As the term draws to a close, school leaders will be working hard to ensure they have procedures in place to secure a safe and successful return of all pupils in September. For curriculum/T&L leaders, this means making key decisions about your curriculum coverage and from there planning the best sequencing of your teaching and learning going forward. Our planning tool helps you get ready.  



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Let’s face it, you haven’t had much time to get your heads around this – the DfE guidance only came out less than two weeks’ ago.

But as with all aspects of your leadership, keeping a cool head, taking an overview and then focusing on the priorities are just some of your many skills that will help you to achieve this goal. Planning your approach well and knowing when and to whom to delegate tasks will also play a huge part in your success.

So what are the core areas you need to focus on as curriculum/T&L leader?

Our attention will be focused most acutely on the issue of curriculum coverage to ensure timely and well-planned catch up, so that a normal curriculum can resume as quickly as possible. There is also the issue of the logistics involved. Classroom management plans will need to be adapted to secure safe teaching and learning (T&L) at this time.



Curriculum coverage


For some schools a ‘recovery’ curriculum, as it has been dubbed, will be a similar approach to usual – assessing pupils’ current understanding and tailoring T&L accordingly. But many will want to carry out a more detailed curriculum review to see what content has been missed so that they can plan in a more targeted way to fill any gaps. Whichever way is best for your school, it is about consolidating your existing curriculum to take account of these new circumstances. And it will need careful attention.

It will require revisiting your long-, medium- and short-term plans across all subject areas to identify how best to modify these to adapt to the new circumstances. Your subject leaders will already be highly skilled at knowing what content to emphasise right now, so you will have plenty of expertise to draw on from within your staff team, and as always it is important to capitalise on that.

Another key factor is sequencing of learning. Many key concepts run through the curriculum. So you could relook at how your T&L is sequenced to see if any content missed these last few months could be built in at a later stage when these concepts are revisited again.

Focusing now on those aspects of the curriculum that are most vital in helping pupils move on to the next stages of their learning is also crucial.

As part of this review, you will need to identify which content the majority of pupils need catch-up on, and which are an issue for just a few students. You can then target more focused support for these students, leaving the main classroom time to focus on those catch-up needs that are more universal.

Some pupils may still need to be learning from home. So you need to ensure that they are accessing the same learning opportunities as their in-class peers.

Other T&L will not work so well within the old classroom context, so may need to be planned for a more remote-learning approach.

This leads us to another key area to focus on: that of classroom logistics.


Classroom logistics


How best can you secure physical distancing within every classroom?

As we know, most teaching and learning involves teachers in carrying out a small proportion of direct teaching from the front of the class, and then helping groups and individual pupils as they then work on the learning tasks that follow from your introduction.

The at-the-front teaching is fairly straightforward in the new style of operating. Many schools will already have (or can easily rearrange) desks in rows and spaced apart, which is fine for all pupils to then face the teacher at the front. It is the next stages of the lesson involving supporting pupils with learning tasks, facilitating groupwork and so on that has in the past depended on closer face-to-face contact. So you will need to be advising teachers on ways to adapt lessons to allow this support with learning to work well at a physical distance.

There are a range of ways to achieve this. Many of these teachers will be doing already, such as ensuring they provide clear and comprehensive written instructions to accompany the learning tasks. Ones that are likely to be over and above the norm will mostly require creative use of technology. This includes use of visualisers for viewing pupil’s work, your virtual learning environment (VLE) for pupils to access resources, forms such as SurveyMonkey to assess pupil understanding and so on.

Visualisers are a tool that allow you to use your laptop webcam to speak directly to pupil(s) and then show them text to explain what you are teaching. You can also use them to showcase pupils’ work, or for you to see a student’s progress. They are can be used as an invaluable way to help pupils catch up on any lessons they may have missed, or to recap on previous learning. For many schools, they will be a new resource, so staff will need training and support to use them to best effect.

Schools are also making more use of teaching, learning and assessment platforms. Teachers can use these to give instant feedback to pupils on their live learning. They can assess pupil understanding of key concepts. They can access supportive resources and materials to give pupils additional help with a particular aspect of their learning.

Assessment for learning (AfL) approaches will be needed more than ever to help give more focused feedback, as well as identify gaps and misunderstandings in learning. So you need to be sure that all your staff are skilled at using these approaches in practice (for tools and advice on how to increase use of effective AfL in practice across all classrooms, see our toolkit, Section 3: Planning for outstanding T&L).

As well as teachers knowing how best to adapt their lessons to the new way of working, it is also crucial that the pupils themselves are clear about the new formats for interacting in the classroom. This needs to be communicated to them clearly, and also in a way that engenders positivity, rather than causes a further anxiety about the new style of school life.

It is also vital not to forget the CEIAG aspect of your curriculum. Pupils will need this guidance arguably more than ever as many progression plans will have had to change given the knock-on effects of the pandemic.



Plan now


Alongside all of this, as curriculum/T&L leader you will also need to be managing changes to your behaviour policy to take account of the impact of the pandemic on pupils’ wellbeing and mental health. We have touched on both of these issues in two of our previous tools: ‘Curriculum/T&L action checklist’ and ‘Wellbeing action plan for wider school reopening’. Our planning tool below includes ways for your curriculum coverage plans to take account of pupil wellbeing too.

While your focus for now will rightly be on immediate curriculum coverage and T&L planning, there will also be lessons that can be learned from remote learning to bring benefits to T&L going forward. These are worth giving attention to, as soon as you are able.

So there are a range of issues that you need to prepare for. Taking time now to carry out your curriculum review to then steer your planning for September will pay dividends.

You can use this tool to help you with this planning – to identify those areas that you already have covered, and those that you may need to devote more attention to in the weeks ahead.


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Here are just a few of the questions included in our tool – one from each area of our Action Plan. The full tool will help you to think about how best to modify your curriculum/T&L coverage in the best way for your students and staff – and then plan how to best put this into practice.

Prioritising content: What criteria are you asking departments to use to decide what content to prioritise and which aspects to remove completely from this term’s curriculum?

Identifying gaps: Do you have criteria in place to identify which content you need to recap in more depth to help pupils catch up in a few weeks?

Planning coverage: Have your subject heads been providing and will continue to provide weekly plans, aligned with their medium-term plans, so all staff are clear on the content priorities to plan for next?

Pupil concerns: Do you have knowledge organisers for pupils so they know exactly what they’re supposed to know at this stage from their lockdown learning?

Modifying T&L styles: Have you advised all teachers on ways to adapt groupwork elements of their lessons to avoid direct contact between pupils?

CEIAG: Have you made facility to provide for extra CEIAG for pupils within your modified curriculum?




If you liked this tool and are looking for similar ones to help you in your curriculum/T&L leadership, see our Lead & Learn guides. All include practical tips and improvement tools for you to advance that specific area of your role


Engaging Parents in Learning        Staff development guide for schools    

Have you seen our free Wellbeing Action Plan, Curriculum/T&L Action Checklist, and New Transition Programme Action Plan?


Is there anything your school is doing that has been particularly effective in modifying your curriculum/T&L coverage ready for September return?

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