curriculum design

We consider the term curriculum design to be the systemic approach to developing curricula so that the goals of knowledge, understanding, skills and values that students are expected to learn and develop are addressed in a coherent manner.  This means that various curriculum elements can together form a substantive framework for learning and teaching. Curriculum design therefore plays a vital role in enabling Great Learning.


If a curriculum is backward planned then factors such as accessibility, growth mindset and learning routines will be a prominent feature of the curriculum, as opposed to an add-on to an inadequate curriculum. In addition, all elements of the curriculum would be articulated to members of the community.  Finally, the curriculum needs to be consistently reviewed to ensure that it remains aligned to the ideals of Great Learning.


In contrast, schools that just use an ‘off the shelf’ curriculum that is not adapted to their specific learning environment or a ‘suitcase’ curriculum that is brought by travelling teachers will find it difficult to foster the necessary elements of Great Learning. For example, ‘suitcase’ curriculum rarely fits within a clear scope and sequence of learning within the school or adapted to the learning needs of the children. Moreover, within an international setting, such curricula are often designed for students within a particular national system and are therefore not always relevant to international education.

IB World School

IB World School

"striving for EXCELLENCE by ENGAGING minds, EXCITING learners, acting ETHICALLY and showing EMPATHY"

© 2014 by Ian Piper and Adam Sawyer.  All rights reserved.

Proudly created with the staff of Danube International School Vienna and with feedback from the international school community

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Our goal in publishing our GL model is to influence the discussion regarding what is a good school to the core idea of learning.  We give permission for individuals and educational institutions to use the information found on this website for non-commerical research and educational use only, provided that the source is and authors are clearly cited.  We do not give permission for the ideas and content created on this website to be used for commercial purposes.