Oak National Academy

Oak updates

1 August 2023

Collaborating with our geography expert group

Katie Marl

Primary Curriculum Design Lead

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 curricula and how they would be involved as experts. More recently, they discussed threads, curriculum intent and curriculum sequencing, as well as geography specific elements outlined below.

Curriculum intent statement

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

What is a curriculum intent 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 intent statements to articulate our vision to educators in a clear and concise manner.

Our expert’s thoughts on our curriculum intent statement

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

The group found the inclusion of flexibility and accessibility in the curriculum intent statement to be beneficial and felt that schools will be able to take ownership of the sequence and resources provided to make them their own.

Threads

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 geography would help to organise a curriculum successfully in a way that was useful for teachers. They identified that some were broader concepts e.g. place knowledge whilst some were more topic focused e.g. weather and climate. The group agreed that some additional guidance could be offered to teachers to provide clarity and support in understanding how the threads will build overtime. 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, geography subject experts were shown the unit titles, threads and lesson titles.

Discussions contained many positives, with many of our expert group commenting on the logical progression through the units, particularly in certain year groups. It was felt that some year groups in key stage 2 may benefit from a little additional explanation around the rationale for the sequencing of units, which will be detailed further when the unit information is made available to teachers viewing the sequences and individual units.

It was felt that diversity is an integral part of the Oak geography curriculum and should be strongly reflected in the curriculum intent statement rather than just clearly evidenced in the curriculum sequence itself.

Our group were pleased to see a strong emphasis on fieldwork and also that local geography adaptable units are included, something we weren't able to produce in the first resources that were developed for Oak during the pandemic.

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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