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What we want: High quality, evidence-informed teaching which makes a knowledge-rich, challenging, ambitious, relevant curriculum irresistible to pupils, which leads to pupils making great progress in their learning, all experienced in calm classrooms in schools where every single colleague wants to come to work every day.

Over the last decade we have developed a wealth of evidence-informed practice and, consequently, we have a good idea about what, pedagogically, has the best chance of helping pupils make good progress in their learning. We have, at the same time, developed knowledge-rich curricula which are, arguably, more academically challenging for all pupils than we have known for a generation or two. So why aren’t all our pupils thriving academically? Why aren’t all our teachers loving their work?


In many instances there is simply too much curriculum content to get through. Teachers are giving pupils the knowledge but they are finding it impossible to find the time to help all pupils understand that knowledge and then apply that knowledge to solve problems in new contexts. It follows, then, that we have to develop a process for planning units of work which is founded upon Dylan Wiliam’s concept of the “need to know” and the “neat to know”.


The “need to know” is the topic content which is fundamental to understanding the topic. The “neat to know” is the topic content which is neat for the pupils to know and understand but is not essential to understanding the fundamentals of the topic.
This short course looks at curriculum development at the granular level – what does it actually mean to design a scheme of work which helps pupils make good progress, that teachers feel confident about teaching, and that both parties enjoy. Indeed, it is time we brought a bit of joy back into our classrooms!

Session 2 (At HEP TR – 3 hours)

In this session John will explain how to turn the theory of what we know about effective curriculum development into practice. Delegates will bring a scheme of work to the session and reshape it according to Dylan Wiliams’ “Need/Neat to know” concept.

Information on the next sessions of the course:

Secondary Leadership: Curriculum Planning for Real – HEP Booking Hub

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