Useful tools

Some useful tools for planning your curriculum

What approach do you use?

Curriculum approaches

Do you have any interesting articles, guides or research you’ve read on approaches to the curriculum? Have you any experiences or views on the approaches and tools discussed here? Share your own resource using the button below, or get in touch to let us know how you got on.

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There are lots of useful tools that can help you when you come to planning your approach to curriculum. 


NCTL website

Primary Curriculum 2014

Professor Dylan Wiliam

A research perspective: NFER

World Class Curriculum

More reading

The National College for Teaching and Leadership have produced a website for Headteachers and senior leaders to help support the development of the curriculum.

There are resources available to help you reflect on your current curriculum, develop a new framework and tools to help organise the curriculum in your school. There are also interviews with Headteachers about the leadership challenges around the curriculum. 




Michael Tidd, a teacher from West Sussex, has created this curriculum website. Michael leads KS2 and has a particular interest in primary curriculum and assessment. The website contains lots of useful information, including:

  • The content from the new Programmes of Study have been clearly set out by year group.

  • post on 5 steps to introducing the new Primary Curriculum outlines how it can be a case of ‘keep and tweak’.
  • document also comparing the new curriculum against the old one for the core subjects. This usefully sets out what has changed, or moved into a different year group.
  • A ‘puzzle overview’ which maps out the new National Curriculum. One of our case study schools highlighted how useful they found this when approaching the new curriculum.

Dylan Wiliam is Emeritus Professor of Education Assessment at the Institute of Education in London. He has written about how the Curriculum should be:

  • BALANCED: promote the intellectual, moral, spiritual aesthetic, creative emotional and physical development of the young person. 
  • RIGOROUS: should take into account disciplinary habits of mind – disciplinary specific, powerful ways of thinking that are developed through sustained engagement with the discipline. 
  • COHERENT: should be designed to promote the development of capabilities across subjects
  • VERTICALLY INTEGRATED: should be clear how material taught in one year builds on what was learned in previous years, and how it leads on to subsequent learning.
  • APPROPRIATE: should provide challenge for students but should not make unreasonable demands on students.
  • FOCUSED: should emphasis a small number of ‘big ideas’ – this will inevitably mean leaving out significant and important material.
  • RELEVANT: should be relevant and should take into account the interest, needs and wishes of students, but within a framework of informed choice in respect of pedagogy and curriculum. 

You find out more here about his work with the SSAT on approaches to redesigning the curriculum. 

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) is an independent provider of research services for education. Many commercial providers are offering support and tools to schools to help them prepare for the new National Curriculum, but NFER draws upon independent evidence from the education sector in its work.

They have produced a set of guides on the 2014 National Curriculum – which compare the new and old requirements, identify what is expected in each year, and provides advice for subject leaders on how to prepare for 2014. These guides can be purchased here.

The Curriculum Foundation advocates the ‘World Class Curriculum’ which will take national and international requirements and put them in a local setting, making learning ‘real, exciting and inspirational’.

The World Class Curriculum is defined by principles rather than set content. They have produced toolkits to help guide schools through the process of developing a curriculum, but the ten principles of this approach are freely available to download here.

They have also produced a handy list of fundamental questions to help prompt discussions around the curriculum: 

  1. Why are we doing this? What are the aims of our curriculum?
  2. What are the curriculum drivers?
  3. How much importance should be attached to each driver?
  4. How much of the National Curriculum should we / must we incorporate into our school curriculum?
  5. What else should we / must we incorporate into our school curriculum? (Knowledge, skills, attitudes, competences)
  6. In planning the new curriculum, should we start with: a) a blank page? b) our current school curriculum? c) the requirements of the new National Curriculum?

If you’re interested in reading more, there are a few other publications that we found useful when we were producing this website.