Hello. My name is Jo and I am the founder, director, and currently sole employee of Curriculum Matters. It was whilst I was working flat out as a Deputy Headteacher, responsible for curriculum and standards, teaching and learning, STEM and a multitude of other areas I thought “there has to be another way”. The work load was unsustainable, as it is for many, maybe you, and when teaching classes becomes an interruption to your flow of work I had to stop and evaluate my purpose. As teachers we are employed to teach: how misguided have we become when teaching becomes an inconvienence at worst or squeezed in at best when that is what we were employed to do and be?
So I took a moment to reflect on what I was doing, how I had got to this point, and what could be done differently to change it. I was spinning too many plates, but those plates needed spinning. If one slowed or stopped it took more time than I had to get it back up to speed. To aid the perpetual motion I turned my plates into cogs where the spinning of one sustained the spinning of another. Although this had an impact greater than the sum of its individual parts and bought me time to attend to the smooth running of one cog safe in the knowledge that the others would keep moving, my capacity to teach was still being squeezed. This was when I realised that I was not only keeping my own cogs spinning, I was spinning the plates of others who had yet to learn how to spin their own (never mind them not yet being cogs).
Until the plates we don’t need are removed and those that remain are turned into cogs, the situation remains, for many of us in schools, with unsustainable workloads that leave us heading for burn-out. One of my favorite sayings is “Let Teachers Teach” and, as leaders, we are the ones that need to create the conditions to allow teachers to do just that. So I made the decision to start Curriculum Matters so that I could teach plate spinning and cog-making to leaders so that they can let their teachers do just that, teach. With efficient and effective systems in place teachers can use their time to focus on what matters, their students and their education.
Just to clarify for anyone who thinks I make a living spinning plates and making cogs, I don’t! What I do is what I am good at – developing expertise in curriculum leaders at all levels so that they and their teams can get on and teach. I market myself as a education consultant (I’m not sure yet if the cap fits?) but what I am sure of is my ability to draw on my extensive experience of leading successful teams where success is measured in staff and student wellbeing and by results. My methods make sense and are simple, and my approach is evidence based.
I care about the future, and about giving young people the best platform to go on to create that future. Our young people are in school now at a point in their education relative to their age. That education is part of a continuum, a curriculum that we, as leaders, inform. It is with that passion for the curriculum, knowing the impact it has and the need to get those plates turned into cogs and spinning in a way of working that lets teachers teach, I launched Curriculum Matters to share what I do and the way that I do it. If you want to be able to focus on provide young people with the best education with out exhausting yourself in the process then give me a try. I promise that my involvement will not increase workload, on the contrary it will reduce it. Doing less to achieve more? Yes. Why would you not give Curriculum Matters a try?