Leading curriculum innovation in practice

by Karen Carter and Tricia Sharpe (Eds.)


This 15-page report looks at ways in which 50 schools in the United Kingdom embraced a range of activities to develop their curriculum for the 21st century. 

It does not advocate one particular model for success but shows how different school contexts matter and how each adopts an approach that is right for their particular circumstances. There is an emphasis on the role of the school leadership in establishing the clarity of purpose about the developments they plan and put into action.

The four sections in the booklet look at:

  • remodelling the curriculum
  • expanding curriculum opportunities
  • improving teaching and learning
  • harnessing pupil voice.

Each section examines how the leadership of the schools worked, the role of teachers and other experts, the need for community consultation, the resource and time issues, and the role of students. In all circumstances the focus is on the following questions:

  • What are we trying to achieve through the curriculum?
  • How do we organise learning in order to achieve it?
  • How will we know that we have achieved our aims?
  • How is the movement towards curriculum change best led?

The report offers practical help, provides real examples, makes a number of different suggestions, and recommends questions and processes for ongoing reflection throughout the process of developing curriculum.

Reflective questions

These reflective questions might guide you in your reading of this report:

  • Share this report with your senior leadership team. How do your existing practices for curriculum innovation match up with the ideas in this reading? What new ideas and processes could you introduce within your school?
  • Which curriculum leaders in your school could be enlisted to help lead the process around curriculum change in your school? What strengths do they have? How will you as an educational leader support their work?
  • What external help will you and your school need to lead and implement curriculum change? Identify the particular areas of need that your school has and employ your networking skills to identify the right external support and advice that your school will need.
  • Consider the processes that you need to put in place to consult your community and the students. What do you need to know from them? How will you report back to them about the decisions and processes that you embark on?
  • What measures are you putting in place to measure the success of your curriculum implementation, and critically reflect on your achievements in terms of improving teaching and learning?

Further reading

Sabbatical reports on curriculum design

Leading curriculum change – NZ Curriculum Online

Principal leadership – NZ Curriculum Online

Brundrett, M. Duncan, D. (2010). Leading curriculum innovation in primary schools. NCSL


Carter, K., & Sharpe, T. (Eds). (2007). Leading Curriculum Innovation in Practice. NCSL.

Tags: Curriculum design

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