues about the history of significant buildings. A small park will be home to a huge number of minibeasts, trees, plants and habitats, all waiting to be discovered. An industrial estate could enhance learning about modern building design, aspects of human geography or provide land use data for geography and maths lessons.

Museums, associations and charities

Museums, associations and charities are all valuable sources of information and their websites can provide you with resourcing gold! If you want to know about birds, visit the RSPB website. British history? The British Museum. Canals? The Canal and River Trust. Castles? English Heritage. Many of these websites provide free resources to support teaching and learning. Each one is written by an expert in their field, and they seek to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with as many people as possible. This valuable information can also help children make connections between what they learn and real-life contexts.

Schemes of work

The recent reducing teacher workload agenda asks senior leaders to make sure that schemes of work are available to help teachers with planning and lesson delivery. Published schemes are a useful resource that can save you hours of time. There are many available but quality can vary and in the worst of cases, can cause more work than is saved. Make sure schemes of work you choose are tried and tested and are from a trusted source.

Published resources

Finally, a shout-out to the published resources we make here at Cornerstones! If you’re looking for high-quality online resources, including topic presentations, picture cards, fact and information sheets, high-quality images, writing frames, biographies and more, then take a look on the Cornerstones website. Our resources are tailored specifically for individual lessons and are well-researched and beautifully designed to ensure maximum impact. New resources are added all the time and this year we will be adding knowledge organisers for all topics.

Catherine Scutt, 4th October 2018