MD1499 The London Curriculum

Type of decision: 
Mayoral decision
Date signed: 
09 October 2015
Decision by: 
Boris Johnson MP (past staff), Mayor of London

Executive summary

The London Curriculum programme has been established following the Mayor’s Education Inquiry. The London Curriculum contributes to delivery of the Mayor’s Education Programme and the objective for excellent teaching in all London schools. MD1132 approved spend of £267,000 between 2012/13 and 2015/16. In July 2014 15 teaching resources in arts and humanities subjects at key stage 3 were launched, about 200 schools have now registered for the London Curriculum materials. New resources for key stage 3 science, maths, computing and design technology are under development, for teaching from September 2015. Due to the high level of interest the London Curriculum will be extended for the primary schools.  

These proposals were discussed and supported by the Investment & Performance Board meeting on 20 February 2015.


That the Mayor:

(a) approves expenditure of £127,000 in 2015-16 and £100,000 in 2016-17 for the next phase of the London Curriculum

(b) delegates to the Director of Communities and Intelligence authority to approve receipt and expenditure of any additional external income from suitable external funders to enhance delivery of the London Curriculum. 

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

In 2011, the Mayor of London undertook an Education Inquiry – a task and finish Inquiry to bring together evidence and ideas and develop practical solutions to further improve educational outcomes in primary and secondary schools in London. The Inquiry’s Final Report, published in October 2012, made 12 recommendations which were all accepted by the Mayor. The Mayor subsequently established his Education Programme – the Mayor’s Education Programme 2013/14 delivery plan sets out three strategic areas of activity and objectives, including one to promote excellent teaching in London schools.

One of the recommendations in the Education Inquiry Final Report that would meet this objective was the establishment of a London Curriculum that would encourage greater knowledge and understanding of school subjects as well as London’s heritage, people and places. The Mayor accepted this recommendation and approved £267,000 between 2012/13 and 2015/16 (MD1132).

The London Curriculum is an education programme designed to help teachers bring the new national curriculum to life inspired by the capital’s cultural, heritage and scientific institutions. Curriculum resources support learning inside and outside the classroom and showcase the educational offer of a wide range of London institutions. The aim is to raise pupil attainment and strengthen young Londoners’ subject knowledge, city knowledge and sense of connection to their city. The programme began with a focus on secondary schools (key stage 3) and will expand to primary schools (key stage 2) in 2016.

Between 2013 and 2014, the London Curriculum was piloted and resources created for five humanities subjects (15 units): music, art, geography, English and history. Since the launch in September 2014, these resources are being used by secondary schools alongside promotional activity to increase take-up and further outreach to the cultural sector to support delivery. 

Take up of the London Curriculum by schools has exceeded expectations; over 150 secondary schools have signed up on the online hub since September 2014 (out of 476 London secondary schools and 593 when including alternative provision and special educational needs and 935 when including independent and international schools). There is strong support from the cultural and heritage sector for the humanities subjects. The Museum of London has been a key partner in developing credibility in the cultural and heritage sector and has invested time and resources contributing to the high quality materials produced.  

Delivering new units across the core curriculum subjects will support the London Enterprise Panel (LEP) focus on science subject and new technologies. The Personal, Social and Health Education (PHSE) unit/s will provide the opportunity to support other key Mayoral agendas, such as health and active lifestyles, and provide a subject and curriculum focus to complement the Healthy Schools programme. 

There is considerable interest in the London Curriculum from primary schools and in order to respond to this  some of the new units will be developed for both key stage 2 (primary schools) and key stage 3 (secondary) and deliver a coherent set of materials which can be used cross-phase. 

The next set of London Curriculum units covering the sciences will be launched during summer 2015 and will be available for use by secondary schools from September 2015. The primary school phase will be launched in January 2016. 

Objectives and expected outcomes

The overarching aim of the programme is to raise pupil attainment by supporting the Mayor’s strategic aim of excellent teaching in all London schools. 

Through the use of the London Curriculum, young Londoners will be more knowledgeable about their city, more engaged with learning and pupil attainment will be improved.

The main beneficiaries of the London Curriculum are London school pupils. However, the programme will impact across four key groups of beneficiaries: pupils, teachers, schools and London institutions.

I.    Pupils will develop improved subject knowledge, city knowledge and sense of connection with their city. Teacher assessment of pupil impact will be collected from a small sample of schools in autumn 2015.

II.    Teachers in London schools will be more confident and knowledgeable in their subject knowledge about the city and relate the city to the national curriculum. Teacher use and satisfaction will be collected in this academic year in relation to the humanities subjects. 

