The past year has proved unprecedentedly challenging for schools, pupils, educators and parents, with 65 per cent of primary school parents and 68 per cent of secondary school parents concerned their child has lost out on learning
Despite the disruption, it has led many educators to examine the fundamental platforms upon which their schools and trusts are based and look at next steps to ensure their curriculum frameworks are pragmatic and adaptable to any challenges ahead.
At Central RSA Academies Trust (CRSAAT), we have worked hard to ensure that our consistent, collaborative curriculum frameworks have a fantastic impact on our pupils and staff.
The key to successful implementation is ensuring frameworks are developed in a thoroughly collaborative manner and underpinned by a shared language understood by all.
We see learning as more than knowing and rehearsing information – powerful knowledge is essential to help us think critically and creatively. Skills need developing alongside knowledge as information is not received passively and we must consider how we engage our pupils to develop their expertise.
To ensure we delivered our vision consistently, we gathered subject teams from across the Trust to create a series of shared curriculum frameworks.
Our schools are mission-led, focusing on social justice and aiming to support every individual flourish.
It is within this context that we agreed on a viable, evidence-informed and trust-wide definition of learning: “Through experiencing and reflecting on a succession of challenging experiences we develop long-term capacities as thinkers, problem-solvers and active social participants.”
Our curriculum is unified by this definition. It is driven by developing expert subject knowledge alongside skills that create thoughtful critical thinkers who can communicate ideas with clarity, while ensuring our pupils experience a wide range of cultural opportunities.
By creating the curriculum frameworks collaboratively, we developed a shared language of learning, enabling our teachers and pupils to work together, support each other and adapt to the challenges of the pandemic.
Our curriculum offer identifies the Knowledge, Attributes, Skills, and Experiences (KASE) we seek to develop in all our pupils:
- KNOWLEDGE refers to developing pupils who are Experts, Purposeful, Fluent and Self-regulating and directing
- ATTRIBUTES include Risk-tolerant, Resilient, Reflective and Empathetic
- SKILLS comprise Problem solvers, Collaborative, Communicative, Metacognitive and Pragmatic
- And finally EXPERIENCES refers to developing pupils who are enthused and engaged in cosmopolitan rich experiences; ones which enable pupils to be open to ideas and different ways of doing things, being Autonomous, Responsible and Champions of causes.
Each school has a Teaching and Learning Development Group that promotes these and helps our schools remain aligned in our shared mission.
To embed KASE in our classrooms, we centred our professional development programme around our pedagogical focuses: ‘10 Components of Great Learning and Teaching’.
The role of oracy in these pedagogical priorities is key because of our drive for social justice – we want to develop young people who can articulate their thoughts and ideas, a vital precursor to strong writing and communication skills.
Our Learning Cycle has been designed to consider pupils and staff at all levels and allow teachers across our schools to think about and plan lessons that are structured, effective and draw on what we know works best.
The cycle follows four phases of INFORM – provide new information, EXPLORE – guided exploration, APPLY – apply new knowledge or skills and CONNECT – review and preview.
CRSAAT teachers strive to become subject experts within the classroom where subject knowledge and expertise is vital and sharing this expertise is a key part of co-design work.
The shared delivery cycle supports sharing planning. The curriculum frameworks have proven hugely effective so far in supporting co-design of subject knowledge and sharing delivery ideas. Working together with a common language for teaching and learning has enabled us to support each other during a tough year.
Our frameworks provide our schools with a strong level of collaboration, while freeing them to be innovative in how a concept is delivered. Our curriculum work will continue to support rich subject experiences while developing vital attributes and skills for our pupils.
We will continue to work collaboratively to develop confident and creative young people who can thrive in an ever-changing world.
Guy Shears is chief executive at Central RSA Academies Trust.