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Design Tenets

Part 2 of the Building a New KS3 Scheme of Work series.  

I was watching a fascinating video the other day about how the Microsoft Office design team invented the ribbon interface, which has been the main part of their user interface since Office 2007. Now, I have to confess that I’m not the biggest Microsoft fan but I can’t deny that I was impressed with the way in which they approached such a dramatic redesign of something that everyone was already so familiar with. The system is so effective that it’s even been licensed to third parties, with Sibelius 7 being the most notable example for music educators. 
One of the things that the Microsoft design team kept coming back to was their ‘design tenets’, which they made sure everyone in their team could recite. Mock up drawings even included the design tenets as the document being edited so that the team never forgot about them.  Every decision they made about their interface had to meet the criteria set out in the tenets, anything that didn’t was thrown out. 
Anyone that has read my blog about my new assessment system, will know that I am attempting a pretty big redesign of my own. I’m currently trying to create a new Key Stage 3 Scheme of Work that is a drastic improvement on our already successful system and I knew that I’d scribbled out a few goals early on.  I’ve also been referring back to them every time a decision has to be made about including something in the new SoW.  Realistically, they’ve been my own SoW Design Tenets.  So, here they are…
The Teacher and Musician ‘SoW Design Tenets’…
  1. Assessment must be simple, consistent and transparent.
  2. Pupils should still work in groups but they should have individual outcomes.
  3. A pupil’s age is not as important as her ability and understanding.
  4. The SoW should encourage pupils to study music after Year 9.
  5. The SoW should be fun for pupils and teachers.
  6. Opportunities for external qualifications to be awarded should be highlighted wherever possible.
  7. There should be a clear relationship between the work at KS3 and what they will do at KS4.  
  8. If it can be delivered using informal learning and non-formal teaching, then it should be delivered using informal learning and non-formal teaching. 
  9. If the work isn’t musical, then it belongs in someone else’s lesson.  


How does your SoW hold up against these tenets?  Would you want your SoW to be measured against this criteria?  Am I insane to focus on this over other possible approaches?  Your thoughts are very welcome.