Senior Curriculum Manager for the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Jan Mills, explains the ongoing Subject Guidance review for the PYP which considers broader and deeper curriculum guidance.
Following the successful launch of the PYP: From principles into practice, the PYP development team moved into reviewing the scope and sequence documents. This review soon moved beyond these documents to consider broader and deeper curriculum guidance and has become known as the Subject Guidance review.
What is the subject guidance review?
Great question, and it has multiple answers. In a nutshell, it is the review of the current support we provide for PYP schools for subjects, and the role of the subjects within a transdisciplinary programme. Currently we have the scope and sequence documents available on the PRC (Programme Resource Centre). These are under review, and at the same time we are developing new resources.
There are three main drivers for the review:
- A need to refresh this material to align with the (2018) PYP: From principles into practice.
- Updating to reflect current research in the field of curriculum to remain future-focused.
- Responding to the needs and requests from schools.
We are mindful that our schools access this material for many different purposes, and it needs to fulfil many needs. From support in developing school-based scope and sequences, to planning transdisciplinary learning across and beyond subjects. We have also asked ourselves; how can we support those schools that have mandated curriculum demands in designing learning in a PYP framework?
How is the review being done?
The PYP community is an incredibly diverse, collaborative, and experienced community, and the review is harnessing this resource as much as possible. All the material we develop reflects what is happening in schools now to varying degrees. We aim to support excellent practice, provide guidance on how to develop your curriculum practices, and first steps for those schools just beginning to explore the PYP. Insights from research, scholars, experts in the field and PYP targeted research also support future directions.
Will the six subject areas remain the same?
Yes, and we are aiming to publish as a single digital resource, so it is easier to navigate for users and connections are made more visible. However, we are extending these six subjects to include guidance for additional languages learning, support for learners new to the language of instruction, and focused guidance for foundational learning through play for our early years educators.
Are the phase-based learning continuums that are in the scope and sequence material now going away?
No, these phase-based continuums provide excellent support for many schools. They will be refreshed for the Arts, Languages, Mathematics and PSPE so they are current and future-facing. Examples of school-based continuums for Social Studies and Science will also be provided.
What areas of the review are you most excited about?
There are multiple areas in the review that are exciting, but three areas excite me the most.
One is the guidance for foundational learning through play for the early years educators, and there is so much potential for bringing the pedagogy of play through all ages.
The second is identifying and developing progressions of learning that shift the focus from curriculum content to a focus on the growth of the learner. Our challenge here, of course, is identifying what learning is visible in all PYP classrooms, regardless of the content being learned. I am excited that we are exploring what this means through the lens of the inquirer, and what skills do all inquirers share, and how can PYP educators explicitly develop these skills within, across and beyond the subjects.
The third is the positioning of schools and teachers as curriculum designers and supporting the development of these professional skills.
Tell me more about teachers as curriculum designers?
It has been an interesting insight into how many PYP teachers identify themselves as designers of curriculum, but there is also a group in our community who feel they have little agency in the design of curriculum. Of course, all schools and all educators make choices about what they teach and how they teach it, what students learn and how they learn it.
We are currently partnering with the University of Twente on a research project: Curriculum Design in PYP schools to really identify current practice, challenges, and opportunities. Our aim is to use the results of this study to develop a curriculum design tool kit, a collection of tools schools and teachers can use to be successful designers of their own curriculum.
So, if you find a survey in your email inbox – we would really appreciate YOUR input.
When will all this new material be available?
The aim is to have the new subject guidance published at the end of 2024 so schools can start accessing and using it in 2025. It will not require schools to make any immediate changes, but the hope is schools find these optional tools support them to review their own school-based curriculum, and over time to collaboratively redesign it.
How can people get involved?
We do host a global online discussion board, where we often ask for input or feedback from educators on the discussion board. This discussion, while ongoing, ebbs and flows as the cycle of the review proceeds. We will be using it to test some ideas out throughout this year, so if you would like to be involved, please email email@example.com
We are also looking to trial some materials during 2023, see how they work before we publish them, and take onboard feedback. More information about the trials, and how to volunteer will go out to schools at the end of 2022, beginning of 2023.
How to find out more?
A series of Development Reports were published in April 2021 providing updates on the review in the subjects, and in April 2022, new updates will be available in English, French and Spanish. Keep an eye out on the Programme Resource Centre for the news item when these reports become available.