Unlike maintained schools, academies do not have to follow the National Curriculum; instead they are required to offer a balanced and broadly-based curriculum including English, maths, science, and religious education (RE).
Although stand-alone academy trusts have greater autonomy over the curriculum compared to MATS (West and Wolfe, 2018), research has shown that only a third of these schools have taken advantage of this freedom and flexibility to innovate, opting instead to play it safe.
Many have made only minor tweaks and “often they would have made anyway” (Bassett et al., 2012) and end up teaching a narrow and boring curriculum. Some have ended up teaching what Mary Myatt (2018) calls a ‘gallimaufry’ or jumbled curriculum that lacks coherence. This is clearly a wasted opportunity to think outwardly, diversify, take risks and unleash greatness.
But for schools that do want to take greater ownership of their curriculum, go off piste and take on a full understanding of the knowledge, skills and dispositions that children will need for life and work, where do they look?
This is where the Learning Means The World (LMTW) Curriculumcan help, a knowledge-rich and skills-basedcreative curriculum with in-built 2020 visionthat champions the needs and interests of children and tackles tomorrow’s issuestoday.
A Global Curriculum
The beating heart of the school day is a personalised, anti-gimmick and pro-wisdom cohesive curriculum (Robinson, 2019) which develops fully rounded individuals and feeds and fuels innovation and progression.
That is what the ‘Learning Means the World’ curriculum is all about – it’s a fit for purpose fully customisable primary curriculum aimed at getting pupils to engage with and learn about challenging and inspiring 21st Century issues. It’s a holistic curriculum at its best with real global intent, ambition and vision (Bromley, 2019) devoted to whole child learning (Ogier, 2019)and interleaved into the curriculum is the highly acclaimed 2020 PSHE Programmeto help develop the whole child.
It’s what Hywel Roberts (2012)would call a BRAVE curriculum: buzzing, relevant, academic, vocational and evaluatory with added ‘botheredness’. It’s also a proudly forward thinking curriculum that promotes independence, creativity and curiosity to help children become “collaborators, innovators and leaders” (Lear, 2019).
At the forefront of this specially written curriculum are World issues centred around the four Cs of Communication, Conflict, Conservation and Culture. It’s hands-on, minds-on and hearts-on and makes pupil agency a key feature of the curriculum which is recognised as central to children’s development (Manyukhina and Wyse, 2019).
‘Learning Means the World’ can complement existing practice, work as a stand-alone full curriculum or it can be tailored to suit a school’s individual needs and strengths.
It takes a Knowledge Buildingand Concept Flow approach using a meticulously planned progression of knowledge to ensure breadth and depth of learning within a subject from EYFS right through to Year 6.
Knowledge is sequenced and mapped deliberately with six distinct fundamental learning pillarsfor each subject using progressive cognitive blocks. But it also comes with plenty of narrativeto give it wider meaning and majesty. It’s got shake, rattle, roll and plenty of boom.
A pioneering curriculum
Many outward facing schools now use a needs-led creative and thematic approach to learning and have adopted the pioneering Dimensions ‘Learning Means the World’ Curriculum to ensure complete coverage of national expectations and more. This enriched and international curriculum ensures that children feel “part of the global community” so that children “understand their own worth and the worth of others, both near and far” (Mills, 2018).
Using a creative cross-curricular approach, the Dimensions ‘Learning Means the World’ curriculum is more inclusive, provides more motivation and more accurately reflects the real world. It’s a fertile minds curriculum that pushes children to the edge of their thinking and allows them to find out what they are good at and follow their passion.
A thematic approach to teaching and learning is designed to support children’s natural curiosity, stimulate their creativity and promote an appetite and love of learning. It offers children the chance to engage in deep learning giving them the time they need to reflect, consolidate and transfer their learning.
Dimensions embraces this approach and helps schools create a vibrant and creative curriculum by putting children at its heart. Exceeding the requirements of the 2014, the ‘Learning Means the World’ Curriculum is brilliantly thought out and expertly written providing hours of very rich cross-curricular and exciting learning experiences.
It is made up of 40 fully resourced themes with stacks of lesson ideas broken down into the following phases:
- Explorers (3-5 year olds)
- Pathfinders (5-7 year olds)
- Adventurers (7-9 year olds)
- Navigators (9-11 year olds)
This comprehensive, thematic, creative curriculum is mapped out to ensure progression in learning across the school is relevant and meaningful.
The innovative projects on offer provide a rich and varied menu of exciting and motivating learning activities that make creative links throughout. Dimensions passionately believe that children learn more effectively when they are stimulated to use their imaginations and apply their learning to engaging contexts.
‘Learning Means the World’ aims to provide oodles of learning challenges that require all children to roll their sleeves up, solve problems, apply themselves creatively and express their knowledge and understanding effectively across the curriculum. What it offers are plenty of opportunities to work in more depth, giving children time they need to reflect, consolidate and transfer knowledge, skills and understanding across the learning experience as a whole.
