“What is a knowledge-rich curriculum?”
This was the topic of a recent panel discussion hosted by English Mastery, featuring educators and curriculum design experts.
John Blake, Ark’s Curriculum Design Lead, put forward the argument that a knowledge-rich curriculum was often misinterpreted as the memorisation of facts supported by rote learning.
“You can’t underestimate the importance of knowledge. It’s about emancipation. It enables students to use their knowledge to make choices and be independent learners in the future,” said Mr Blake. “I was teaching World War I history to some year 11 students and they weren’t really grasping why Germany was so afraid of being encircled in Europe. Then I realised that most of my students didn’t actually know where Germany was on the map. Without that knowledge, you can’t fully understand that history.”
Poppy Nobes, Head of English at Ark Bolingbroke Academy, added that she believed a knowledge-rich approach can give students access to a richer and more diverse curriculum. “Having a knowledge-rich curriculum means you’re doing books like Jane Eyre and studying original Shakespeare from the moment students step into secondary school,” she said. “Those students then get to learn about those writers for their entire five years rather than just two years as preparation for their GCSEs. That’s an incredible experience for students.”
Amy McJennett, English Mastery’s Director, pointed to the success of her programme’s knowledge-rich approach. “English Mastery provides teachers with a coherent curriculum that builds year on year. The content is carefully sequenced to help students master the ideas, concepts and stories that have shaped the world.”
She also stressed, “The English Mastery teacher community is integral to the programme’s success. Their feedback drives our design. This supports teachers’ workload and gives them the freedom to focus on the students they teach, not worksheet creation.”
English Mastery is an Ark Venture working to transform the way the subject of English is taught in UK classrooms. In September 2019, English Mastery is partnering with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). You can find out more about English Mastery and sign up to participate in the EEF trial by visiting their website.