A curriculum is a plan for learning to achieve specific goals. These pans can take various forms. There are 3 different curriculum models

Linear –  all learning is defined in terms of what learners should be able to do at the end of the course. Its focus is on learning outcomes and uses a systematic approach to planning. It starts with the outcomes of the course and then from there the course content is developed to enable the achievement of stated outcomes, which are then evaluated for their effectiveness of achieving the stated outcomes. The focus is on teaching.

There are 4 steps to curriculum design

  • Identify the broad aims and specific objectives
  • Construct the course so objectives can be achieved
  • test capacity of the course to achieve objectives
  • explain the curriculum and objectives to teachers

However, objectives should not be so specific they limit what the teacher can do as this may cause learning experiences to be lost. The advantage of this model is that it enables subject benchmarking and programme specifications. It is part of Outcomes Based Education (Multiprofessional faculty development 2012). This advocates that teachers should contemplate desirable outcomes and define them clearly and precisely. Then they need to work backwards to identify appropriate learning experiences to achieve the stated outcomes. This methodology forces teachers to focus on what learners will do and develop the lessons according to this

The cyclical model Similar to the linear model (Veness 2010), it involves identification of aims and objectives based on needs assessments of professional bodies and students; followed by selection and content development; selection of learning activities; followed by an assessment / evaluation. Nicholls (1978) argued “changes should be planned and introduced on a rational and valid basis according to a logical process. (Nicholls & Nicholls, 1978: Shahazad 2014)

Peyton and Peyton (1998: Multiprofessional faculty development 2012) noted development starts with needs assessment then moves to design followed by implementation for an outcome to be achieved, after this point needs to be reviewed based on the original assessment, and then new needs identified. They also noted that needs will change dependent on societies expectations, so needs are very fluid and not fixed over time, and will be specific to the individual learner. In relation to curriculum design there must be various stages to the process. These include

  • Identify the context of what is to be delivered. This will include current educational or social belief, culture, politics, economy, learners, teachers, professional bodies, exam boards, funding bodies and past influence.
  • Identify learners needs and curriculum bodies requirements
  • Outline aims and outcomes of the sessions
  • Identify ideas and limitations
  • Detail the main structure, topics and sequence of the sessions and any assessments required
  • Identify and develop each topic based on outcomes required
  • Develop a programme of teaching including a timetable, teaching that will be appropriate and assessments and identify resources required
  • Deliver course
  • Develop evaluation strategies
  • Review the course based on feedback and if it met the requirements

Both models adopt an efficient and logical. They are prescriptive with clear objectives and aligned assessment strategies designed to test how well students have achieved the learning outcomes. The advantage of these model is its logical sequential structure which is easy to follow even for inexperience teachers. But it requires a lot of time to develop and analyse

The process/ dynamic/ student-centered model curriculum design is an ongoing process, and activities have value beyond achievement of learning objectives such as socialization, learning through experience, thinking and problem solving – key to the lifelong learning model. It allows the learner to define their own learning goals. This approach emphasizes adult learning methods and approaches and uses active learning rather than a more teacher-led approach Models are shaped by beliefs, experiences and current theories/ practices. These models go beyond the linear/ cyclic model, although they still form part of the process. Problems arise as it is difficult to ensure consistent content coverage, as it is difficult to standardize, it is hard to measure performance against stated objective and quality of learning is dependent on the quality of teaching.

Stenhouse (1975:  Veness 2010) stated there were four processes of education

  • Training or skills acquisition
  • Instruction or information acquisition
  • Initiation or socialization
  • Induction or problem solving


Behavioural objectives for Stenhouse, are important in the first two processes and in the last two processes it was not possible to use objectives. Therefore, behavioural objectives were inappropriate for this model. Objectives should be clear and specific but not stated in behavioural terms.

According to this model, the best approach to curriculum design is to combine the best of both approaches based onto student need, teacher experience and resources. So the overall shape of the course will be designed including the main aims and objectives, but the detailed planning and design will be left to the teachers, enabling ownership of their programme. But organisations still retain some degree of control through monitoring to ensure stakeholder requirements are met. This model also enables learners to develop problem solving, critical thinking and reasoning skills based on real and common problems and enables self-directed learning.

