What do we teach?
Our curriculum is based primarily upon the requirements of the National Curriculum but careful consideration has been given to the particular needs of our pupils and the community in which we are situated. Our main intention is for our pupils to be fully prepared for the next phase of their education and for future life by having:
- a good understanding of where they have come from, their heritage
- an awareness of where they could go or achieve, their aspirations
- the appropriate knowledge and skills to get them there.
Stenhouse (1975) said, ‘the curriculum is like the recipe for a dish.’ We have thought carefully about the needs of our children and identified our main ingredients as:
The ability to read
Without being able to read and comprehend, children will be unable to fully access all aspects of the curriculum and they will be disadvantaged at later stages of their education. Reading, therefore, is the prime focus of our curriculum and we have developed a comprehensive approach to the teaching of reading (see Reading). Our approach takes account of research which identified how reading has a positive impact on children’s life chances. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2002) claims, ‘Developing a love of reading can be more important for a child’s educational success than their family’s social economic background.’
A good vocabulary
‘Knowing more words makes you smarter’, Ofsted 2019.
Vocabulary development is a key aspect of our curriculum. It is linked very closely to reading, the more children read the more words they will add to their vocabulary. Teaching in all subjects is focused on teaching children the Tier 2 and 3 words that are appropriate.
Fluency in maths
The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) explains fluency as being the, ‘quick and efficient recall of facts and procedures and the flexibility to move between different contexts and representations of mathematics’. This is our aim for our children. We want all pupils to fully develop their understanding of maths. Completing 20 examples of the same type of calculation does not improve mathematical understanding. Our approach is to ensure children have the knowledge for example, multiplication facts, the skills of e.g. long multiplication and be able to use their knowledge and skills in a range of different contexts e.g. solving word problems or conducting an investigation. This approach improves and deepens understanding.
Ofsted (2019) define cultural capital as, ‘the essential knowledge that children need to prepare them for future success.’ We ensure that our curriculum contains the knowledge, skills and experiences that will benefit them in the next phase of their education and in later life. Some pupils are not provided with the type of enriching experiences that others do and it is therefore the duty of our curriculum to balance the inequalities as much as we are able. We exploit all opportunities to develop the breadth of experience and to develop the things we value and believe in. For example, visiting local museums and art galleries; taking part in community events; extending children’s knowledge of the work of charities and fundraising to support these charities.
Physical and mental well-being
It is a fact of life that children in England are experiencing a decline in their mental health. In 2004, 1 in 10 children were identified as having a mental health issue, in 2017 this has risen to 1 in 9. One of the main reasons is the rise in depression and anxiety amongst 5 to 15 year olds. (Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017: NHS Digital, Nov 2018).
It is important that our curriculum teaches children how to manage or avoid some of these issues. The Association for Physical Education tells us, ‘the Royal College of Psychiatrists is clear about the positive relationship between physical activity and improved mental health. Exercise has an effect on certain chemicals in the brain, like dopamine and serotonin. Brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other, so they affect your mood and thinking in a positive way.’ PE, sport and physical activity has always had a high profile in our school and the curriculum is planned to make sure children have access to regular PE lessons as well as extra-curricular opportunities to be active.
Mental well-being is as important as physical and our curriculum encourages the development of emotional resilience. We aim to teach children that ‘resilience is not a personality trait’ (MIND) and that it can be developed and the benefit is it can help reduce stress. We introduce children to Gem Powers to help them manage and understand their own learning behaviours:
EMERALD POWER – resilience, bouncing back from setbacks
DIAMOND POWER – perseverance
SAPPHIRE – concentration, being able to ignore distractions
RUBY – kindness, respect and a positive attitude
In order to achieve our aim then our curriculum needs to be:
Broad and progressive
Ofsted (2109) term progress as, ‘knowing more and remembering more’. Therefore, we have planned a knowledge rich curriculum that focuses on ‘sticky knowledge’ in Science, History and Geography and is enhanced by learning in Computing, PE, Art, DT, Music and MFL (French). Our curriculum is:
- Broad – focused on developing the cultural capital of our children. Experiences are planned that will enrich the learning experiences.
- Progressive – knowledge and skills are built upon as pupils move through school. Opportunities are planned to make sure previous learning is revisited; links are made between previous learning and new learning.
- Equal – all pupils experience all subjects. The curriculum is not narrowed for some groups or classes. Pupils are not missing out on some curriculum subjects. Teachers plan and timetable their interventions very carefully and only in extreme situations might a pupil miss out on learning in a particular subject.
Our curriculum content has been chosen carefully to match our context and locality. In history, we study the history of our community making sure children gain a sense of the past, theirs and that of their parents and grandparents. We consider what this place was like in the past, why did the Romans choose to settle here and how important it was in the development of major world changing inventions e.g. the passenger railway. In geography, we aim to make sure children understand where they come from, their village and the local town and how this links to the world and how the world links to them.
Our school is situated in a predominantly white community containing little ethnic diversity and is not reflective of modern Britain. Curriculum planning attempts to provide our pupils with whatever experiences we can offer to broaden their cultural understanding.
- Books are chosen considerately to include BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) characters and cultures but avoid stereotypical characterisation.
- Opportunities to invite culturally diverse groups into school are actively sought. We have welcomed:
- A class of French pupils for sporting and social events;
- Japanese and Chinese business students from Durham University to talk about their culture with children;
- Chinese pupils into 3 of our classes for a two-week visit;
- An ethnically diverse group of trainee teachers from Bradford who wanted to experience an ethnically different school setting.
Take a look at our yearly overview grids for each class to see what our pupils will learn.