III.    Schools will develop stronger links with London’s institutions and make more use of their cultural assets and learning materials. 

IV.    London’s institutions will find it easier to align their educational offer with the content of classroom teaching because of the new consistency across schools teaching the London Curriculum. Schools will find it easier to find relevant material and plan visits and identify cross curricular opportunities across the breadth of the London Curriculum material which is a key factor in undertaking school visits.

Targets for school registrations 

Targets for beneficiaries expressed as the number of schools in London (excluding independent) registered on the London Curriculum are detailed below (figures based on 1,076 primary schools and 593 secondary schools).


Financial Year




Primary schools

54 (5%)

269 (25%)

538  (50%)

Secondary schools

300 (50%)

385 (65%)

474 (80%)

*Targets for 2017/18 will be reviewed in 2016

Schools are currently required to register to access the full suite of resources (a sample unit for each of the five subjects is publicly available). As of March 2015, 162 secondary schools (157 excluding independent schools) have registered for phase one of the London Curriculum, covering English, art and design, music, geography and history.  We are in the process of researching the relationship between registration and actual use. A phone survey of all registered schools is currently underway: of the sample of 30 schools contacted so far, 20 are planning to teach the resources (in at least one subject), 7 have already done so and only 3 stated they did not intend to use the resources (because the topics didn’t match their current teaching plans or because of time constraints). 

Once the phone survey is complete and our initial evaluation data is available (August 2015) we will estimate a proxy to estimate the proportion of schools that, after registration, will go on to use the resources. 

We will continue to test our proxy-based estimates and improve our understanding of schools’ use at key stage 2 and 3 through future sampling and surveys, timings to be determined.  

Equality comments

3.1         The London Curriculum materials are aimed at all London secondary schools for use with Key Stage 3 pupils. The materials are aimed at teachers and also provide teaching materials and lesson plans which draw on London's extraordinary heritage, people and places and will foster recognition of different communities’ contributions to London encouraging good relations, tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between people from different groups.  This will support the GLA’s delivery of the general equality duty. They aim to support teaching and teachers subject knowledge about London.

3.2         Schools will need to register to access the materials so it will be possible to monitor take up by geographical area of London, school type and school rating (by OFTED and pupil attainment).  As the project develops further targeted activity can be taken to ensure that school uptake is spread geographically and across all types of schools and if necessary we could consider schools which have lower levels of pupil attainment may need more support to begin to access and make use of the materials. Analysis of school take-up will be published as part of the project evaluation. 

3.3         The London Curriculum materials are available on line and consist of teaching materials, background information for teachers and links to other material such as music, literature, websites which support the subject knowledge of the teacher and can be used with pupils. They are not being printed or translated to other languages or braille.

Other considerations

4.    Other considerations

Key risks and issues 

The project will be run by the GLA Education and Youth Team and external expertise will be bought in as required e.g. curriculum advice, professional design for the materials etc. The first phase humanities resources have been well received by schools and the cultural sector. 

The initial pilot phase took longer to complete than originally expected. This does, however, mean that the Education and Youth Team have now established strong expertise on how to organise, run and deliver high quality London Curriculum modules and supporting activity to promote the materials to schools.

Risk #

Risk description and impact

Inherent risk assessment

Control measures / Actions






insufficient staffing




Putting in place adequate team will mitigate many of the risks identified below.


lack of in-kind support by institutions




Build strong relationships and manage relationships


low take up from schools




Build strong relationships and manage relationships  - develop high recognition by schools SLT


poor quality new modules




Direct GLA management of quality and co-production approach working with writers and designers.


managing demand




Demand may become a problem in the future with for some of the smaller institutions. This can be managed by ensuring the London Curriculum links to as many different institutions as possible  to ensure spread and by the development of digital and alternative resources


not achieving funding target




Additional staffing is proposed to build and manage relationships which will include funders.  Partnerships team providing support to develop expertise.


This is a low risk project as the GLA is able to manage the risks associated with the project. If external sponsorship is not achieved to expected levels, then the planned development of a London Curriculum for primary schools will need to be revised according to the available budget.

Links to Mayoral strategies and priorities 

The Mayor’s Education Inquiry Final Report, published in October 2012, made 12 recommendations to further improve school performance in London. 

In his published response, the Mayor set out that a strong education system is vital to delivering jobs and growth for London, which is the main priority of his second term. He stated the need to make London state schools amongst the best in the world if our young people are to grasp new economic opportunities in London and compete with the talent our city attracts from around the globe.    

