At our schools we believe in and share these 5 Core Values
Our approach to curriculum design carefully focusses on the National Curriculum programmes of study but underpinning this we also strive to embed character development and the growth of interpersonal skills and characteristics. We believe fitting the children who attend our school for their futures requires a holistic approach based on their own specific needs.
Due to the demographics of our school settings our Two Key Curriculum Drivers focus on:
The content of our 'school curriculum' comes from:
- The statutory National Curriculum knowledge content for each year group / key stage
- Specific key knowledge we want children at our school to know and remember
- Developing a collaborative skillset to support children’s future career aspirations
- Ensuring active involvement is forged with a range of businesses and employers
- Embedding an innate understanding of diversity through our conscious provision
- Increasing awareness of the needs of our school community and of our wider society
We endeavour to achieve this through adherence to our subject specific curriculum Progression Overviews which contain the statutory content, associated skills and Key Knowledge for every year group across the school. Using these we plan cross-curricular ‘Curriculum Vehicles'. We came to this approach from research based on a well-developed case study of a successful junior school in Worcestershire.
The vital requirements for each Curriculum Vehicle are that they need to include a key end outcome that pupils need to work together within a range of roles to achieve. This is intended to enable them over time to develop their 'soft skills’ that we know employers will value most in the future. This end outcome essentially must also forge a meaningful link to an associated career through having direct involvement with an external agent or employer. This direct involvement with an audience beyond the school provides greater motivation and engagement and higher quality learning experiences to take place.
Planning teams should seek to draw on expertise within the community, local industry or other wider business links as appropriate. The reason for this is that using external experts fulfils two important functions in the process of learning engagement.
The first is that many of them are inspirational, in the sense that they have ability and skills, which go beyond those within the school community.
Secondly, and more importantly, they will also be more aspirational figures for our children. School staff can obviously act in role to inspire children in different fields of careers or expertise, but they cannot convincingly really inspire the same aspiration in these other jobs or careers because they still remain school staff and are not an actual expert in the field. We want our pupils to meet the live versions and through this develop aspirations to be like some of these career linked experts when they grow up. We want them to also understand how they can have a good career and/or be of service to their own community and beyond.
Our Curriculum Intent:
Whilst keeping educational standards high is obviously vital it is not our only priority. We firmly believe for our children it is essential to place an emphasis on developing and nurturing their interpersonal and teamwork skills through their curriculum experiences.
We strive to ensure our curriculum keeps up to date with society's social and educational changes. We achieve this by implementing the school curriculum through our planned Curriculum Vehicles. We know that significant proportions of our children join our schools with very limited life experiences and skills. Our Curriculum Vehicles seek to expose our children to more of these life experiences so they are not only immersed in learning the curriculum knowledge being taught them, but are also equipped over time with the personal characteristics required to ensure they can achieve success in their futures. This is achieved by centering our Vehicle work around developing social and emotional attributes where pupils can relate to themselves, relate to others and manage situations.
A Curriculum Vehicle is the planning framework we use that delivers both the Key Knowledge we need our children to know and remember alongside our curriculum aims.
The difference between Curriculum Vehicles and what we used to call ‘Topics’ is that a Curriculum Vehicle is not solely driven by the acquisition of knowledge. There needs to be a synergy between their progressive knowledge acquisition and the development of their soft skills.
An example of this is rather than the end outcome being to purely gain the key knowledge about for example ‘The Vikings’, we can instead plan for a Curriculum Vehicle such as 'Running a Museum'. This then allows a tangible link to an external agent to be involved (i.e., a museum curator or exhibition company). They will be able to explain to the children information about their own career and what it involves. Then provide expert advice to the children about what the elements of a good exhibit (outcome) requires. Then at the end have involvement in critiquing the children’s’ final presentations with an expert eye, making the experience closer to real life.
In this example children would have the opportunity to learn about roles, teamwork, responsibility to others, how to ensure audience participation, etc. It would involve them learning all the key knowledge about The Vikings so they can work together to creating a high-quality museum exhibit as an end outcome. This way the knowledge is learnt within a context where the focus is on pupils as whole learners as well as what needs to be learnt. We believe that a Curriculum Vehicle needs to be absolutely founded on our school aim for collaboration for it to succeed.
An effective Curriculum Vehicle:
- Is the driver for more intrinsic pupil engagement and motivation to develop a natural striving for excellence based on the fact that all learning will contribute to the intended final outcome.
