What is a Curriculum?
Curriculum can be defined by a standards-based sequence of planned experiences where students practice and achieve proficiency in content and applied learning skills. Curriculum is the central guide for all educators as to what is essential for teaching and learning, so that every student has access to rigorous academic experiences.
The government sets out a National Curriculum - a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools so children learn the same things. It covers what subjects are taught and the standards children should reach in each subject by certain age levels.
However, these are fairly broad statements that often cover multiple year groups and therefore, each school has the freedom to breaks these down into more specific steps for learning and sequence them in ways that they feel will achieve the best learning within their classrooms.
How is our curriculum designed?
Our curriculum can very much be seen as hybrid of several approaches, where we have attempted to gain the very best elements of that which is available to us:
The Primary Knowledge Curriculum - Science, Geography, History, Art and Design Technology.
The Primary Knowledge Curriculum is the cornerstone of the school’s curriculum as a whole and provides the vast majority of knowledge from the subjects of Science, Geography, History, Art and Design Technology. This is a knowledge-rich curriculum that exposes our children to ambitious content that has been highly specified and well-sequenced to support children in acquiring the knowledge, skills and cultural capital that they will need to become well-educated citizens of the future.
Based upon an extension of the National Curriculum, this has been written by the school staff combining different aspects of approaches such a VIPERS in Reading and underpinned by key documents such as the NWA Grammar Fluency Guide.
In addition, the school uses its own Phonic approach which draws upon the best elements of Read, Write, Inc and Jolly Phonics, as well as progressing into the EdShed Spelling Scheme.
Our approach to the teaching of Mathematics is written by the school staff having been part of the Maths Mastery Approach for a number of years. Our sequencing of learning is based upon aspects of the White Rose approached scheme but has been written specifically around the school’s Mathematics Calculation Approach to ensure there is a consistent approach to teaching throughout the school.
Additional Scheme – Music, RE, PE and Computing
Whilst elements of these curriculums have been written specifically for the school, these are based largely upon Charanga (Music), Discovery RE, GetSet4PE, Key Chain Computing to ensure the sequencing of the learning.
Pastoral Curriculum - its not all about the academics!
Beyond the academic learning that we wish our pupils to enjoy, our school places huge importance on its pastoral curriculum – one which aims to ensure they are emotionally intelligent and safe behaviour in their daily interactions in school and beyond. Again the school has used a hybrid approach to ensure that this is woven throughout the curriculum rather than a bolt-on lesson and therefore uses a myriad of resources including:
Relationships, Sex and Health Education
As a statutory aspect of the school’s pastoral curriculum, this has been based upon a local authority curriculum document but tailored to meet the needs of our pupils and in conjunction with the feedback of school stakeholders.
Why do we use a mixture of Curricular Approaches?
The school allows us to benefit from the use of pre-designed sequences of learning written by experts combined with bespoke approaches written by the expertise of school staff to best fit the needs of our pupils.
Year A and Year B curriculum
One of the most unique aspects of the academy is its in-take of 45 pupils year; essentially, this creates a class and a half of each of the 7 year groups. A very positive consequence of this is that the school organises into four very distinct phases:
- EYFS - Reception only
- 1/2 Phase - one Year 1 class, one Year 2 class and one mixed Year 1/2 class
- 3/4 Phase - one Year 3 class, one Year 4 class and one mixed Year 3/4 class
- 5/6 Phase - one Year 5 class, one Year 6 class and one mixed Year 5/6 class
As a result of the mixed year groups, in all but the Reception classes, the school has to plan its curriculum on rolling programme of Year A and Year B which can enable pupils to be taught age-appropriate knowledge and skills but with common topic and themes across the three classes. For example, the whole 1/2 Phase may be studying 'Goldilocks' but with Year 1 pupils concentrating on full stops but the Year 2 pupils learning about commas in a list.
However, in order to ensure that we have the highest expectation of all of our pupils but that this does not result in the repetition of any areas, the school has written a series of Medium Term Plans that documents, what our pupils are expected to learn and remember over each half-term.
As a school, time is precious and therefore every hour of the school day is planned to ensure that we maximise the learning that happens with the school. In order to fit everything in, our curriculum has been sequenced very carefully. The details of this can be found in the Curriculum Overviews in the section bar to the left which explains what is learnt, week-by-week and subject-by-subject. This information has been organised by Phase (KS1 etc.) to help parents and carers understand what children are learning each week, and by individual subjects to allow you to see how we look to build knowledge around larger concepts (e.g. Democracy, Rhythm) year-on-year.