The Mayor accepted all 12 recommendations of his Inquiry Panel and agreed funding to implement them. He established an Education Programme which included the objective to promote excellent teaching in London schools. There are three programmes to deliver this objective: the London Schools Excellence Fund, London Schools Gold Club and the London Curriculum. 

The London Curriculum aims to encourage greater knowledge and understanding of school subjects, as well as London’s heritage, people and places. The Mayor approved £267,000 between 2012/13 and 2015/16 (MD1132).

The overarching aim of the programme is to raise pupil attainment by supporting the Mayor’s strategic aim of excellent teaching in all London schools. Through the use of the London Curriculum, young Londoners will be more knowledgeable about their city, more engaged with learning and pupil attainment will be improved.

In the next phase of the London Curriculum additional information will be included to make reference to career opportunities, this will be particularly relevant to the science units and will support the London Enterprise Panel’s priority for economic growth for London related to sciences and digital skills.  Currently London pupils do well at maths and science GCSE but fewer pupils proportionately continue to A-Level and university compared to elsewhere in England. 

Impact assessment and consultation 

The pilot phase of the programme in summer 2014 completed a self-evaluation based on feedback from teachers and pupils on the individual units and school visits. This influenced the design of the published humanities units and the type of support schools wanted from the cultural and heritage sector. 

An external evaluation has been commissioned on the London Curriculum humanities subjects currently being rolled out to schools. The focus is to gain insight into school’s use of, and views on, the London Curriculum resources themselves and London institution visits and resources. The evaluation will gain qualitative feedback from teachers and pupils and provide quantitative data on schools’ use of materials. This will inform the next phase of subject development. 

An independent research project is proposed for the next phase of the London Curriculum. There is some evidence in recent research  by the Education Endowment Foundation that a memorable experience, such as a significant visit to a place/person of interest linked to related literacy activity, can have an impact on educational attainment (participating pupils made approximately nine months’ additional progress compared to similar pupils who did not participate in the intervention). The approach had a strong positive effect on the writing outcomes of low attaining primary school pupils. This will be explored further to investigate the research approach and opportunity for external funding. 

Financial comments

5.1    As part of the 2015-16 budget process, a budget provision of £100,000 has been earmarked for the London Curriculum for each of the next two financial-years (2015-16 & 2016-17), with the 2016-17 budget allocation still subject to the budget process for 2016-17 to fund programme expenditure. In addition to the £100,000 annual allocation, a further £27,000 is required in 2015-16 to fund an external evaluation of the programme, which will be funded from the Communities and Intelligence, minor programmes budget.  

5.2    This report is also seeking approval to raise external income to enhance the programme in the next two financial-years. Any income secured, and the associated expenditure will be subject to further approval via the Authority’s decision-making process for which delegation to the Executive Director of Communities & Intelligence is also being sought. All appropriate budget adjustments will be made. 

5.3    The Education & Youth Team within the Communities & Intelligence Directorate will be responsible for managing this programme and ensuring all activities and associated expenditure complies with the Authority’s Financial Regulations, Contracts & Funding Code and Expenses & Benefits Framework.

Investment and Performance Board

Stage 1 and Stage 2 papers were approved by the Investment and Performance Board on 20 February 


Planned delivery approach and next steps

The approach and timeline for delivery is as follows: 


Programme activity

Delivery Plan

Schools start to use 


Humanities units x 15 Key stage 3 secondary schools

In use by schools, promotional activity to support schools and build the cultural offer, schools activities 

September 2014

200 sign-up on the portal by January 2015

February 2015 dip sample of schools usage and future plans


In progress

Sciences and maths (STEM) subjects

Key stage 3 secondary schools

Science units in development


Launch summer 2015 (3 units ) and October 2015 (6 units)

September/October 2015

New activity

Scope London Curriculum

Key stage 2 primary schools

Scope development cross-phase primary units spring 2015

Develop and pilot first two units

Launch to primary schools

January 2016


Languages, PHSE and citizenship

Key stage 3 secondary schools

Key stage 2 primary schools

Develop new subject units cross phase 

Launch summer 2016

September 2016

Promotion to schools

Monitor take–up across London by schools

Continue to expand numbers of institutions and offers to cover smaller institutions across London

September 2016 to March 2017

Mainstreaming of London Curriculum with stakeholder group

GLA co-ordinate London institutions to maintain materials and re-fresh their offers to schools

September 2016 to March 2017


Project closure

Delivery end date

March 2017

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