Aims and Intent
Children are at the centre of our curriculum; we are ambitious for all of our pupils to achieve the best possible educational and personal outcomes, irrespective of their background or challenges they may face. We want our children to become independent, well-rounded and positive individuals who take ownership of their learning and become deep thinkers. We want our children to be able to apply their knowledge and skills in a range of contexts within school and real life. We want our children to value learning and become enquiring, confident and resourceful lifelong learners. Our curriculum has been carefully designed to give all pupils the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to succeed in life and to enable them to be confident, responsible, caring and positive members of society.
Our curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced in small steps towards cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning. Pupils are engaged in meaningful cognitive activities enabling them to make connections between their developing knowledge and skills, their prior learning and their own experiences.
We believe that personal and social aspects of the curriculum are as important as academic aspects of the curriculum. We understand the value that engaging experiences such as visits and visitors can give children and how these can impact on children’s social and personal development. Learning experiences in school are planned carefully to help children understand the world around them. Children are introduced to significant people, stories and events and participate in rich experiences.
Key curriculum drivers reflect the context of our school community and support our pupils’ personal and character development. As a result, personal, social and health education forms an important part of our curriculum along with ensuring children know about and respect all cultures and understand their local and global community.
We follow the National Curriculum in Key Stages 1 and 2 and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum in Reception class. These curricula provide the aims and objectives of each curriculum subject. The National Curriculum subject aims provide us with the ‘end goal’ of the learning in each subject area. Pupils are taught the entire curriculum for a subject, with opportunities for revisiting content when necessary.
At Crookhill Primary School, we want our children to be inspired, engaged and involved in their learning. All staff have worked together in developing our curriculum to ensure children have the best opportunities they can to develop both academically and personally. Staff are fully involved in the design, planning, and implementation of our curriculum enabling us to draw on staff expertise across school while also giving them ownership of and investment in the curriculum.
While English and Maths are at the core of our curriculum, we also give great importance to foundation subjects. We adopt a rigorous approach to teaching the basic skills in order to enable our pupils to make progress in all curriculum areas. We believe that the teaching of reading is of the greatest importance and therefore we spend the most time teaching this subject. Phonics fast and first is delivered through our Read, Write Inc. scheme. Computer based programmes such as Accelerated Reader, MyOn and Reading Plus support the development of vocabulary, fluency and comprehension and encourage pupils to read for pleasure on topics or genres that interest them. Carefully chosen texts are used for whole class teaching of reading throughout Key Stage 2. The teaching of mathematics is also prioritised. Fundamental number skills such as recall of number facts or multiplication tables are given precedence.
Our curriculum includes full coverage of The National Curriculum in Key Stages 1 and 2 to ensure a broad and balanced offer. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Curriculum is followed in Reception class. Where the National Curriculum objectives are not specific to a year group, we have identified where and when they will be taught in each Key Stage. Teachers and subject leaders have identified key knowledge, skills and concepts and these have been carefully mapped out sequentially in our long term plans from EYFS to Y6. To ensure progression, subjects are also organised into two year Milestones. The content of each Milestone outlines the subject specific knowledge and generic knowledge (or concepts) that are to be developed throughout the two-year cycle and beyond. These concepts are specific to each subject and are outlined in the long-term planning documents for each subject area.
Cognitive science tells us that repetition and recall of learning will enable pupils to retain what they have learned. In each subject area, key knowledge, concepts and vocabulary are built upon progressively by revisiting and repeating within our planning and teaching. We recognise that working memory is limited and that cognitive load is too high if students are rushed through content. This limits the acquisition of long-term memory. We take time to introduce new content in small, manageable steps. This approach ensures that pupils are able to retain the new content and draw upon this in later lessons, building connections with their new knowledge and what they already know.
In order to help students retain what they have learned (move knowledge from the working memory to the long term memory), retrieval practice is an important part of the implementation of our curriculum model. Repetition and recall of learning enables pupils to retain what they have learned. Therefore, we build in regular opportunities to return to prior learning. This is through various retrieval practice activities or quizzes or by recapping prior learning at the beginning of a new lesson. Retrieval practice and the acquisition of learning in long-term memory forms an important part of our CPD programme. We have invested heavily in supporting staff to develop their understanding of how we can make learning ‘stick’ in order to achieve the best outcomes for all learners. Our planning approach ensures that pupils are able to revisit prior learning regularly.
