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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre & STEM Ambassadors's online course, Inspiring Young People in STEM: Planning and Organising Practical Activities. Join the course to learn more.

Engaging with the STEM curriculum

When working in a more formal setting, such as a school classroom, you will probably be supporting teachers in delivering aspects of the curriculum.

In the next few steps we’ll help you make the link between your current role, the school curriculum and employability skills. Our aim here is not for you to be experts on the curriculum, but to highlight what a valuable tool the curriculum is and to help you quickly interrogate it. A better understanding of these framework documents will support you when talking to educators about developing your activity. It shows you understand the context within which they are teaching and you are volunteering, that you are well informed and have taken the time to develop the knowledge required to tailor your content appropriately.

Curriculum framework documents will help you develop content that is pitched at the right level. They describe the knowledge and understanding students should have at different stages of their school career. By referring to curriculum themes and areas of focus, you can ensure that your activity is relevant.

Identifying links between the skills you use in your job and the school’s curriculum is a useful exercise for demonstrating the relevance of your work to teachers and students. How do you use the skills you learned in school, today?

Understanding curriculum documents

The curriculum will highlight the topics covered and at what age. Some curricula also specify the intended learning outcomes (we’ll come onto those a bit more later). There are four steps you need to take to identify an area of the curriculum that links to your work and volunteering activity.

  1. Find the relevant key stage and/or age in your country.
  2. Find the national curriculum or similar (countries have different terminology) for that age
  3. Find the subject heading e.g. science, technology, design etc.
  4. Find the sentence/s relating to the syllabus and/or learning outcomes

We have provided a table which maps key stages for the UK and a summary of the curriculum structure in the UK to help get you started. The links at the bottom of this page are the national curriculum links for the UK.

For other countries, search for your national curriculum or guidance, usually available on government websites. Not all countries have a national curriculum and not all schools will follow one, so if you are unsure, consult with the educator you volunteer with. You can compare tables of Educational Stage on Wikipedia to match age groups to key stages.

You will use this research in the next step.

If you are not sure about what is written on the curricula, post a question here. Please respond to each other to help understand some of the terminology.

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This article is from the free online course:

Inspiring Young People in STEM: Planning and Organising Practical Activities

National STEM Learning Centre