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Research School Network: Curriculum Planning… at Christmas time! The Harvey family are ready for Christmas… Max Harvey, Deputy Headteacher, on curriculum design and implementation

Curriculum Planning… at Christmas time!

The Harvey family are ready for Christmas… Max Harvey, Deputy Headteacher, on curriculum design and implementation

by West Somerset Research School
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The Harvey family are ready for the festive season to start. The Christmas decorations are down from the loft, the chocolate advent calendars have been bought and wish lists have been written. The preparations have been underway for some time and as soon as the first day of December arrives, it is all systems go.

The more Christmas’ we share as a family, the more I realise that, for us, the process of getting ready is just as important as the day itself. There are logistical issues to resolve and many conversations which need to take place so we can arrange who we are going to see, when. There are family traditions which need to be accommodated. More than anything there is a sense of collective responsibility; we want to have a positive couple of weeks and we enjoy the process of planning how we do this.

Putting it simply, each year, we decide on the key active ingredients’ for our festive season and find the most appropriate way of putting these elements into practice. In many ways, our Christmas follows a process we often follow in schools. What do we want to achieve and how do we do it?

There is a simplicity and at times a necessity to this approach but it can fail to take into account an important question. Why? If you are not familiar with Simon Sinek’s TED Talk How great leaders inspire action”, I would strongly recommend it to you. He raises the concept of the Golden Circle and stresses the importance of the why’ and how it should be at the centre of everything we do.

It is certainly central to the new Ofsted framework. In fact, the 3Is appear to follow the Golden Circle: Intent (Why), Implementation
(How) and Impact (What). At The Blue School, we have had many discussions about why we teach what we teach’ and the impact it has on our curriculum planning. The process has been iterative, with both the statements and the subtleties of the language being refined over time.

Christine Counsell’s views on curriculum have had a significant impact on our thinking. In her blog Senior Curriculum Leadership 1: The indirect manifestation of knowledge, she discusses the etymology of the word and proposes Curriculum is content structured as narrative over time.” A narrative is carefully ordered and contains sufficient variety to engage the reader. Every section has a purpose and should engage through the constant interplay of familiar and strange”.

Earlier this month, the curriculum leads from Somerset secondary schools met to discuss the curriculum. The keynote, delivered by Lorwyn Randall – South West Regional Lead for the EEF, contained a note of caution. In terms of research, there is no national clarity on the form an effective curriculum should take and so if any change is proposed, staff should follow the recommendations in the freshly updated EEF guidance report on implementation, downloadable from the link below. Fourteen pages of the document are focused on prepare; eight are devoted to explore, deliver and sustain. The division of the pages reflects the complexity of each stage.

Preparation is key.

Which brings me back to Christmas…

Max Harvey
Deputy Headteacher
The Blue School, Wells
West Somerset Research School

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