Why is Pearson developing a KS3 curriculum?
At Pearson, we have a simple mission: to help people make progress in their lives through learning. Success in our GCSE, BTEC and AS/A Level exams is only part of the story. To get on in the rapidly evolving 21st Century, young people will need powerful knowledge and a flexible mindset that will enable them to continue learning and succeeding throughout their lives.
In September 2015, Ofsted published the report: Key Stage 3: the wasted years? The report highlighted how improvements at KS2 were not being built upon in secondary schools. KS3 was often treated like the “poor relation” of KS4 and KS5, coming last when teaching resource and pupil premium money was being allocated. KS3 teaching too often failed to engage and challenge students. The introduction of new, more content heavy and demanding KS4 exams in 2015/16, has also led to concerns that schools have developed KS3 curricula narrowly aimed at ensuring success in KS4 exams. GCSE-style questions are introduced earlier and earlier, and content repeated between KS3 and KS4. Some of these approaches do little to prepare students for life, work or education beyond the next exam. And now, schools have to also ensure that their curriculums meet the requirements of the new Ofsted inspection framework, and its new Quality of Education judgement.
At Pearson, we believe that secondary education should be much more than just a 5-year GCSE course. Rather than putting assessment first and building a curriculum around it, good quality, research-informed curriculum design should be the foundation of a purposeful KS3. A well planned and executed KS3 curriculum will lay the foundations for success at KS4, but also deliver much more for students.
How are we identifying curriculum best practice?
As with most Pearson projects, we started by talking to teachers and school leaders, gaining insight about their KS3 curricula, their concerns and their ideas for making improvements. This gave us a great overview of where schools currently are and where they would like to get to with their KS3 courses. All great curricula need to start with a vision of where it’s aiming to take learners. As well as incorporating ideas from teachers, we’re working with an advisory panel of education experts to create a curriculum based on the latest research into what really works in schools and what students really need to succeed at KS4 and beyond. Our contributors include The Schools, Students and Teachers network, the Confederation of British Industry and the Confederation of School Trusts, as well as a number of independent educational specialists.
Pearson aims to combine this deep knowledge of curriculum best practice and research with the strong pedagogy and sequencing already in our existing KS3 courses, to create a coherent, ambitious curriculum that’s quick and easy for schools to implement. The curriculum will define the powerful disciplinary subject knowledge that will best set students up for KS4, and also enhance their future life experiences. In addition, the curriculum will allow students to develop vital ‘learning dispositions’, such as risk taking and resilience, which are important for further study, and also highly valued by employers.
Why are we partnering with pilot schools?
Pearson are partnering with a group of pilot schools, whose input will be essential to creating a curriculum that works both for schools and for students. Materials will be thoroughly trialled, adapted and perfected throughout the 2019-20 academic year using feedback and input from the partner schools. Partnering with pilot schools allows real-world testing of the curriculum and its supporting materials, so that we know that they have real impact.
What does Pearson's KS3 Curriculum offer schools?
Most schools do have the capabilities to design a great curriculum for themselves, but curriculum design is a large, complex task, requiring time, expertise and collaboration, both at whole-school and subject level. For some schools, it can be difficult to carve out space in a busy school year to allow staff to focus on curriculum design, especially if the school is facing other challenges.The Pearson KS3 Curriculum will offer a solution for schools looking for a complete KS3 curriculum, based on the latest research, that they can implement immediately. With the accompanying guides and training resources, Pearson will also support schools in adapting the curriculum to their local context and making the curriculum their own.To find out more or get involved with our curriculum work, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Alice Shepperson, Senior Product Manager, Pearson.