The Learning Challenge Curriculum – A New Approach to Topic Work
At Radcliffe On Trent Infant and Nursery School we have worked with an education consultant from Focus Education to introduce the ‘Learning Challenge Curriculum’. This is not a list of specific topics to cover or knowledge to impart as the areas of study and skills to be taught are provided by the National Curriculum 2014. It is a way of organising a series of lessons which captures the interests of the children and makes the learning relevant to them, whilst meeting the National Curriculum requirements. Each aspect has been created to involve, enthuse and challenge our children.
We have used a topic-based approach to the curriculum for many years. This involves linking some subject areas through a common topic or project designed to ensure the children are interested in purposeful learning. The Learning Challenge Curriculum is a natural development and improvement of this work.
The Learning Challenge Curriculum requires teachers to actively think what their curriculum needs to include in order to meet the needs of the children at this school – leading to high standards in all areas of the curriculum. The approach allows teachers to focus on the best way to present their lessons rather than what they need to teach. The concept is built around the principle of greater learner involvement in their work. It requires deep thinking and encourages learners to work using a question as the starting point.
In designing the challenge, teachers and learners are using a prime learning challenge, expressed as a question, as the starting point. Using the information gained from pre learning tasks and the school context, a series of subsidiary challenges are then planned. Each subsidiary learning challenge is also expressed as a question. Importantly, the learning challenges need to make sense to the learners and be something that is within their immediate understanding.
We focus all of our geography, history, science, art and design learning into the Learning Challenge curriculum. This means that instead of discrete lessons in the above subjects every week, we tie them all together under a Learning Challenge question. This question will then be investigated over half a term, allowing greater engagement in learning as each lesson feeds into a bigger picture. By the end of the half-term, the children will have learnt everything required to be able to offer a response to the original question.