Oak updates

1 August 2023

Collaborating with our English expert group

Chris Fountain

Subject Lead (English)

We were delighted to announce, back in March, the curriculum partners and expert groups that would be collaborating with our subject leads to provide independent feedback and advice so we best meet the needs and diversity of the country’s education sector.

Our expert groups have now met twice, firstly to hear about the curriculum partners and subject leads’ initial plans for their new primary and secondary curricula and how they would be involved as experts. More recently, they discussed threads, curriculum intent and curriculum sequencing, as well as English-specific elements outlined below.

Curriculum intent statement

We sought views on the quality of the curriculum explainer statement.

What is a curriculum explainer statement?

When you look at an Oak curriculum for the first time you will want to understand its intentions and how we reflect these. We have prepared curriculum explainer statements to articulate our vision to educators in a clear and concise manner.

Our expert’s thoughts on our curriculum explainer statement

In the format presented to the English group, our experts thought that perhaps too much was covered in a short statement. We are revisiting these explainer statements with a critical eye and will consider their desired use in our new approach.


We sought views on the threads selected for each subject to ensure they are suitable and meaningful.

What is a thread?

There’s agreement across the sector that one approach to curriculum coherence is to identify groups of units across the curriculum that explicitly build a common body of knowledge. What is not agreed, is a common language to describe these groups. Concepts, big ideas, themes and threads are all used to describe these groups often in relation to a specific subject.

We have decided to use the term threads to represent these links like the visual concept of a thread weaving through the curriculum.

Our experts’ take on threads

We asked our subject experts if they felt the threads initially chosen for English would help to organise a curriculum successfully in a way that was useful for teachers. Whilst the concept of threads was felt to be meaningful, the experts did consider some of the English threads to be too broad e.g. fiction writing and that they may need further detail in order to maintain curriculum coherence. We’ve therefore been revisiting them to consider how we can improve them.

Quality of the curriculum sequence

We sought views on the quality of the sequence of units within the subject curriculum.

Feedback on the curriculum sequence from our experts

At this early stage, English subject experts were shown the unit titles, threads and lesson titles.

Discussions included the teaching of grammar and spelling discretely throughout the primary phase. Whilst many teachers would incorporate these into wider English plans it was felt that Oak can offer a clearer picture of grammar and spelling progression to teachers this way and also so that resources can be more flexible to support schools in a range of contexts.

Positive feedback was received around diversity of text choice and the balance of fiction and non-fiction texts, however naturally there were some differing views on particular text selections. There was some discussion about specific texts, such as the use of Shakespeare in the primary curriculum and ‘Othello’ in year 9. Further work is required on some of these, but it was concluded that Shakespeare can be taught successfully in primary and ‘Othello’ can be an appropriate text for year 9.

We sincerely value the range of opinions and impartial expertise that our expert groups are lending us during this exciting time as we build our new curricula and teaching resources. We will reflect on this vital feedback as we continue to develop our curriculum sequences and teaching resources.

If you have any feedback you wish to share on topics discussed above please do get in touch with us.

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You can view our new primary and secondary plans now. Teaching resources for every lesson and unit in the plans will be rolled out over this school year.

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