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Designing and Managing your Curriculum

23/06/2021 @ 10:00 - 11:00 BST

How many times have you felt like your curriculum is not entirely your own? Tailored to fit with a scheme? Tailored to a certain legacy idea of an assessment system? Still tied into resources you have had for years as you cannot afford new books?

We take a look at the ways in which schools can realistically, and effectively design and manage their curriculum whilst taking back full control. Make your curriculum your own.

Curricula are never fixed in stone and may adapt around your resources, current cohort needs, and specialisms of the school. Making changes meaningful and manageable is the key.

Our discussion will look at how to design a curriculum for your school including all the practical ways to make sure it works for your whole community as well as every individual in it.

If you missed out on the live webinar, find the webinar recording below:

Webinar Transcription:

Melanie: Welcome, everybody, to today’s webinar about designing and managing your curriculum.

My name is Melanie Evans. I’m a former primary teacher, worked across all of the phases from early years through to his stage two in senior leadership positions as well as a class teacher. And at Learning Ladders, my role is all things education. So talking to schools, product development and developing the tools and really receiving that feedback from schools to move the product forward as well as running these webinar sessions. So my perspective today is coming from an experienced practitioner as well as from a Learning Ladders perspective.

So why have we chosen the curriculum at this time of year? Well, it seems that at the moment when we’re talking to our schools, what we’re hearing is that teams are coming together. I remember from my own experience towards the end of term, you’re looking at the curriculum, beginning to start the reviewing process and the development of how we’re going to make changes. Now, we are coming from a implementation point of view, so although there’s lots of webinars out there about curriculum development itself, today we’re going to be focussing on the implementation of the curriculum because we know as former teachers that it’s not always the teachers themselves that are involved in the higher level curriculum developments that occur.

Quite often from senior leadership teams, it can be Phase leader but as a class teacher, not always involved in the actual development changes itself. So what are the challenges in that? So one of the challenges when we have this curriculum development is curriculums are created and printed then sometimes put in folders on the top of a shelf. We can also have them on shared drives. It’s really looking at that visibility of the curriculum. There are challenges around multiple revisions of curriculums, for example, where different teachers across the school are using different versions and revisions of that. Have we got the up to date curriculum? Is everybody on the same page? So when we’re making those developments, it’s really that communication and visibility that is the key and can be a challenge for our schools.

Typically, there is also a lack of development around the changes. So when our schools were making these developments to the curriculum, it’s the class teachers and the other teachers around school who are actually implementing those changes. Are they up to date? Have they had a session to discuss what the changes are, what the pedagogy and approach to teaching those objectives will be, and a shared understanding of what those changes actually mean and how you’re going to measure that impact once we’ve taught it.

There’s a pressure around teacher workloads. Another challenge that we hear quite a lot is you can make curriculum changes, but then that opens up looking for resources to bring that curriculum to life. And we’ve already strained teacher workloads. Those changes can cause extra stress. Having to try and find new resources to bring that to life can be challenging for schools and as well, with schools using systems where there’s no personalisation of the curriculum, for example, the challenges can be when there’s no contextualisation of the curriculum that reflects local needs and wider aims makes it very difficult for the class. Teachers actually implement those new objectives and curriculum when they are struggling to see how they relate to the people in their class. So it’s really looking at those challenges around the implementation and how we approach it within system such as Learning Ladders and how we can overcome some of those challenges.

So at Learning Ladders we’re about finding solutions to engage all of the partners in learning collectively. So it’s a process of continual improvement and involves not just the teachers in school, as I spoke about, with the development of teachers being upskilled when this change is made, but also how parents and teachers and children are involved collectively in those changes and how the curriculum is implemented and brought to life for all of those people and partners.

So we have the child in the centre at Learning Ladders. We need the child to know exactly what they’re working on, what they need to do and what comes next. And then the parents as well, who are very active in the role of improving learning outcomes within primary. They need to understand what their children are learning and be shown exactly how they can help, as well as well as the teachers knowing exactly what every child needs and having those tools to implement that curriculum. So it really is looking at the three perspectives as well as the SLT, as well (I refer to those as teachers today), looking at all those partnerships to bring that curriculum to life when we’re implementing it within school.

