The breadth of our curriculum is designed with three clear goals in mind:
1) To give pupils appropriate experiences to develop as confident, responsible citizens;
2) To provide a rich ‘cultural capital’;
3) To provide a coherent, structured, academic curriculum that leads to sustained mastery for all and a greater depth of understanding for those who are capable.
1. Appropriate experiences
We have developed three curriculum drivers that shape our curriculum, bring about the aims and values of our school, and respond to the particular needs of our community and children:
- Health and Wellbeing (sport, active lifestyles, active lessons, using the outdoors)
- Resilience and Independence (fostering confidence and self-belief, and understanding the importance of perseverance for future success)
- Diversity (understanding and respecting the differences that make up the British society we live in)
2. Cultural capital
Cultural capital is the background knowledge of the world pupils need to infer meaning from what they read. It includes vocabulary which, in turn, helps pupils to express themselves in a sophisticated and mature way.
3. A coherently planned academic curriculum
Underpinned by the three drivers, our academic curriculum sets out:
a) a clear list of the breadth of topics that will be covered;
b) the ‘threshold concepts’ pupils should understand;
c) criteria for progression within the threshold concepts;
d) criteria for depth of understanding.
The diagram below shows model of our curriculum structure which is applied to all subjects:
a) The curriculum breadth for each year group ensures each teacher has clarity as to what to cover. As well as providing the key knowledge within subjects it also provides for pupils’ growing cultural capital.
b) Threshold concepts are the key disciplinary aspects of each subject. They are chosen to build conceptual understanding within subjects and are repeated many times in each topic.
c) Milestones define the standards for the threshold concepts.
d) Depth: we expect pupils in the first year of the milestone to develop a Basic (B) understanding of the concepts and an Advancing (A) or Deep (D) understanding in the second year of the milestone. Phase one (Years 1, 3 and 5) in a Milestone is the knowledge building phase that provides the fundamental foundations for later application. LEARNING AT THIS STAGE IS NOT RUSHED and will involve a high degree of repetition so that knowledge enters pupils’ long-term memory. If all of the core knowledge is acquired quickly, teachers create extended knowledge.
Nothing is learned unless it rests in pupils’ long-term memories. This does not happen, and cannot be assessed, in the short term. Assessment, therefore answers two main questions: ‘How well are pupils coping with curriculum content?’ and ‘How well are they retaining previously taught content?’
Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:
1) Learning is most effective with spaced repetition, returning to concepts many times.
2) Interleaving (teaching topics in parallel) helps pupils to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention.
3) Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
In addition to the three principles we also understand that learning is invisible in the short-term and that sustained mastery takes time.
Some of our content is subject specific, whilst other content is combined in a cross-curricular approach. Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides retrieval practice for previously learned content.
The impact of our curriculum is that by the end of each Milestone, the vast majority of pupils have sustained mastery of the content, that is, they remember it all and are fluent in it; some pupils have a greater depth of understanding. We track learning carefully and regularly to ensure pupils will reach the expectations of our curriculum and the national end of key stage expectations.
Our well-planned and organised curriculum will:
- Provide exciting and memorable experiences to ensure children are inspired to learn
- Ensure all children receive a full and varied curriculum which meets their needs and interests
- Support pupils to reach a high standard of literacy and maths skills through specific teaching and the application of these skills to learning across the curriculum
- Ensure that knowledge and skills are taught progressively so that children build on what they already know and understand
- Allow children to achieve depth to their learning by applying their knowledge and skills in a range of contexts and subjects
- Develop children with enquiring minds, who question the world around them with curiosity
- Extend learning beyond the classroom through engaging enrichment and extra-curricular opportunities
- Teach children the essential social and emotional skills, as well as how to keep physically and mentally healthy
- Develop children’s personal values, qualities and attitudes so that they are respectful of other people and their beliefs, views and opinions
- Encourage children to be caring, responsible and active citizens who positively contribute to the local and wider community and environment