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Unit 1 Section 3
A vision of a curriculum which provides all
the learning needs of a young person in
the 21st century including knowledge plus
skills and broader understanding
This section gives an overview of the aspects of the
curriculum designers need to take into account when
planning how to equip learners for the 21st century
© Curriculum Foundation
A Subject-based Curriculum
The current government described its intentions as follows: ‘to restore the
National Curriculum to its original purpose – a minimum national entitlement
for all our young people organised around the subject disciplines’ Compare:
Reading and writing
Nature study
Foreign language
Physical exercise
Manual training
Foreign language
Physical Education
Design and Technology
Can you spot the difference? As we have seen, the 21st century demands more.
© Curriculum Foundation
An Aims Based Curriculum
In their book ‘An Aims-based Curriculum: The Significance of
Human Flourishing for Schools’ (2013),Reiss and White argue
that the starting point for curriculum planning should be the
needs and wants of young people rather than a set of
predetermined subjects.
They go on to point out that any rational design process for
addressing these needs and wants will inevitably lead to a
curriculum far richer than a list of required subject
As we have seen, a young person who is equipped for life in
the 21st century has a wealth of skills, attitudes, qualities,
values and dispositions in addition to subject knowledge.
© Curriculum Foundation
What do young people need?
When the former Qualifications Curriculum Authority (QCA)
started the review of the English Secondary and then the
Primary Curriculum in 2005, it asked a wide range of people
this very question. It asked parents, teachers, governors,
employers, faith groups, the wider public and pupils
themselves. The resulting list was remarkably similar.
Young people need to:
Be creative
Communicate well
Be literate and numerate
Solve problems
Work together in teams
Have a global perspective
Show initiative
Work independently
Be life-long learners
Do you agree with that list? What would you add or take away?
© Curriculum Foundation
Common Around the World
We have also
seen that
people all over
the world have
the same ideas
about what
young people
drawings were
produced in
Leeds and
© Curriculum Foundation
Creativity and Imagination
If children are to be creative they obviously need experiences which will help
develop their creativity.
In his 1999 report, All Our Futures, champion of creativity in education, Prof
Ken Robinson, suggested that ‘creativity always involves thinking or behaving
In their book “Creativity, Wisdom and Trusteeship” (2007) Professors Anna
Craft, Howard Gardner and Guy Claxton explore the nature of creativity and
wisdom and what it means to exercise a balance of the two.
© Curriculum Foundation
The Principles of Creativity
Both Robinson and Craft et al provide food for thought for
curriculum developers designing a creative curriculum
Robinson proposes the following
• Creativity involves imaginative thinking
and behaviour
• Imaginative activity must be purposeful
• The processes must generate
something original
• The outcome must be of value in
relation to the objective
Click here for: Ken Robinson TED talk
Craft et al describe the
creative process as a
combination of:
• Convergent thinking
• Divergent thinking
• Practicality
• Social worth
© Curriculum Foundation
Creativity and Standards
In his book The Primary Curriculum Design
Handbook, Dr Brian Male deals with the
perception that a creative approach will have a
negative impact on standards:
‘…all the schools achieved high standards in
national tests because they took creative
approaches, not in spite of them. …..not only
will children learn enough to do better in tests,
they will learn much more than this.’
The book includes a wealth of practical
examples of a creative curriculum
© Curriculum Foundation
Higher Order Thinking
Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Objectives has remained a
key element of teacher training since its publication in 1956
Clearly if young people
are to be engaged in
deep learning it is
critical that the
curriculum is designed
to take account of all
levels and not just
memorisation and
© Curriculum Foundation
Depth of Knowledge
Norman Webb identifies four levels of learning
Level 1
Recall and reproduction – Recall of fact, information and
Level 2
Application of skills and concepts – Use of information or
conceptual knowledge
Level 3
Strategic thinking – Reasoning, developing a plan
Level 4
Extended thinking – Investigation, collection of data and analysis
of results
Webb argues that deep knowledge is gained through learning experiences at
all four levels - further evidence for curriculum designers to consider
© Curriculum Foundation
Deep Learning
In a series of papers for the SSAT in 2006, David Hargreaves argued
that deep learning results from students being actively engaged in
their own learning rather than remaining passive recipients.
This requires ‘co-construction’ of learning involving students and
teachers. Students take responsibility and develop independence and a
mature approach to their learning.
Again, if such opportunities are to be a consistent feature of students’
learning experience, curriculum designers need to plan accordingly.
© Curriculum Foundation
Impact on International Standards
• “PISA tests students’ ability to apply
their learning to think critically, solve
problems and make judgements”
• “Japan responded by moving away
from a narrow knowledge-based
curriculum and to focus more on skills
and broader understanding”
Andreas Schleicher
Division Head OECD i/c PISA
So if the curriculum is to improve the nation’s performance in PISA tests it
must have a strong focus on the higher levels of learning not just knowledge
© Curriculum Foundation
The Curriculum and School Culture
What happens in any organisation is a product of
its culture.
School publicity often extols a culture of success
and high standards.
There is a range of tools available to schools for
assessing culture.
Schools facing challenging circumstances often
adopt strategies through which to bring about a
change of culture.
Mick Waters in his book, Thinking Allowed on
Schooling (2013), suggests a ‘Futures Learning
Outlook’ grid as a tool for schools to examine
how learning takes place, ie what happens at the
interface between culture and curriculum.
© Curriculum Foundation
A Futures Learning Outlook
(The Curriculum Culture)
Big questions
One offs, special events
Embedded, real learning
Exercising trudge
Quiet life
Small matters
Using the Futures Learning Outlook Grid
• The nature of schools’ work is such that teachers must often find a
compromise position along the spectrum between their philosophy of
education and compliance with what must be done to address external
• There is a similar tension between the big questions (science concepts,
human achievement, threats to the environment, technological change,
the arts and culture etc) and small matters (the crumbs of learning which
are covered in lessons day by day)
• The quadrant in which a school predominantly finds itself determines the
nature of much of the learning that takes place: culture has a significant
impact on students’ experience of learning
© Curriculum Foundation
A Culture for Learning?
Go back to the grid.
What do you think school is like for learners in each of the four
Where do you think you would plot your school’s current predominant
Where would you like your school to be?
Why do you think Mick Waters uses the title ‘Futures Learning
Outlook’ for this grid?
This analysis can prove revealing and particularly useful to curriculum
© Curriculum Foundation
Key Learning in Unit 1
You should now have:
your own clear definition of the curriculum and a vision of its potential
impact on your learners
a clear understanding of the importance of establishing curriculum aims
and values at the outset plus an overview of how to go about it and what
evidence to take into account
a vision of a curriculum which provides all the learning needs of a young
person in the 21st century including knowledge plus skills and broader
Self-assessment: Do you feel confident with respect to this key learning?
© Curriculum Foundation
Next Steps
After this unit you may wish to follow up some of the exercises with
colleagues in your school, for example:
• Consider the wording of a school-wide definition of the curriculum
• Carry out the ‘equipped for life’ exercise using the stick man or bag for life
• Consider the extent to which existing school values are appropriate and
reflected in the curriculum
• Consider the extent to which the existing curriculum covers learning other
than subject knowledge
• Discuss and plot your school’s position on the ‘Curriculum Culture’ grid
© Curriculum Foundation
The Next Unit
Unit 2 Title: Creating clear, world-class design principles
developed with stakeholders
In this unit you will learn how to convert aims and values into
curriculum principles which will provide the foundations for your
high quality curriculum
© Curriculum Foundation
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