How to implement successful curriculum change in history: using the EAST model

Most schools will have come up with a new curriculum for history at a time when the statutory changes took place. But with the new focus that OFSTED is placing on having a clear curriculum rationale, many schools are revisiting this all-important issue. As OFSTED realise having a well-conceived curriculum is only part of the formula for success. So much rests on implementation. How much of the intended curriculum is actually experienced by the children. The thorny issue of implementation has bedevilled schools for years. It’s a tricky business. As Charles I’s minister once said to his monarch, “There is more to it, my liege , than bidding it be done!”

Perhaps we need a simple model to help us. The EAST model, developed by The Behavioural Insight Team, is an effective framework which helps to begin to encourage or change behaviours. The four simple principles: Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely (EAST) can be applied to evaluate the effectiveness of a new strategy or to evaluate the perceived impact of a curriculum change. I like this. Although there are flaws in all over-simplified models, the four key areas identified in this acronym are all crucial.

Let’s take them in turn. Easy. Introducing new ideas is a relative straightforward thing to do but getting colleagues to change their practice is VERY difficult. So, producing a complicated plan is unlikely to work. The easier the better.

Secondly, Attractive. What teachers want is something that’s going to ignite pupils’ interest, make their teaching come alive and lead to better results. If its hard to implement, it won’t get done.

Thirdly, social. This needs more explanation, but any of you who have struggled on your own with schemes of work realise how much more engaging it is to be involved in collaborative enterprises. When I ran my history departments I always had 2 members of the tea working on any scheme: one to lead, the other to act as critical friend. The best taught topics were always those where colleagues had a real sense of having made a telling contribution

Lastly, timely. There is nothing worse than being asked to turn your attention to a topic which the school thinks is crucial at that time, when it is certainly not your priority. Timing is everything. You need to catch the wave. Whenever I introduced a new scheme into a particular year group I always used to ensure that there was no other competing demands on teachers’ time. We avoided pressure points of exam prep etc This ensured that the work was privileged and given the high status.


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