Tasked with designing a new curriculum for lower school (years 7 to 9) I instinctively sought something to hang this course on. The first port of call was the UN Sustainable Development Goals which is obvious, what better way to ensure topics and themes are sustainability-focused than to link back into, in essence, the guide of what sustainability is.
But. This in turn opens a can of worms. Sustainability is such a far-reaching topic how do I synthesise this down into half-term, topic-based chunks that allow students to not only develop depth in understanding but also breadth in their knowledge?
For this I was drawn to the concept of “Powerful Knowledge”, that students should be taught and given information which enhances their understanding of the world around them; and it is the world around them that I have used to choose topics. With half-term content looking at water quality (as we reside near an estuary), beach cleanliness (we are a coastal school) as well as choosing topics that empower young people on themes that are important to them such as fast fashion and towns/cities development.
But again, this poses issues. Although now I have context and a focus for each module there is still such scope in each one that if not delivered or taught correctly could overload students. It is here where Compass Education tools come in. Embedding them not only in a topic unto themself so that all students get comfortable with them at the start of their learning journey, but the tools have also been dropped into the separate topics to give students the structure to bring together all the breadth and depth the topics can offer in a controlled fashion. However, I have gone a step further and used the Sustainability Compass within the planning of the schemes of work; following picking the topic I then used a compass to pull apart the underlying themes and nodal points and used these findings as a basis to construct the lesson focus and sequencing within each topic.
And it is here that I find myself; a list of topics compasses them all and lessons to plan. All are in place with the use of the Sustainable Development Goals, our local setting, and Compass Education tools.