Curriculum design: Step 1 – Agree the vision

The 6-step process of curriculum design…

Our approach to curriculum design – as outlined in the book School & College Curriculum Design: Intent – follows a six-step process as follows…

The first step towards designing an effective curriculum is to agree the vision. This requires each school and college to consult upon and communicate a shared definition of what is meant by the term ‘curriculum’, as well as a working definition of what the curriculum encompasses in practice within their institutional context. This working definition might include, where relevant, aspects of the national, basic, local and hidden curriculums.

Agreeing the vision is also about defining what a school or college interprets as being a ‘broad and balanced’ curriculum. It means deciding upon and articulating the purpose of education within that institution (why does it exist, what does it hope for all pupils and students?).

Talking of measurements, agreeing the vision is also about designing a meaningful assessment system which uses the curriculum as the progression model rather than relying on arbitrary grades, levels or numbers. This progression model should clearly show where each pupil is at any point in time by cataloguing what they know and can do – in other words, which aspects of the curriculum they have mastered and which they have not.

Senior leaders have several roles to play at this stage of the curriculum design process including working hard to create a whole-school or -college culture in which the curriculum can thrive. This culture, I think, has three layers: the staff culture; the pupil and student culture; and the learning culture.

Senior leaders must also ensure their middle leaders and teachers are afforded sufficient time to engage in the curriculum planning process (in part, by deciding what they can stop doing) and are equipped with the knowledge and skills required for this complex task, including through the provision of quality professional development which performs the dual functions of developing subject knowledge and pedagogical knowledge.

Go to: Step 2 | Step 3 | Step 4 | Step 5 | Step 6

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