Does your curriculum require pupils to simply listen and learn?
Using five key pillars of practice – coherence, credibility, creativity, compassion and community – Debra Kidd delves into the role of some overlooked pedagogical tools that can have an impact on pupils learning and wellbeing.
Do you have the interests of all pupils at heart, or just some?
All teachers and school leaders I work with want a curriculum that works best for the community they serve, yet external forces, whether this is the examination system itself, lack of funding or a covert curriculum sought by inspectors, can undermine and do, a school’s best efforts. This, with rising levels of mental health, exclusions and a seismic shift towards understanding knowledge, long-term memory and in some schools, a zero-tolerance approach to secure good behaviour, may work well for some pupils, but it doesn’t bode well for all pupils.
How can teacher pedagogy break free from the curriculum?
External pressures to raise standards equate to huge consequences inside our schools. Teacher workload continues to be a huge problem, as well as record numbers of teachers leaving the profession with a significant majority leaving just two years from qualification. Curriculum pathways lead to qualifications which are designed to help prepare students for onward study. Our curriculum choices, therefore, reflects these qualifications and our pedagogy reflects the curriculum. None will argue that our teachers must be coherent in curriculum intent, leading at the forefront of their subject’s implementation and design, yet, credible and creative methods for teaching are our downfall if and when these external forces unpick the hard work a teacher spends years developing, to become qualified and knowledgeable. Testing a teacher’s understanding of curriculum and a two or three-year curriculum experience for the pupil in a tick-box ‘deep dive’ conversation during a high-stakes inspection is certainly not the best model for long-term improvement.
In my opinion, once qualified, curriculum thinking should be regular and a professional dialogue between teachers, teams and colleagues in other schools should be supported by curriculum models, examination boards, resources and school funding, each made difficult if lack of quality professional development gives our teachers sufficient long-term support to implement those plans. It is no wonder Ofsted is tackling the curriculum at a national level and I find all schools revisiting their curricular values on my travels…
Does your curriculum empower your pupils?
I have read Debra Kidd’s blogs and past publications for a number of years, having sought inspiration on a personal and professional level on a number of occasions, so you can imagine how delighted I was when Debra asked me to review her new book, A Curriculum of Hope: As rich in Humanity as in Knowledge.
This book will provide a deeper understanding into Debra’s ability to research, articulate and map out a coherent strategy for teachers and school leaders to bring to life in their classrooms and schools, with compassion. As Debra writes, we should have all pupils exploring ‘the Garden of Eden’ rather than knowing facts about apples and being above the national standard. Instead, knowledge and creativity (play) are masterfully threaded throughout this book, written to motivate readers to seek empowerment rather than additional workload.
How schools and teachers can use this book?
Having seen Debra lead teacher-training events for a number of years, I know that she can bring words to life for teachers, in meaningful and very powerful, pragmatic sessions. What I really like about this book, is if you are unable to attend a professional development session led by Debra, her books are written in a way for teachers to help them access content and translate those ideas back into their classrooms. Towards the back of the book, you will find case studies demonstrating how teachers can work with both their own and other subject departments across the school to plan in ways that allow for pupil choice, autonomy and responsibility. A Curriculum of Hope: As rich in Humanity as in Knowledge gets a ‘thumbs-up’ from me!
The credibility of our national curriculum is at stake without the expertise of our teaching profession and A Curriculum of Hope provides much-needed guidance.