We are ambitious for our pupils to use appropriate terminology and to acquire a wide range of subject specific vocabulary. This is identified in the long and medium term planning documents within milestones and from Early Years to Y6.
In all subject areas, new knowledge is presented in small steps to avoid cognitive overload. We recognise that pupils learn best when they are presented with the knowledge by teachers or other adults and this is best supported by models, images or practical activities to help embed the learning. Children are then offered opportunities to practice new skills or procedures through guided practice and, when they are ready to do so, through independent practice. Staff are skilled at selecting, creating and using high quality resources to support the curriculum aims and design.
In order for students to become creative thinkers, or have a greater depth of understanding, they must first master the basics, which takes time. We have organised our curriculum to give sufficient time for pupils to review and revisit what they are learning and deepen their understanding across the two-year Milestone cycle and beyond. Children practice new skills or procedures through guided and independent practice to gain a basic understanding and fluency. They deepen their understanding of the same concept by completing activities which require greater thinking, reasoning and enquiry and where links can be made to other concepts.
We want pupils to understand the fundamental principles of each subject that they study in school. They should know what it is to be a historian, scientist, musician or artist etc. Therefore, we explicitly teach children what it is that, for example, a historian does in order that they begin to understand how each discrete subjects differ from each other and encourage them to make links between their learning at different times in different topics.
Our curriculum is designed to meet the needs of every pupil in our school. We know our pupils very well and can therefore tailor the curriculum and teaching to best meet the needs of individuals or groups. Provision for SEND pupils is carefully planned and designed to help them overcome their barriers to learning and achieve the best possible outcomes. Children’s progress and understanding is checked continuously, formally and informally, daily and at set points throughout the year. Action is taken immediately if progress is not as expected. High staffing levels and a comprehensive programme of support across school means that intervention is timely and can be both responsive and structured.
Subject specific knowledge (as identified on the long-term planning documents) is assessed through retrieval type activities. Assessing pupils understanding of a concept is done through the collection of a variety of pieces of evidence from a range of tasks carried out throughout a unit or topic. The purpose of this assessment is not to collect data; it is to help inform future planning (whether that is within the same school year or will be passed on to the next teacher).
Subject leaders and senior leaders monitor their subject throughout the year. This includes monitoring of planning, visiting lessons, talking to staff and pupils and reviewing pupils’ workbooks. This monitoring is used to inform next steps needed to develop the subject further and to make any changes necessary to the curriculum planning sequence or documentation.
Despite pupils’ low starting points in Reception, children at Crookhill make good progress throughout their time in school. The majority of pupils leave Crookhill at least in line with National Expectations and often above. Precise and carefully planned provision for SEND pupils enables pupils with additional needs to achieve well during their time in our school. Progress scores show that disadvantaged children make good progress during their time at Crookhill.
Our curriculum successfully enables pupils to apply knowledge and skills fluently and independently. Our pupils develop detailed knowledge and skills across the curriculum and, as a result, achieve well. Our sequenced curriculum design and focus on key knowledge, skills and concepts, help pupils make good progress in foundation subjects. Learning is embedded and remembered over time. Due to our focus on reading and the highly positive reading culture in school, pupils are enthusiastic and competent readers. Pupils love maths and achieve highly. Pupils are able to apply mathematical knowledge, concepts and procedures appropriately for their age. Pupils focus well on their learning because teachers reinforce expectations for behaviour and set clear tasks that challenge and engage pupils. Pupils respond to feedback well and are keen to improve their work.
Our school learning muscles, focus on developing positive mindsets and high expectations of pupils mean that pupils demonstrate an enthusiasm for learning and are motivated to do their best. Children leave our school confident to take on the next step on their learning journey and beyond.
Our curriculum ensures that our pupils are equipped with the skills and knowledge needed for future learning. They are resilient, responsible and respectful. Pupils know what is right and wrong and make decisions based on informed choices. Pupils’ experiences throughout their time at our school ensure children leave us as happy and confident ‘Crookhillers’.