Curriculum + Teaching and Learning + Assessment = Currtla
Charlie Bailey, April Wright and James Wright
At Crown Hills Community College, we have embarked on an exciting journey not only to join up the work of the curriculum, teaching and learning and assessment (under the umbrella of ‘Currtla’) but to question – and provide answers to – what these things mean to us and how they relate to each other. To do so, we went back to first principles. The think pieces (below) are the result of hours of research-informed and evidence-led reading and subsequent discussions between us: Charlie Bailey (Vice Principal, Curriculum), James Wright (Assistant Principal, Teaching and Learning) and April Wright (Assistant Principal, Assessment) and others.
These think pieces are presented in the way that they are deliberately: they begin with the curriculum first and are in (chrono)logical order. Reading them in this way will guide you through our thinking – for too long, in too many schools, assessment (and a poor understanding of assessment at that) dominated the school lives of teachers. Similarly, teaching and learning existed as top-down initiatives in a vacuum. And the curriculum, if it was thought of at all, was conflated, in a reductive way, with the timetable. Our think pieces attempt to redress the balance. While assessment, teaching and learning and the curriculum are all equal and reinforce each other, it is the curriculum that is first among equals at Crown Hills. Knowing what to teach and why (the curriculum) informs how we teach it, which should be effective and efficient (teaching and learning). What is learned (remembered) by students is assessed mainly through formative assessment. There is a place for summative assessment at Crown Hills, of course, but is no longer the ‘cart before the horse’.
A final ‘health warning’ with these think pieces is that while they are still broadly indicative of our collective thinking, we are constantly engaged in an iterative process of challenge (from further reading, in-school practices etc.) and quality assurance. To paraphrase Rosalind Walker, like the curriculum itself, our thinking on these subjects is not – and never will be – ‘done’. Therefore, the journey on which we have embarked is not over but we now have better tools of navigation with which to steer ourselves.
We hope that you enjoy reading our contributions to the big debate in education!
Charlie, James and April
Increasingly, influential voices in education have been calling for consideration to be given to curriculum; what is taught, how it is taught and how it is learned. They often emphasise how the curriculum can be a driver for social justice; sharing the ‘powerful knowledge’ that human endeavour has gathered. These voices have influenced Ofsted, who now signal intent to take a ‘rounded view’ via a new judgement called the Quality of Education. At its heart are the three elements intent, implementation and impact of the curriculum. This is a serious refocussing; with an admission that too much store has been put by what can be learned from data alone… (click here)
It is no coincidence that my think piece follows that of Charlie’s on the curriculum. The curriculum leads teaching and learning. After we have reflected on, and as we are shaping, our curriculum, we need to ask ourselves: “How do we teach it?” In answering this question, our understanding of what effective teaching and learning are may need to change…(click here)
This think piece follows on from those on curriculum and teaching and learning; the three aspects are very much interlinked. We need to take a careful look at how assessment supports both the curriculum and teaching and learning to ensure students learn, develop and further embed their knowledge and skills to achieve success…(click here)
We have worked hard to develop our curriculum. However, of course, curriculum is never ‘done’. So what do we do now? How do we continue this development? How do we ensure that the curriculum is enabling students to remember and do more? How well are we able to assess that?
Previously, we set out these guiding principles…(click here)
Although I am writing from an assessment perspective, it is important to recognise that responsive teaching in itself is impossible to separate in terms of ‘teaching’ and ‘assessment’. One informs the other in a never-ending cycle or loop as we teach, assess, teach, assess to respond to what is going on in our classrooms and in children’s heads. Therefore, I recommend you read this alongside think piece 2: Teaching and Learning…(click here)