Does ‘Learning Means the World’ plan for the development of substantive and disciplinary knowledge?

Highly Relevant Curriculum

‘Learning Means the World’ is a fully integrated curriculum that plans for the development of substantive and disciplinary knowledge.

An integrated curriculum is described as one that connects different areas of study. By cutting across subject boundaries and emphasising unifying concepts, integration focuses on connected knowledge and skills, allowing pupils to engage in relevant, meaningful learning that can be connected to real life.

This does not mean, however, that individual subject disciplines aren’t taught.

Far from it!

Pupils must have substantive and disciplinary knowledge embedded in the first place, in order to make meaningful, authentic connections.

A multi-layered curriculum

Described by one of our partner headteachers as a truly “intriguing curriculum”, ‘Learning Means the World’ is constructed upon a multi-layered, coherent narrative. You may be wondering, then, what lies beneath the surface? Is it just a vehicle for highlighting global perspectives or promoting societal causes? Not at all. It is a well- crafted, carefully thought-out curriculum model, consisting of individual subject schema through which concepts are woven together to give a high quality, multi-disciplinary approach to learning.

At the top level are four core areas – Communication, Conflict, Culture and Conservation. There are clear end goals for these four areas, which are referred to in the curriculum as World Issues.

These have led to the formulation of two ‘big ideas’ which have guided the selection of curriculum content for ‘Learning Means the World’. This is then married to National Curriculum requirements, to ensure full coverage of the Programmes of Study.

What are the ‘big ideas’ of ‘Learning Means the World?

In line with the centrally prescribed National Curriculum aims, the big ideas ensure pupils gain a real appreciation of human creativity and achievement.

They are:

Leaders of societal change
National leaders, Empires and Dynasties

Inventions and Developments
Disciplinary Discoveries

The ‘big ideas’, as well as the 4Cs – Communication, Conflict, Culture and Conservation – provide the framework for learning to grow and develop.

These strong threads help to develop the curriculum sequence diagonally, as well as horizontally and vertically.

Substantive Knowledge

There is clear domain specific, factual content (substantive knowledge) prescribed for the subjects, organised into a sequential flow within the thematic units. The subject fields are clearly marked, so there is no confusion around which domain(s) the pupils are working in. Subject specific vocabulary is also detailed in a progression across the phases. This learning is then interlinked, as appropriate, within the thematic units.

Disciplinary Knowledge

Disciplinary knowledge is anchored in the knowledge building system for each subject e.g. history – cause and consequence. Pupils learn that studying history involves learning about perspectives and interpretations, whereas learning about science focuses on aspects such as methods of investigation.

Having examined the role of subjects discretely, we move on to the inter- disciplinary approach is integral to the model, enabling greater curriculum depth.

How does ‘Learning Means the World’ allow pupils to successfully ‘learn the curriculum’?

The inter-connected network of skills and knowledge, which help pupils develop their subject specific thinking, enables them to identify relationships between disciplines and make connections with increasing fluency in different and more complex situations.

Using the skills ladder in tandem with the knowledge building system, pupils are able to construct a clear subject narrative over time, with key foundational concepts and vocabulary further developed at every stage in the Learning Pathways. This leads to curriculum depth and lasting learning.

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