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Training Tools for Curriculum Development. A Resource Pack
Core Modules


Activity 1: The structure of a curriculum framework

  1. The structure of a curriculum framework

  2. Formulation of what students should know and be able to do

  3. Approaches to curriculum integration


This activity examines the nature of curriculum frameworks, the choices which are made in the process of their development and characteristics which they share.
In doing so it is important to appreciate that curriculum has many dimensions:

  • The intended or specified curriculum has a focus on the aims and content of what is to be taught – that is, the curriculum which is planned and expressed through curriculum frameworks and other formal documents and which may have the authority of law.
  • The implemented or enacted curriculum relates to what is actually put in place for students in schools which may represent local interpretations of what is required in formal curriculum documents. Here curriculum and instruction are seen as being closely interrelated.
  • The experienced curriculum refers to the formal learning actually experienced by students. This is more concerned with the learners, what knowledge and perspectives they bring, their ability to learn and their interaction with the curriculum.
  • The hidden curriculum refers to student experiences of school beyond the formal structure of the curriculum, and in particular the messages communicated by the school or education system concerning values, beliefs, behaviours and attitudes. The messages contained in the hidden curriculum may complement the intended and implemented curricula or they may undermine them.
  • The null curriculum refers all those areas and dimensions of human experience which the curriculum does not specify and which are not addressed through teaching.

Normally an intended curriculum framework and related syllabuses are designed and implemented, but then evolve and change as they are interpreted and implemented at different levels and in different contexts.

A curriculum framework is usually a single document which is supplemented by other materials to guide the implementation of specific parts of the framework. These may give more detailed specification or guidance by individual year, subject or learning area, addressing the requirements of the school system, individual schools and the classroom. The documents may include syllabuses, programmes of study, year plans and lesson plans. They may be developed centrally, locally or by individual teachers, and may have the status of support material or official documents which must be used. Regardless of their contents or status, they should be consistent with statements made in the curriculum framework.

In this Resource Pack, a curriculum framework is understood to be both:

  • a technical tool which establish parameters for the development of other curriculum documents such as subject syllabuses, and
  • an agreed social document which defines and expresses national priorities for education and aspirations for the future of the nation.

Curriculum frameworks are one way of expressing an intended curriculum. In examining them, it is important to consider two questions:

  1. What are the common elements of a curriculum framework?
  2. What purpose(s) do curriculum frameworks serve?

Table 3.1 illustrates some common components of Curriculum Frameworks.

1. Introduction: Current Context Reflects the findings of the contextual scan. It describes the social and economic environment in which teaching and learning occur
2. Educational Policy Statements Describes the Government’s goals for education, such as universal literacy and numeracy, the development of skills needed for economic prosperity and the creation of a stable and tolerant society
3. Statement of Broad Learning
Objectives and Outcomes /
standards for each level/cycle
Describes what students should know and be able to do when
they complete their school education. Outcomes should be
expressed in a range of domains, including knowledge,
understanding, skills and competencies, values and attitudes
4. Structure of the Education System

Describes the school system within which the curriculum framework is to be applied. It should specify:

  • Number of years of schooling, including compulsory schooling
  • Stages (or cycles) of schooling and their durations
  • Number of weeks in the school years, hours or teaching periods in the school week
5. Structure of curriculum content,
learning areas and subjects

Describes the organization of content within the framework and
the extent to which schools and students can make choices. It might describe:

  • The pattern of subjects or learning areas to be studied in each stage or cycle (such as core, elective and optional subjects)
  • A brief description of each subject or learning area outlining the rationale for its inclusion in the curriculum and the contribution it makes to the achievement of the learning outcomes defined in Section 3
  • The number of hours to be assigned to each subject or learning area in each stage or cycle
6. Standards of resources required
for implementation

Describes standards as they apply to:

  • Teachers – qualifications, teaching load (number of classes per week)
  • Students – number per class in each subject
  • Materials – textbooks, computers, other equipment; facilities – classrooms, furniture, fittings.
7. Teaching methodology Describes the range of teaching approaches that might be employed in the implementation of the framework
8. Assessing student achievement Describes the importance of assessing the extent to which
students achieve the outcomes established for each subject, and recommends or prescribes types of assessment strategies (such as written, oral, performance and practical skills demonstration)

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