A Curriculum of Hope

As rich in humanity as in knowledge

By: Dr. Debra Kidd


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Products specifications
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Size: 222 x 182mm
Pages : 168
ISBN : 9781781353424
Format: Paperback
Published: January 2020

Written by Debra Kidd, A Curriculum of Hope: As rich in humanity as in knowledge explores how good curriculum design can empower schools to build bridges between their pupils’ learning and the world around them.

A great many schools are wondering how they can build a curriculum model that meets the demands of government policy as well as the needs of the children and communities they serve. In A Curriculum of Hope, Debra illustrates how teachers can deliver learning experiences that genuinely link knowledge to life.

Working on the premise that a strong curriculum is supported by five key pillars of practice – coherence, credibility, creativity, compassion and community – she presents a plethora of examples that demonstrate how schools, parents, pupils and the wider local community can learn together to build from within.

Debra enquires into the ways in which schools can create units of work that are both knowledge- and humanity-rich, and challenges the view that the role of children is simply to listen and learn – instead advocating their active engagement with local and global issues.

She does so by delving into the role of pedagogy as a means of empowering children, and by exploring some of the more overlooked pedagogical tools that can have a great impact on children’s learning and well-being – story, movement and play – as well as some of the recent research into memory and retention.

Towards the back of the book you will find case studies demonstrating how teachers can work with both their own and other subject departments across the school to plan in ways that allow for pupil choice, autonomy and responsibility. Furthermore, there are some accompanying planning documents for these examples provided in the appendix (The Seed Catalogue) which you may find useful, and these documents are also available for download.

Suitable for teachers and leaders in all schools.

Picture for author Dr. Debra Kidd

Dr. Debra Kidd

Debra Kiddtaught for 23 years in primary, secondary and higher education settings. She is the author of three previous books - Teaching: Notes from the Front Line, Becoming Mobius and Uncharted Territories - and believes more than anything else that 'the secret to great teaching is to make it matter'. Debra has a doctorate in education and co-founded and organised Northern Rocks, one of the largest annual teaching and learning conferences in the UK.

View Debra's profile in Schools Week, October 2014.

Click here to listen in on Debra's podcast with Pivotal Education on 'teaching, learning and politics'.

Click here to watch a video interview with Debra as part of The Education Foundation's series of Education Britain Conversations.


  1. Teachers weary of the strictures impose upon them by the National Curriculum will likely find much to admire in Debra Kidd's fourth book. Stating at the outset that any strong curriculum will call for five key pillars of practice -coherence, credibility, creativity, compassion and community -she proceeds to guide readers through a series of botanically-themed chapters that make the case for a curriculums that go beyond simply being knowledge-rich. At primary, that means building on younger pupils' prior knowledge and embracing Mantle of the Expert; at secondary, improving GCSE results by dramatically improving KS3 provision and utilising curriculums that are still knowledge-rich, but which also do far more to nurture human development and help young people come to terms with who they are. Yes, there's plenty of 'progressivism' grounded here, if you want to call it that, but it's at all y a clear-eyed, informed awareness of times what's actually achievable and workable in practice.
  2. In her new book, A Curriculum of Hope, Debra outlines an approach for bringing such a hopeful curriculum to life and offers examples from across the world of how schools are doing just that - despite the constraints of national, political and parental expectations. She has previously described this process as pedagogical activism, the small acts of resistance that teachers can implement in their classrooms to effect change. No curriculum can come to life without pedagogy. Curriculum may be the map, but pedagogy is the means of transport - and believe it or not teachers have more autonomy than they think. Like weeds growing through cracks in concrete, hopeful and humane curriculum models are flourishing, and Debra's book celebrates them.-‹
  3. It has been claimed that the emphasis on academic education is alienating a generation of children and that policy-makers should offer alternative education to young people who thrive doing vocational courses. Building a curriculum within any school community is an opportunity to reflect aspirations, futures and demands needed within society, but the straight-jacketed approach will not suit all individuals all the time. With a perceived approach focused on incessant assessment, pressure on schools and standardised approaches, it is clear that any enjoyment of learning can easily be lost for the sake of results. So, is there any hope?

    Fortunately, there is hope. And with many schools wondering how they can build a curriculum model that meets the demands of government policy as well as the needs of the children and communities they serve, Debra Kidd has produced a book that illustrates how teachers and school leaders can deliver learning experiences that genuinely link knowledge to life.

