St Mary’s Curriculum - Rationale
Early Years Curriculum
We follow Development Matters to support children’s learning and development, by closely matching provision to a child’s current needs.
Key Stage 1 and 2
Our curriculum is knowledge rich. All aspects of the curriculum have been designed with progression in mind; this ensures that children build on existing skills and knowledge, which, over time, enables them to know more and remember more.
Our curriculum is built around the objectives, which covers the core subjects: English, Mathematics and Science, and the foundation subjects: ICT, History, Geography, Art and Design, Design Technology, Music, Physical Education, Citizenship (including PSHE and RSHE) and Religious Education.
Our curriculum focuses significantly on the core areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening, maths and science. These underpin all of our termly projects and are key to providing our children with the skills needed to access a wide range of learning.
Foundation subjects are delivered using a mastery model where children are able to explore content in increasing depth and complexity as they move through school. Knowledge and skills are developed through termly projects that begin with a philosophical enquiry question. This approach allows us to make connections across the curriculum, whilst also developing the children’s understanding of what makes each subject distinct and unique.
Curriculum planning: Pedagogy
We believe that our children deserve inspirational learning
opportunities. Curriculum planning ensures that children are
immersed in exciting projects which lead to authentic outcomes.
They are challenged to work creatively whilst deepening their
knowledge and understanding across the curriculum.
Planning begins with content. From this we identify philosophical concepts that will be drawn out and explored through individual subjects. We select and explore concepts that matter the most to our children which not only creates cohesion, but also ensures that our curriculum is rooted in the community – both within the walls of the school and beyond.
The philosophical concepts are framed with an enquiry question and often begin with the children exploring scripture. Throughout the projects, RE remains central to understanding the concepts with units from ‘Come and See’ carefully selected so that learning is relevant and purposeful.
All our projects are knowledge rich, aspirational and contextualised. Children work towards authentic outcomes and engage with critical audiences; they undertake projects that involve complex issues, and in doing so, develop an understanding of what is possible and a belief that they can make a difference.
We have exceptionally high expectations of learning and outcome. Our curriculum is designed to encourage high levels of motivation, which, when combined with the process of critique and redrafting, ensures that our children are instilled with the desire to produce beautiful work.
Children work alongside experts and professionals, take part in visits and educational visits and learn both indoors and out. Our classroom environments are designed to encourage children to work collaboratively, flexibly and with high levels of independence.
We believe that a curriculum should provide mirrors for the children in which they can see themselves reflected, and windows, through which they can look into the lives and stories of people who are different. Using this approach, we select subject content and build depth studies that represent the unique community that we serve.
Our curriculum comprises of four interrelated strands of knowledge:
Procedural knowledge: Knowledge is vertically integrated so that the children revisit and deepen their knowledge and understanding in each year group as they progress through school. In planning, this knowledge is presented as our broad ‘learning aims’. This process is supported by the use of SOLO taxonomy, which enables the children to deepen their knowledge and understanding within year groups ensuring a mastery approach to curriculum.
Disciplinary knowledge represents the methods or conceptual frameworks. We present these as ‘Big ideas’ that masters of their subjects apply when viewing their subject.
Substantive knowledge represents the content that is taught in each year group – in planning, this knowledge is presented as specific ‘learning outcomes’ – the content we want the children to know and remember. In selecting the specific content, we ensure that the heritage of our children is highlighted and celebrated. As a result of our work on developing an anti-racist curriculum, deliberate choices are made about aspects so that our curriculum is representative of, and sensitive to, the community that we serve.
Substantive concepts are specific terms that often don’t have a fixed meaning, and as a result, are context dependent. Substantive concepts appear throughout the each subject in the curriculum and are explored in different year groups through different aspects. By highlighting these concepts, we are able to ensure that connections are made so that children begin to develop familiarity and confidence, which then supports their future learning within the subject.
Repetition and retrieval:
Our curriculum is built upon high levels of repetition to ensure that our children can do more and remember more as they progress through school. The two strands of Procedural knowledge and Disciplinary knowledge are revisited and developed in every class from year one to year six.
This repetition ensures that our children reach the end of Key Stage Two with the ability to apply the skills and conceptual frameworks with high levels of independence.
Substantive concepts are repeated in multiple year groups in order to develop resonance. Concepts are unpicked, defined and put into context to support the children’s immediate understanding of the area being studied, whilst also broadening their wider understanding of the subject.
During the course of each project, we share significant amounts of substantive knowledge with our children. In planning, our specific learning outcomes detail the substantive knowledge that we want the children to know and remember. Retrieval practice is used during the course of the project to ensure that key knowledge is revisited and remembered. Beyond the project itself, books are placed in the reading areas of classrooms so that children can access their work and the work of others. Teachers build in time over subsequent terms to revisit the books and give opportunity for reflection, discussion and recall.
We believe that assessment is more than just knowing facts. We assess the children’s ability to apply their knowledge with a final assessment piece at the end of each project. This provides information on the children’s ability to use a combination of substantive, disciplinary and procedural knowledge.