Pros and cons of a 'themed' approach to the curriculum

Barrie Wyse

Having read your article "Themed lessons get Ofsted thumbs down" (TES, November 14), based on reports from only two schools, I am now looking forward to a parallel report headlined "Discrete subject lessons get Ofsted thumbs down" - also based on reports from just two schools.

You will have no difficulty finding two schools running subject-based curricula that Ofsted has deemed to be unsatisfactory - or worse.

Were you to research Ofsted reports from the significant number of schools now offering competence and theme-based curricula - many of them based on the Royal Society for the Arts' Opening Minds approach - you would find it hard to justify your headline. It remains to be seen how the two schools identified in your report fare with a return to a more "traditional" approach. Nothing is guaranteed.

The quality of leadership, teaching and learning styles, the integrity of teamwork, thorough preparation and appropriate training will all help to determine how effective a school will be in shaping its curriculum to ensure every student develops their capabilities to the full.

Some schools choose one way, some another. Some make it work, others are less successful. But let us not judge what other schools "ought" to be doing on the basis of two schools that have chosen a particular approach whose demands they have found too great.

Some 74 per cent of schools using the Opening Minds framework for which there is data have had their curriculum graded as good or outstanding. This contrasts with 67 per cent of all schools nationally.

Barrie Wyse, Education consultant, Beverley, East Yorkshire.

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Barrie Wyse

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