- Uses expertise from the community as an outside client wherever possible, to give the vehicle a purpose and create a need to constantly re-evaluate the intended product or outcome, particularly when this is based on fulfilling the needs of the client in some way.
- Centres on interpersonal skills, the development of team-based projects and should support pupils to reflect more deeply on their ability to work together, e.g. understanding of roles (leader, facilitator, presenter, etc) and playing to the group members’ strengths to achieve a shared goal.
- Develops understanding of how to resolve conflict, manage disappointment through the growth of resilience, the art of negotiation and the need for democracy.
- Replicates life in the 'real world' as far as possible. It should draw on processes that adults work with every day and narrow the gap between the artificial world of the classroom and the reality of learning in the wider world, therefore providing more context to learning.
- Incorporates resources, texts and external clients that immerse children with positive models of people with protected characteristics both historically and currently.
We have developed Curriculum Vehicles and accompanying stand-alone discrete units for every year group using our year group Progression Overviews in order to ensure our curriculum content includes the essential Key Knowledge children need to learn and build upon each year.
As this Curriculum approach is new for us, we intend for the Curriculum Vehicles and the other discrete units to remain the same for the next two years but with some on-going review to ensure they continue to reflect current affairs and context where applicable. Our vision beyond this time is that once the key content and knowledge progression is securely embedded in our provision, then the focus of the Curriculum Vehicles can be altered within a year group to teach the Key Knowledge in a different way.
This means that the year group specific statutory content and knowledge planned for each year remains static within the year group, but this would not necessarily have to stay as being learnt within the same term. We would like our approach to evolve so it incites flexible thinking, creativity and enthusiasm for staff in order for our provision to stay alive, current and pertinent to our children, helping them know how the world they will take ownership of is unfolding to them.
Our intention is that Curriculum Vehicles, as much as possible, subsume aspects of a wide range of curriculum subjects. In order to achieve this, teaching will as much as possible take place within the context of a Curriculum Vehicle. We feel learning opportunities needs to be built into a tangible context in order to provide more meaning and purpose to pupils which in turn will lead to a higher quality learning outcome. This way what they have learnt about will have far more chance of ‘sticking’ in the long-term memory of our children.
Our Curriculum Implementation:
Our Curriculum Vehicles are planned from the Key Subject Drivers of History, Geography and Science. These key subjects are what we have used in order to develop our six overarching Key Concepts:
From these Key Concepts we have planned out the Key Knowledge progression we want our children to learn about, know and remember within and across every Year Group. These are detailed within our subject area Progression Overviews.
Within our Curriculum Vehicles we plan for sessions by completing a Walk-Through plan.
This is where we divide the learning into appropriate steps of working time, dependent on what needs to be achieved. These sequential steps towards achieving the Curriculum Vehicle’s final outcome usually are for one lesson, but can span more, dependent on content, skills and knowledge balanced with the teaching time required in order to deliver them effectively. Due to this, weekly timetabling can be used more flexibly in response to this as required.
Any discretely taught lessons not included within the Vehicle Plan that week / term are planned for separately. Planning teams plan-out their weekly timetable to accommodate what needs to be achieved in the subsequent week as part of the Curriculum Vehicle, and also in order to include any discrete stand-alone units or aspects of other subject content needing to be taught alongside. Some of the English, Maths and Science work is taught through Curriculum Vehicles but other required coverage is taught discretely where this does not make a natural link.
Alongside this each Curriculum Vehicle will be accompanied by a Knowledge Organiser Mat which is usually shared at the outset with our children and their parents/carers. This will contain the Key Knowledge, the key personal skills and the key vocabulary we want the children to learn about. It will also contain reading recommendations, website links and potential connected careers to explore.
To support children’s understanding and develop autonomy in their own learning, we deploy a Challenge by Choice approach to a large proportion of our lessons. This involves removing caps placed on children’s learning, so as not to restrict their progress. This approach offers more ownership for the children as they choose their own level of independent work within a lesson to learn from. All children are given the opportunity to challenge themselves appropriately in different aspects of a subject without the limitations of being automatically ability grouped.