It starts with that shared vision and the visibility that I was talking about, about what we want children to achieve by the time they leave school. So that top level detail. Have we had those conversations so that everybody right from early years all the way to year six are working on that shared understanding. And this is really brought to home with the Early Years changes that are taking place in the framework and this real emphasis on creating your own curriculum that reflects the context and needs of the children in your local area. And that really is looking at the top down of what do we want the children to achieve by the time they leave us? And then looking at their shared vision of in year six, we want them to leave with these skills that are appropriate to our context. And that starts from early years. So it’s really important that any system that we’re using gives us the visibility to be able to see the progression of that curriculum and how it starts from the foundation stage all the way through. So that’s one conversation and one joined up system, which is why Learning Ladders you can see your live curriculum.

Any teacher can go in and access that live curriculum, so. I’ve shown here, for example, the multiple subjects that schools may add to their curriculum here, I may go into writing and I’m able to see that progression right from early years. I can see all the objectives up to year six. It’s a shared curriculum is not sitting on a shelf somewhere. We’re all working on the same revised, most up to date curriculum, and it’s not in pockets of shared drives and it’s offering consistency in what we believe impact is going to look like and how we know that we’ve made impact. So really at Learning Ladders talking about those conversations that take place, that wider decision making and consistency as a team of what our shared vision is as a whole school. And that really is brought to life when you have your curriculum in one place so that everybody can access the same documents.

So I talked about opportunity to communicate changes to the teachers, so we need to be able to find a way when we’re making these changes, if it’s the teachers who are implementing this curriculum, how will we upskilling the teachers? How are we informing them about the best practise and pedagogy in the way that we want to implement the curriculum statements that we’ve decided upon? So that’s supporting NQT’s, it could be supply teachers, maybe even teachers that are just new to that year group. How are you using your curriculum in order to upskill those teachers of the developments that have been made in Learning Ladders? One of the ways that we use this and we found very successfully, is to embed URL links within the curriculum. So, for example, if I’m a subject leader and I’ve spent a really long time creating a policy, maybe it’s the maths policy or it could be physical development policy about health and safety for each area of physical development. And I’ve created that policy. It’s taken me lots of time and it’s a very informed document. How are you serving the right exact information that the teachers need for that objective that they’re working on at the time, thinking about rather than having to read through a whole policy when we know that teachers already have extremely busy workloads, is is there a way that we could serve them, that exact part of the policy for that objective? And that’s how we found on Learning Ladders by adding new school resources, teachers can upload those policies to the exact parts. And in the notes they can refer to the parts of the policy that is relevant to that objective. So already we have skilled specialist teachers, Upskill and other teachers on areas of the curriculum. And that’s not something that needs to be said again and again. We don’t need to say that to all 30 staff that come and ask us about that area in our subject, for example, on the physical development subject lead. And I’ve got a health and safety policy for gymnastics, for example. Do I need to say it 30 times and explain to lots of different people or embedding it in one place where year after year it can become a working document where we’re adding these notes and policies and that any teacher, regardless of whether they’re a supply teacher or a new teacher, an experienced teacher, feel that they are being supported and can access that policy, is not on a shared drive somewhere. And we’ve got the exact part that we need. So really saving time overall.

The notes we’re looking at, the pedagogy, perhaps resources, referring to schemes that we use in school, those specific notes that are going to support teachers in implementing and and the pedagogy behind delivering that objective is really easy to add in Learning Ladders. So when the teachers access the curriculum, they can see that there is a note against the objective when it might pop out like this and also have a useful resource that is added to it as well. Thinking about like this example down here, the addition, those bilingual curriculums, dual language curriculums, how can we upskill other staff who do not have the language skills or understanding of that to be able to support the other teachers in the school in delivering that bilingual curriculum? And just like here, you can add other language for statements. You can edit the wordings of statements. You can put notes against that objective that will support other teachers as well, and also parallel curriculums that you may have in the system. So thinking about the other professionals that are involved in your child’s learning. So speech and language therapist, whether you have SENCOs working in schools, being able to create these curriculums for speech and language or children with additional needs, and as the SENCO being able to go in and upload any policies around special educational needs, policies relating to speech and language, and how we’re developing that with children in school. And the notes that are going to support those practitioners. So even in our mainstream schools, we know that there’s varying needs and being able to have professionals who are involved in children’s learning contributing to one document, that’s a really useful way to be able to implement that curriculum that we put in place.

