The NASUWT believes that all children and young people have an entitlement to access a broad, balanced, relevant and engaging curriculum. The Union also campaigns for the introduction of curriculum frameworks that do not result in excessive and unnecessary workload burdens for teachers and school leaders or distract them from their core responsibilities for teaching and leading teaching and learning.
The NASUWT has identified ten fundamental principles of effective curricular provision:
The curriculum should build from a clear set of aims and values and there should be broad consensus about the purposes of the curriculum
The curriculum should provide an overarching set of aims, values and purposes that link to the goals and purposes of school curricula. Programmes of Learning or Programmes of Study that form part of the curriculum or the school curriculum should include explicit goals that reflect the aims, values and purposes of the curriculum.
There should be wide consultation with all key stakeholders and broad agreement about the aims, values and purposes of system-wide curricular frameworks.
The curriculum should start from the needs of the child and address both their learning and development needs
The curriculum should be flexible and accommodate pupils’ different needs. It should support their social, emotional, physical, moral, spiritual and cultural development as well as their intellectual development.
All pupils should have an entitlement to a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum
The curriculum should recognise different forms of learning, including academic and practical learning, and offer rich, engaging and relevant experiences. This is critical to tackling disaffection and addressing poor pupil behaviour. The curriculum should help learners to become confident and successful and enable them to make a positive contribution to society.
Schools should offer a curriculum that secures breadth and balance and is relevant to all pupils.
The curriculum should promote the principles of equality, community cohesion, social justice and international solidarity
The curriculum should equip pupils with the knowledge and skills to challenge discrimination and injustice. It should prepare them to live and participate in a globalised world. This includes helping pupils to understand and appreciate their own identities and those of others. The curriculum should provide opportunities for pupils to engage critically with issues relating to equality and justice and take part in activities that contribute to social cohesion.
There should be coherence and consistency between policies that relate to the curriculum and other education policies
Policies relating to the curriculum must ‘fit’ with, and be supported by, other education policies, including those relating to teachers’ professional autonomy, teachers’ professional development and school accountability. The broader education system must not undermine the principal aims and objectives of the curriculum. In particular, a punitive, high-stakes accountability regime that pressurises schools into narrowing the focus and range of pupils’ learning experiences is not appropriate or acceptable.
Curriculum policy and practice should respect and promote the notion of teachers’ professional autonomy and judgement
Teachers must be able to use their professional judgement both individually and collectively to determine what is most appropriate, including the suite of qualifications on offer, for the learners they teach. They should have the flexibility to make decisions about what they teach and how they teach.
Leadership of the curriculum should build on the principle of collegiality, with teachers working together to design the curriculum
Teachers should be actively engaged in the design and development of both the national curriculum and, within that framework, their school’s curriculum. It is essential that reforms encourage schools to adopt approaches to leadership that engage all teachers and support collaboration and co-operative working.
As professionals, teachers and school leaders should have access to, and undertake, regular curriculum-related professional development
High-quality continuing professional development (CPD) is essential if teachers and school leaders are to maintain and extend their professional knowledge, skills and expertise. All teachers and school leaders must have designated time to reflect critically on their practice, and undertake high-quality CPD and support. CPD must be free, well-funded and robustly quality-assured. It must also be designed in a way that ensures that all teachers can access it.
Practice should enable teachers and school leaders to focus on their core responsibilities for teaching and leading and managing teaching and learning
High-quality curricular frameworks should allow teachers to focus on teaching and learning. Teachers should be able to draw on the skills of others to support pupils’ learning, including expertise from the local community. Tasks that do not require the professional skills and expertise of a teacher should be undertaken by appropriately trained and qualified members of the school workforce.
Practice should be efficient, avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and workload, and be organised in ways that provide space for teachers to function as professionals
The curriculum must be monitored rigorously for its impact on workload and organisational bureaucracy. This needs to happen both at national and school level. It should mean that problems are identified and addressed.
The curriculum should be designed and implemented in ways that allow teachers to plan, prepare and assess pupils’ work, collaborate with colleagues, reflect critically on their practice, access support and undertake training and CPD.