What is a knowledge-led school anyway?
In the decade following the publication of Michael Young’s Bringing Knowledge Back In we have had a government White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, which blazed a trail to a new knowledge-rich national curriculum and new content-rich GCSEs and A Levels, followed by further publications: Knowledge and the Future School (Young and Lambert), The Question of Knowledge (ASCL/Parents and Teachers for Excellence) and What Should Schools Teach? Disciplines, Subjects and the Pursuit of Truth (Standish and Sehgal Cuthbert). Today, there are a growing number of schools that claim to take a knowledge-led approach to teaching or a knowledge-rich curriculum. Subject knowledge is also recognised as an essential component of becoming a good teacher, including in the Carter Review of Initial Teacher Education. In October, Amanda Spielman scolded schools for teaching to the test rather than focusing on the curriculum.
So, what does it mean to be a knowledge-led school? Which knowledge is important in curriculum and why? Which subjects should pupils be introduced to and when? What are the principles and criteria for selecting disciplinary knowledge in the curriculum? How do they differ between subjects? In Michael Young’s words, it is ‘the most important issue a curriculum leader ever faces – the question of knowledge’. If this is the case, teachers need to spend more time thinking about the question of knowledge and what this means in the school context.
This discussion will be introduced by three speakers who work in knowledge-led schools.
head of Phoenix Academy in London
CEO of Tenax Schools Academy Trust in Tunbridge Wells
principal of East London Science School