For 3 years, we have been researching and investigating how to deliver a curriculum that meets the needs of our pupils, taking account of our ethos, values and mission statement. We identified the following as being especially significant:
‘Memory is the residue of thought’ Dan Willingham
‘Learning is a change in long term memory. If nothing has changed in long term memory, then nothing has been learned’ Paul Kirschner
‘'You can always google it' is the most dangerous myth in education today’ Dylan Wiliam
‘Progress means knowing more and remembering more’ Ofsted
As our understanding of the research evidence available grew, it became clear that we needed a knowledge-rich curriculum, which was intelligently sequenced and fully resourced. It also became clear that there were significant barriers (expertise and teacher time) to us being able to develop such a curriculum ourselves. Consequently, we hunted high and low to find materials that we could purchase from organisations better equipped than ourselves, but with similar ethos, values and intention.
This has been easier for some subjects within the curriculum than others; we continue our research into options where we have not yet found one. Fortunately, our approach of phasing in a new curriculum, along with setting aside time for teachers to acquire the new subject knowledge needed, has reduced the impact of many simultaneous changes upon workload.
In the subjects where a solution has been found, we have ensured that pupils in each phase receive a rigorous, coherent and intelligently sequenced curriculum, which builds on what has come before. Our curriculum is grounded in the strongest available evidence about how pupils learn and retain knowledge in the long term – focusing in particular on research from cognitive science.
Each subject is unique, and includes its own substantive knowledge and disciplinary knowledge. Substantive knowledge relates to the core facts, ideas and concepts which are central to a subject (for example how nations make treaties, such as the Treaty of Versailles). Disciplinary knowledge, on the other hand, relates to how scholars and academics within each subject (or discipline) arrive at this knowledge – for example, how physicists use the scientific method to arrive at general principles through observation and systematic experimentation. Our curriculum ensures that all pupils carefully build a comprehensive understanding of both.
We are confident that this approach offers a truly broad and balanced curriculum to all pupils. It offers the chance for all pupils to encounter and understand the very best that has been thought, said, sung, danced, made and played. We believe that this will inspire pupils to go on and excel in their chosen field, with the widest range of opportunities available to them.
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