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What is substantive knowledge?

Updated: Jun 10

What is substantive knowledge? - Aidan Severs Consulting

Here's a snippet from my longer blog post What Are All The Different Types Of Knowledge? (part 1):


Substantive - established facts
Christine Counsell, who has written the go-to explanation of substantive and disciplinary knowledge in her article 'Taking curriculum seriously', describes substantive knowledge as "the content that teachers teach as established fact".
OfSTED's Science review states that substantive knowledge is "knowledge of the products of science", from which we can extrapolate a more general definition of knowledge of the products of a discipline.

Examples of substantive knowledge:


  • The successful Roman invasion of Britain began in AD43.

  • The capital city of the UK is London.

  • Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert light energy into oxygen and sugars.

  • A quaver is a musical note that last for half a beat.

  • Picasso was a cubist artist who produced abstract paintings of people and objects.


For a free downloadable summary of procedural knowledge, and some other key types of knowledge, click 'buy now' below:



Did you know I offer a remote curriculum review service? Curriculum development benefits from an outsider's perspective; my experience and expertise can give you the confidence you need to launch your new curriculum. Find out more and book your review day with me now:




What is substantive knowledge? - Aidan Severs Consulting Education Consultant


For more on substantive knowledge, see these blog posts:


Knowledge vs. Skills: What's More Important?





If you're finding it difficult to write the right curriculum statements in your curriculum, why no get in touch? That's something I can help with. Use the details on this page or follow this link to message me: www.aidansevers.com/contact



I also offer staff training if you'd like to help your leaders and teachers to get to grips with the different types of knowledge:







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