So also we have that feeling of contribution from lots of different people who are involved in implementing that curriculum. So as the maths later I’m able to access the curriculum, make the changes in the creation zone, add my resources and my notes to support for my subject across the school, and then equally, we may have the SENCO accessing the curriculum. So it really moves away from this top level senior leadership team making the changes and then the teachers implementing them. If we can have this curriculum that is built up over time by lots of different professionals and teachers involved with the specialist skills that we have, then we’re going to have a curriculum that is building skills and developing understanding in our teachers, and that’s continuous, it’s not just once at the beginning of a year, in an inset day, for example.

And then thinking about how are we going to bring that curriculum to life. So when changes are made to curriculums, teachers already experience stretched workloads. We now need to be able to bring that to life and find the resources to be able to implement that curriculum and to teach the children and to engage the children in understanding the objective. And that takes time. So Learning Ladders have found a way around that with the Curriculum Lab. If you haven’t heard about Curriculum Lab before, what it is, is it’s a curated search engine that is specifically for education. Now I know as a former teacher, my Sunday evenings were filled with searching for that exact right resource that was of quality, that was specific to the objective that I needed. And I wished I had the Curriculum Lab when I was in that position. So if I talk you through how that could work with a keyword focus. So, for example, I’m looking at animals, including humans, for the science. Year three, it already pulls in from my curriculum. The exact area that I’m looking at. It knows that it’s science I’ve set it that I’m looking for and then I’m offered with our quality partners. So we have partnerships with the BBC Bitesize, Developing Experts, Oak Academy. I’m given the exact right resources for that particular objective. So when I’m in the curriculum and we’re developing this to support teachers in the implementation, why not as the Science Lead or as a class teacher, I can search for a great resource for that objective and then I can add the URL into the curriculum and embed it in there. So that year after year that resource is available for people at the end of the year, we may review that resource and decide actually we’re going to look for another resource that we really like. That one, we’re going to do another objective now and adds more resources than I can flag resources as favourites. It doesn’t download the resource to the computer. It takes you to the website and as a professional, you’re able to then review that resource first and say, actually, yes, this is appropriate. These are the terms that reflectwhat we’re using. That vocabulary is meeting the objective and it’s going to support the children. I’m going to copy the URL and put it in to my curriculum development. And that’s how the Curriculum Lab really takes the time out of searching of those resources and can bring that curriculum to life in a way that everybody can access resources.

Quite often, reflecting my own experiences we have pockets of excellence, of resources where people have built up over time on a shared drive. But trying to make that universally accessible is the difficulty, being able to share that so that everybody can see that resource and support and upskill each other.

So pupils is the next part to look at. We talked about wanting to engage all the partners in learning and one of the partners in the centre of everything we do is the pupils or the students. How are we enabling pupils to be taking ownership and co-ownership of that learning? How would they gain an understanding of what their curriculum is? So we thinking about ways to make children independent. We want children to be resilient learners, particularly as we hear some schools going back into home learning situations and remote learning in this very uncertain time.

We need to prepare pupils to be able to talk about their learning. And one way that we find to support our schools is through our pupil statements. There is a concern that you can create a curriculum in a system if you’re lucky, like Learning Ladders, which is very rare. You can bespoke your curriculum in the ways that we’ve talked about. But how do you pull that back out of a system then, without generating lots of work so that Learning Ladders teachers can select any people they can select any year group objectives? So that’s really useful if you have a child perhaps in year four who’s working on year to year three objectives. So you’re able to select whichever group objective that unique child with a specific learning needs are working on. And it’s going to pull out that curriculum that is bespoke to your school on a really simple pupil statement document like this. What it enables us to do as teachers is to be able to sit with the pupil and to talk about the learning that’s to come to be able to share that curriculum, talk about where we’ve already started that learning. And you can see here with the tick that’s being pulled through from the formative assessment we’ve been adding to the system. And because I’m including multiple year groups, for example, objectives, if we’ve just started year for for example, I could include year three and four statements and say this is where the learning is really improving that transition. This is what we’ve already learnt. And here’s the objectives to come. How can I support you as the teacher to be able to support you in your learning? How can you support yourself to become more independent in the learning?

