Building a curriculum workshop
I have enjoyed delivering this session to PGCE and NQT teachers as well as more experienced colleagues who want to gain further insight into the balancing act of creating and costing a curriculum. It is a simplified process but begins to provide colleagues with an understanding of the variables that require consideration in order to create a curriculum that can be balanced financially and timetabled successfully.
This CPD session is designed to get colleagues talking about pressures on creating a whole school curriculum and timetable. The really interesting debate comes when colleagues try to agree on the pressures of the ‘curriculum cake’ (the number of lessons for each subject) against class sizes and the allocation or load for each teacher. Then add in to this mix that they need to achieve everything they want with a limited budget.
We begin the session talking about the importance of curriculum and how it forms the backbone of the school. Here is an example of our curriculum statement that describes the ‘why’:
“The curriculum we offer forms the framework on which everything else in the academy is built. As such it needs to be carefully planned in order to accommodate the needs of all students but most importantly ensure rapid and sustained progress throughout the 5 – 7 years of learning at BBA. The curriculum should build on the successful practice of primary schools and utilise these practices in order to maintain progress from Key stage 2 to 3. The curriculum focuses on quality of grades rather than quantity or early entry, this is to ensure that every student has grades that reflect their best possible outcome while offering the chance for the most able to progress more rapidly or take on more challenging learning and accreditations. Students should complete their studies with the opportunity to progress on to the best universities, further education or apprenticeships; it equips them with the qualifications and skills to enter their chosen career path that improves their life chances.”
We then go on to look at the mechanics of planning a curriculum and the variables under our control:
- Class size
- Number of lessons for each subject
- Lesson allocation per staff member
Using the attached PowerPoint I talk colleagues through how the spreadsheet works (also attached) and the steps they need to go through to build a key stage 3 curriculum.
These steps are as follows:
- Decide on the class sizes you will have in each year group, enter a number in each of the yellow cells by each year group.
- Decide how many lessons each subject can have, enter a number in each cell for each subject and year group.
- Decide how many lessons each member of staff will have to teach per week, enter a number of lessons by each subject (maximum of 30 lessons).
- You will now see that you have a grand total for the cost of your KS3 curriculum
I then set a series of challenges:
- Your curriculum must cost you less than £800,000.
- Your English team are very experienced but very expensive. You also have a cohort of students with very low literacy levels who need extra English time.
- PE have a mandatory 2 hours per week at KS3.
- Your science rooms only have capacity for 25 students per class.
I usually finish by bringing colleagues back to the original curriculum statement, asking them if the curriculum they have built actually supports their beliefs and ethos around a student’s diet of lessons.
I hope you enjoy using this resource and the debates that it sparks.
Costing a Curriculum Session – Excel Spreadsheet
Curriculum Planning – Powerpoint