According to Just Great Teaching by Ross Morrison McGill, 92 per cent of teachers and school leaders feel confident or very confident with their day-to-day work around curriculum. However, 61 per cent still consider it a challenging area of practice, while 24 per cent believe it is a weakness in their school.
Even before COVID-19 changed the landscape of teaching, schools faced several challenges with their new curriculums. But this is only set to increase when you consider post-pandemic learning lost, the impact of mental health and the emergence of a vaccine.
Seeing as teachers spend a great deal of time planning their curriculum, surely it makes sense to turn this into a collaborative effort? After all, it could transform workloads, standards and pupil knowledge.
Here’s what you need to know about collaborative curriculum planning, and how you can implement it in your school.
The basics of collaboration in schools
“When we think about intent, implementation and impact, how far off is your school creating an overview of everything that is happening in all pockets of the school at any given time?,” says McGill. “Although the curriculum should be a whole-school discussion for all, I only managed to see a whole-school overview in one of the 6 schools I worked in…”
McGill reveals that the most productive schools enable teachers to organise their planning and preparation more efficiently. This allows them to get on with the job and plan what students need in a clear, easy-to-create format.
These same schools also encourage and enable collaboration, as well as organisation and prioritisation in professional development sessions, which support teaching autonomy.
“In smarter-working schools, I have seen curriculum leaders also in charge of teacher professional development, so they are equally aligned to one another and inform each other,” adds McGill. “This is a fabulous school strategy.”
Collaborative curriculum planning tips
McGill outlines seven tips that could help you make collaborative lesson planning a reality in your school:
- Provide weekly or termly planning sessions for all teaching staff in your department or school.
- Pair up year teams and subject specialists to prepare schemes for teachers who are delivering the content.
- Reduce the burden on teachers by no longer asking for detailed lesson plans and scripts.
- Spend more time on creating resources that will actually help the teacher and support students in the lesson.
- Map all teaching and learning content to a key stage curriculum map using free mind-mapping tools, or use Google Sheets or Microsoft Teams to create a curriculum overview.
- Use Google Forms to create questionnaires and tick sheets for collating responses and data that can be automatically analysed.
- Most multi-academy trusts share their resources on an industrial scale. If you find yourself in an isolated school, reach out to a nearby school that is working within a similar context and arrange a time to visit and swap schemes of work.
“Shared planning reduces the burden on individual teachers and ensures a consistent, joined-up approach that will benefit students. In the long-term, this also reduces teacher workload,” McGill concludes.