In this approach there are four different learning options for the learning intention of a session. In order to make this system accessible for all our learners, these options are referred to as ‘chillis’ and the system is referred to as Chilli Challenges in the classroom. Each chilli builds on the previous one, offering different levels of difficulty or application.
|Tongue Tingler||Nose Runner||Eye Waterer||The Beast|
|Involves practising the skill with scaffolding.||Involves the practising element in a more independent manner||Involves the application of the skill.||This is a mastery level activity where children are expected to use and apply deeper thinking.|
Some National Curriculum subjects are far are easier to integrate into a range of Curriculum Vehicles such as Art and DT. Other more heavily content-driven subjects are integrated where a meaningful link is appropriate such as PSHRE, French, RE, Computing, Music and PE but these subjects are generally taught discretely within the weekly timetable.
Computing is taught from a scheme of work from Purple Mash. This is due to be reviewed as part of our development in the next academic year.
French is now taught from a scheme recently implemented called Language Angels following a review of the previous scheme this academic year.
Our PSHRE provision is key to all we provide for our children’s needs, we deliver this within a high-quality picture book-centred framework which focusses on dealing with many aspects of social challenges and adverse childhood experiences (ACES).
This is divided up into a variety of ‘Talking Points’ each term which culminate in challenge by choice activities where discussion encourages pupils to ‘agree, build or challenge’ social concepts. The framework covers Year 1 through to Year 6 and has a progressive build up to suit the age and needs of our pupils. There are four main strands within this in each Year Group. These are:
1. Understanding me
2. Understanding others
3. Understanding groups
4. Looking after me
P.E. is taught from the IPEP scheme which also assesses the children. This ensures teaching of skills and knowledge acquisition for the P.E. curriculum builds progressively across the school.
Music is taught from the Charanga scheme which similarly ensures teaching of skills and knowledge acquisition for the music curriculum builds progressively across the school. This is due to be reviewed as part of our development in the next academic year to enhance our integration of exposing our children to more musicians and performances as well as integrating some tuition sessions.
The teaching of reading throughout school falls primarily into two main areas: word reading and comprehension. Word reading plays a crucial role in our Early Reading Provision. For younger children, there are daily phonics sessions as well specific reading sessions. Phonic sessions follow a four-part format allowing children to revisit/review previously learnt sounds/words; teach, where they learn new sounds; practise; which allows children to 'try out' the sound(s) and apply, where children use these newly taught sounds in context. Children work systematically through the phonic phases, ensuring that they have opportunities to practise their phonic knowledge through closely matched decodable reading books. All F2 (when they are at an appropriate reading level) and KS1 children will have two 'home reading books': one, which is closely matched to their most recent phonics learning and one which is on an appropriate and corresponding book band. Older children who are working below age-related may receive a word-reading intervention depending on their identified need, those children who are needing a phonetically decodable read will continue to have one as a 'home reader.'
Throughout school, comprehension is taught so that children can understand what they have read. We use RIC principles to structure our comprehension teaching (Retrieve, Interpret and Choice) which allows us to focus on author intent as well as inferring and retrieving information in order to fully cover all areas of the reading content domain. Children have the opportunity to apply their understanding in a wide range of ways including, but not limited to, using text to draw settings/characters, answering questions, matching/sequencing activities and specific vocabulary activities. Additionally, in KS2 APE (Answer, Prove, Explain) is used as both a teaching tool and a resource to support children with structuring higher-level answers.
Children are taught through a variety of whole class, small group and 1:1 reading sessions however, KS2 reading is primarily taught as a whole class. For children working within the lowest 20% of each year group, they will receive additional support appropriate to their identified gaps. The principles of Reciprocal Reading are applied to reading sessions to support children’s autonomy and comprehension. All children are exposed to a range of authors and text types throughout these sessions. (Refer to Our Reading Offer and Reading Spine) Additional reading enrichment takes place throughout school, with books shared in Talking Points (PSHRE), texts used to support Curriculum Vehicle sessions, assemblies and whole class reads.
The teaching of writing is key skill applied throughout the whole curriculum. Discreet English sessions are utilised to ensure that all areas of the writing curriculum are covered.
To support their development of writing, children have specific Grammar Skills and Spelling teaching. A range of approaches to spelling teaching is deployed, including the use of No-Nonsense Spelling for KS2 and within phonic sessions for KS1. Grammar is taught using Rainbow Grammar. Rainbow Grammar is a systematic approach to teaching grammar and punctuation created by Jason Wade (a Grammar expert). This approach separates sentences into eight parts of grammar and assigns each a colour. During their time at our school, children will learn about each colour and how they can be combined to create a rich array of sentence structures. Children, where appropriate, are given opportunities to practice grammar skills through daily grammar starters.
