Background and origins of Core Knowledge

"Nearly all of our most cherished ideals for education-from reading comprehension and problem solving to critical thinking and creativity-rest on a foundation of knowledge." - ED Hirsch

Core Knowledge is a springboard for learning that provides the foundation for a sound, well-rounded education in the arts, humanities and sciences. It is specifically designed to bring out the best in every child from every background.

Grounded in cognitive science and research on effective school systems worldwide, Core Knowledge promotes academic excellence, greater fairness and higher literacy through teaching a body of specific, lasting knowledge in such a way that allows children, regardless of background, to build steadily on what they already know.

It is built on the premise of 'cultural literacy', the concept developed by the celebrated educationalist ED Hirsch to describe the shared, background knowledge that enables us to read a text with adequate comprehension so that we get the point, grasp the implications and relate what is said to its unstated context.

Gradually developed and refined by teachers and educational specialists, the Core Knowledge Sequence is a year-by-year outline of the specific and shared content and skills to be taught in Years 1 to 6.

Core Knowledge first emerged in the United States, where the Core Knowledge Foundation, a not-for-profit and independent charity, has provided effective and practical solutions to pervasive inequalities in schooling since 1986. It was founded by ED Hirsch, who was concerned about educational inequalities and developed the premise of cultural literacy, on which the Core Knowledge approach is based. The Core Knowledge Foundation worked with hundreds of educators, academics and specialists to develop the Core Knowledge Sequence. The American Core Knowledge curriculum was piloted in Three Oaks Elementary School in Florida in 1990 and is now used in over 800 schools in the US and around the world.

Civitas began its partnership with the Core Knowledge Foundation in 2010 and, shortly thereafter, began to develop resources for British teachers and parents. From September 2013, it began to be taught in a number of English primary schools.