Navbar button The Headteacher

Ask the expert: Improving learning with the IPC

February 16, 2023, 21:10 GMT+1
In partnership with
Ask the expert: Improving learning with the IPC
  • Jacqueline Harmer outlines how the International Curriculum Association works hand-in-hand with the national curriculum in primary schools...
Ask the expert: Improving learning with the IPC


Name: Jacqueline Harmer
Job title: Head of the award-winning International Primary Curriculum (IPC)
Area of expertise: Curriculum development, assessment and feedback
Best part of my job: Connecting schools with research by making it practical for them

The glossary of education reform states “curriculum refers to the lessons and academic content taught in a school or in a specific course or program” – is this how the International Curriculum Association defines curriculum?

The International Primary Curriculum (IPC) defines four facets to curriculum: the written, which refers to the theory and intent of the curriculum; the planned, which establishes how the written curriculum is implemented in the school context and the conditions the school establishes for improving learning; the experienced, which is the day-to-day lived reality of learners and teachers; and finally, the evaluated curriculum, which requires reflection and engagement with all stakeholders.

If the IPC has its own written curriculum, can it be used alongside the English National Curriculum (ENC)?

Yes, the learning goals in the IPC have been cross-referenced with the ENC, though ours are more ambitious in breadth and depth. A pre-developed route plan identifies the best selection of units for coverage of all ENC outcomes.

The IPC offers a range of thematic and single subject units that cover science and the foundation subjects. Each IPC unit details tasks that follow a common process to facilitate learning, specifically designed for primary age learners.

What do you think schools should consider when selecting a curriculum that encompasses both a philosophy with teaching and learning?

Schools can answer questions such as the following to evaluate curriculum solutions.

  • Does the research basis of the curriculum align with those valued by the school?
  • Is the activity design based on research to best suit the age range of the learners?
  • Does it make the teachers’ job of planning and delivery easier?
  • Is the curriculum flexible and adaptable to meet learner needs and learner interests?
  • Does the curriculum meet the outcomes of the required written curriculum?

Why might schools choose the IPC to improve learning?

Schools can create their own route plan. The progressive Learning Goals and detailed units guide, but also inspire, creativity in teachers.

Our comprehensive curriculum model goes beyond units. We also provide pedagogical guidance to support policy development. The underpinning educational theory and research, accompanied by the sequenced learning experiences, shape the curriculum intent of International Curriculum schools.

How does the international aspect of the curriculum impact on learners and learning?

We provide opportunities for learners to ‘see’ themselves in the curriculum, which is a great motivator. International is a subject in IPC where children develop an interest in their own and other cultures and places. Learners engage with local and international communities to become globally competent citizens who take action and contribute positively to the world.

Ask me about

Helping schools – meeting the needs of the Ofsted inspection framework with a mapped out sequenced curriculum and coverage analysis tool.

Full coverage of the English NC – through 150 thematic units with detailed tasks to inspire teachers and motivate learning.

Multifaceted curriculum – effectively combining academic, personal, and international learning to develop globally competent learners to succeed in their world.

To find out more, email or visit