Curriculum Questions for Intent, Implementation and Impact

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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You’ve got your curriculum plans all mapped out for the year ahead, so now what?

I’m sure many curriculum intentions have already been set out for the year ahead. I’m sure there are one or two schools that are panicking, overhauling all of the curriculum maps, schemes of work and lesson plan templates to demonstrate intent, implementation and impact. The question is, why?

Just like the rest of the teaching world, I think about the curriculum. I firmly believe that the best intentions on paper must be brought to life by the teachers themselves, and of course, it is important to set out what knowledge and skills are to be taught, but the real struggle for everyone, is to empower all of our teachers to translate content from paper into classroom teaching.

It is also my belief that every middle leader should have schemes work firmly set out, aligned with the school’s vision, and in keeping with the requirements of subject specifications. These things should already be in place. Wherever you are on your journey, I’ve set a number of questions below to stir your thinking.


  1. How do you know that your curriculum is flexible, broad and balanced?
  2. How does your school manage curriculum change?
  3. If you are reading this in England, does the English Baccalaureate feature high or low on the agenda?
  4. Did you know, that only 221 schools currently meet the government’s target?
  5. What oversight do your governors play?
  6. What ‘say’ have parents had if any at all?
  7. If students want to study a particular subject, is the request honoured?


  1. Does the curriculum reflect statutory requirements? If you are an academy, what ‘freedoms’ are you providing?
  2. How does your school develop wider skills and capabilities across the curriculum?
  3. How often do all teaching staff will review the curriculum? And not just over the last 12 months …
  4. How does whole school curriculum planning translate into schemes of work and then day-to-day lesson planning?
  5. Are these intentions outlined in your school’s development plan? The department/year team development plan?
  6. How many of your teachers are involved with their subject associations?
  7. How many of your teachers are subject examiners?
  8. What curriculum monitoring activities do you use?
  9. If somebody visited your school tomorrow, how will you demonstrate curriculum intent?
  10. What professional development opportunities (implementation) will you provide your teaching staff?


  1. What do your students say about their personal, social and health curriculum?
  2. Is eSafety on the agenda, and not just during eSafety week?
  3. What methods do you use to ensure evaluations are robust?
  4. How does this inform future planning/research?
  5. If you are rethinking your curriculum, has it added to teacher workload?
  6. Beyond examination results, how you demonstrate impact?
  7. What other ‘values’ could we evaluate?
  8. In terms of standards attained across the curriculum, what barriers to learning are improving or hindering groups of students when compared to those of their peers?
  9. Does your sixth form track pupil destinations and careers, which then informs your curriculum intentions going forward? For example, if your school is located near the sea and the vast majority of your students leave and go on to work on an oil rig as an engineer, is your curriculum adapted to support more STEM-related teaching?
  10. Let’s end with the hardest question: How do you know you have a quality curriculum?

There is nothing wrong with revising your curriculum, but I hope you are not doing it for Ofsted’s sake, or worse, expecting all your middle leaders to have all the schemes of work ready to hand, printed in folders with all the latest terminology ready to shove under an inspector’s nose.

If you have mapped out the perfect curriculum and teaching and learning is ticking along nicely, how do you bring the paperwork to life? Curriculum is nothing new, but it is important to reconsider as our assessment demands evolve …

There is a post-publication PDF resource of this blog post with additional questions added.

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