Oak updates

14 March 2023

English curriculum partners and subject experts

Chris Fountain

Subject Lead (English)

Chris Fountain is Oak’s English Subject Lead. Before working at Oak National Academy, Chris was a Principal Design Lead in the English team at Ark Curriculum +, as well as an English teacher in North London. Chris completed an MSc in Learning and Teaching at Oxford University, specialising in reading development.

How our English curriculum will be changing

When I joined Oak two years ago, we were busy supporting schools and teachers nationally during the pandemic. Much has changed since then, including the help and expertise that we can deliver to schools. I am proud and excited to start to oversee a new phase in our chapter.

Our focus is on lowering workload and supporting teachers to increase their expertise. Over the coming year and beyond we’ll be creating a new English curriculum and full set of teaching resources. These will all be designed to better support your planning, in-class teaching and help you develop your own curriculum.

We therefore launched a procurement process to find new partners to create our curriculum and opened recruitment for members of an English subject expert group, so that we can utilise and share the very best practice from across the sector.

We’re here for all teachers: representing the diversity of the sector has been crucial to both building Oak and sustaining support of schools nationally from day one. As we continue to grow and evolve, this has remained unchanged. From brilliant schools to subject associations, universities and publishers, the curriculum partners we’re working with to develop new teaching resources across English, science, maths, geography, music and history reflect the range of educational institutions and providers that make the sector such a rich tapestry, filled with contrasting and complementing expertise and knowledge. Not only are we excited to work with our new partners in regard to the variety they will bring to Oak, we are also excited for the continued choice that we will be able to offer teachers regarding teaching resources to select and adapt. We are one of many teaching resource and curriculum suppliers, and I am delighted that we can improve this offer so that UK teachers have an even better choice of foundation materials to build upon in their classroom.

Curriculum partner

I am proud to announce that we will be collaborating with Fox Federation to develop our new primary English curriculum, and Twyford CofE Academies Trust to develop our new secondary English curriculum.

Fox Federation is a small federation of primary schools. They worked with Oak on our original key stage 2 English curriculum and have a wealth of expertise. Fox is the lead school for Initial Teacher Training for the West London Teaching Training Alliance, and key delivery partner to the Central London Teaching School Hub. Emma Madden, the Head of School at Fox, and the federation’s curriculum lead, is chair of the strategic board of the Knowledge Schools Trust English Hub, with four English specialists working in the federation. Under Emma’s leadership, the federation runs an extensive CPD programme that supports schools, locally and nationally.

Twyford Church of England Academies Trust is a multi-academy trust comprising of four high-achieving schools and the Teach West London teaching school hub, one of 87 across the country acting as a local centre of excellence for teacher training and development. Their existing curriculum is built on a firm foundation of the most up to date research into reading and writing, such as Lemov’s ‘Reading Reconsidered’ and Hochman’s ‘The Writing Revolution’. They have a firm commitment that their curriculum should be accessible to all students, and have a Progress 8 score of 0.93+, the highest multi-academy trust score in the country.

Subject experts

Working with our new curriculum partner is just the start of the process. To make sure we can meet the wide ranging needs of schools from across the country, we’ve also recruited subject experts to provide independent feedback.

Our subject experts will help to shape every aspect of our new offer, from reviewing our sequence, to providing feedback on sample teaching resources and working with us to keep improving our curriculum.

They include subject specialists and teachers with a rich wealth of classroom experience, ensuring that our teaching materials remain for teachers and by teachers. They will also bring a range of opinions, impartial expertise and valued objective feedback and challenge.

Our curriculum development process will be transparent and open: sharing our thought-process and trajectory, from the partners we are collaborating with to the thinking behind our curriculum choices.

Our subject experts are:

  • Dr Elaine Allen OBE - St John Vianneys Catholic Primary School/English Hubs Council
  • Neil Almond - STEP Academy Trust
  • Matt Carnaby - Inspiration Trust
  • Amy Coombe - Athena Learning Trust
  • Zoe Enser - Ofsted
  • Bennie Kara - Adhara Education
  • Ann-Marie Linehan - Buxton School
  • Andrew Percival - Stanley Road Primary School
  • Madeleine Roberts - Ark John Keats
  • Laura Rowlands - Woodlands Community College
  • Nick Wallace - Ark Curriculum+
  • Chloe Wardle - Ambition Institute

Our English curriculum principles

Our first set of new lesson planning and teaching resources will be available from autumn 2023, with full curriculum packages by summer 2024.

As a Subject Lead, I will ensure that the new curriculum resources that evolve through collaborative work reflect our English guiding principles, to ensure every English teacher has access to brilliant teaching resources and every pupil has access to high-quality provision. Our guiding principles are a rigorous guide to guarantee that our new curriculum is grown from a strong foundation of core values and key ingredients, ensuring that our curriculum is cohesive and enriching. In primary and secondary English, this will mean that pupils regularly read a range of text types, explore writing for a range of purposes, regularly practise spoken language, explore a broad and diverse set of texts, and study a single, ambitious tier of resources offering a low floor and a high ceiling. Our full English principles are included below:

  • Pupils regularly read a range of text types as a group and independently, have frequent opportunities to develop personal responses to texts, and build their background knowledge, tier 2 vocabulary and fluency to support comprehension.
  • Writing for a range of purposes, expressing creativity and building writing stamina are developed alongside a deep understanding of grammar, sentence construction, disciplinary writing and underlying spelling patterns.
  • Frequent opportunities to develop the components of spoken language are included throughout the curriculum, and each lesson gives pupils multiple opportunities to talk and express their opinion.
  • Text choice represents a diverse range of voices, backgrounds and cultures so the curriculum provides windows and mirrors to all pupils.
  • There is a single tier of resources that is ambitious for all pupils by offering a low floor and high ceiling in each lesson.

One of Oak’s curriculum principles is diversity, and this will be a focus for subject expert groups. In addition, Oak will shortly be launching a process to appoint an organisation who specialises in this field, working across subjects and Oak’s partners to help us deliver breadth and diversity in content, language, texts, media and our teachers.

Our overall curriculum approach

These English-specific principles dovetail with our overall approach to curriculum design, and how we hope teachers can use Oak, as explained by Emma McCrea, our Head of Curriculum Design. You can also find out more about the new partners and subject experts we’re excited to be working with for the other subjects we’re redeveloping first.

Sign up for updates on our new English curriculum

Sign up below to be kept updated on our latest curriculum developments and other helpful content by email. Unsubscribe at any time. Read our privacy policy.

Email sign up