At our Head of Department meeting this week we considered the intent behind our curriculum and tested how well we were able to answer the questions that underpin the curriculum decisions we have made. We began by reading the school’s curriculum statement which underpins all of the work that has been carried out at a subject level. It looks like this:
The Kennet Curriculum
We believe in a broad and balanced curriculum, which places value on traditional academic pathways whilst ensuring appropriate challenge for all pupils. The majority of pupils study an EBacc pathway at GCSE and we have alternative routes containing BTEC and ASDAN courses. At Key Stage 5, the vast majority of pupils study 3 A Levels or the equivalent in vocational courses, as well as a programme of enrichment. We think that the curriculum should be rich in knowledge because knowing things provides a foundation for being able to do things. We expect that pupils are able to remember and recall core knowledge rather than looking it up. We prepare pupils well for exams because this is important, but we see our qualifications as the start of a journey as well as the end of one and seek to broaden pupils’ horizons beyond what is on the test. We believe that learning should continue outside of the classroom and drive this through setting high quality homework and offering an extensive range of extra-curricular opportunities.
Following this, Heads of Department were asked to evaluate their curricula against Dylan William’s 7 principles of curriculum design.
The full document used for this evaluation can be found here: A Principled Subject Curriculum
As well as considering the curriculum intent in this part of the session, Heads of Department were also asked to consider how they would make this happen in classrooms i.e. what are the mechanisms by which we ensure that the curriculum we plan is delivered and that the principles are upheld. For example, this might require training, resourcing, guidance, modelling etc.
Finally, we did a coaching style exercise where Heads of Department worked in pairs to consider some key questions in relation to their curriculum. They were asked to test each other by digging deeper with follow up questions. The initial questions can be accessed here: Curriculum Questions for HoDs
Ultimately the meeting was a chance to reflect on the important curriculum decisions we are making and continue to make. This is so important because curriculum is more than just deciding on the order of some topics: it is about agreeing what children need to know and the best way to structure that learning. Quality of curriculum is a defining factor in the quality of teaching, the rigor of assessment and ultimately the outcomes pupils will achieve.