Designing Your Curriculum Part 3: Impact

This is the third blog in a series. You can read parts 1 and 2 below:

How to design your Maths Curriculum Part 1: Intent
How to design your Maths Curriculum Part 2: Implementation


With thanks to Nick Hart, Headteacher at Courthouse Junior School, for this really interesting article.

Intent & Implementation vs Impact 

Our curriculum intent lays out what we expect children to understand and be able to apply and our implementation strategies seek to enable children to learn what we intend. The achieved curriculum, that which children actually learn, is inevitably somewhat watered down from our
intention but our leadership of curriculum, culture, teaching and learning should aim to minimise the differential between our intentions and our achievements.

Ultimately, our curriculum must have an impact on what children have learned but there are other measures too. As leaders we also want to have a positive effect on teachers’ behaviours and their subject knowledge, as well as school systems. Children’s books reflect how well we have implemented our curriculum so in a sense they are a measure of the systems that we have set up and the diet that children are experiencing day to day. Children’s books are not a reliable reflection of what children have learned.

How can we measure the Impact of our teaching? 

Measuring the impact of our curriculum is a task littered with dead ends and red herrings and unless we have a clear idea of how children learn, we can make judgements about what children have learned that range from confident to optimistic to dodgy to downright wrong. If our curriculum expectations are clearly let out and we implement them well in a culture of disciplined learning with great teaching, then children will in the majority produce good work in lessons. It can be tempting to think that this equates to children having learned what we intended but that is not necessarily the

Learning is a change in long term memory, not the completion of a piece of work straight after a
teacher explains something. The work that children complete, the feedback that they receive and
the subsequent interactions with the subject content are all vital parts of learning but in itself is not a reliable marker of whether children have actually learned something. Children have actually learned something if they can recall it at a later date or can apply it in a different context.

To know whether children have actually learned something, we have to give them the opportunity to think about what they have learned outside of the comfort of just having been taught it. Teacher  assessments should be based on independent tasks, including tests, after sufficient time has elapsed. Those tasks and tests provide a set of information about what children know and can do but what we do with that information is crucial.

How can we pinpoint areas of difficulty and address them?

The Rising Stars half termly tests are perfect for checking children’s understanding of the concepts covered in the previous half term. Specific assessments help us to review our implementation strategies to make them more effective whereas general teacher assessments about how a child is doing compared to age related expectations only gives us information needed for accountability purposes. Making those assessments formative by actually using the information to improve the curriculum and our teaching practices is far more beneficial. The Rising Stars half termly tests are supported by question level analysis spreadsheets which help to pinpoint specific difficulties and spot patterns, enabling leaders to adapt the curriculum and organise opportunities to address those weaknesses.

Actions to consider:

  • Design or choose assessment tasks and tests based on the curriculum intent.  Make sure that assessments will yield useful information on what children can and can’t do.

  • Design an assessment calendar that means assessments are made of children’s learning away from the point of teaching.

  • Use the work in children’s books as a measure of how well the curriculum has been implemented rather than whether children have learned the intended curriculum.


Mastering Maths, maths, Maths Curriculum, Maths for the More Able, Maths Mastery, Maths Teaching, New Curriculum Mental Maths Tests, Picture Maths, primary maths

Added to your basket: