Posted by: mrlock | April 22, 2018

Director of Education: the best job in UK education

I maintain that the curriculum is too often ignored in discussions about school improvement and school quality. As I have previously argued, we spend too much time discussing and debating how to teach, and not enough time debating what to teach. 

Very recently, this has started to be recognised. Many schools, though far from the majority, will claim to have a “knowledge-based curriculum”, or a “curriculum rich in knowledge”, and will point to their knowledge organisers as evidence of this. In some ways the curriculum has gained some interest where a couple of years ago there was virtually none, but in other ways, we’re in the same place, where ‘knowledge’ and ‘curriculum’ are being treated as the new silver bullet, or fad, and little is actually changing.

A curriculum is not a curriculum of worth without its teachers to enliven, live, breathe, form and reform it. Teachers enliven the curriculum through their subject knowledge, and in the links they make between the procedures and traditions that are unique to their subject. They debate and discuss pedagogy that comes from the knowledge they have and the knowledge they are teaching, and whether their understanding of the curriculum is the best one. They form plans while exploring whether the content or concepts they have selected best open up the rest of the discipline and they reform this reflecting on which knowledge is the best vehicle for transforming pupils from novices in their disciplines, to experts. And in the case of Advantage Schools, which knowledge allows the same pupils – all of our pupils – to join the community of educated citizens.

Such a curriculum cannot be handed down to teachers. For it is in the development of teachers as curricular thinkers that such a curriculum takes shape, and starts to shape the knowledge, experiences and discipline that I want for my own children. 

The Advantage Schools curriculum, then, is what dictates pedagogy. The curriculum is what dictates professional learning. The curriculum is what dictates the very nature of ‘teaching and learning’. 

In the next few years, vast numbers of multi-academy and single-academy trusts will merge, fold or subsume themselves into each other. In my opinion we will be left with a few hundred multi-academy trusts left. At Advantage Schools we are determined that we will be either one of them, or the forerunner to one of them – one that is the best provider of curricula and expertise around the curriculum in the country in a sustainable manner that can transform the nature and delivery of compulsory schooling in the United Kingdom. 

The quality of our Director of Education will be one of the most important factors in whether we are successful. They will be responsible for the quality of our curriculum, and hence professional learning, staff development, and everything that will ensure that our pupils gain the knowledge educated people take for granted.

I think it is the most exciting post in UK education right now, and in a few years, I hope to look back on why it was the most important appointment I ever made. 

We are advertising for that Director of Education now. Click here to find out more.

Please contact me with any questions. 

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