We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water…Or do we?

Perhaps the bigger question is what the baby is still doing in the bathwater? Isn’t a bit cold by now, a little murky perhaps? Maybe baby is tired and restless and no longer wants to be in anymore. Or could it be that the soft delicate skin is now wrinkled up because they have been wet for too long. Is now the real opportunity to rethink bath time completely?

This old adage has long been used in relation to school curriculum development but still I’m not sure what it relates to. What are the things that must be kept at all costs? What don’t you want to throw out and if you did, what would you replace it with? How has your thinking developed over the last few months, as we are forced to respond to unprecedented times.

One thing is for certain. Never has there been a better time for schools to revisit the things they truly value and ask themselves how it could be even better. It has to start with intent. If you are not clear about what you want your pupils to get out of your curriculum, then you will never be able to evaluate its impact. So many headteachers talk about the importance of developing independence in all pupils. Yet, if I’m honest with you, (and why wouldn’t I be?), the most independent pupils I see are often in the early years. Why is that? You can’t blame the curriculum because that is now your domain. We are encouraged to prepare our teachers to talk about knowledge and concept progression in history, geography and all other subjects but does the same apply to other things equally as important? If we really did have successful independent learners who loved learning and knew how to learn, then would we still be worried about some who may have, “fallen behind,” as opposed to celebrating the success of a curriculum where all can achieve irrespective of starting points or home support.

If your curriculum is going to be the best it can be and why would you not want this? Then we have to do three things;

Be really clear about what you mean by the curriculum. Is the curriculum in your school defined as subject areas? Is it to do with wider experiences? What is your definition and just as importantly, is it a shared bought into? With this level of clarity the success measures can be agreed. It’s then a question of honesty. To what extent are these measures being achieved and how do you know?

Determine the strands of Achievement. Where will progress need to be made if the success measures are to be achieved? If we really want a curriculum that prepares pupils for the future then what do you believe are the skills that your curriculum needs to develop? Over the last few months, I have lost count of the number of conversations I have had about the importance of developing things not contained in the National Curriculum, resilience, determination, empathy, metacognition to name but a few. So if these things are important, then what does progress look like and how do you teach them as part of your curriculum?

Develop pedagogy that supports the new thinking.

We can’t solve the problems facing schools today by applying the same thinking that created the problem in the first place. If we want our curriculum to be world class, then we certainly want our teaching to reflect this too. How do we measure that? Who would we compare ourselves to? One thing is for sure, no country in the world has cracked this yet, though many are trying. Technology cannot replace teachers, though it can empower greater learning. If we want great teaching then we need great teachers. Great teachers understand how to respond to change through developing great learning. So what would this look like now? How should you plan and organise environments that promote an understanding of how to learn? Certainly different to what it’s looked like over the last thirty years that’s for sure.

So back to the baby…In my opinion the baby has grown into a young adult now and bathtimes may no longer be appropriate. Perhaps their view of the world has changed and a quick shower is more appropriate. (Gets the job done in a fraction of the time). Perhaps they are able to wash themselves independently now and no longer need checking behind their ears. Perhaps their entire lifestyle is so different that bathtime is an alien concept.

There is a real opportunity to rethink things now. An opportunity to ensure that your curriculum meets the ultimate test…That is the answer to this question;

What skills and knowledge are you equipping your pupils with in your school today, that they will thank you for in their later futures?

Lets start a bathtime conversation.

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