Handwriting is taught systematically throughout school using Nelson Handwriting. This begins with sessions focusing on developing gross and fine motor skills and moves on to letter formation and joining. As children become more competent with their handwriting, they are able to use pens in their writing.
Writing units are planned around a quality text. Units are structured to allow for immersion in the text/writing genre, the practicing of key grammatical and structural features. Units come to a close with an end written outcome which will follow the writing format of plan, write, edit to an age-appropriate level. Marking symbols are used to share success criteria and build children’s autonomy with developing their own writing skills.
Children are given opportunities to write for different purposes and different audiences both in discreet English sessions and across the wider curriculum. Where meaningful outcomes can be achieved, writing is delivered throughout Curriculum Vehicle sessions to ensure that it is purposeful.
Maths is taught through structured sessions designed to allow children to make progress at each stage and also to think at a deeper level about each concept of skill. An anchor task at the start of the lesson contextualises the skill and also allows all children an opportunity to think deeply about the skill being taught. This is then followed by a guided practice which is more heavily structured and allows all pupils to see a skill being applied – this is also an opportunity for pupils to work together to practice a skill before moving on to the independent part of the session. This independent part is structured through the Challenge by Choice (chilli challenge) approach and pupils are given opportunities to choose the level appropriate for them and work with adult support if necessary.
Each class, except for Year 4 also does a daily 5 in 5 (or 3 in 3 in year 1) fluency task which is designed to support children in building the speed with which they can recall number facts such as number bonds, times tables, multiplying by powers of 10 or finding simple fractions of amounts. Towards the start of the year, these are likely to be based on gaps from the academic year below but will move to be covering more age-related gaps as we move through the academic year. They are planned for individual classes based on gaps the teacher has identified through previous sessions or arithmetic practices. Year 4 complete 25 multiplication questions in 2 ½ minutes to help develop and support their application of timetables to their mathematical understanding as well as prepare them for the speed of the statutory multiplication check.
Times table subject knowledge is also something which features strongly in our teaching of mathematics. We have a three-pronged approach to this:
- Times Table Rockstars – this is an online program which each KS2 pupil has access to and is designed to continue times table practice at home and also develops a passion and excitement around times table learning
- Times Table Superheroes – these are a series of levelled challenges that pupils work through. They do a paper based, times table exercise weekly and move through the superhero named levels once they have completed the previous one. These again increase the emphasis on times tables but also ensure each child within a class is working on a personalised times table target and progress is tracked. These have also been made available for online learning
- Shanghai sessions – Shanghai sessions take place fortnightly in all year groups and are a focused session on a specific times table which all children access. They are designed to absorb children in a times table for a lesson and allow for repetition and building up of knowledge through guided sessions and short tasks which in turn lead to increased independence in that particular times table
For remote maths learning for Years 1-6, lessons mirror the in-school pedagogical approach.
It is necessary for the current maths provision to adhere to our long-term overviews in order for children to continue to make progression and to address gaps in missed learning. Staff’s views have been taken into account to reflect children’s current gaps and learning needs when updating these overviews. The format through which children access their home maths learning has been tailored towards maximising children’s engagement through the use of personalised explanation and modelling.
Wider Curriculum Aspects
We expect our pupils to take P.R.I.D.E in their learning by working to their full potential and demonstrating positive learning behaviours. We have high expectations of academic progress, attendance and social and moral aptitudes. This permeates across our schools through enabling opportunities for pupils to be elected onto a range of pupil forums where they are instrumental in working with key staff on a range of key developments. These include: Attendance Forums, Sports Leaders, Reading Champions, Take 5 Ambassadors and Learning Forums.
We very much see working with our parents and carers as a fundamental partnership and rigorously strive to strengthen this relationship as much as possible in order for our pupils to benefit. This is usually successfully achieved through a calendar of events across the school year that they are invited into school for work showcases, celebration events, meet the teacher evenings, fun family learning events, etc. We are currently working to adapt and organise these kinds of events to take place in a more virtual way.
As part of our experiential curriculum as well as us regularly inviting visitors to the school and planning carefully chosen trips out to enhance our Curriculum Vehicles we also run residential visits, after school clubs and have sports specialists for the schools to enhance delivery. (Refer to the overview in Appendix 1 of the Curriculum Statement below).
We also carefully plan and include work around fundamental British Values using appropriate language and themes accessible for our pupils to identify with (Refer to the overview in Appendix 2 of the Curriculum Statement below). These are also reinforced and delivered each week through our Assembly Themes which also link closely to our PSHRE foci. (Refer to Appendix 3 of the Curriculum Statement below).
