Memo: From Head Office
As an organisation we’ve always prided ourselves on being ahead of the curve, and by ‘curve’ we mean twitter and by ‘ahead’ we mean stumbled across a blog. So, it will be of no surprise to many of you that we have recently decided to take an interest in curriculum.
For too long we have ignored the wider curriculum; unless of course an inspection was going well and we had nothing else to talk about, or an inspection was going badly and we thought it would be fun to stick the boot in. And, as schools seem to be getting the hang of securing higher and higher standards (off-rolling the thickies), managing challenging behaviour (off-rolling the poor) and meeting children’s needs (off-rolling the specials) we thought now would be a good time to give them something else to worry about.
We were going to choose research. That seems quite popular at the moment. You can’t hardly move without some thought-gibbon promoting their latest research discovery – apparently noticing stuff you like in your own classroom qualifies as robust research nowadays. But, given the surge in books being written by anyone who has once taken a register, we thought better of it.
Then we thought we could focus on work-life balance. This is a thing, apparently. Honestly, teachers nowadays. I remember when PPA was the time it took your pupils to down a milk and have a nap in the afternoon.
No, the thing to focus on is the one thing schools haven’t thought about for years: curriculum. For those new to us, curriculum is the thing that happens in schools after maths and English, in between PE and home time. It should be the bedrock of a pupil’s time at school, where children learn everything, and I mean EVERYTHING…to do with Henry VIII, photosynthesis and the war.
Now, the moment we leaked the possibility we’d finally be giving a Farage & Johnson* about what schools are teaching children, the education world went into meltdown. As predicted, we saw three types of reaction:
- Our school has spent the last five years establishing a well-defined and carefully implemented schema based on a deep analysis of our school community and the needs of our children.
- Our school has just bought a curriculum that promises to be a well-defined and carefully implemented schema which also comes with its own homework app.
- What the hell is a schema?
In order to support schools with their curriculum design it is important that, as an organisation, we have a clear and consistent line about what it is we expect to see in schools. We must be transparent and offer schools a consistent and easy-to-understand message that cannot be misinterpreted or misconstrued. To do this we will use words. Three of them to be precise: Intent, Implementation and Impact. These three words – Intent, Implementation and Impair – will help guide schools and make it clear what we want to see. In no way could these three words – Iguana, Icarus and Imbecile – be given to misinterpretation or confusion.
Already, we have seen schools make leaps and bounds with their curriculum design, but there are a few pitfalls that we need to be aware of. The first is Artificial Symbiotic Schema (ASS). A curriculum with a hefty ASS is one that is likely to contain a range of links and curriculum call-backs that are dafter than a DfE pledge to increase school funding. In short, the more convoluted the links (We learn about the madness of King George III in Year 5 which links back to our work in Year 1 on identifying nut trees) the bigger the ASS the school will make of itself when we come to visit.
With that in mind, please remember that we do not expect schools to have their curriculum ready by the beginning of next year. No, that would be ridiculous. Any outstanding school has an infinite number of years to get their curriculum in order, any good school should seek to have their curriculum ready within the next four years, and RI schools must have a brand new curriculum in place within the next half an hour. Inadequate schools don’t deserve a new curriculum so just continue giving them hell as per.
That concludes this memo. I have condensed all the key points into a knowledge organiser (word bank) for you to memorise before lining your cat litter tray with it. I’ll also be uploading a vlog, where I will be jogging through my local high street whilst recording my sweaty face speaking confidently to you about everything I believe to be right.
What a time to be alive.
Dear Primary Head,
Glad, you are still writing from time to time. Your posts always make me laugh out loud. And even though I don’t work in the British state system, I can relate to many of your thoughts.