    In her book, Debra argues that a strong curriculum that supports the growth of children should have five core elements: coherence, credibility, creativity, compassion, and community. Central to Kidd's argument is that when these pillars are in place they shouldn't demand a great deal of extra work for teachers and schools. In fact, admirably, pedagogy is at the heart of this book as a means of empowering children in developing key skills and learning.

    In -˜The pedagogy of power' chapter, The reader is reminded of the power of stories, in particular by adding a pivot to a story that brings students in, directly. Calling upon further reading and research, the argument here is that stories sit within the framework of what can be called our cognitive tools, Engaging body, emotion, intellect and imagination that creates a powerful web in which we can trap learning and memory. Alongside stories, Debra also reminds us about the power of play within education - an opportunity often neglected as children grow older - along also with the power of movement.

    As the book progresses, Debra Kidd also encourages that schools find coherence across the curriculum, including encouraging secondary schools to consider linking concepts across subjects. Attention is not only given towards the curriculum demands within England, but specific consideration is given to teachers and the challenges set on educators in Wales, as the new -˜Curriculum for Wales' comes into force in 2022. It is clear that the author is enthused by this new opportunity in Wales with a curriculum that is underpinned by an ethical frame bound up with the idea that education should seek to empower students to be active citizens who will change the world and their futures. Comparisons are also made to other international jurisdictions, but the essence of the book is bound in offering the five core elements shared earlier. As the book concludes: Hope lives in trust; in agency; in curiosity; in vulnerability; in community, and; in play. Now that is something to be hopeful for.-‹
  4. In this brilliant book, Debra Kidd manages to set out a curriculum concept rooted in reality, experience, joy and compassion. The structures, ideas and possibilities she shares will be invaluable to teachers, curriculum planners and leaders who desire to provide children with rich learning experiences that will have a powerful impact on their lives.

    A Curriculum of Hope is an important book written by someone with a wealth of experience across the spectrum of education. It should be read, respected and acted upon. What a treat!
  5. A Curriculum of Hope provides a considerable contribution to the debate surrounding curriculum. With razor sharp clarity, Debra Kidd identifies a number of problems with some wide-ranging -˜umbrella' topics in the primary phase and proposes a clear rationale for developing content and concepts thoughtfully through threads. Debra makes the case that we need to ensure knowledge is utilised in ways that make learning effective for more than simply passing tests. She also provides some excellent examples for thinking about coherence across subjects in secondary schools.

    Beautifully crafted and packed with insights, A Curriculum of Hope adds another dimension to the discussion about what it means to create a connected, compelling curriculum. -‹
  6. I love Debra Kidd's writing. She takes on the orthodoxies of the current educational establishment with wit, wisdom and a shining belief in the myriad, rich possibilities of education and our children.-‹
  7. -‹Reading A Curriculum of Hope is like having a conversation with a fellow teacher. It features stories of real events in real classrooms, references to broader thinking and research, and humbling examples of what can be done to open up learning opportunities for our pupils.

    This is a good book, full of concern for the best interests of all children. It explains how to help them learn and how we should decide what they should learn. That's what the most professional of teachers do. Debra is one of those teachers and a superb writer.
  8. -‹None will argue that our teachers must be coherent in curriculum intent, leading at the forefront of their subject's implementation and design - yet, credible and creative methods for teaching are the first casualties when external forces unpick the hard work a teacher spends years developing in order to become qualified and knowledgeable.

    -‹Once qualified, a teacher's curriculum thinking should be honed by regular and a professional dialogue with their colleagues and their peers in other schools - and should be supported by curriculum models, examination boards, resources and school funding, each made difficult if a lack of quality professional development gives our teachers insufficient long-term support to implement those plans.

    -‹The credibility of our national curriculum depends on the expertise of our teachers - in A Curriculum of Hope, Debra Kidd provides much-needed professional guidance. She motivates educators to seek empowerment and articulates a coherent strategy for teachers and school leaders to bring the curriculum to life in their classrooms and schools.

    Read the full review here.
  9. From the opening garden analogy onwards, A Curriculum of Hope is a delightfully written and intellectually rigorous attempt to do something that is so badly needed in current educational discourse. This is to consciously challenge unhelpful binary polarisation and find the much-needed middle-ground narrative that embraces the -˜messiness' of learning and the innovative and creative practice that flows from it. A Curriculum of Hope is both a great addition to the debate and an excellent read!-‹

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