There are various education ideologies. These include

  • Liberal This theory advocates that everyone should have the greatest possible freedom which is reinforced through laws. Liberalists welcome change and progress through liberation and human rights (Lynch 2016). They believe we are all rational beings and able to reason and tutors must develop these reasoning skills in learners. However, this does not account for maladaptive reasoning processes based on experiences and current situation or mental health issues
  • Progressive – the aim is to meet individual needs and support their personal growth and development enabling them to become adaptable to changing environments and well balanced (Mitchell 2014)
  • Instrumental – curriculum design centers around creating a product and creating learners a constructive place in society (Mitchell 2014)
  • Democratic – focus is on curriculums that are participatory, empowering and democratic. Learners are fully participant in the learning process. It recognizes individual differences, so curriculums should be designed around this and the aim is to produce learners who are integrated contributors of society (Bennis no date)

Curriculum design can be seen as either a

  • Content – Focus is entirely on the content of the course and efficiency of delivery. However, this created organisations that are conveyor belt and does not develop the learner holistically
  • Body of knowledge to be transmitted through a syllabus, objectives are based on required changes in behaviour. However, there are other factors that can be measured to determine success, a successful course does not necessarily just need to change behaviours.
  • Product – to achieve a specific goal. Focus is on what happens and how people prepare for evaluation. This model enables selection of what should be taught and identifying learner’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Process– curriculum is the interaction between learners, tutors and knowledge
  • Praxis – emphasis is on judgement and creating meaning, wellbeing and emancipation. Actions are therefore committed (Skills2Train no date).

There are various factors that influence curriculum design these include

  • National policy – there are significant amounts of legislation that will affect curriculum design, i.e., Equalities Act (2010) will influence curriculum design and ensure that all learners are given equality of opportunity, this will influence the type of materials presented, and ensuring that inclusive practice occurs so all learners can reach their optimal potential. Legislation also states that learning organisations need to help learners develop their skills in literacy numeracy and ICT – so wherever possible these elements need to be incorporated into the curriculum.
  • Logical issues for our cookery sessions curriculum design will be dependent on the amount of space required to produce the items. We only have 2 cookers and can have up to 6 learners. Also the time required to prepare and cook the food has also be taken into consideration.
  • Resource availability – this plays a crucial part in curriculum design as the availability of resources will significantly impact on what and how the lessons are taught. We have a budget of £15 per session for ingredients. So therefore we can only produce cheap dishes (which actually is the aim of the course – to be able to cook on a limited budget). Therefore, we could never teach our learners how to cook food such as surf and turf.
  • awarding organisation requirements accreditors will set the curriculum so design has to be designed around these set parameters or learners are not likely to achieve objectives if they are not taught within these parameters.
  • Needs of learners – pretests will determine specific needs, it is essential that these needs are catered for and will assist in the development of the curriculum presentation, and will also indicate potential additional resources required. Lesson plans and teaching materials will need to be adapted accordingly.
  • Educational ideology the prevailing ideologies, beliefs and values will influence the content and way that the course is taught. If for example the Germans did win WW2, then what was taught in history would be significantly different (this is an extreme example but does highlight how ideologies will shape curriculum design)
  • Sociological issues By default the majority of our learners come from deprived economic backgrounds, this is because the majority of them are homeless. This does not necessarily mean that they were always in that situation; one of our learners who is now homeless currently had a £50,000 salary and lost it all.

Our cookery lessons are cookery on a shoe string and we only cook items that they can afford, 2 weeks ago we even managed to make an extra dish of soup out of the by-product of a dish they were cooking – so they learnt how to make an extra meal for free. We also provide budgeting courses to assist them make their money go further. Our ethos is to be accepting to all and we value each individual no matter what their position

We ensure that the examples we use reflect the social and economic circumstances of our learners, so we would notice examples of people who are in work living in a nice house and own a car, as this would just highlight their differences to traditional society and make them feel isolated. Cultural diversity is embraced through learners sharing their experiences in the group. Even the layout of the room encourages learners to see themselves as a group as tables are put together and that nobody is separate.

On the allotment we are all the same, despite me being classed as the Chief Executive, I still muck in and do all the tasks the other learners do, I probably get muddier than they do. But this shows them that despite our social and economic differences we are all the same, and that I am not above them and that we are all equal. This attitude then hopefully rubs off on them and they use these skills with others.

Everybody is listened to and has a voice that is heard and together we break down some of the barriers that they face in society.


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