Rooting the school in your curriculum

ManageBac is the leading planning, assessment and reporting platform for the IB continuum

Curriculum is a common theme when considering the challenges that international schools face. Which curricula should your school offer? How do you ensure teachers with varied international backgrounds deliver the curriculum in a standard way? How do you ensure you are meeting the standards of your curriculum, especially when your school is trying to balance multiple curricula offerings? These are just some of the questions that likely haunt your school’s senior leadership team on a regular basis.

The challenges international schools face with curriculum are often unique. Local schools typically don’t need to choose a curriculum, as a standard one is usually mandated by the local or national government. They tend to not worry about recruiting teachers that are experienced in the curriculum, as most local teachers would have had experience in the local curriculum already. While some local schools may choose to run multiple curricula alongside each other, the additional curriculum can often be considered an international curriculum, and if a school is running an international curriculum, then can they be considered a fully local school anymore?

At Faria Education Group, we consider the curriculum to be the roots of the school that support all the teaching, learning and other activities that the school is engaging in. Without strong roots, it is difficult for the students, teachers and other members of the school community to grow and prosper. Therefore, we find it extremely important that schools are engaging in all the necessary steps to map, plan, deliver and analyse their curriculum on a regular basis. This begs the question: how do international schools meet their challenges with curriculum to build strong roots for their schools?

Curriculum might mean something different to every school, but it’s important that everyone at the school is on the same page so the curriculum can be implemented effectively

When speaking with a school we like to ask what their curriculum encompasses in their mind. It can be interesting to see the varied results. Some people might say that curriculum is the standards combined with the school’s mission and values. Others might consider curriculum to be the teacher instruction and the textbooks and resources used to deliver it. We’ve even heard other ideas like character education, local community needs, etc. There isn’t necessarily a right answer. Curriculum might mean something different to every school, but it’s important that everyone at the school is on the same page so the curriculum can be implemented effectively.

Once a school has defined its curriculum it’s important that there is coordination when mapping the curriculum, planning units and delivering the curriculum through daily instruction. Coordination between these key areas is often quite tricky, especially when, as mentioned before at international schools, teachers and coordinators come from diverse geographic backgrounds with experience in various curricula and various philosophies on teaching and learning. This is why we believe that professional development for teachers and coordinators within each school is so vital, especially development that is specific to the curricula the school is running. For schools that run multiple curricula, this likely means providing development specific to each curriculum. If we go back to our tree analogy, the curriculum is the roots but the professional development is the water and sunshine that provide nourishment to those roots and help the tree to grow.

Once you’ve established your curriculum and ensured that your faculty is on board and ready to deliver it, there is still one challenge that hasn’t been mentioned yet. Every school needs a learning management system that is flexible enough to support the school’s curriculum in the way that the school wants. Most schools are stuck trying to wedge their well-thought out plans into a system that just doesn’t quite fit.

We encourage you to visit managebac.com to find out more about a learning management system for international schools that puts curriculum first to support schools at their roots.