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Partnering Compass Education with Curriculum Design

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.

Jack Harty

Jack Harty

Jack has been in the world of environmental science for several years; graduating from Southampton University in collaboration with the National Oceanography Centre, before completing his teacher training at UCL. He was part of the team who opened Trinity Academy in Bristol where he curated the geography department. During his time there he became a National Geographic Certified Educator and a United Nations Accredited teacher of Climate Change. Jack is passionate about the importance of environmental science and sustainability and the role it plays in preparing the current generation for future challenges they may face. This led him to his current role as Earth Centre Manager at Kingsley School, where he seeks to embed sustainable, environmental and ecological themes throughout the school at both curriculum and operational levels.

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