It is very easy to keep wearing the same old suit, day in and day out because it still fits (sort of!) and feels comfortable but is it really allowing you to feel your best, work your hardest or make you feel the most confident you can be? Or do you keep putting it off because it’s easier than shopping around to find something more suitable?
Curriculum can feel like this too. It’s often easier to keep teaching the same old thing because it still meets the requirements of the National Curriculum and you can use the same planning you’ve had for years because you know it inside out and its comfortable…for you. But is the curriculum you’re teaching comfortable for the children in your class now? Do they feel confident, smart and ready to be hardworking or are they being forced to wear a suit that used to fit someone else but drowns them or feels way too tight?
Adapting and tailoring a curriculum to meet the needs of your current children does not need Saville Row-level skills, it can be as simple as considering a few key ideas to ensure that your curriculum fits your children the best right now.
1. Consider your Stakeholders
If you’re wanting a complete curriculum overhaul, it is always useful to ask for the views of all the people who are invested in the teaching and learning in your school before your start planning. Talk to the children about what they enjoy, speak with staff, governors and parents about what they want and how the curriculum should meet the needs of the children now. This could be done every few years because the needs of your children change.
2. Is it Overly Academic?
One of the recent issues teachers have noted is that many curriculums are overly academic with heavy emphasis on writing. If your children are not strong writers or if you’re in a specialist setting where onerous academics are detrimental to progression, then have you considered other ways in which learning can take place? A simple way to go about this is to think about experiential learning opportunities such as learning through practical tasks such as drama or music, or letting the children talk about their learning and recording it in different ways. Allowing your children to share what they know in a variety of ways will not only keep them engaged but it ensures that everyone can take part in and feel part of the learning journey.
3. New Year, New Children
Each new cohort brings a new set of needs, and what you did with your class last year may not necessarily suit the children you teach this year. However, that does not mean that you need to completely ditch everything you did previously. Before starting to plan your first half term’s learning, think about the children who will be coming into your class. If you’ve been at the school for a while, you may know what many of their needs are already. If you’re new, have you had a balanced and honest conversation with their previous class teacher? Does your curriculum allow for tweaks and changes to suit the needs of your class? By taking time to think about the teaching you’re planning versus the children you’re teaching, then you’re starting to tailor your own curriculum.
There are obviously lots of other things you can do to help to tailor your curriculum from classroom level to full school overhauls. For further advice and ideas, click the link below and take a look at how Carolyn Duncan, Head at Orrets Meadow Special School, adapted a mainstream curriculum to suit the needs of her children. Whilst Orrets Meadow is a special school, some of her hints and tips are still very relevant to schools of all shapes and sizes.