Tips for Teachers: 25. The Hidden Curriculum

Feb 27, 2024 | Blogs

Tips for Teachers: 25. The Hidden Curriculum

Feb 27, 2024 | Blogs

‘In schools and institutions, students are taught the “formal” curriculum. This curriculum is made up of courses, lessons, and other learning experiences, such as tests, quizzes, and assessments. The curriculum is taught intentionally: teachers deliberately teach these skills and knowledge to students.


The Hidden Curriculum, however, is made up of the lessons and knowledge that students learn that are not part of the curriculum or the course of study. This knowledge will not have been included as part of the formal curriculum but will instead be taught alongside the other lessons.’ (

Some of the characteristics of the hidden curriculum are expectations, rules and values of teachers, classrooms and the school. It was first described by Philip Jackson in 1968 as a set of unspoken or implicit rules and values children learn while attending school.

Functionalists believe the hidden curriculum may impart the following to pupils:

  • Values of achievement and competition – through rewards being reserved for those who get high scores in tests and exams, have higher rates of praise given due to correct answers in class and recognition of original ideas.
  • Schools as a microcosm – a scaled down version of society. Propagating the norms and values of a modern industrial society.

However, if we look at the Marxists viewpoint they consider that the hidden curriculum reinforces social inequality and maintains ruling class ideology. Education encourages students to blindly accept capitalist values, through the hidden curriculum. (

‘While the hidden curriculum is often unintentional, it can still have a powerful impact on students. It can shape their values, beliefs, and attitudes, and it can influence the way they behave both inside and outside of school.

These factors can send strong messages to students about what is important and what is not, what kind of behaviour is acceptable and what is not, and what kind of people are valued and who is not.’ (Jackson, 1968)

Here are some examples of the hidden curriculum:

  • Respecting hierarchy and authority – we see this almost everywhere in school life, including the management hierarchy, prefect system, organisation of classrooms.
  • Punctuality – schools run on punctuality, the timings of lessons, the beginning and end of the day, timetables, the expectations of teachers.
  • Uniforms – this can be considered by some as expectations to commit to the school and its ideals rather than being able to express individuality.
  • Respecting others’ opinions – equality and diversity has become more significant in schools and as teachers we make sure pupils listen to each other and think about the opinions and ideas of peers to respect the views of others.
  • Work-ethic – taking ownership of their work, working conscientiously and applying themselves to achieve.

Think about the hidden curriculum in your classroom and school – what is it saying? It is important we acknowledge the place it has and the impact it can have if we do not give it careful consideration.

This blog was written by Bretta Townend-Jowitt, Education Consultant and Trainer. 

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