I’m really opening up those conversations, articulating the learning, because at Learning Ladders we know that the first step of parental engagement takes place in the classroom. So in order for the parents to be able to support their child at home, at the learning, pupils need to be able to articulate their learning and practise that with adults in school. So that would involve these conversations about learning and particular learning objectives they’re going to be working on so that when they go home and the parent says, what have you been learning at school? They’re able to share that and articulate the learning that goes on to have that conversation at home about the learning. So these pupil statements are really useful for that. And similarly, trying to update parents at Parents Evening, for example, being able to pull out the pupils statements, just a click of a button. There’s no limit to how many you can use or how many children you can do it for, how often you do that. These are really useful just to be able to have those conversations and to make sure it’s an informed conversation about the exact learning that that pupil is doing for them. So these pupil statements are a great way to do that. So just thinking about whatever system you’re using, how are you sharing the curriculum with pupils?

Another way that we do this in Learning Ladders, and this has been a very successful way for schools that have chosen to do this, is the option to have booklets with your bespoke curriculum in. So you’ve gone through the process of making curriculum changes. How are you going to bring that to life in an engaging way for pupils? In a way that they’re going to take ownership of that learning and these booklets are a great way to do that. I know children love to take ownership of things like booklets where their learning journey, they’re taking responsibility for being able to say, yes, I’ve met that objective. I’m going to tell the teacher I feel like I actually understand that now. I think I’m ready for the next level of understanding and moving on to the challenge with that objective. So if they can’t see and have visibility around that curriculum and what’s to come, then then unable to take that ownership and journey with the teacher to be able to become independent and resilient learners. So, again, these can be ordered for any of the subjects you have in Learning Ladders that printed that can be colourful and colour coded as the way you see. And then we’ve got the pupils really becoming active in that process of discussing their learning and taking part in that learning journey.

So then we have the parents, engaging all of the partnership between the teachers, we’ve got the pupils and the parents as well. So when we’re implementing that curriculum, how are we enabling parents? So typically at the end of the year, traditionally there’s a parents evening or a report. The parents even can be quite rushed. You get five, 10 minutes at different points throughout the year. And quite often you’re trying to cover the emotional and well-being, social friendships. Learning definitely takes place within that that five to ten minute time. Is it really feasible that we can bring the parents along with us in the journey and have that continual understanding about where that child is, what they’re learning on specifically, and looking at those end of year reports as well? So reporting on objectives that they can or cannot do by the end of the year. The parents know what the child’s been working on. But actually, if we can get that partnership in learning throughout the whole year, the parents are on board with this is what my child’s learning, then we’re going to have all the adults in a child’s life saying the same thing at the same time, in the same way.

So the one way you could do that in systems such as ours is through sharing the learning objectives. So in Learning Ladders, schools are able to create that bespoke curriculum. But when we implement it, as we’re going along with the children and we’re introducing these and these objectives, we are then allowing the parents to be able to see each learning goal as the child is working on them. They’re told which subject that given the year group, which you can turn off and you can choose to share, then it will tell you what the objectives of that child’s working on. And that way, when their child comes home and they want to be involved in the child’s learning, they can say, I can say that you’ve been learning how to use different text types to make reasoned predictions. What have you been predicting about what type of text did you read today? I’m really engaged in that conversation about the learning that’s taking place, which is better than what did you do today? Nothing. Which is a parent and as a teacher, I’ve witnessed more times. So we really do need explicit ways to be able to share each learning goal so that the curriculum is also shared with the parents who need to be involved in that learning. We know that activating parent power works.

So research is consistently telling us that parental engagement is one of the key factors in securing higher student achievement in primary education. And we know that can be the equivalent, adding two or three years to the education when we have the parents engaged and involved in the actual learning. So although it’s very useful parents listening to readers, getting children to submit homework on time, we’re really thinking about the involvement with learning itself when we’re talking about the parental engagement at Learning Ladders, because we’re looking at research, we have an issue. We can share the learning with the parents. But in order for that to have impact, when we’re thinking about implementing that curriculum, we need to think about some of the barriers that parents might face in then being able to do something with that information that you’ve given them. One in four adults having maths skills below the expected age of a nine year old, for example. So as well as upskilling the understanding of teachers with new developments in the curriculum and what objectives mean, the best pedagogy to support and to explain the objective, we have parents not feeling confident enough in their own understanding to understand what that means. We’ve got 18 percent of children in primary education where English is not the first language, and then in our international school that can be even higher. So it’s proven to be as high as ninety five per cent. How we overcoming those language barriers that we have. And then there’s the statistics and the research that Learning Ladders is undertaken where 80 percent of parents not getting the help they need to support their child and they’re looking online to help and they’re getting a wealth of information that may not be specific to that objective. They’re trying to help. It’s burning up the time that they set aside to support their child, because we know that parents have busy schedules themselves. So when they’re setting aside this time, they need to be informed about what the learning is and most importantly, how they can help. So we’re looking at ways that systems can upskill parents on demand at scale and remotely whenever they need that support.

