Our Curriculum

Our curriculum, in particular for the foundation subjects, draws on cutting-edge research, including that of the Education Endowment Foundation, Dylan Wiliam’s ‘Principled Curriculum Design’ (2013), John Dunlosky’s ‘Strengthening the Student Toolbox’ (2013) and Mark Priestly’s ‘Curriculum: Concepts and Approaches’ (2019), as well as robust, tried-and-tested research, such as Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam’s ‘Inside the Black Box’ (1998).

Our agreed curriculum purposes have enabled us to adapt our existing, longstanding curriculum to ensure that it is, or is well on the way to becoming:

Balanced and broad:
  • In order to ‘future-proof’ our children, we ensure that they have access to high-quality learning experiences in a full range of subjects; we teach the whole of the National Curriculum.
  • ‘Learning outside the classroom’ is important to us; as such, in all year groups, we plan visits out of, and visitors into, school to supplement children’s classroom-based lessons.
  • No subjects are ‘squeezed out’ in favour of English and maths; of course, there is an overt acknowledgement that, without the foundation skills in reading, writing and maths, access to learning in the other subjects will be limited.

Rigorous and ambitious:
  • Few primary practitioners are specialists in all fields of learning; therefore, we draw on the expertise of each other, as well as external professionals, to ensure that teaching is as ‘faithful to the discipline or field from which it is drawn’ as possible.
  • All of our teaching is underpinned by knowledge; skills are applied once knowledge is transferred to children’s long-term memory; indeed, every ‘topic’ of learning in science, history and geography – and soon to be in art and music – begins with a period of fact-learning and retrieval practice.

Coherently planned and sequenced, as well as vertically integrated:
  • Background knowledge is important, as it ‘enables us to make more effective use of whatever short-term working memory we have’; instead of focussing on the literal, and sometimes low-level, superficial understanding of context, children are ‘freed up’ to work on higher-order skills.
  • In history, periods of time are taught in chronological order, so that children can develop a sense of the passing of time and how different periods link.
  • In geography, the same core knowledge is built upon year after year, progressively.
  • In art, children will learn about one appropriate artist each year, before practising the skills associated with this artist.
  • In music, children will study the life of one key composer each year, before listening to, appraising, composing and performing music of the same style or genre.

Appropriate, relevant to, and ambitious for all learners, particularly the highly able and those with special needs:
  • In 2017, we drew on the growing bank of high-quality evidence which suggests that ‘setting’, our previous approach to differentiation, favours higher-attaining learners at the expense of lower-attainers and learners with special educational needs; as such, we decided to move to whole-class teaching of the core subjects.
  • We moved to a ‘mastery’ approach to mathematics in 2018.
  • In January 2019, we trialled a similar approach in history, and then ‘rolled out’ this approach to geography, science and phonics in September 2019.
  • Our plan was to extend the same approach to all other foundation subjects, starting to art and music, and this is now underway.

  • ‘The only way to improve a curriculum is to leave out important material so that the teacher and the students can spend more time on more important material’. We employed and adapted the Rising Stars Progression Frameworks for the foundation subjects, in order to identify and highlight the key learning for each subject in each year group.

Our curriculum framework for the foundation subjects is an adapted, localised version of the National Curriculum. We have chosen areas of study based on our unique locality – for example, our ‘Skegvegas’ topic in Years 1 and 2 and the use of local resources such as ‘Bomber Command’ and the ‘We’ll Meet Again’ Museum to support the teaching of World War Two in Year 6.

Our curriculum provision – in other words, the way children’s learning is organised and timetabled – is for each subject to be taught under its own heading – for example, history as a ‘history’ lesson, geography as ‘geography’, etc – but learning between and across subjects is linked through a thematic approach and overarching topic headings.

Our pedagogy for the teaching of the foundation subjects is based on the use of knowledge organisers to present the key knowledge for each area/domain of learning. It is the expectation that all children learn all of the knowledge on these knowledge organisers – that is, they transfer it to their long-term memory, through the use of retrieval practice, distributed practice and spaced learning. School is beginning to trial interleaving.

Our assessment approach in all subjects places formative assessment front and centre. In-class questioning, low-stakes testing, immediate feedback, peer- and self-assessment and the formative use of summative assessment are the key strategies employed in our school.