Curriculum planning

24 August 2020

Our specialist curriculum

Alistair Crawford

Specialist Lead

We’re excited to share that our specialist curriculum lessons are now live. Our amazing team of teachers and leaders from across the country worked hard throughout the summer break to produce 600 lessons which you can now use in our Teacher Hub and Classroom.

All of us at Oak National Academy are pleased that most students have been able to return to their schools this year. But we know the uncertainty and challenges that teachers and pupils are facing. Self isolation periods, groups and bubbles, and local lockdowns are all likely to impact attendance across the autumn term and beyond.

Learning from our first term

Our initial offer last April was built at speed and we are incredibly proud that approaching 100,000 specialist lessons were accessed.

It has been brilliant to hear how families and schools have engaged with our offer and we’ve valued your feedback. This has shaped some key changes to our 2020-21 curriculum offer:

  • Curriculum map – Families and teachers shared how being able to see the ‘big picture’ would be valuable to help them plan and personalise the Oak materials. So we’ve now published our plans for the whole year.
  • Lessons for the year - We’ve released 600 lessons, covering the whole year. We hope this will help schools to align the Oak materials to their own curriculum and allow families to ‘pick and mix’ high interest lessons that really motivate their child.
  • Family focused - Whilst our initial lessons were aimed at the child themselves, we heard it was usually a parent who would support, translate and adapt the activity. And we heard heartwarming stories of siblings' support too. This year’s lessons therefore now include a wider range of resources for families to support learning (activity cards, downloadable etc), which can be used as a standalone material or to compliment the video lesson.
  • Offline working - We also heard the challenge of poor internet connection and too few devices. For 2020/21, wherever copyright allows, our resources are fully downloadable, allowing them to be personalised to meet the needs of individual children and to be printed for use in school or at home.

Inclusion, accessibility and aspiration

A key focus has been making sure there are a variety of access points for learners at different stages. Our lessons are structured around three stages; Early Development, Building Understanding and Applying Learning. And we’ve now introduced new masterclass sessions in Creative Arts and Physical Development.

We’ve also used Makaton, widget symbols and resources that can be found in any home to make our lessons fully accessible to all learners. Content has been selected to motivate and inspire, and to provide opportunities for students to initiate, anticipate and explore new activities and display persistence and realisation in their learning.

All specialist schools are unique learning environments and the diversity of curriculum approaches is something that we should celebrate as a sector. We’ve been fortunate to work with subject experts from across the sector, providing rich and robust discussion that has created a broad, inclusive and ambitious curriculum (which covers Communication & Language, Numeracy, Independent Living, Creative Arts, Physical Development and Therapies). We hope that having video examples of this curriculum will spark exciting conversations, collaboration and sharing across the sector, and indeed with our mainstream colleagues.

Next steps

Oak’s mainstream and specialist resources are now live and available for use in our Teacher Hub and Classroom.

We believe that nothing like this has ever been done before in the specialist sector and are excited to offer teachers and families accessible and ambitious learning opportunities.

We’ve been particularly encouraged that over summer our specialist curriculum map was downloaded almost 1,000 times. Schools are already sharing ideas about how they might use it as a contingency, to enrich their own curriculum, or to support staff development and learning. In the coming weeks we look forward to sharing further information and detail through blogs, Q&A sessions and more. Sign up to our newsletter or follow our social channels so not to miss out on updates.

We wish you all a successful, safe and happy first term of school, and we are here to support in any way we can.