One way to do this is through help articles. So as I showed you earlier, with the learning goals, we’ve shared each learning goal. You’re able to click on articles as a parent. So, for example, if your child’s coming home and the learning goals been shared, that working on split digraphs as a as a parent who’s not involved in an education, you have no concept of what a split digraph is. You can ask your child what a split digraph is, but actually, isn’t it better if the parent understands what the split digraph means, how it’s taught in school, why it’s important and typical tasks that they can support their child with tips and activities to be able to allow that parent to be involved with the learning and to implement that curriculum at home. And as I say, more so with the children going back into remote learning. That was one of the findings. The parents didn’t have the knowledge and the understanding of some of the key vocabulary about how to break down the development at the early stages and later stages. As we saw with many parents not understanding some of the maths concepts up to a nine year old level. So upskilling those parents is going to be the key to generating that learning outcomes that we’re looking for.

And we talked about one of the barriers being the language. So with all our schools, you’re able to translate those articles into over 100 hundred languages. And that enables the parents to consume the support in the language that they need it at the time that they need it. And it doesn’t matter if dad or mum or whoever the carers are at home speak different languages that can be translated so that each parent is consuming that information when removing those barriers to learning. And that goes for the whole of parental engagement system that we have all Ladders at Home the entire site. So there’s learning goals can be translated as well, so that we’re making sure that all parents are activated and involved in that learning, as well as our schools that are prewritten by qualified teachers that we have in the system. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could support your parents with that specific bespoke curriculum goals that you work on as a school? So what I mean by this is if you’re a school that perhaps uses a specific resource that perhaps Numicon, and that’s something that you use throughout key stage one to develop the mathematical mathematical concepts, why not create your own articles? And we don’t need to do that year after year with a system like Learning Ladders, for example, it’s looking at ways to save teachers time, looking at more efficient processes, create the article once this is what new action is. This is how the child in year one or from Reception will be using that Numicon. We can use it for number bonds to 10, subtraction and you can write articles that support the way that your specific school are implementing that curriculum, the resources that you use, perhaps the way that you’ve chosen to do your phonics programme, for example. So if you’re going to use jolly phonics and you’ve embedded that curriculum into your bespoke curriuclum, why not create articles that support the parents at home to understand what jolly phonics is, what the sounds sound like, embed some of the links to helpful resources for them to be able to access to the sounds to see how it’s being taught in school. And then you can share that year after year. So thinking about ways to automate and to be able to efficiently upskill parents in a system that builds over time that continuous improvement cycle of creating the curriculum, making changes and then backing it up with support for the parents that they are informed. And they also understand how to deliver those learning objectives with their children at home to support that learning.

Once we’ve made those curriculum changes and we’re thinking about implementing them, we’re on the other end of that, the end of the year right now where we’re thinking about that, reviewing the impact of what we’ve been doing over the last year. And John Hattie talks a lot about a shared understanding of impact and and what that impact looks like at a school. So, for example, looking at reports in systems, we have a Gap Analysis report that teachers can look at. This is a really great way as a class teacher to do that. What’s our shared understanding of what impact looks like in this subject? Is it greater depth in specific areas based on the local needs and context that we’re in? Are we looking for greater depth in certain areas? We can identify patterns. So, for example, looking at this Gap Analysis, I can say we’ve got lots of children working at the first milestone within the comprehension aspects, so participating in discussions about books. So perhaps if I’m looking at those patterns and I’m reviewing that curriculum, if at the end of the year I’ve got lots of children only working on the introduction and beginning stages of that, how is that impacted our children that we have in our school? What do we know about the children that start school? Do they come with wide levels of language, do parents read and typically have time to read with children? Do we know that that’s an area that we need to improve on? What can we do in our curriculum to make changes so that we know that next year we’re going to change the way that that objective is approached? Perhaps as a resourcing, we can do some CPD and get some training in. But equally as well, looking for those patterns and misconceptions, we can also look at what is going well. It’s really important as well. And this is something else that John Hattie really touches on is about considering what’s working and making sure we’re not changing that. So if we’ve got lots of children with a three, so that’s greater depth of understanding in a particular area, making sure that we’re not making changes to things that are going well and equally looking at how can we replicate that in other areas of the curriculum. Why is that going really well, that aspect of what can we replicate in other areas of the curriculum where we’re not seeing that greater depth level of understanding? Is it the resources, is it the way the pedagogy we used to deliver that particular objective? So it really creates a springboard for conversations when you can see your data over time and this kind of data.

