We are currently working with staff, Chris Quigley Ltd and Challenge Partners North West to develop a new curriculum model.
The breadth of our curriculum is designed with three goals in mind:
- To give children appropriate experiences to develop as confident, aspirational citizens;
- To provide links with our local and wider community to make learning relevant and purposeful;
- To provide a coherent and structured curriculum that blends skills and knowledge.
Our drivers shape the curriculum, bring about the aims and values of the school and respond to the particular needs of our community:
Communication: we listen, express ourselves, collaborate and perform with confidence
Exploration: we are curious to dig deeper, make links and have new experiences
Creativity: we are reflective and use our imaginations to problem solve and create something new of value
As a Unicef Rights Respecting School, we promote children’s rights and the British values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of others.
Our curriculum is based on research, with three main principles underpinning it:
- Learning is social. Children learn best when doing so with others. Lessons encourage interaction and collaboration.
- Learning is associative. Children are encouraged to look for links and build on their prior knowledge.
- Learning results in a change in long term memory and therefore cannot be assessed in the short term.
A coherently planned academic curriculum, underpinned by our drivers, sets out:
- A clear list of the breadth of topics that will be covered
- The ‘threshold concepts’ children should understand
- Criteria for progression within the threshold concepts
- Criteria for depth of understanding
The diagram below shows a model of our foundation subject academic curriculum structure:
- The curriculum breadth for each year group ensures each teacher has clarity as to what to cover. It also provides key knowledge within subjects and has been carefully selected to ensure progression, relevance and purpose.
- Threshold concepts are the key disciplinary aspects of each subject. They are chosen to build conceptual understanding within subjects and are repeated many time through different units (breadth).
- Milestones define the standards for the threshold concepts and span two academic years eg Milestone 2 for Y3-4
- Depth: we expect pupils in year 1 of the milestone to develop a Basic (B) understanding of the concepts and an Advancing (A) or Deep (D) understanding in year 2 of the milestone. Year 1 (covered in academic years 1,3 and 5) in a milestone is the knowledge building phase that provides the foundations for later application. Learning at this stage must not be rushed and will involve a high degree of repetition to ensure knowledge enters the long term memory. If core knowledge is acquired quickly, teachers will create extended knowledge.
Pedagogy- How we teach
Our teaching and learning style will look different in Year 1 and Year 2 of each milestone. To achieve a basic understanding of the milestone, children need more teacher instruction as the content is new (School Years 1, 3, 5) . Novice learners need direct instruction and repetition to acquire new knowledge. They will still have opportunities to collaborate, communicate and explore, as these support learning, In the second year of the milestone (School Years 2, 4, 6) children will be given more opportunities to use and apply their knowledge to create something new. Knowledge must come before creativity.
Here is an example of the threshold concepts for History. Within each milestone, certain themes are revisited. These are called the ‘knowledge categories’. To help children make connection between learned knowledge and new knowledge, teachers will make reference to where these links occur. They are shown visually to the children using symbols. By making links in this way, we can be sure that the curriculum is progressive and that children are given lots of help to make new knowledge stick.
We are developing Knowledge Webs to clearly capture and communicate to children, staff and parents, the key knowledge that will be learnt in each unit of breadth. As you can see, they follow a consistent format and the symbols showing the knowledge categories are used to help children make links between new and existing Historical knowledge. Vocabulary is featured on every knowledge web. Staff will be developing knowledge webs throughout 2019-20.
Nothing is learned unless it rests in pupils’ long term memory. This does not happen, and cannot be assessed, in the short term. Assessment therefore answers the following questions: ‘How well are pupils coping with curriculum content’ and ‘How well are they retaining previously taught content?’
The intended impact of our curriculum is that children build knowledge, make connection between this knowledge and use it to explore and create.
By the end of each milestone (School Years 2, 4 and 6), the vast majority of pupils have sustained mastery of the content eg they have fluency in procedural knowledge (skills) and strong, semantic understanding. They are assessed as Advancing. Some pupils will have a greater depth of understanding, with automatic procedural knowledge (skills) and be able to use their semantic knowledge to make connection that are not obvious. They are assessed as Deep. Assessment in foundation subjects will allow children to show whether they have achieved Basic, Advancing or Deep understanding of the milestone. Below is an example from Year 2 Science:
Impact is monitored through:
- Summative testing in Reading, Maths and Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
- Teacher assessment in Writing, Science and Foundation subjects
- Lesson observations
- Learning walks
- Work scrutiny
- Pupil focus groups
- Assessment data tracking at Pupil Progress Meetings
- Attendance and Behaviour data tracking at Local Governing Body meetings