The UCL Academy Connected Curriculum – Big Ideas

The UCL Academy features a ‘Connected Curriculum’ that allows students to enhance their knowledge and understanding through weekly reflection and by making interdisciplinary connections.

A major aspect of this is the inclusion of Big Ideas and Grand Challenges, thematic research areas which are shared with students in teaching sessions, as well as weekly reflection sessions.  The more students interact with the Big Idea and Grand Challenges, the more they are able to make deeper connections within and between their subject disciplines. This consilience, or ‘jumping together’ of knowledge then filters down into their house and individual ‘Reflection and Connection’ sessions (Foundation & L1).  There, students are able to better articulate their learning in their subjects and are effectively facilitated to be able to make connections between subjects and prior learning.

The collective power of making these connections across the curriculum and at home should not be underestimated.  As teachers, parents, form tutors and leaders, we have effective learning conversations with students, reminding and asking them about the Big Ideas and requesting they make regular connections.

We make the students accountable for the quality of their reflective work: a crucial aspect of The UCL  Academy’s distinctive Connected Curriculum.

Students draw together their learning across the half term in relation to the Big Idea through a whole day ‘Exit Point’ activity and ‘Celebration of Learning’.

Richard Donnelly

The Big Ideas for Foundation, Level 1 and Level 1+ are outlined below:

Year group Term: 1a Term: 1b Term: 2a
Foundation Collaboration: When people work together they can achieve a common goal.

n what ways has Human collaboration shaped the world we live in today?

Discovery: Finding out new things is a human driver and affects things for better or worse.  

To what extent has human ingenuity affected the world for the better?

Balance: Things are more stable when different elements are in the correct or best possible proportions

How does a UCL Academy education enable me to become a more balanced learner and individual?


Level 1


Competition: Trying to beat others has good and bad consequences


Communication: When information is shared accurately and clearly the end result is more effective


Tradition: Beliefs and customs from the past have a powerful effect on our lives today

To what extent do beliefs and customs from the past shape our lives today?


Level 1+


Identity: Our sense of self, and that of others, is continually developing through our different interactions and impacts on how we exist in the world.


Leadership: For better or worse, one or more people can use influence so that others aid and support them.


Justice: A fair society is organised so that no one suffers unduly for the benefit of others. Grand Challenge: Justice and Equality

How can we make our world more just?


Year group Term: 2b Term: 3a Term 3b
Foundation Resolution: Problems, disputes and contentious issues can sometimes be satisfactorily solved or resolved

To what extent can some of the worlds contentious issues be satisfactorily solved or resolved?

Risk: Progress involves exposing ourselves to and considering the impact of danger, harm, uncertainty or opportunity Adaptability: Adaptability is demonstrated by the ability to cope, alter or change with new circumstances or environments

Level 1


Resilience: Success over time requires persistence

How does resilience and persistence make us more successful?


Reflection: Complex decision making requires space and time


Curiosity: The desire to know more drives exploration and aspiration


Level 1+


Renewal: The end of a process is often the preparation for the beginning of something new

In what ways can the end of a process be a beginning?


Enterprise: The ability to make money through development of products and situations appropriate to different markets requires application of certain skills


Grand Challenge programme begins: Transformative technology

Facilitators Guide to Grand Challenges

Facilitators Guide to Reflect and Connect

Connecting the Curriculum methods and continuum

Exit Point responsibilities and tasks 

Exit Point resources folders

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