Transforming education with a ‘connected’ curriculum
Teaching staff at the UCL Academy have devised a curriculum that allows pupils to connect what they are learning with the real world. The innovative approach is transforming the education of students and is now being adopted by school leaders both nationally and internationally.
The UCL Academy, sponsored by UCL, is a school in Camden for 11-18 year olds with a commitment to academic excellence and firmly built on the principle of educating the whole person. It recognises that while good grades matter, critical thinking and problem solving are key for the citizens and leaders of tomorrow.
Launched in the late 2000s, the UCL Grand Challenges is a cross-disciplinary embodiment of our institutional commitment to provide wise solutions to global challenges across Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Cultural Understanding, Human Wellbeing, Transformative Technology and Justice and Equality.
The Connected Curriculum, based on UCL’s Grand Challenges, inspires and encourages teachers to think more deeply and creatively about how to collaborate with colleagues to deepen specialist subject knowledge. Based around “Big Ideas”, students get the opportunity to apply their learning from different subjects to a broader theme.
During one half-term, students connect their studies in humanities with the Big Idea of justice. They learnt about the concept itself, how it could be interpreted from different geographical, philosophical, historical and personal points of view, and what this teaches us about injustice.
Through philosophy, they were introduced to ethics and how these ideas can be used to understand historical, geographical and modern injustices. To end the half-term’s theme, students were then asked to research a current injustice and prepare a three-minute speech to inspire others to do something about it.
The Connected Curriculum has benefitted both staff and students at the Academy and UCL and is making an impact at home and internationally. One UCL Academy’s assistant head teachers is helping schools across Camden to implement a STEM curriculum.
Meanwhile, a new school opened in Udine, Italy in 2016, sponsored by Udinese University, whose curriculum model is based on their study visit to the Academy and a speech by Geraldine Davies (the founding principal) in 2015. School leaders from countries including Australia, Norway, Denmark, China, South Korea and Israel visit the Academy to learn how the curriculum is implemented.