What is a Curriculum?
A curriculum sets out what’s to be taught and when. It aims to achieve specific learning outcomes over a set time – often years. It provides a sequence of expected knowledge, skills and characteristics. This could be as broad as preparing children to be happy, effective contributors to a future society or as narrow as training teachers to deliver a short term learning intervention. It could have national or international scope with millions of pupils involved, or be individually tailored, to meet the specific needs of just one.
The ‘what?’ of curriculum design must come from a clear ‘why?’ – a shared understanding of purpose. It must also acknowledge the ‘how?’ – the teachers and their methods that will bring it to life in the classroom.
Curriculum design is a balance between subject knowledge and generic skills. For example, great literature must be appreciated alongside the skills of inference and critique; geographical facts must be used as the raw material for high order thinking; and STEM subjects must be contextualised in terms of environmental challenge and technological growth.
Good curricula are designed with well-paced progression, adequate breadth and depth and with enough inherent flexibility to respond to external changes.
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