curriculum design

Upon inspection you will almost certainly be asked, how did you design your curriculum?

Education inspection framework – GOV.UK (

Working with many schools on their curriculum design over the past few years, I have come to use a curriculum cake analogy.

It’s all-too-easy to get caught up in the details of the ‘finished curriculum’ without enough time spent working through the foundations, the fundamentals, the intent.  The goal is a well-rounded curriculum. One which has been carefully crafted to develop “the knowledge, skills and behaviours that learners need in order to take advantage of the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences that prepare them for their next stage in education, training or employment.”

One way to visualise the cake analogy (stick with me!) is to connect back to the 3 Is (Intent, Implementation, Impact) from the Ofsted Inspection Framework.


Your all-important sponge! Simply put, the intent of the curriculum is the content you expect children to learn and be able to demonstrate at various determined points. It is crucial and should be guided by your school’s values, context, pedagogical approaches and needs

Intent is “a framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and understanding to be gained at each stage.”


The ‘filling’ holds everything together, adding flavour to your intent. Implementation is how the intentions manifest themselves in the classroom. Consider what is happening in the classroom and how well the teachers and leaders can articulate this.

Implementation is a means of “translating that framework over time into a structure and narrative within an institutional context.”


Only now can you think about the icing on the cake, namely “what learners have learned, and the skills they have gained and can apply.”

Impact is the means of “evaluating what knowledge and understanding pupils have gained against expectations.

And it is the well-thought-out combination of the above that truly make for a successful curriculum. Once combined, we must think carefully about who is ultimately ‘consuming’ this curriculum (cake!) How do we ensure the curriculum ‘extends beyond the academic, technical or vocational. It must provide learners with broader development, enabling them to develop and discover their interests and talents’ Top tip: use local ingredients!

The next step is to regularly review impact on teaching and learning, making any adaptations or changes you need to improve it further. The process is ongoing.

Final thought: it’s hard! Curriculum design is by no means easy so working together and sharing expertise is a good place to start.

Everything you need to know about designing a lively, authentic and creative curriculum can be found here. You can also speak with our experts, book a free demo, and view the full curriculum map too.

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