Heatherlands Primary School Curriculum statement
The curriculum vision at Heatherlands is based around using creative approaches to foster individuals’ curiosity through purposeful and contextual learning. Our curriculum meets the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum 2014, whilst raising standards and engaging and enthusing our children. By developing and enabling our pupils to take risks and develop resilience, they can find answers themselves and enjoy the challenge of enquiry. The aim of our curriculum is for pupils to have high aspirations, to strive to be the best they can be and to make a positive contribution to the school community and beyond.
At Heatherlands, we believe it is the needs of our children and our community that should determine the emphasis of what is taught, rather than subjects driving the curriculum. It is important that children learn what is in the National curriculum; but we know that our children need more than this.
Having established ‘Curriculum Drivers’, the factors and values that will shape the school’s curriculum based on the needs of our children, our community, our school values and our school location, we can ensure we are able to balance children’s needs with the statutory requirements. Our Curriculum Drivers will enable our pupils to have the confidence and skills needed to transfer into life beyond Heatherlands.
The following three drivers, which were agreed following staff and school community consultation, reflect why the curriculum is developing as it is, in addition to how it is. These drivers help us to shape our curriculum and therefore the opportunities we offer the children. Staff are able to prioritise curriculum content, without dismissing any parts of the statutory curriculum. They are the ‘3 Cs’:
Wherever possible, throughout the curriculum, links are made to these 3 aspects, giving our curriculum focus and context. Please read below for more information on each driver.
We encourage our children to develop a sense of themselves within a wider community. We explore how our school community, local community and wider community are important to us and the contributions that they make to our lives. We involve our school and local community in learning wherever possible and make use of local resources and facilities to support and expand our learning experiences. Our children will learn about the world around them and through the world around them.
We will do this by:
utilising our school environment, our local area, and its people in our curriculum;
participating in the local & global community and being a beacon for others;
helping and supporting community initiatives;
building links to other schools both locally & globally;
promoting cultural awareness and celebrating diversity;
relating learning to real life contexts;
investigating the impact of important individuals in our world;
considering the impact we have on our community;
promoting environmental awareness and sustainability;
being safe and respectful in our community
working in different teams within our school community to support, challenge and learn;
increasing awareness of our local community issues and our place within it
It is the primary aim of the curriculum, that our children develop the tools necessary to communicate their thoughts, ideas and feelings successfully in a wide range of different forms. Children need to know how to speak and listen with respect in a variety of situations. They need the ability to read well and read widely as this broadens horizons, develops imagination and provides a rich vocabulary through which to construct knowledge and understand the world. Being able to write clearly, comfortably and where necessary concisely in many different forms remains a key skill and our curriculum exploits every opportunity to develop this.
We will do this by:
enabling the children to listen and respond appropriately to adults and their peers, maintaining attention and participating actively;
asking relevant questions and using strategies (including modelling and knowledge organisers) to extend the children’s understanding and knowledge and build their vocabulary;
enabling the children to articulate and justify answers, speculate, hypothesise, imagine and explore ideas and share arguments and opinions;
ensuring the children use well-structured descriptions, explanations and narratives for different purposes, including expressing feelings and connecting ideas or events;
encouraging participation in discussions, presentations, performances, role play, improvisations and debates;
considering and evaluating different viewpoints, attending to and building on the contributions of others;
using high quality texts to support learning;
reading across the curriculum, extending the range and types of texts used;
writing for a purpose and an audience using rich texts to drive and develop imagination, style and knowledge.
A core element of effective learning is that our children are exposed to new information a number of times. Reducing the level of information to an optimal amount, which avoids overloading, is crucial to effective learning. Once our children have built up schemas of knowledge that allow them to work on problems without exceeding their cognitive bandwidth, then they can work independently. As well as helping our children retain material and reinforcing it, consolidation is an opportunity to clarify and address any misconceptions or doubts. It can also offer a different 'angle' on new vocabulary, which is productive for learners with different styles.
We will do this by:
making links to prior learning explicit;
planning across phases to ensure progression and consolidation;
providing knowledge organisers to enable pre-learning/overlearning;
consolidating our school values to build ‘rounded’ citizens;
deepening and broadening learning experiences and understanding;
linking all knowledge, vocabulary and skills to wider life
Curriculum Big Ideas
It is vital that the knowledge and skills children learn are co-ordinated and coherent. In order to achieve this in our curriculum, we have identified the key concepts or overarching ideas within each subject. To enable the children to access them, we call these the ‘Big Ideas’.
Pupils’ intellectual development and knowledge-retention is supported by structuring learning according to these carefully selected ‘Big Ideas’, returning to them frequently, giving context and familiar language on which to build new learning. It is essential that these ‘Big Ideas’ are continually consolidated and reinforced in order to create an organised, easily-understood and progressive structure of learning. This principle is about making connections and referring to a bigger picture. Future learning, authentic cross-curricular understanding and the detail of deeper learning take place within this coherent structure.
We have created a coherent, structured curriculum by explicitly planning to return to these concepts frequently throughout Key Stage 1 and Key stage 2. Reinforcing these concepts through repetition is the key to improving pupils’ retention and supporting future learning through the context of familiar ideas.
The ‘Big Ideas’ relate to elements within a subject discipline, such as ‘observation’ in science, or refer to important concepts that contribute to pupils’ personal and social development, including ‘diversity’ in geography and ‘innovation’ in history. It is essential that the ‘Big Ideas’ within each subject are understood by the children and become part of their common classroom language. This is achieved by using the ‘Big Ideas’ in subject-specific displays, explaining the ‘Big Ideas’ verbally and referring to them in lesson plans and by enabling the curriculum ambassadors to explain them in their own words.
Our curriculum is based on the statutory EYFS frameworks and the National Curriculum for KS1 & 2 (2014). These frameworks set out the breadth and depth of study and the skills and attributes for learning that our children need to acquire and experience. The emphasis on the new curriculum is that all pupils should secure their knowledge and understanding of the year group they are in. This means that pupils are expected to use and apply their knowledge and skills in a range of independent learning opportunities. Our curriculum development aims are to ensure that our children have opportunities throughout their time at Heatherlands to develop, use and apply their knowledge, skills and understanding. We ask that our teachers encourage our children to make connections across traditional boundaries, maintain an open mind while exploring a range of options, and reflect critically on ideas and outcomes, therefore improving their ability to work collaboratively to solve problems and ensure the best possible outcomes for all.
As a school we decided upon the 5 values which we believe our children can draw upon to give them an advantage in social life.