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Vision - The foundation of a curriculum

'What matters for a curriculum is that teachers come together and agree on a set of aims that underpin their vision for pupil development'

Standish (2021)

What do you want your curriculum to be? Before you begin any changes, be it something wholesale or a bit of tinkering at the edges, you need to have an aim in mind. Something to focus all the efforts of not only you, but every colleague, within your department. The foundation upon which everything is built, from the topics you teach and the order you teach them in to how you teach them. This is your vision and it’s incredibly important that you get it right. So, how do you do that?

Make it Collaborative

Alex Standish, in his very useful chapter on what geography should be taught in schools in What Should Schools Teach?, makes clear that a collaborative approach to formulating a vision is key. Though, as a head of department you’ll be ultimately responsible for your vision, writing it alone isn’t going to get buy in from the start and get your department pulling in the same direction.

Make it Succinct

There’s no point making your vision a long and winding statement. It needs to be at the forefront of you and your colleagues’ minds not only for planning, resourcing and evaluating your curriculum, but also for when you are asked about it by anyone that asks, be it parents, SLT or Ofsted.

Make it Subject Specific

This sounds obvious. Your vision shouldn’t veer towards the generic, but should have a monomaniacal focus on being subject-specific and laden with what student development in your subject means.

Our Vision

So, having done all this the foundation from which everything that happened next was:

To equip students with the knowledge, skills and attributes to be able to make sense of the world around them, both past, present and future.

Our Vision

Part 2 of my curriculum blog (Concepts: the grammar of a subject) can be found here.

Useful Readings

General Curriculum Reading

  • Myatt, M. (2019) The Curriculum: Gallimaufry to Coherence. John Catt Educational Ltd: Melton, England.

Geography Specific Curriculum Reading

  • Enser, M. (2021) Powerful Geography: A curriculum with purpose in practice. Crown House Publishing: Carmarthen, Wales.
  • Ofsted (2021) Research Review Series: Geography. Ofsted.
  • Sehgal Cuthbert, A. and Standish, A. (2021) What Should Schools Teach?: Disciplines, Subjects and the Pursuit of Truth (Knowledge and the Curriculum). UCL Press: London, England.


Joseph Milton, Whickham School, @Geo_Dougie