A 3D Creative Curriculum
Plop, plop, plop. That’s the satisfying sound a bubbling mud geyser makes and it is not dissimilar to the satisfying sound of creative ideas plopping to the surface of children’s thinking when they are engaged and hooked into learning. But how do you get there? Teachers need to understand learning in order to develop a meaningful curriculum.
Teaching imaginatively is a non-negotiable when it comes to outstanding teaching and the sine qua non when teaching for creativity. The creative and comprehensive curriculum offered by ‘Learning Means the World’ is based on sound teaching and learning principles (the 4Cs) that underpin and provide schools with the foundations to teach creatively and nurture creativity and so develop outstanding tailored provision.
It is a simple but effective philosophy that works on the assumption that the best progress happens when children are engaged in learning, have quality opportunities to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding and are given opportunities to innovate, take risks and express themselves using a great range of resources and media.
Benefits of the LMTW Curriculum
‘Learning Means the World’ is a fluid and dynamic interdisciplinary curriculum that provides an enterprising, innovative and fresh thinking approach to teaching and learning boasting many advantages. It sees every subject as a creative subject and every child as a creative learner where learning is a seamless whole:
- delivers cohesion and progression
- safeguards a broad and balanced curriculum
- thematic units bring learning to life through exciting, child-friendly topics
- driven by the 4Cs of Communication, Conflict, Conservation and Culture
- impressive cognitive architecture
- 40 fun and dynamic themes to choose from
- brings a global dimensionto teaching, learning and assessment
- engages all learners with dynamic lessons and quality resources for sustained enjoyment
- fully resourced so saves teachers’ time
- encourages spaced retrieval across a range of subjects
- embedded Dimensions Learning Lexicon containingkey vocabulary and terminology
- wrap around careand service for schools
- encourages originality and creative thinking
- supports creativity as a core skill
- helps you customise a curriculum to your own community
- encourages big creativity and little creativity as well as big successes and littles successes
- promotes enquiry, reflection, problem-solving, active participation, self-management
- makes learning vivid, real and meaningful
- develops resilience, better communication and life skills within real-life contexts
- creates stronger learning links through a joined-up learning approach
- combines scintillating content with active learning strategies written by experts
- pupil driven focused and authentic – children have a stake in their own learning
- the curriculum acts as an enabler where knowledge is constructed by children themselves
- empowers children and boosts their confidence
- excites imaginations and inspires learning
- immerses children in their learning
- raises the creative bar through memorable rich learning experiences
- allows children to display understanding in multiple ways
- provides a sense of purpose and pride in achievement
- creates a community of learners with a global outlook
- inspires creative homework projects
- helps children nurture their personal economies and passions
- makes learning personal for children and meets their personal needs
- extends children’s horizons, deepens their understanding and meets their intellectual needs
- allows children to bring more of themselves to their work
- allows space for thinking and choice
- children take more risks in their learning and become more resilient
- dovetails the way children learn outside school (holistic)
- encourages collaboration and a co-construction of learning
- allows children the time and space to explore and take ownership of their learning
- helps children to make choices, investigate and become more independent learners
- places children at the centre of learning
- challenges children to think more divergently, question, make connections, speculate, investigate, apply their learning and reflect critically
- focuses on experiential learning with knowledge, understanding and skills developed through first-hand practical experience
- offers a vibrant balance between the attainment of essential skills and knowledge and the search for meaning
- encourages children to experiment with new ideas, new materials and new processes
- allows children to develop and present their own ideas with greater imagination and fluency
- helps children realise their full potential in all aspects of their learning
- provides breadth, balance, relevance, parity, entitlement and access
- promotes cross-curricular links and opportunities for independent enquiry
- allows learning to be more natural and less fragmented
- encourages a thinking structure to support a creative and reflective approach to teaching and learning
- gives staff the opportunity to challenge their own practice, be more resourceful and find more creative ways of working
- promotes inclusiveness as it is accessible and relevant to all children
- cultural diversity is valued, supported and celebrated
- Unites STREAM subjects (Science, Technology, Reading/wRiting, Engineering, Arts and Maths)
- clear and careful cross-curricular planning provides cohesion and purpose
- teachers can teach multiple things at once and the curriculum isn’t artificially divided
- saves planning time to enable you to spend more time with children
- incorporates the principles of assessment for learning
‘Learning Means the World’ is a bespoke vehicle from a creative curriculum specialist that drives a thematic approach to learning and teaching. It can revitalise your curriculum and motivate children and staff and is fully flexible and fit for purpose to suit any school setting.
It opens the doors to release the creativity of teachers and children by providing practical and enjoyable activities that gives everyone a thirst for knowledge and excitement in learning.
‘Learning Means the World’ is the most distinctive and vibrant thematic primary curriculum available in the UK today. It is fiercely creative and a garden-fresh and exciting approach to learning.
Learning really does mean the world and this curriculum adds a whole new dimension to global education.
Written by John Dabell