Our aim is to provide a well sequenced, age-appropriate curriculum that aims to prevent incidents of discrimination by tackling these issues openly, but also by providing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to interpret and improve the world around them.
When looking at our curriculum, we used the work of Martin Robinson, who puts forward the idea of curriculum as an opportunity to promote cultural mobility. He says “We might talk about lofty ideals such as the pursuit of wisdom, but that lacks precision. We want to give our students access to the best Science, the best art...but what is the best? The ultimate proof of a successful curriculum is for students to understand a number of different environments and perspectives - we can call this “cultural mobility”.
What the idea of cultural mobility gets at is that schools should be informing children about different value systems. This is one of the most challenging and important areas of curriculum design because it immerses us in the conflict between tradition (“the best that has been thought and said”) and critical thinking (whose truth?).
So what do we do? We go back to our values - which curriculum choices help us achieve these aims? It’s not about having a set number of artists/writers/designers who are black or female or gay, but that our whole curriculum deliberately offers different perspectives on the world and that we juxtapose different ways of seeing and knowing - in that way we expand our students’ perspectives on the world.” (Robinson, M, Curriculum: Athena vs The Machine, 2019)
In our curriculum design we are therefore mindful of the need for different perspectives, recognising Bristol’s diverse local history and achievement, providing enriching experiences and linking learning to the wider world, including ‘big ideas’ outside of our students’ life experiences. In addition to this, we seek to encourage disadvantaged students to diversify their interests and ensure our curriculum has intentional opportunities to develop literacy and numeracy skills and speaking and listening. We aim to link learning to future careers, whilst also seeking to highlight diversity and inclusion through the celebration of the achievements of marginalised groups throughout history and we use our classrooms, including Life Skills as a safe space to explore issues. Finally, we try to respond to important global and local events such as the murder of George Floyd, the toppling of the Colston statue and the Turkey-Syria earthquake.
Parental support in making our school more inclusive is paramount, so any conversations you can have with your children about issues raised in school would be beneficial. For further information, our curriculum aims and principles can be found here: Downend School and further links can be found on this page to our KS3 and KS4 overviews.