Opinion

How we’ve centralised curriculum design to improve teaching

Reducing workload and improving teaching are priorities for our trust – but we must achieve these in balance with teachers’ classroom autonomy in mind, explains Tim Mills

Reducing workload and improving teaching are priorities for our trust – but we must achieve these in balance with teachers’ classroom autonomy in mind, explains Tim Mills

31 May 2024, 17:00

The challenges with teacher recruitment and retention continue to plague schools and trusts across the country.

Low job satisfaction due to high workload is driving teachers out of schools and despite recent efforts from the government, teachers and school leaders are now working even longer hours – from 57.5 hours a week in 2022 to 58.2 hours in 2023.

This becomes a vicious cycle as more teachers leave the profession which stretches school resources even further and means the remaining teachers’ workload increases if they are unable to reappoint.

Moreover, the increasing administrative pressures put on teachers leave them spending less time doing what they enjoy: classroom teaching.

The benefit of a multi-academy trust (MAT) structure is that we can centralise many of our processes, providing schools with the tools they need to deliver the very best education while alleviating some of the workload pressures.

At STEP Academy Trust, we have streamlined our curriculum design to support teachers in effective delivery and reduce duplication of work.

We have created and invested significantly in a central curriculum team, who have formed a network that supports every school in our trust in its provision and the core principles that guide the curriculum.

Subject Symposia

Our starting point was creating our curriculum team that would integrate themselves within each school. Alongside the headteacher, we appointed a teaching and learning associate (TLA) at every school who acts as the conduit between the central team and the school.

Once we had our team, we arranged to have our ‘STEP Subject Symposia’. These are day-long conferences for each subject, where we define our guiding principles and ensure our approach to delivering the curricula adhere to these principles.

We then created curriculum documents that were informed by the agreed principles and used by the teaching and learning associates.

Each school’s TLA now has weekly meetings with subject leads to convey the developments in the curriculum design and ensure each school is using the approach set out in the curriculum documents.

Additionally, each subject has a trust network, made up of all subject leads across the schools. These networks regularly convene with the TLAs and map out developments, which can then be fed back to classroom teachers in each school.

This enables far greater working across the trust and reduces duplication of work. Importantly, this system allows teachers to share planning, because they are guided by the same curriculum principles, which subsequently reduces their workload.

So far, we have successfully rolled this out with science, music and foreign languages, and we are working towards implementing the system across all subjects.

In the classroom

Each curriculum document and our guiding principles have formed the trust’s framework. This framework then informs the creation of the syllabus and lesson plans established by our teachers.

The trust framework crucially provides a shared understanding of how pupils should be learning and supports our teachers to build effective and well-designed schematic constellations.

This ultimately helps our pupils better understand and link knowledge across different subjects.

We want our teachers to focus on creating a lesson that is guided by our curriculum principles and ensures the highest quality provision is delivered.

The trust framework still gives teachers the autonomy to focus on the lesson plans, delivery and the context of the children in their classrooms, while reducing their workload.

By allowing our teachers more time to focus on crafting and delivering lessons, we see fantastic outcomes. Every one of our 20 schools is now rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ and we see the children we teach go on to have very bright futures.

We know that teachers are leaving the profession because they are overworked and increasingly have tasks that are taking their energy away from the classroom. That is why we are creating a system that enables teachers to focus on what matters to them most, teaching.

Latest education roles from

Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA)

Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA)

Platanos College

Teacher of Boys’ PE

Teacher of Boys’ PE

Platanos College

Head of Girls’ PE

Head of Girls’ PE

Platanos College

Art Teacher

Art Teacher

Platanos College

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Ark Greenwich Free School

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *