The DfE School Website Requirements specify that you have to publish the content of your school curriculum information on your school website. You can find out the exact details in our School Website Requirements Guide. The purpose of the curriculum information is twofold. The first is to meet an information requirement. This could be a statutory requirement or meeting the needs of an engaged parent. The second is to encourage learning. Moving further through education this purpose becomes more pressing. Students begin to choose what they want to study and have options. Curriculum information can help them do that and inform their support network.
The Schools Inspection Handbook states: "Inspectors will consider the extent to which the school’s curriculum sets out the knowledge and skills that pupils will gain at each stage (we call this ‘intent’). They will also consider the way that the curriculum developed or adopted by the school is taught and assessed in order to support pupils to build their knowledge and to apply that knowledge as skills (we call this ‘implementation’).
Finally, inspectors will consider the outcomes that pupils achieve as a result of the education they have received (we call this the ‘impact’)." (Schools Inspection Handbook: November 2019).
Curriculum Information - The Content
Content is key. This is true right through the school website, but perhaps most importantly on the curriculum pages. The curriculum content needs to clearly convey what is studied in school in line with the statutory requirements. But it should also be written with an emphasis on why the curriculum is offered the way it is (intent).
Many schools publish curriculum plans on their website that are based on a specific year group. They are updated on a termly basis to match the learning. From experience, these tend to range from not much detail to detail overload. I would suggest that somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios is where you want to be. You need to publish much more than a topic title and show what it is the children are actually learning. For example, in Year 2 the children might be learning about the Great Fire of London. So, what 'bits' of the curriculum are going to be covered in this topic? It might be 'events beyond living memory that are significant nationally or globally' (History) or 'to use a range of materials creatively to design and make products' (DT). Having recently spoken with an inspector they want to be able to walk around with a curriculum plan and see what is on there is being taught in practice.
Curriculum Information - The Display
How the information is displayed makes a big impact too. Content that is really good, well written and engaging but difficult to read or not accessible across a wide range of devices has been compromised. There's other approaches to look at too. Bring content to life with colourful graphics and break it down with useful headings. Make use of videos, society watches more and more videos online.
A text dump onto a page, with a PDF file showing your curriculum information might meet the statutory requirements at the most basic level, but it's not likely to persuade visitors that your school curriculum is really important and is a big priority. Consider how you can merge together content, documents and images and engage visitors on your website right from the start!
Curriculum Information - The Action
The challenge for the school or college, whether engaging with the parent or the pupil, is to attract them to your establishment and why they should study with you. Why should a parent pick your school for their child? For the student, what options do they have? Is this somewhere that looks good in their eyes? The interest has been generated, now it needs to be captured. The hard work put into the curriculum pages has generated the interest so make the most of it and take advantage.
Explain the action to learn more. Better yet provide links to a contact form or an email address to get in touch. This action could be to request a prospectus, request more detail about the course, book a visit round school, view upcoming open evenings, or all of the above!
Curriculum 2020 Update
On 12th November 2020, the DfE released their updated requirements for school websites. This included, as anticipated, an update to the curriculum section. The latest information we have is:
Your approach to the curriculum should also include how you are complying with your duties in the Equality Act 2010 and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014 about making the curriculum accessible for those with disabilities or special educational needs.
What do we suggest?
It is important to make sure this requirement is clearly evidenced in your curriculum content. We would suggest including an introduction to your curriculum with the existing statutory content. In this section, you can outline this new information and how it can be evidenced in your school curriculum. You may already have content similar to this in your Accessibility, SEND and Equality information. So try to make sure the message is consistent across all areas of your site and truly reflects the efforts made at school to make sure everyone can access your curriculum.
Examples of great curriculum information on school websites
Durham Johnston School is a large secondary school in the North East of England has completely revamped their online presence. Part of Durham Johnston's aim for their new website was to dramatically improve how their curriculum information is presented. Here's how the richness of their curriculum is presented.
These next few screen recordings focus more on the content of the curriculum rather than the appearance. These schools have gone into detail on their curriculum plans rather than outlining a topic name.
Overall, a text dump onto a page, with a PDF file showing your curriculum information might meet the statutory requirements at the most basic level, but it's not likely to encourage them that your school curriculum is really important and is a big priority. Consider how you can merge together content, documents and images and engage visitors on your website right from the start!
Below you'll find some related resources to help you get to grips with understanding Ofsted's position on the curriculum and all the latest requirements.
- School Inspection Framework (released - November 2019)
- School website requirements 2020/21 - Two key areas of focus