Assessing the Impact of Our Curriculum:
To support the development and quality assurance our new Curriculum approach, we have a Curriculum Development Team which consists of key subject leaders who are our experts. This team includes some Senior Leaders to help support middle leaders and the group meet regularly to quality assure and provide guidance, support and challenge for year groups within the developments made so far.
They initially reviewed the year group statutory curriculum carve up and worked together to provide ideas for potential future Curriculum Vehicles that would cover all year groups statutory content, but with a range of different collaborative outcomes and career links. This group have subsequently led the mapping out of our Progression Overviews for each subject area so these not only include the statutory content and associated skills but also include the Key Knowledge and Prior Knowledge that needs to be taught and built upon within each year group for each subject area.
This has been absolutely key to develop and get right for our children in order to ensure identified Key Knowledge will be more clearly, sequentially connected and thus more effective in building-up children’s knowledge over time around our six Key Concepts as they move through the school.
Continual professional development is ongoing for all Subject Leaders so they are equipped with the necessary skills and expertise to support and embed high standards for their subject. They will ensure a clear progression of Key Knowledge for their subject area is planned out for and that this is being implemented effectively in provision. They will also ensure this is impacting positively on pupil outcomes in terms of the depth of knowledge acquired and the ability of children being able to make links to prior learning to draw comparisons from to support the current knowledge being learnt. This wider leadership development will be a key feature on our School Improvement Plan for the next academic year.
Experienced Subject Leaders already use a range of monitoring to review planning, provision and pupil outcomes to support class teachers in securing any necessary improvements identified. They help to ascertain levels of learning progress and coverage from assessments and, using this, provide well-focussed catch-up overviews required to plug the priority gaps for staff to plan for.
For the past few years, the school has historically used an online tracking system (Classroom Monitor) for staff to complete by marking on how well children have understood the knowledge and skills within taught provision for the core subjects. This has been useful in providing regular gap analysis for teaching staff to address within their planning and provision. This has not been utilised for other subject areas due to the enormity of the assessment foci within this. However. as this system has been less effective in its use as a summative assessment tool, during last academic year the school moved to securing termly tracking data for Reading, Writing and Maths based on their own summative teacher assessment which has proved more useful for reporting purposes and in supporting School Leaders and Governors decisions around prioritising interventions as required.
To support with our summative teacher assessments, we use Cornerstone Assessments each term to assess progress in Reading and Maths (arithmetic). Past SATs papers are also utilised.
With the development of our Progression Overview next academic year we are planning on moving towards developing a more useful knowledge tracker. We need to enable teaching staff to focus on being able to record the levels of acquisition of the more specific Key Knowledge for all subjects for individual children. This will not only support gap analysis at a class level, but it will enable all Subject Leaders to utilise the trackers to know clearly where progress is better within the school as well as identify which year groups require their expertise and intervention to secure swifter progress.
Our marking and feedback procedure is focused on this taking place at the point of teaching as much as possible in order to ensure good progress can be made with insightful intervention. Where pupils are less confident in aspects of learning this is picked up and a post-teach will be provided typically on the same day.
As our Key Drivers for our curriculum (Future Aspiration and Diversity) are not specific subjects, we also are striving to draw a distinction between assessing the impact of the school curriculum and assessing National Curriculum subjects. The purpose of a school curriculum is not only about aiming to achieve good SATs results. We know for our pupils we need to provide a holistic education for our pupils in line with our school core values and curriculum intent.
To this end, during the last academic year we set up a pupil Learning Forum which was due to be used to provide the conduit to developing a record of achievement approach to assessing pupils' social and emotional journeys through their time at school. Work was accomplished towards achieving this. We had planned to provide a way for pupils to reflect on their own experiences and learning within these logs, in conjunction with peer feedback and teacher feedback. This has now been transferred as a key development for the second part of the Summer Term 2021 and into the next academic year due to lockdown having impacted on the progress of this.
As part of our school improvement planning and ongoing quality assurance, school leaders and governors carry out a range of monitoring in order to assess strengths and identify areas requiring support and improvement in order to keep a keen eye on quality assurance to ensure all are taking Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence.
If you would like to find out more about the curriculum we follow at Holgate Primary School, please contact the school office on 0115 963 8649 with your specific enquiry and a member of our teaching staff will provide more details.
Please see the below Curriculum Statement for more information and also take a look at our Holgate Primary and Nursery - whole school curriculum page.