TWA briefing Monday 27.6.16 – Knowledge

The Festival of Education

Reflections here:


Timely takeaway – Curriculum is at the heart of everything.

Timely with the introduction of new specifications and new curriculums being written.


Ed Hirsch – The Knowledge Defecit

‘We will be able to achieve a just and prosperous society only when our schools ensure that everyone commands enough shared background knowledge to be able to communicate effectively with everyone else.’


Summer Turner @ragazza_inglese

For too long we have been focused on the HOW and not the WHAT.

Placing knowledge at the centre of curriculum planning to make our students knowledge rich.

  • What knowledge do they need to have to be GCSE ready?
  • What knowledge do they need to have to be A level ready?
  • What knowledge would we like them to have to be world ready?
  • What knowledge would we like them to have that is subject rich?

E.g. Yr 10 read Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde rooted in Victorian society and exploring the theme of science versus religion. To ensure students have a foundational knowledge in year 8 next year we have introduced Oliver Twist to ensure our students know something about Victorian society and Frankenstein so they can explore the science versus religion debate next year.

Summer Turner went on to describe her process of curriculum design (book out in October). When planning her curriculum she identified key knowledge concepts she thought were integral within English and used these to devise her cohesive curriculum from year 7-year 13

Summer curriculum

Really poor picture but focused on knowledge of grammar, narrative, chronology/context, audience, imagery, rhetoric, form and structure and genre.

Knowledge organisers – pre or post curriculum planning stage. With the onset of the new specifications coming in these have been really prominent in ensuring staff knowledge but also student knowledge with regard to specific texts. James Theo @JamesTheo has collected a range of knowledge organisers here if you want to see a range of these. Could you make use of knowledge organisers to summarise the key knowledge for particular topics?


How do we assess knowledge?

Greg Ashman @greg_ashman in his session on Explicit Instruction shared the principles of instruction with the first step being where we review previous learning. At this point are we testing students’ knowledge to ensure they possess that knowledge and to address any misconceptions.

Andy Tharby @atharby previously has blogged about testing students recall using 5-6 questions from different periods of time of their learning. Are students embedding that knowledge? Can they recall it?  The brilliant blog post is here:

In English, with a focus on three key summative points next year and having followed the knowledge agenda (mainly led by Michaela, a free school in London – follow Michaela @MCSBrent, KatharineBirbalsingh @Miss-Snuffy, Joe Kirby @Joe_Kirby, Katie Ashford @katie_s_ashford), I was keen for our summative assessments moving forward (and trialing for end-of-year examinations) to have three sections: Section A – knowledge (tested through the use of MCQs), Section B – writing skills, Section C – reading skills. Kaz, Sophie and Freya have done some excellent work in constructing MCQs that form the basis of section A to assess students’ knowledge and whether this has been embedded. For example:

Assessment 2

Once we have established the WHAT, we can then go back to the focus on HOW. We are currently reviewing our TL approach but I am a big fan of Shaun Allison (@shaun_allison) and Andy Tharby and their core Teaching and Learning principles for effective teaching. Their book entitled ‘Making Every Lesson Count’ is the best book I have read on Teaching and Learning. They focus on 7 key principles for effective Teaching and Learning which are:


More to follow on this….but everything they do is rooted in these core TL principles and I cannot recommend their book and blog enough

Finally, if you are not on Twitter, why not?


4 thoughts on “TWA briefing Monday 27.6.16 – Knowledge

  1. Summer Turner was inspiring and reminded me of the reasons I joined the education profession so late in life- to support the wholistic development of young people; self discovery of the child; to inspire a hunger for knowledge which empowers them to fulfill their potential.
    Her focus on curriculum planning with a start point of knowledge is reflected in our planned approach within English next year. I will no longer hold back introducing terminology or knowledge that I’ve previously labelled GCSE or A level but rather offer it to students at KS3 – give them the choice and responsibility to control their learning.
    After listening to Summer, I am seriously questioning whether our current method of measuring progress is of any value to the development of learning. Should we base measures on more focused, knowledge and skills criteria rather than generic statements like ‘craft language to suit purpose, audience and form’- what does this mean as a student? I will be breaking this down WITH my students at the beginning of units of work, encouraging them to consider and decide for themselves what they want to get out of their learning on given topics.
    We simply have to empower our students and not be frightened of doing so regardless of our perceived ability of these young people.

    1. Definitely and I think that’s where subject knowledge training is at its best – what do they mean for students? How do we ensure they have the knowledge to apply it? Definitely think a focus for the department in developmental meetings moving forward 😀

  2. Really useful, helping me to think about our RS curriculum development for next year. Do you mind if I share some of this with colleagues?

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