1st Edition

Curriculum: Theory, Culture and the Subject Specialisms

By Ruth Ashbee Copyright 2021
    146 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    146 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Curriculum, or the substance of what is taught, is the core business of schools, and yet little exists in the way of a theory of curriculum for educators. This book sets out the principles of curriculum theory and provides a common framework and practical strategies for the successful implementation and effective management of powerful knowledge-based curriculum for all.

    Offering powerful insights across the subject divides, the book explores the key elements of curriculum design including progression, sequencing, substantive and disciplinary knowledge, and the relationships of subjects to their sister disciplines. Providing a crucial foundation for school leadership, it covers:

    • curriculum in the contexts of learning, organisational culture and key philosophical and moral ideas
    • an explanation of thirteen specialist subjects, with outline mapping of the knowledge
    • an emphasis on the cultural elements needed for sustained excellence in curriculum work within schools
    • the codification of curriculum and the multiple values of documents for curriculum thinking and execution.

    Enabling leaders to analyse and discuss subjects beyond their specialisms, this essential text will equip readers to implement real change by leading intelligently and effectively on curriculum.

    1. Introduction
    2. Curriculum in Context
    3. Curriculum Theory
    4. The Subjects
    5. The Codification of Curriculum





    Ruth Ashbee is a teacher, senior leader and blogger, and has worked in state comprehensives since qualifying as a teacher of physics in 2005. Specialising in curriculum, teacher development and school improvement, her interests include philosophy, the professionalisation of teaching and the destruction of ivory towers.

    ‘Ruth Ashbee has produced the guide that senior leaders urgently need. She manages to show both why subject-sensitivity matters and how leaders can transcend subjects to find intellectual and practical coherence. The reader is also guided through subjects’ complex relationships with changing culture, and the attendant responsibilities leaders must exercise. Thus, her respect for the truth quests and traditions of subject communities unlocks bigger educational thinking.’

    Christine Counsell, Education Consultant, Trustee of David Ross Education Trust, Editor of Teaching History journal; formerly History PGCE leader, University of Cambridge and Director of Education, Inspiration Trust

    ‘Has there ever been an aspect of education more misunderstood, more neglected and more important than curriculum? For many years the ‘curriculum’ was broadly synonymous with the timetable and the subjects a school offered. For teachers, the job of thinking about what children would study was outsourced to exam boards and DfE documents. But times they are a-changin’. The past few years has seen many school leaders and teachers begin to come to terms with the extent of their ignorance on this most crucial aspect of children’s education and there has been an explosion of interest in curriculum thinking. In the scramble to try to work out what it means to plan, implement and evaluate a curriculum, there has been a range of very useful books published but none are quite so coherent and useful as Ruth Ashbee’s. If you read one book on curriculum let it be this one. Curriculum offers an essential handbook for thinking about how the school subjects are organised, what makes each unique and marvellous, and how to induct students into the wonderful business of making meaning. I have little doubt it will bestride the narrow educational world like a colossus for many years to come.’

    David Didau, Education Writer and Speaker

    ‘The perfect antidote to the tired old generic books that focus on curriculum because of inspection or accountability, and one that will challenge and demand that senior leaders do better. Ruth Ashbee has curated a demanding curriculum for all those - and she makes clear that should be everyone in school leadership - who have a direct interest in the substance of what pupils learn in school. For teachers and leaders, this book shows Ashbee to be to curriculum what Lemov is to pedagogy and Willingham is to cognitive science. Brilliant.’

    Stuart Lock, CEO, Advantage Schools Trust