Area-based learning

Why is the local area important?

"When developing an Area Based Curriculum, a starting point is to consider why the local area is important to the school curriculum, and what counts as 'local'."

What are the key principles of this approach to the curriculum?

The RSA’s Area Based Curriculum is a way of developing a school curriculum in partnership between schools and their communities.

It involves making use of the local context and resources to frame learning, and meeting the specific needs of children and local communities.

The aim is to create learning experiences that are engaging for children from all backgrounds. The RSA have been involved in over four years of research and development of the Area Based Curriculum in Manchester and Peterborough.

What are the main benefits of this approach?

An Area Based Curriculum is designed by schools in partnership with other local stakeholders which aims to increase children’s understanding of and attachment to the place where they live, and embed schools more deeply within their communities.

Schools are important democratic spaces in local areas, and can be a resource for a community to effect social change. Localities have a democratic right to influence curriculum design and content.

The local context is also a resource to improve learning – enhancing National Curriculum content and making it tangible.

What does this mean in practice?

When developing an Area Based Curriculum, a starting point is to consider why the local area is important to the school curriculum, and what counts as ‘local’.

The RSA have a practical guide for schools who are considering the Area Based Curriculum approach. This covers different models within the overall framework, from drawing on local area examples throughout teaching, to co-constructing the curriculum with local stakeholders, or even having a non traditional curriculum model where local links are at the centre.

What does this mean for teachers?

When embarking on an Area Based Curriculum approach, teachers must be open to curriculum design and collaboration as part of their role, driving the engagement with the locality.

The Area Based Curriculum involves access to the ‘real world’ with partnership with local organisations – teachers will need to invest in drawing up agreements with local stakeholders.

How can I find out more?

  • Reports, case studies, toolkits and advice on the area based curriculum are all available here.