The new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) has been described by inspectors as an evolution, rather than a revolution of the existing framework. However, with an increased focus on the curriculum – you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise.
The framework now demands teaching facilitates pupils’ ability to build up knowledge in the long term memory - so that pupils know more, remember more and can do more.
The curriculum must be well thought out so that the right components are embedded in long term memory in order to enable pupils to perform more complex tasks.
Crucially lesson activities should fit in within the school’s goal of education. Steps should be taken to avoid overloading the working memory, as fluency and automaticity become key components in learning.
Educators are deepening their understanding of the framework and wrestling with the practical implications. In what can feel like uncertain times, can we look to certainties within the framework to develop the quality of education within our schools?
We know that our curriculum will be scrutinized. Under the new framework we should be ready to answer detailed questions about our wider provision:
- Can you explain the content of your curriculum?
- Is there clear lesson sequencing over time?
- Is there clear progression and coherence?
- Are the acquisition of basic skills from EYFS strong enough so that children are ‘ready to learn’ as they enter Year 1?
- What are the subject leaders understanding of the school’s ethos and curriculum goals?
- What steps are taken to ensure the lowest 20 per cent (attainment and progress) are accessing the curriculum?
Gainsborough Primary is an average sized school in Hackney, East London, with a children’s centre, provision for two year olds and, from September, provision for pupils with SEMH. The school is part of the Primary Advantage federation. Executive Headteacher Jenna Clark shares Gainsborough Primary’s six steps to success:
1. Audit existing curriculum models
The leadership team undertook the task of evaluating existing curriculum models to understand what was already working well and what needed to change in order for pupils to make accelerated and age appropriate progress.
In addition to sourcing information nationally and locally, leaders collaborated across settings and key stages to develop a shared understanding of the framework and curriculum content.
3. Refer back to your intent
As a revised and updated curriculum began to be drafted, leaders continued to revisit their curriculum intent asking themselves – does our new curriculum still reflect our ethos and shared purpose?
4. Use your subject leaders
In the spirit of distributed leadership, leaders at all levels were involved as early as possible in the process.
It is important that middle leaders are ‘on message’ but teachers also need to understand the process. Do they understand why lessons are sequenced? Do they have the autonomy to revisit themes or ensure ‘deep learning’ is taking place? Class teachers were supported by senior leaders with planning and coaching to assist with the transition.
The progression document is a work in progress. It is important the curriculum continues to meet the needs of the wider school community, therefore the curriculum will be subject to regular review.
Laura McPhee is an experienced headteacher, education consultant and carries out policy consultancy for national social justice charity Nacro. Visit nacro.org.uk.