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Huh: Curriculum conversations between subject and senior leaders

Huh: Curriculum conversations between subject and senior leaders

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Mary Myatt and John Tomsett discuss each of the national curriculum subjects with a subject leader, providing an insight into how they go about ensuring that knowledge, understanding and skills are developed over time, how they talk about the quality of the schemes in their departments and the support they would welcome from senior leaders.

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Schools need to have purchase on the curriculum: why they teach the subjects beyond preparation for examinations, what they are intending to achieve with the curriculum, how well it is planned and enacted in classrooms and how they know whether it’s doing what it’s supposed to. Fundamental to this understanding are the conversations between subject leaders and their line managers. However, there is sometimes a mismatch between the subject specialisms of senior leaders and those they line manage. If I don’t know the terrain and the importance of a particular subject, how can I talk intelligently with colleagues who are specialists? This book sets out to offer some tentative answers to these questions.

Each of the national curriculum subjects is discussed with a subject leader and provides an insight into what they view as the importance of the subject, how they go about ensuring that knowledge, understanding and skills are developed over time, how they talk about the quality of the schemes in their departments and what they would welcome from senior leaders by way of support. We have chosen this way of opening up the potentially difficult terrain of expertise on one side and relative lack of expertise on the other, by providing these case studies. They are suggested as prompts rather than the last word. Informed debate is, after all, the fuel of curriculum development.

And why Huh? Well, 'Huh?' may be John's first response when he walks into a Year 8 German class but, in fact, we chose 'Huh' as the title of our book as he is the Egyptian god of endlessness. As Claire Hill so eloquently comments in her chapter, “Curriculum development is an ongoing process; it’s not going to be finished, ever.” And we believe that 'Huh' captures a healthy and expansive way of considering curriculum conversations.

About the Authors

Mary Myatt is an education adviser, writer and speaker. She trained as an RE teacher and is a former local authority adviser and inspector. She engages with pupils, teachers and leaders about learning, leadership and the curriculum. 

Mary has written extensively about leadership, school improvement and the curriculum: ‘High Challenge, Low Threat’, ‘Hopeful Schools’ and ‘The Curriculum: Gallimaufry to Coherence’ and ‘Back on Track’. She has also established Myatt & Co, an online platform with films for teachers, including teaching assistants and leaders including governors.

Mary has been a governor in three schools, and a trustee for a Multi Academy Trust. She cofounded the RE Quality Mark, is chair of the board for the Centre for Education and Youth and a member of the curriculum advisory group for Oak National Academy. 

She maintains that there are no quick fixes and that great outcomes for pupils are not achieved through tick boxes.

John Tomsett taught for 33 years in state schools and was a teaching headteacher for 18 years. He writes a blog called This Much I Know, and has written extensively about school leadership. He has previously published five books: Love over Fear: Creating a Culture for Truly Great TeachingMind Over Matter: Improving Mental Health in our SchoolsPutting Staff First: A Blueprint for Revitalising our Schools (with Jonny Uttley); An Angler’s Journal; and Cognitive Apprenticeship in Action (editor). 

He maintains that the best thing for our students is that our teachers are happy, healthy, well-qualified, highly motivated, hard-working, well-trained experts; consequently, he believes we should put staff first

He is now engaged in supporting the next generation of school leaders, with a resolute focus upon improving the quality of teaching & learning, and developing the school curriculum. The erstwhile leader of Huntington Research School in York, he believes that an evidence-informed approach is central to successful school improvement.

Additional Information

Author Mary Myatt and John Tomsett
ISBN 9781913622732
No of pages 292
Format Paperback
Publication Date 18 Sep 2021

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