Senior leaders at St. Werburghs in Bristol were concerned that the workload and lack of clarity in their curriculum was making it unmanageable to staff. We interviewed teachers and administrators, as well as parents and students in order to understand where progress could be made.
We found that there were some great ideas, but they were all competing with one another and preventing any of them from being as effective as they could be. Teachers noted that their current curriculum documentation was confusing in its mapping to the National Curriculum. The planning required to link work to national goals was far too time consuming for something that should be a simple part of the process. Teachers knew, and lamented, that this was taking away from time for those "wow" moments that really light up a class.
After sifting through the goals and challenges, we set about clearing the fog. We created a one page for each term for each year group. Within this we picked out the skills and knowledge that needed to be covered and laid them out in a clear and smooth pattern that allowed everything to be covered with minimal stress.
The next steps is an examination of the planning process, to ensure that the newfound clarity is maintained. We'll be looking at subject specific knowledge, whole school initiatives that tie everything together, parental involvement and local learning opportunities that can supplement classroom work on a budget.
It was important to us and to the school that all of this work involved only existing curriculum material and learning tools. While the need for change was clear, anything too dramatic would have potentially made the situation worse. We have simply helped staff and leaders to step back and get a clearer of picture of where they are, which will help them see where further changes can be made.