English Mastery: Writing an evidence-based curriculum

Posted on 18-04-2019


My experience of English Mastery

In 2013 I started working at Ark Schools, a network of academy schools based in London, Birmingham, Portsmouth and Hastings. Part of my job was to develop Ark’s new English Mastery curriculum. I was part of a team with Amy McJennett, who joined at the same time as me, and the Heads of English at 8 Ark secondaries. Our goal was to create an evidence-based Key Stage 3 curriculum that would take the best research on English teaching and apply it practically to the typical KS3 classroom.

It definitely wasn’t easy. One of the many reasons I am glad that the curriculum is getting more attention nowadays from Ofsted is that curriculum development is tough, and unless it is made a priority, it is hard to do well. We were fortunate that even before the current Ofsted focus on curriculum, the Ark central team and the individual head teachers wanted to make curriculum a priority. Whilst it was hard work, in many ways a multi-academy trust was the best place to do this kind of work, as it meant there were central resources available for the work, but that it was always grounded in the reality of how schools work. 

We also had an opportunity in that national curriculum levels were being abolished, and the English Mastery curriculum was the testing ground for new, post-levels forms of assessment like multiple-choice questions and comparative judgement. A lot of the thinking and ideas in my book Making Good Progress came out of the work we did on the English Mastery curriculum.

Take part in English Mastery

I left Ark in 2017 to work at No More Marking. I am no longer formally involved with English Mastery, but I’m still a huge fan. Since I left it’s continued to develop with Amy as the leader and it’s now possible for schools outside the Ark network to take part. 

For September 2019, English Mastery is partnering with the Education Endowment Fund for an efficacy trial. This will measure the impact of a knowledge-rich, cumulative curriculum on pupil progress and it will also measure the difference a centralised curriculum can have on reducing teacher workload.

English Mastery are looking for 40 innovative schools who are interested in evidence-based approaches to teaching English. The trial is great opportunity for schools who are currently rethinking the intent of their curriculum provision and how subject-specific professional development can support implementation and lead to impact.

The English Mastery EEF trial

EEF trial schools get to experience the programme at a fraction of the usual cost and will receive:

  • A fully-resourced Year 7 & 8 curriculum

  • 6 professional development days for the English team

  • 3 bespoke school visits

  • An integrated assessment strand

  • Being a part of the English Mastery community

If you would like to find out more, you can do the following

  • Visit the website

  • Book a call and speak to Amy or Nick

  • Sign-up for the English Mastery webinar on Thursday 25th April at 4pm