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The Importance of Curriculum

Updated: Dec 7, 2021


The Early Career Framework states that teachers must learn that a school’s curriculum enables it to set out its vision for the knowledge, skills and values that its pupils will learn, encompassing the national curriculum within a coherent wider vision for successful learning.


Nick Gibb addressed the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) event 'Taking ownership of your curriculum: a national summit' in 2016 and stated that:

Developing a well-thought-through, challenging school curriculum is central to the running of any school

An effective curriculum provides teachers, students, school leaders and community stakeholders with a measurable plan and structure for delivering a quality education. The curriculum identifies the learning outcomes, standards and core competencies that students must demonstrate before advancing to the next level. Teachers play a key role in developing, implementing, assessing and modifying the curriculum. An evidenced-based curriculum acts as a road map for teachers and students to follow on the path to academic success.


The National Curriculum in England provides pupils with an introduction to the core knowledge that they need to be educated citizens. It aims to:


“embody rigour and high standards and create coherence in what is taught in schools ensure that all children are taught the essential knowledge in the key subject disciplines go beyond that core, to allow teachers greater freedom to use their professionalism and expertise to help all children realise their potential.”

DfE (2013) Reform of the National Curriculum in England: Government response to the consultation, conducted February – April 2013. London: DfE, © Crown Copyright 2013.


In Wales, the purpose of the every school’s curriculum will be to support our children and young people to be:


  • ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives

  • enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work

  • ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world

  • healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society

Curriculum for Wales: overview | GOV.WALES https://gov.wales/curriculum-wales-overview


In Scotland, The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is the national curriculum used from nursery to secondary school. It was implemented in 2010.


It comprises a broad general education up to the end of S3 (third year in secondary) followed by a senior phase of learning from S4 to S6. Emphasis is placed on inter-disciplinary learning, skills development and encouraging personal achievement.


CfE is intended to foster four capacities in all young people:

  • successful learners

  • confident individuals

  • responsible citizens

  • effective contributors

Education Scotland oversee the implementation of the curriculum.


Curriculum intent forms part of the ‘quality of education’ judgement in the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF) 2019. In simple terms, it a school’s educational intent and will be evaluated through what curriculum leadership has been provided by senior, subject and curriculum leaders.


What is Intent, Implementation and Impact?


According to Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework (Ofsted, 2019), the school curriculum is defined according to its intent, implementation and impact.


Intent is “a framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and understanding to be gained at each stage”.

Implementation is a means of “translating that framework over time into a structure and narrative within an institutional context”.

Impact is the means of “evaluating what knowledge and understanding pupils have gained against expectations.


Twinkl explain the 3Is of the curriculum in more detail here. They write that the curriculum is a framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and skills to be gained at each stage (intent).


Intent, as a part of The Three I’s, may discuss the approach you take and agreed ways of working and planning. Implementation, out of The Three I’s, is about the things you do each day in order to assist children’s progression. Following on from that, evaluating what knowledge and skills your pupils have gained against expectations (impact).


Needs and Importance of Curriculum Development


a. Realisation of Educational Objectives: An organisation of education is based on the curriculum. The curriculum development is done in view to realise the objectives of education. Thus the curriculum is the means for achieving the educational objectives.


b. Proper use of Time and Energy: It provides the guidelines to the teachers as well as to students, what a teacher has to teach and what the students to learn?.


c. Acquisition of Knowledge: The curriculum is the mean for the acquiring knowledge. Actually human knowledge is one but is divided in to subject for the convenience and organisation point of view. Thus the curriculum is designed for the different subjects.


d. Determining Structure Of Content: Every subject’s content has its wide structure which is to be taught lower level to the higher level. Thus the main task of curriculum development is determining structure of content for a particular stage teaching. Thus the curriculum of different subjects is designed from primary level to university level.


e. Development of Personality: The curriculum is also important and significant from personality development of the student. The curriculum is designed which helps in development in good qualities in students. It helps in developing physical, social and moral qualities of learners.


f. Preparation of Text Book: The curriculum provides the guide line and bases for preparing text book for the use of students and subject teacher. If the curriculum is changed or codified, the test books are also changed. A good text has wide coverage of curriculum content of subjects.


g. Conducting Examination: Our education is examination centred. The students have forced obtain good mark in the examination. Thus examination paper is prepared as per curriculum of the subject and students also prepare the content for the examination. Thus, curriculum is basis of teaching, learning and testing.


h. Organising Teaching And Learning Situation: The teaching and learning situation are organised in view to the curriculum teaching work is also assigned with help of curriculum.


i. Decision about Instructional Method: The instructional method is selected and used in view of the curricular. The same content is taught form memory to reflective level. It may be teacher centred or learner centred.


j. Development of Knowledge, Skill And Attitude: The nature of curriculum provides the basis for the developing knowledge, skills, attitude and creative ability. It also helps in developing leadership qualities.


What to do as an ECT

When you are an ECT, you will have little to no decision making when it comes to the school's curriculum. You will most likely be directed towards the curriculum overview/intent/map of a department (if secondary) or phase/key stage (if primary). You will most likely (but not always) find that schemes of learning are already set out for you and if you are VERY lucky, you may even already have some available lesson resources. As an ECT, you will need to ensure that you are familiar with your school's curriculum and it's rationale for that curriculum. Read through the school's curriculum documentation including any intent documentation, and curriculum maps. These will set out the overall intention of a school's curriculum and indicate what it is they hope their learners will achieve by learning in that particular school. In the event of an Ofsted inspection where your curriculum area is subject to a deep-dive, you will need to be able to talk about the curriculum intent of your subject/department/phase/key stage with confidence so make sure that you are clear about what this is. Discuss the area with your mentor if you need further clarification.


You may find the following video "Curriculum: The three I’s - what have we learnt from inspections so far. How do we ensure our curriculum meets the needs of the NC framework, our school, community and students?" facilitated by Stuart Lock useful.



Further reading recommendations are indicated with an asterisk.

Bailin, S., Case, R., Coombs, J. R., & Daniels, L. B. (1999) Common misconceptions of critical thinking. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(3), 269-283.

Ball, D. L., Thames, M. H., & Phelps, G. (2008) Content knowledge for teachers: What makes it special? Journal of Teacher Education, 2008 59: 389 DOI: 10.1177/0022487108324554 [Online] Accessible from: https://www.math.ksu.edu/~bennett/onlinehw/qcenter/ballmkt.pdf.

Biesta, G. (2009) Good education in an age of measurement: on the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 21(1).

*Coe, R., Aloisi, C., Higgins, S., & Major, L. E. (2014) What makes great teaching. Review of the underpinning research. Durham University: UK. Available at: http://bit.ly/2OvmvKO

Cowan, N. (2008) What are the differences between long-term, short-term, and working memory? Progress in brain research, 169, 323-338.

Deans for Impact (2015) The Science of Learning [Online] Accessible from: https://deansforimpact.org/resources/the-science-oflearning [retrieved 10 October 2018].

Education Endowment Foundation (2018) Improving Secondary Science Guidance Report. [Online] Accessible from: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/tools/guidance-reports [retrieved 10 October 2018].

Education Endowment Foundation (2018) Preparing for Literacy Guidance Report. [Online] Accessible from:

https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/public/files/Preparing_Literacy_Guidance_2018.pdf

Education Endowment Foundation (2018) Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit: Accessible from: