Schools may need to modify their curriculum “substantially” as part of their efforts to help children catch-up following lockdown learning losses.

The Department for Education has today published non-statutory guidance for schools on “teaching a broad and balanced curriculum for education recovery”.

DfE says schools should continue to teach a broad and balance curriculum in all subjects. This includes what pupils learn from wider educational visits and visitors to the school.

However DfE advises they should prioritise teaching missed content that will help pupils make sense of later work.

The guidance adds that schools “may need to modify” their curriculum “substantially” and if necessary update the information they are required to publish on their websites.

‘Interventions … ultimately ease workload’

Under “extra support”, the DfE says in some cases “well-targeted interventions” can help.

They add: “While interventions might suggest an increased workload, time spent on them, making sure that pupils catch up, can be a good investment of effort. This is because it enables more effective whole-class work to take place later and ultimately eases workload.”

Other examples of advise to schools include taking “every opportunity” to “foster pupils’ re-engagement with a wide range of music”.

Tom Middlehurst, ASCL union’s curriculum and inspection specialist, tweeted that while there’s “a lot of good” in the guidance, he has “significant concerns about some of the claims made in this document. In many places, it goes beyond the national curriculum in recommending content, and some of the claims are contested “.

“However my biggest concern is the lack of citations to any evidence on which these claims are based, or even a list of subject experts who were consulted. In a document that asks teachers to be evidence-based, I think that’s poor form.”

Prioritise topics to help pupils ‘re-engage with peers’

The document provides advice for individual subjects.

For relationships, sex and health education, DfE says schools will want to consider “adjusting” the curriculum to prioritise topics that will best support pupils to “re-engage with their peers at school”.

These include mental wellbeing, physical health and fitness respectful relationships and being safe.

For schools prioritising safety content, they should “reflect risks that may have increased over the pandemic, such as online exploitation, abuse and grooming”.