If we’re not recording this granular level of formative assessment as we go along, although we have it in our heads, it’s so useful for this review process, because if teachers are leaving school, for example, and that rich data is going with them, we have teachers sometimes, for whatever reason, have an absences from the school, unable to share that understanding of what learning has come before. And when we recording the data like this and we’re taking the formative assessment that we already know as teachers and simply recording on a system is giving us back that ability to be able to review the impact that we’re having with our curriculums. And there’s a few other reports I’m going to talk through. We’re really scenario based at Learning Ladders. So it’s going to take a scenario approach of different types of roles within school and how we can review the impact of the curriculum at the end of the year.

It could be doing so as a subject lead. For example, on a subject leader, for example, my subject may be maths and I have half a day out of classroom for my subject at a time. It’s coming to the end of the year. I have options. I could go and speak to the 15 different teachers across all the different year groups and classes throughout school, and we can talk about the successes and what’s gone well, areas of development where I could look at. The formative data that the teachers have already been putting on the system is a very time efficient way to be able to get an overview of what’s been happening in my subject across all the different year groups that we have in the system and in the school. So at the top here, this is a typical report you can have. So for attainment, I’d be looking at different year groups and actually saying, in year seven at the beginning of the year, these are the different half terms, each of the bars on here. We had lots of children working at expected in year seven. But actually as the year went on and we were teaching within that subject, we can say that by the end of the year we had more children and the percentage working significantly below. What is it about the curriculum and the way that we delivered those objectives that caused the attainment to drop by the end of the summer? Is that we need to look at our curriculum and when we’re introducing particular objectives or the the skills needed to be able to achieve those harder end of year objectives. I can look at progress equally as well. I could change this to progress and I could look for particular year groups where the progress was really strong and then I can ask them about their successes. Perhaps we can replicate that in team meetings with some of the year groups where the progress wasn’t so good in my subjects. Or perhaps I can look for year groups that need particular support, for example, in the progress. So we will make some really great progress at the end of the year. But what was happening in the autumn transition part, we can’t see the progress from autumn one to autumn to how can I support you in year four, for example, in being able to make sure right from autumn one we are in that transition period, we are able to continue children’s progress at that level, we would expect.

Is it training? Do I need to book CPD? I have my budgets and my resourcing that I can look at as well. And one really great way to look at this is to break down per half term each of the aspects within my subject I have. So as a subject leader, I’m really getting that rich information. I need to be able to make my planning for the next year within maths, for example, effective so I can look at each year group with an addition. For example, now year five, we’ve got lots of children working significantly below with in addition. We’ve got more children in year one, with addition working where we would expect them to be. Is it that year five need to look at their curriculum objectives in the way that that is set up? Is it something that we can replicate from year one in the year five? Is it resources, all the concepts becoming too abstract in year five? And actually we can look to see how practical resources can support those children. And is it that we’ve got new teachers, for example? It could be a level of understanding that we need to look at.

So really unpicking that data within each aspect of your subject enables that subject lead to be able to plan for the year to come. It would also tell me if I was looking at this report and I could see a high volume of children not meeting the expected level for Addition for example, I’m going to go back to the curriculum design process, look at the object objectives for year five and I’m going to add notes as a subjects leader who has got specific knowledge. Maybe I’m going to put the link to the Addition policy, the calculation policy and that exact part so that year five can view how addition should be taught in year five. They can also look at then they can go back a year and have a look in year four. Where are the children coming from? How were they taught last year so that we can prepare better for children’s prior learning and where they’re coming from? We can look at that Gap Analysis as well and actually look for gaps in year four. If I’m going to inherit the fifth class, why not look at the Gap Analysis for addition. How did the children achieve against those objectives last year? And that prior learning is going to support me in next year. So as a subject later, it’s really directing these different groups to supporting and looking and reviewing the impact of the curriculum that’s in place for their year so that we’re not replicating mistakes year after year where we’re not quite getting the results we’re expecting. But we’re also replicating great practise where we can see lots of children are working at above expected levels. Let’s keep that up. Let’s get more children working expected towards greater depth and build on that success that we’re having in that particular area. So that’s how reports can support subject leaders in reviewing the impact of the curriculum.

We’ve also got Phase leader reports as well. And so it can be really difficult. And as a Phase leader myself in my experiences I remember trying to have that overview of the subjects. So we look at the core maths, reading, writing, being able to collate all that information and easy to consume way without again having to spend lots of time digging into each year group of in my phase to find out what’s happening. Why not look at the data that’s in the system. So what the Phase leader report enables you to do is to select the subjects you’d like to see. So we have selected maths, reading, writing and combined here. But it could be that you’re looking at different subjects for your phase and it enables me to see the children working significantly below in the areas where we’ve got lots of children working at greater depth. So in reading we can see that we’re getting there. I’d like to see more children working at greater depth. So how can we look at moving some of those children working expected next year and provide that challenge and support as well so that we’ve got more children moving towards that greater depth of level experience? And it might pick out a particular subject. And actually, I can say that maths, we’ve got too many children working significantly below. Maybe I need the maths subject leader to come to my Phase leader meeting leader team meeting and we can talk about that. We can upskill teachers so that we have more understanding. We can review those resources that we’re using and the pedagogy that we’re using. So it really is giving me that top level view of everything that’s happening within my phase.

And another really important aspect to being the Phase leader is to be able to drill down into looking at specific groups to make sure that every single child is having their needs met by the curriculum that we have in place. So whatever the customer attributes are in the system, it may be boys, girls, SEN, it will show you each of the subjects that you’ve included in the reports in your phase. These are the children that have English as an additional language. And actually this is the percentage when I hover over it that are working significantly below. What are you going to do as a Phase leader so that next year we’re looking at the curriculum in the way we’re delivering and implementing that curriculum to be able to support more children to work towards the expected level? Is it resourcing? Is it training? What do I need to do as a Phase leader to ensure that those children’s needs are being met and. Open up conversations with your team within your team based team meetings. Then an aspect break down as well, so you can see then within the different year groups for each year that’s in your phase, able to then look at it at an aspect level too.

So for Senior leaders looking at a particular subject, we’re going to look over time. We’re adding to a system like Learning Ladders. It’s a continual process of improvement over years. So we’ve got our schools using the system from when children are in early years all the way through these children and now in year five or six. So if they’re in year six now for the last few years, how have children, when they’re in year six, achieved against the maths curriculum that we have in place? So the last three years cohort’s. We can see actually each year of year five, we’ve got children not making the expected progress within addition for example. So are we going to just continually see that same pattern or within our comprehension? For example, children are not meeting the expected level of comprehension, and that’s happened for the last three years cohorts of year six. Is it that we need to look at how we’re approaching comprehension as a year group? What can we do as to upskill the training for the teachers? Perhaps that’s the area that needs development, perhaps, is that we don’t have the right resources. Or perhaps we need to upskill teachers with the right policies and understanding about how we’re going to deliver those objectives. Or maybe we need to look at the curriculum altogether and look at those objective statements. Are they supporting children’s learning in the context of the children we have in school? So being able to look at year over time and see the last three years cohort’s, you’re really starting to see the impact over time and the patterns that’s occurring. So if for the last three years, year three children are not learning the times tables that we would expect and we’re not seeing that expected attainment will progress, what are we going to do to change the curriculum so that this year we don’t repeat that again? And equally looking at the things that go well as well. As I say, we don’t want to be changing everything. We want to look at areas for improvement, but also areas of successes and make sure that we’re continuing that success as well. If the last three years have done really well in a specific area, for example, how we replicating and continuing that into the next year. So having that top level view at what’s going on over time is why it’s really useful to be able to use systems that give you that information and that build continually over time.

And then looking at summative assessments as well, how are you looking at the curriculum and measuring the impact? You can look at the formative assessment like I’ve shown you in those reports, but you can also look at summative assessments as well. What’s that telling you? So those of you who’ve been following Learning Ladders will see the exciting development that was created alongside the partnerships we have with our existing schools. They told us we’d love to see our GL data on a dashboard. Not only do we want to see GL data, we’d love to be able to compare it to the formative assessment that we had in your system. So that’s where Matt our CEO and former teacher as well, worked alongside those schools to be able to create a dashboard like this for GL. That’s just one specific brand of assessments that people use type of assessments and our international schools. It could be that you can have other assessments in the system. So whether it’s SATs results or other summative assessments that you use when they have standardised scores, you can you can put the summative assessment in.

