The feedback from last Friday’s curriculum conference has been very positive. Colleagues enjoyed Steve Rollett’s presentation and it stimulated some good ideas and conversations about ways in which Camden Learning might support the thinking and planning about curriculum that is already underway in many schools. After the conference, Christine and I pulled together the notes from each group and report them in this blog. If you feel we have missed any that were important, please let me know. If you were not able to attend and want to add anything, do get in touch.

The need to organise a Camden Learning conference with middle leaders was so warmly endorsed that we should get a date in the diary for this term if possible, but, failing that, sometime in January.

Inevitably, given the new framework, there was quite a focus on the need for subject development. The idea of supporting or revitalising subject support networks and perhaps resourcing them to do more focused work across Camden was widely supported. Some of these networks already provide strong support for subject specific pedagogy. It was suggested that individual networks could broker work with subject associations or invite chief examiners to meetings. Alison Pyle provides an update on secondary subject network meetings in today’s Bulletin.

At the same time, there was concern that too narrow a focus on subjects might divert from the importance of schools seeing their curriculum holistically- as the organisation of all the experiences a child should have at school. it was important to have the confidence to assert the value of a primary pedagogy. The notes from one of the groups warned: Children learn and remember through making connections and by working in depth so the lethal mutation of a very defined subject driven primary curriculum must be avoided.’ More generally, the need for every school to have confidence in developing its own curriculum was stressed as well as being able to articulate that vision and its anticipated impact with clarity.

The STEAM curriculum work was highlighted as a particularly good model for development and we should be sure to capture the learning from its hub work.

This led to discussion of the benefits of identifying what might be described as the distinctive features of a Camden curriculum. These stem from the richness of Camden as a place and the diversity of its communities. We need a clearer way of describing those features.

One of the interesting ideas that emerged was a common closure day for all secondary schools with subject teachers meeting together in different schools. This would take considerable planning but is something we could consider for the 2020/2021 school year. It might well be that some clusters of primary schools would be interested in trialling something similar, perhaps with subjects or phases.

A difficult issue that needed support was progression, particularly across key stages and across primary and secondary schools. It was suggested a focus on transition could be helpful here.

The value of working across London was recognised and Christine reported some initial thinking from London Education Partnerships about an initiative to develop a model of secondary peer review to encourage very focused learning and curriculum development.

Finally, there were suggestions about finding more ways in which ideas could be shared and debate encouraged. Greater use of social media for this purpose (and the Bulletin) was suggested. There was an interesting idea about an educational book club. Christine had already suggested setting up something each term that encourages conversations on key educational issues. We are currently calling this Camden Conversations but ideas for better names are welcome!

Over the next few weeks, we will be talking through ways of turning these ideas into action with heads and curriculum leaders and also with SLIG, with the aim of finalising plans at the November meetings of the primary and secondary heads.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director, Camden Learning

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