A Curriculum Ontology

Following on from previous work (well, being in the same room as Silver, Michael and Tom) in my guise as IA for BBC’s Knowledge and Learning online portfolio, and given that I’m looking at how we can meld both Knowledge and Learning into a more cohesive unit, I’ve taken the time to study the National Curriculum. Not because I wanted to go back to school, but because I believe that in order to create a good website, you need to understand the domain.

For me, this means looking at education from three points of view. Those who put the National Curriculum together, where there is a fairly structured model in use; teachers, who have to take this on board and create lesson plans (and, of course, teach!), and pupils, who won’t necessarily have any familiarity with the structure of the curriculum beyond exams. I’m fairly sure there’s a model that can be adapted to suit all these audiences. Furthermore, from an initial study, I’m seeing more and more crossover with a model of game design. This probably isn’t too much of a revelation, but it provides some intriguing hints as to where we could take a well structured model beyond the vogue for gamification, and into the realm of structured, semantic, descriptive information.

So, here’s a first stab at a Curriculum Ontology. Firstly, some health warnings. I’ve based this solely on the English National Curriculum, and specifically the Secondary Curriculum. Not out of some nationalistic impulse, but because it seemed to be a fairly well structured model. Over the next week or so, I intend to examine the Primary Curriculum and those of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, so that hopefully by the end we can have a model which can work for everyone. I also don’t currently take into account exam boards, or things like the more general ‘aims, values and purposes’ of each stage of the Curriculum. I’ve gone for the simplest bit first, but again, fully intend to expand this if and where appropriate. I’m also a bit of a novice at this, so don’t expect any fancy inferencing or hardcore ontology techniques. I’m just making a list, at the moment.

Finally, before we get started – I’d really welcome any feedback on this version, especially from teachers and those in the academic community – but as mentioned above, bear in mind that it’s probably not going to turn into something extremely detailed. Lightweight, and most importantly useful to teachers and especially students, is the aim here. So, with that all done and dusted, let’s begin. A picture, a proper explanation and the actual .n3 file to follow once I’ve sorted out some WordPress uploading issues – hopefully tomorrow.


nao:Curriculum a owl:Class;
rdfs:label "Curriculum";
rdfs:comment "A Curriculum is a collection of programmes of formal study for people of a certain age range." .

nao:Subject a owl:Class;
rdfs:label "Subject";
rdfs:comment "A Subject is a high-level grouping of teaching topics that corresponds to academic and professional fields, and is familiar to pupils, teachers and parents. A pupil's perception of school will commonly be framed primarily by subjects." .

nao:ProgrammeOfStudy a owl:Class;
rdfs:label "Programme of Study";
rdfs:comment "A Programme of Study groups together the concepts, processes, topics and opportunities for a certain Subject at a certain Key Stage." .

nao:KeyStage a owl:Class;
rdfs:label "Key Stage";
rdfs:comment "A Key Stage is a stage of the education system that represents a level of knowledge, behaviour and skills at which a pupil should be able to perform, given an age range." .

nao:KeyConcept a owl:Class;
rdfs:label "Key Concept";
rdfs:comment "A Key Concept is an idea, principle or ability that should be understood by pupils when learning about a subject at a particular key stage. It should enable pupils to deepen and broaden their knowledge, skills and understanding of the subject." .

nao:KeyProcess a owl:Class;
rdfs:label "Key Process";
rdfs:comment "A Key Process is a process, skill or behaviour that a pupil should learn in the context of a subject at a particular key stage, in order to be able to make progress." .

nao:Topic a owl:Class;
rdfs:label "Topic";
rdfs:comment "A Topic is a concept or principle that should be covered by teachers when teaching pupils about a subject at a particular key stage. The aggregation of topics in a programme of study represents the breadth and range of content upon which teachers should draw when teaching the key concepts and key processes." .

nao:Opportunity a owl:Class;
rdfs:label "Curriculum Opportunity";
rdfs:comment "A Curriculum Opportunity is an opportunity, activity or chance for pupils to gain practical experience in a way that is integral to their learning and will enhance their engagement with the concepts, processes and content of the subject." .

nao:AttainmentTarget a owl:Class;
rdfs:label "Attainment Target";
rdfs:comment "An Attainment Target describes an ability that a pupil should demonstrate in order to achieve a particular Attainment Level for a subject at a key stage." .

nao:AttainmentLevel a owl:Class;
rdfs:label "Attainment Level";
rdfs:comment "An Attainment Level is a level of ability that pupils should be able to demonstrate across the curriculum at a key stage." .

nao:for a owl:ObjectProperty;
rdfs:label "for";
rdfs:comment "Relates a Curriculum to the Key Stages that it covers.";
rdfs:domain nao:Curriculum;
rdfs:range nao:KeyStage .

nao:groups a owl:ObjectProperty;
rdfs:label "groups";
rdfs:comment "Relates a Key Stage to the Programmes of Study that are taught at a Key Stage.";
rdfs:domain nao:KeyStage;
rdfs:range nao:ProgrammeOfStudy .

nao:teaches a owl:ObjectProperty;
rdfs:label "teaches";
rdfs:comment "Relates a Programme of Study to a Key Concept or a Key Process that is being taught.";
rdfs:domain nao:ProgrammeOfStudy;
rdfs:range nao:KeyConcept;
rdfs:range nao:KeyProcess .

nao:offers a owl:ObjectProperty;
rdfs:label "offers";
rdfs:comment "Relates a Programme of Study to a Curriculum Opportunity that is offered.";
rdfs:domain nao:ProgrammeOfStudy;
rdfs:range nao:Opportunity .

nao:sets a owl:ObjectProperty;
rdfs:label "sets";
rdfs:comment "Relates a Programme of Study to an Attainment Target that has been set against an Attainment Level.";
rdfs:domain nao:ProgrammeOfStudy;
rdfs:range nao:AttainmentTarget .

nao:covers a owl:ObjectProperty;
rdfs:label "covers";
rdfs:comment "Relates a Programme of Study to Topic that can be covered in a subject at a key stage.";
rdfs:domain nao:ProgrammeOfStudy;
rdfs:range nao:Topic .

nao:has a owl:ObjectProperty;
rdfs:label "has";
rdfs:comment "Relates a Subject to a Programme of Study.";
rdfs:domain nao:Subject;
rdfs:range nao:ProgrammeOfStudy .

nao:alignedTo a owl:ObjectProperty;
rdfs:label "aligned to";
rdfs:comment "Relates an Attainment Target to the Attainment Level it is aligned to.";
rdfs:domain nao:AttainmentTarget;
rdfs:range nao:AttainmentLevel .

nao:includes a owl:ObjectProperty;
rdfs:label "includes";
rdfs:comment "Relates a Key Process or a Key Concept to a related Process or Concept." .

nao:subTopic a owl:ObjectProperty;
rdfs:label "sub-topic";
rdfs:comment "Relates a topic to a more granular aspect of the topic.";
rdfs:domain nao:Topic;
rdfs:range nao:Topic .

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