This is the GL one, the dashboard. Looking at the CAT4 results, we can also see the progress test and pass surveys, if that’s what you do in your school. And it’s a really interesting exercise to also review the summative assessment. And actually, if we can see in the formative assessment that we’ve got lots of children working significantly below in the maths, but also the survey results are showing we have low confidence. Is it just the academic side of the curriculum that we need to think about, or is it the implementation of that curriculum and the ways that we are looking at wellbeing and supporting those kind of interventions as well that will unlock the academic progress that we’re looking for. So this will enable us to unpick the summative assessment, how our children are doing in their progress tests, the. Is it in line with the formative assessment that we were expecting? If it’s not, why not? Can we open up this conversation at school? What can we do next year? Is it a curriculum change? Is it resourcing? Is it something else that we need to consider as well? So we’re looking at dashboards and looking at your summative assessment is another way to be able to measure the impact of how you’ve implemented that curriculum over that year.

So in summary, it really needs to be a continual process when you’re making curriculum changes, we don’t want that curriculum to be printed on a shelf or put in a shared drive where people can’t access it. We’re really looking to see that it’s built upon time after time and that actually the implementation is involving the teachers, the students and the parents. We need teachers to know exactly what the children are going to learn, what the impact looks like when children have achieved what we set out for them to learn.

We need the students being co-owners of their learning so that they know what learnings to come and that they can become independent learners, whether that be in the classroom or in these circumstances, whether doing home learning and the parents as well. We need the parents to have the understanding of that curriculum. They need to understand not only what a child is working on, but how they’re going to support their child at home. And by doing that, we need to upskill that understanding, just like the upskill and teachers understanding with notes and resources in the curriculum, but also upskilling the parents so that they can be involved because the impact is huge on outcomes within primary education.

Realistic teacher workloads throughout all of this process, everything we do at Learning Ladders and it’s worth considering your systems as well, that making curriculum changes can have pressures on teacher workloads that are already at the beginning of a year having to consider the social and emotional well-being of the new children coming to their class. There are new parents to get to know, new classrooms, names of thirty children. But we also have some curriculum changes that we’re supposed to be implementing. So it means that teachers need to be updated in a realistic way. Can they access the curriculum in one place, the up to date curriculum? Can they see all of the objectives of the prior learning, the learning that’s to come so that they can access the exact part of policies exactly when they need it? The objective, can they find resources, a click of a button to save there some days of trawling through the Internet to find these resources to bring the learning to life? How can they engage parents without having to talk to 30 parents at the door of what’s my child learning and how can I support them if this is there a way to automate some of those challenges that the teachers are facing when we’re trying to implement that curriculum and being realistic about those? And then also looking at the impact on students learning once we’ve made these changes, what processes do we have in place to be able to really measure that impact and review continually how that is affecting the children’s learning in our school?

And that’s really what I’ve included this cycle that we have at Learning Ladders because we have a school improvement approach throughout the year, right from Autumn one to summer the the curriculum development should be feeding through. We’ve got curriculum at the top measured with an assessment policy that’s bespoke to schools. And then we’re supporting teachers, senior leaders, Phase leader subject leaders through the reporting that we have to and support the parents and then feed back into that curriculum as well. And it’s that cycle of improvement. And when schools do this, our research shows that they typically are seeing 11 percent increase in outcomes over two years. So it’s well worth looking at the systems that you’re using and considering whether or not you’re seeing the impact of that improvement process.

Now, it’s as a lot of information today that I’ve told you and sometimes sharing it from another teacher who’s actually using systems like ours can be useful. So if you’re interested in finding out a little bit more, we have EdTech impact. It’s kind of like a trip advisor for education. The schools that are using this school improvement, where they’re implementing their curriculum in this way are leading reviews on that about how they found the process of creating this bespoke curriculum with the notes and the resources, how they’ve seen the impact over time of taking part in this school improvement approach. So if you wanted to check out what the other schools are saying, I think that’s a great place to start.

And then if you have specific questions, Stella is in office at StellaJ@learningladders.info, and we also have the Hello@learningladders.info. If you’d like to put any questions in now, I’ll just hang around for a few minutes and answer those. And if not, thank you so much for joining us. I hope that has been useful.



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Learning Ladders