Our Curriculum Intention and Implementation
Our Curriculum Intention
Our curriculum is driven by a strong belief that our children need a variety of learning experiences, both inside and outside of the classroom, in order to become life-long learners. Our children should come to school excited about what they might discover and must be provided with high quality learning opportunities to develop a love of learning so that they go on to become life-long learners, fascinated by the world around them and the opportunities it presents.
In order to achieve our goal of developing life-long learners, reading is at the heart of all our children's learning. Our curriculum is underpinned by our understanding of the importance of reading for all our children and how reading is key in ensuring our children are able to achieve in all subjects, develop a love of learning and become life-long learners.
Our knowledge-centred curriculum, is planned so that it builds on prior knowledge, sequentially, utilising a mastery model approach for the majority of our children and carefully considers the importance of future learning. Learning is made memorable by experiences and opportunities to revisit learning. Memorable learning, which is constantly discussed and referred to, ensures children learn more and remember more. All children, no matter what their prior learning, are challenged to achieve their best in all subjects and provided with the knowledge and skills they need to move on to the next stage of their learning.
In an ever-changing world, we want our children to be safe and understand how to keep themselves safe by providing them with the necessary knowledge and skills to make choices that keep them safe. Through sequential teaching underpinned by our school's core values: Love, Respect, Ambition, children learn to become responsible, considered, thoughtful members of society ready for life in modern Britain.
Children take part in a wide range of reading lessons on a daily basis including phonics, guided reading, 1:1 reading, independent reading for pleasure and listening to their Class Teacher read. What underpins all of our focus is that we want all of our children to make accelerated progress in reading and develop into lifelong readers. When we implement the reading strategies, we aren’t aiming for children to read at the ‘age related expectations’, we’re aiming for children learn to decode and understand so that they can apply this to other areas of learning and in their every day life.
In order for all children to maximise their potential, we utilise a mastery curriculum across all subjects. For some children this might mean that pre-teaching of key concepts and vocabulary are necessary and for others there needs to be opportunities to challenge and extend their learning. It is imperative that all children have the opportunity to master the curriculum and really understand the key learning.
Our work in Maths, for instance, clearly demonstrates this approach. We now utilise Power Maths across school to ensure a consistency in the teaching and learning of maths in all classes. Although we are a small school with mixed age classes, for maths lessons, all children work in their year groups, reducing class sizes to a maximum of 20. This mastery approach in maths, as with all subjects, provides a broad, deep understanding of concepts and enables all children to reach their full potential.
The recent pandemic has meant that when implementing our curriculum intention that there has had to be adaptions made. Subject Leaders have thought carefully about what children know and what they must know, including what learning they missed. When mapping out our curriculum, Subject Leaders have ensured that we teach ‘smarter’ and ensure children’s learning gaps across all of the curriculum are catered for and children are able to catch-up on lost learning time.
Subject Leaders and Class Teachers constantly develop their teaching practice to ensure the children at Thornton Primary School receive the best possible education and reach their full potential. As a school, staff work in collaboration with other local schools and Teaching and Learning Consultants to share ideas about how best to educate children and take part in research to better improve practice at so that we reach our goal of all children becoming life-long learners.
Children at our school are provided with the opportunity to develop a secure understanding of the world around them; this then enhances a variety of different areas of learning from reading to science to history. Our world class Forest School, for instance, provides all of our children with the opportunity to apply a wide range of different knowledge and skills and is used to enhance teaching and learning. This is a bespoke component of our exciting, engaging curriculum. In addition to a specialist teacher for Forest School, we also employ specialist teachers for PE and music as well as each area of SEND so all children have access to the best possible start to school.
Block Teaching Rationale
What is Block Teaching?
The teaching of the same foundation subject multiple times within the same week allowing the sequence to be delivered over one or two weeks.
Block teaching allows for all subjects to be taught in equal equity and have quality focused time. It allows us to ensure that no single subject or subjects are given reduced attention and that no subjects are missed from the curriculum.
It also allows for staff to focus on quality implementation, as the intent of each block is pre-determined. Staff spend time ensuring there is effective building of sequential knowledge, with shorter time periods between adding new knowledge to existing knowledge. We also provide meaningful opportunities to revisit, recap and assess following a teaching sequence. We believe block teaching also allows for staff to address any misconceptions quickly and within a block.
Block teaching also allows for little to no afternoon transitions, enabling learning time to be maximised. There is no lost learning time to changing sets of resources between lessons, and awaiting books to be handed out and in.
Assessment is also more meaningful as it allows teachers to focus on a pupil’s progress in one particular curriculum area at a given time. We assess using a pre-unit knowledge check, post-unit knowledge check and a recall knowledge check in the weeks following the unit.
There should be an improvement on staff workload and well-being as they are able to focus on fewer subjects in more detail, creating high quality learning experiences for our pupils.
Some of our subjects are not taught as blocks due to them being provided on a weekly basis. These subjects are PE, French (KS2), PSHE. We believe these subjects require input on an ongoing basis.