Oak National Academy

We want to signpost the best curriculum models. But how?

Oak National Academy is gathering teachers’ views on how best to support them to navigate the busy marketplace of curriculum models

Oak National Academy is gathering teachers’ views on how best to support them to navigate the busy marketplace of curriculum models


11 Mar 2024, 9:00


As a young economics teacher, I struggled to get my pupils to understand what ‘inflation’ is. As much as I tried my best theoretical explanation, it just didn’t cut it. Finally, I had a breakthrough. I borrowed three Tesco baskets, filled them with identical goods and put new, higher prices on the second and third baskets. I had a clear model that showed inflation in action and how we calculate it, and the proverbial penny dropped for my class.

Teachers use models all the time. Whether it’s to aid an explanation or to show a worked answer, models can lay out what success looks like and be more powerful than words alone.

Models don’t only work for pupils. They are powerful professional development tools for teachers too. They take the theory that is the basis for so much training and show how it works in practice.

And, as Peps McCrea powerfully put it in his recent Evidence Snacks on the subject, the ability to see multiple models is crucial because a model is “only one version of what effective looks like”.

When it comes to curriculum, there are good models all over the education sector – in schools and MATs, developed by publishers and educational charities and in subject associations and universities. The problem is how to share them so that more teachers benefit from seeing them.

A part of our approach at Oak National Academy has always been about sharing models, in particular sharing models of curricula. In truth, we discovered the power of this part of our work by chance. After the worst of the pandemic, research revealed teachers were using our curriculum plans to see examples of curricula in different subjects.

Our work continues to do this. We do not create curricula or lesson resources ourselves. Instead, we identify and work with great partners in the education sector and share their work.

We want to hear what the sector thinks will work best

Over the past year, we’ve shared new curriculum models in six subjects, from eight partners. We’ll shortly be adding around a dozen more partners, covering all national curriculum subjects. These partners represent the full diversity of organisations across the education sector: schools to subject associations, universities to publishers, charities to hubs.

However, now we have the first of our partners’ new models, we want to go further.

Today we are setting out some options on how we might signpost to additional great curriculum models from across education, and we want to hear what the sector thinks will work best. The aim is to help teachers explore different models of approaching curriculum design and offer more choice in supporting their work. We hope to share great curricular models from schools, subject associations, commercial providers and more.

Would a directory of every curriculum offer that meets a basic threshold be most useful to teachers, or should there be a quality threshold, sharing a smaller number of models?

We’ve taken a small number of decisions already. Oak’s remit is to signpost to full curriculum sequences, not individual resources or sets of them. Sequences will need to cover a minimum of one key stage and, if in Key Stage 4, be aligned with at least one exam specification.

As this is a new approach, we’ll trial it to make sure we get this right for teachers and curriculum providers. We know there are lots of high-quality options in maths, so we’ll start there as a minimum and may include more subjects in our first wave. We expect to launch the first opportunity for submission at the start of the 2024/25 school year.

But the rest is up for debate and we would like as many teachers, schools and other organisations to tell us what they think. The market engagement will run until 12 April and can be found on our website. We hope you’ll share your views with us. Oak is at its heart a collaboration and we want to know what works best for schools and teachers as we make our plans. 

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