Thinking about an Area Based Curriculum: A Guide for Practitioners (Report) - RSA

Thinking about an Area Based Curriculum: A Guide for Practitioners


  • Education
  • Curriculum

The report summarises findings from the RSA’s three-year area-based curriculum project in Peterborough. Together with its suite of additional resources, it aims to provide an honest, practical and reflective analysis of the project's findings, and its potential implications for policy and practice.

There seems to be general agreement that the nationally prescribed body of knowledge contained in the National Curriculum should provide a minimum entitlement, but should not define everything that is taught in schools. How can schools take this opportunity to develop a whole curriculum that both meets national expectations (in an international context) and meets the wider needs and interests of their students, families and localities?

The RSA area-based curriculum proposes a way forward for schools to develop a ‘school curriculum’ in partnership with their communities: local businesses, heritage and cultural organisations, voluntary groups, faith communities and parents. This will inevitably open up questions about educational purpose and ownership. An RSA area-based curriculum is one that is:

  • About a place - making use of local context and resources to frame learning

  • By a place - designed by schools in partnership with other local stakeholders, and

  • For a place - meeting the specific needs of children and local communities.

This form of partnership working was intended to provide a range of benefits to students and schools, including:

  • Access to local expertise and resources to support learning

  • Access to sites for learning in the locality

  • Alternative perspectives on learning, education, and the locality

  • Shared ownership of the learning going on in schools

  • A range of sustainable relationships between schools and local stakeholders

  • Direct, positive contact for students with adults from a range of sectors and backgrounds.


Picture of Louise Thomas
Louise Thomas
Former RSA Education researcher

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