How to implement a whole-school curriculum approach: Grattan Guide

by Jordana Hunter, Amy Haywood

26.03.2023 report


School principals can boost staff morale, enhance teaching quality, and lift student performance at their school by introducing a whole-school approach to curriculum planning.

Download the guide

This practical Grattan Guide is designed to help principals make this transformation.

Australia will not close the ever-widening achievement gap between disadvantaged and advantaged students unless we solve the curriculum planning problem in our schools.

A Grattan survey of 2,243 teachers and principals across Australia found only 15 per cent of teachers have access to a common bank of high-quality curriculum materials for all their classes.

Teachers say they often plan lessons from scratch, scouring the internet and social media to try to find materials.

This creates a ‘lesson lottery’ in Australian schools – it undermines student learning and adds to teacher workloads.

When teachers have access to a common bank of materials, they are almost four times more likely to say they are satisfied with their school’s planning approach – and they save about three hours a week because they don’t have to source and create materials themselves.

This Guide draws on lessons Grattan’s education experts learnt on a study tour of five schools across Australia that have successfully implemented a whole-school curriculum approach.

The role-model schools are:

  • Marsden Road Public School in south-west Sydney
  • Docklands Primary School in central Melbourne
  • Ballarat Clarendon College in regional Victoria
  • Aveley Secondary College in outer Perth
  • Serpentine Primary School in a regional town near Perth

The Guide identifies six key features of a whole-school curriculum approach:

  • A shared vision among school leaders and teachers.
  • Shared, detailed, and sequenced curriculum plans and materials.
  • An agreed approach to classroom instruction.
  • A tiered model for supporting the learning of all students.
  • Curriculum leadership roles and expertise.
  • Ongoing professional learning and support for teachers.

Transformational change like this is hard. It takes leadership, commitment, cooperation, and persistence – successfully implementing a whole-school curriculum approach can take five years or more.

But the payoffs are enormous, for teachers and students. Our Guide can help schools get there.

Photo courtesy of Aveley Secondary College and Sharp Shooting Photography.