Curriculum design: Step 3 – Assess the starting points

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 third step towards designing an effective curriculum is to assess starting points and this, broadly speaking, takes two forms: the starting points of the taught curriculum and the starting points of the learnt curriculum.

The taught curriculum is that which is written down in curriculum plans (national curriculum documents, awarding body specifications, schemes of work, and so forth) and taught by teachers. The learnt curriculum, meanwhile, is that which each pupil or student has actually acquired, what they really know and can do – including their misconceptions and misunderstandings.

In terms of the taught curriculum, it’s important to know the end points of the previous curriculum – what pupils are expected to know and be able to do by the time they begin your curriculum because you need to ensure, as far as is possible, that there is curriculum continuity – that each stage of education flows smoothly and naturally into the next and that each new year, key stage and phase of education consolidates and builds upon what has gone before rather than needlessly repeating prior content.

This can be achieved, in part, by ensuring that transition arrangements are improved and that teachers and middle leaders in each phase work more closely with their counterparts in the preceding and succeeding phases in order to share data and engage in joint professional development and curriculum planning.

In terms of the learnt curriculum, it’s important to understand what each pupil actually knows and can do and what they do not yet know and cannot yet do. This can be achieved, in part, through better data-sharing but also by using ongoing assessments such as class discussions, hinge questions, multiple-choice quizzes, and exit tickets in order to ascertain where each pupils’ ‘struggle zone’ is positioned as well as to activate their prior learning.

Go to: Step 1 | Step 2 | Step 4 | Step 5 | Step 6

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