The curriculum can be defined as the sum total of experiences enjoyed by the child at school both in and out of lesson times in order to promote their learning, personal growth and development. The formal curriculum is the range of planned activities and experiences; the informal curriculum is the messages and values transmitted by the school through its nurturing ethos, relationships and environment. Extra-curricular activities enrich the experiences of our children.
We aim to provide a curriculum that is broad, balanced, challenging and relevant which provides continuity and progression of knowledge and skills and takes individual differences into account. Cross-curricular themes are identified to promote enjoyable learning within a context that the children can access and engage with. The children will have opportunities to work in a range of groupings and with different adults both inside and outside the classroom, experiencing a range of appropriate learning and teaching styles, ensuring that all children are able to fulfil their potential, regardless of background or ability.
The curriculum at QEP is specific to our context and has specific components at its core for our particular intake. At QEP we have identified our curriculum drivers to ensure that all children:
- have enriched lives through access to high quality life experiences which equip pupils with the cultural capital they need e.g. visiting the theatre; going climbing; travelling on a bus; visiting the Space Centre
- develop a love of reading through exposure to high quality texts;
- are able to articulate and reason about the world around them through a highly developed vocabulary;
- are challenged to acquire a broad and balanced range of skills and knowledge through exposure to carefully planned and progressive subject content which will provide a basis for high aspirations.
- have opportunities to develop socially, morally, spiritually and culturally and demonstrate fundamental human values with a particular emphasis on resilience
QEP’s coherently planned academic curriculum, underpinned by our five drivers, sets out:
- a clear list of the breadth of topics that will be covered;
- the ‘threshold concepts’ pupils should understand;
- criteria for progression within the threshold. concepts;
- criteria for depth of understanding.
The diagram below shows model of our curriculum structure:
- The curriculum breadth for each year group ensures each teacher has clarity as to what to cover. As well as providing the key knowledge within subjects it also provides for pupils’ growing cultural capital.
- Threshold concepts are the key disciplinary aspects of each subject. They are chosen to build conceptual understanding within subjects and are repeated many times in each topic. We share these with pupils as “learning hooks” which underpin learning in each milestone. This enables pupils to reinforce and build upon prior learning, make connections and develop subject specific language. This provides the vertical accumulation of knowledge and skills
- Milestones define the standards for the threshold concepts.
- 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. Phase one (Years 1, 3 and 5) in a Milestone is the knowledge building phase that provides the fundamental foundations for later application. LEARNING AT THIS STAGE MUST NOT BE RUSHED and will involve a high degree of repetition so that knowledge enters pupils’ long-term memory. If all of the core knowledge is acquired quickly, teachers create extended knowledge. The repetition of threshold concepts enables vertical accumulation as pupils move through their school journey.
We follow the National Curriculum 2014 for Key Stages 1 and 2 and the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum in the Reception Year.
Pupils are taught in three classes of Class 1 (YR/Y1/Yr 2), Class 2 (Y3/Y4) and Class 3 (Y5/Y6) in the mornings for mostly English and Maths. In the afternoons Class 2 and Class 3 join together for some foundation subjects and specialist coaching.
The curriculum for Foundation subjects is partly covered through Our CLT curriculum (Creative Learning Time) which encompasses History, Geography, Art, DT and Music – and links in with our Science, PSHE, RE and ICT when appropriate, although these are all taught in discreet lessons. The CLT topics are planned broadly into a four year cycle across the school – enabling whole school overarching topic titles and opportunities for vertical school activities.
Key features of our curriculum implementation include:
- Based on the evidence of cognitive science, our curriculum is designed to make learning more effective by using spaced repetition and interleaving of key knowledge and concepts, with frequent and regular retrieval of previously learned content.
- Throughout both Key stages, all subject areas are underpinned by the key knowledge and skills to be acquired in each year group. Our aim is that children become increasingly accurate in the application of these skills and progress through three cognitive domains: basic, advancing and deep.
- All topics have an accompanying knowledge web. These documents set out the core knowledge to be acquired by the end of the topic, the key vocabulary to be acquired and the threshold concepts covered by that topic. They help pupils relate each topic to previously studied topics and to form strong, meaningful schema. These are sent home and shared with parents to assist with home learning.
- All topics are underpinned by high quality texts to ensure that children have a wide range of reading experiences and a sound knowledge of books and stories. For example, children in UKS2 studying the geography of America will look at Holes by Louis Sachar. They will write in role, look at key themes and draw conclusions about life for a child growing up in America in the 21st century. Texts are also used to explore vocabulary and help to develop children’s use of language both in everyday speech and in their writing.
- Teachers have a high focus on the use of questioning. All topics are planned using the learning challenge approach where an overarching big question is used to focus the children’s topic based learning with weekly questions used to break down learning into smaller pieces. For example, children in KS2 may ask ‘What impact did Queen Victoria have on Britain?’ as their overarching big question, with one of their weekly questions being ‘What was it like to go to school in Victorian England’ Teachers use questioning to ensure that pupils thinking is challenged and that learning is deepened.
- All children receive focused bursts of basic skills each day. These sessions focus on phonics, spelling and grammar, maths skills and early or wider reading.
- We provide the children with opportunities to explore quality text and a precise and enriched vocabulary to use within the context of the lesson and to connect to wider subject areas. They can use this vocabulary confidently to reason and explain their thinking about the areas they are studying.
- Teaching staff use a consistent approach to lesson planning, through well scaffolded steps to success, clear learning outcomes, plenty of opportunities for questioning, modelling of good practice and use of success criteria.
- Enriching the children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding, as well as their personal development in matters of health, economics and well-being also lie at the heart of our curriculum. Activities such as assemblies, circle time, theme days, festivals, celebrations and nurture – combined with our subject teaching in RE, PSHE, Science and MFL help deliver and revisit school priorities such as school values and ethos, British values, kindness, respect, tolerance and resilience.
- Our children are provided with a wealth of opportunities to engage in purposeful and relevant experiences in and out of school. These include: after-school clubs, Sports fixtures, competitions and festivals, gardening, cooking, lunchtime clubs, opportunities for pupil leadership, themed days, external visits, residentials, First Aid training, DARE programme, charity events, annual whole school Panto visit, Year 6 Camp-out, fashion show modelling, annual bumper Summer Production and Community links
- We encourage parental involvement through parent workshops and home-school learning logs, this provides an opportunity to encourage the parent’s understanding of our curriculum
The intended impact of our curriculum framework is that by the end of each year group, and ultimately by the end of Key Stage 2, children are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for the next stage of their education. We will talk to children and look at their work, look at teaching and learning in lessons and consider what performance data is telling us with regards to measuring the extent to which all children have fulfilled their potential, regardless of ability or background.