Curriculum Intent Statement
Changes in school leadership and the impact of the global pandemic have required us to reflect on our curriculum offer for our children. As we begin to establish a new 4 element curriculum model, we will ensure that all our children have the knowledge and love of learning to be ready to thrive in the next stage of their education.
We would describe our curriculum as ‘knowledge-engaged’. This means;
- Knowledge underpins and enables the application of skill.
- We aim for children to master a body of domain (subject-specific) knowledge and in certain subjects ‘enquiry drivers’ defined by the school.
- Our curriculum will be organised into discrete subjects with cross-curricular links only being made where they are relevant to learning.
- Although knowledge and vocabulary acquisition are our main aims, this is intertwined with procedural knowledge.
- Children will gain knowledge about their own personal development through having access to a variety of first-hand experiences.
Our children largely come from a White British family background, disadvantaged with a high level of deprivation, disadvantaged and vulnerability. We have a high percentage who start with low or significantly low speech and language and our SEND and number of children with an EHCP is much higher than national. With these facts in mind, our curriculum has to be designed to provide our children with elements that might not otherwise be gained from their experience outside of school.
It is our school’s aim to maximise the potential of all pupils including those identifiable as Disadvantaged, EAL, SEND and More Able. We aspire to accelerate the learning of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils in order to diminish the difference in progress and attainment between them and their peers. The curriculum also makes provision to enable pupils to work at greater depth within age related expectations.
Based on their backgrounds, children arrive at school with differing levels of access to educational and cultural experience – cultural capital. This leads to variable levels of knowledge and understanding about the world from child to child and often distinct difference in the richness of their vocabulary. With the limitations of school’s time and budget, it is unfeasible to ‘plug’ this gap purely through trying to offer real life experience. Although educational visits and first-hand experiences remain a valuable enrichment opportunity, they can’t realistically be the single driver for helping children learn about the world and its culture.
At West Melton Primary, we aim to provide a broad and balanced, vocabulary and language rich curriculum that meets the diverse needs of our children. We have created a curriculum that is bespoke to us. Each subject is underpinned by current research and the ambition that our children will be well-rounded individuals who are prepared for the next stage of their education. Our curriculum has been designed in four elements that are complimentary, but also interdependent. These are;
- The Essentials
- Wider Curriculum
- The Foundations
- The Specialisms
- The Developmentals
Our ambition is to ensure that our children thrive, achieve and succeed and that our school is the best it can be, serving the community we are part of. As part of this, we celebrate the unique nature of our community. The implementation of these core elements and principles provides all our children with the support, knowledge and skills they are entitled to learn. We aim to make every lesson count.
We are highly ambitious for all our children, irrespective of their background or academic prowess. All staff know the key knowledge and skills that children should achieve at the end of each year and learning is carefully planned to meet these points.
We ensure the intent of the curriculum considers the needs of our disadvantaged pupils with a ‘pedagogy of power’, not a ‘pedagogy of poverty’. Our children with special educational needs and disabilities are also provided with a rich and relevant curriculum which, where possible, matches that of their peers. The curriculum is not narrowed as children get older.
The essentials are English and Maths which hold a priority position in the school day. They aim at teaching the children the knowledge and understanding needed to access the other two elements of the curriculum (The Foundations and The Specialisms) but also to master the essential skills needed to be successful in the next stages of their education and on into adulthood.
As a school, reading has a particular ‘weighting’ within our English curriculum, as we believe reading to the key skill used to access all learning and from which to derive pleasure.
When we talk about the wider curriculum, we are thinking about subjects such as:
- Design & Technology
- MFL (Modern Foreign Languages)
- PSHE (Personal, Social, Health, Emotional)
- Religious Education (RE)
How do we structure the wider curriculum at our school?
The National Curriculum:
We follow the National Curriculum to structure our curriculum offer, as we know that this means our curriculum is ambitious for all pupils. You can find a link to the National Curriculum here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-curriculum
Structuring our curriculum offer:
We teach each of the wider curriculum subjects discretely at our school.
For each subject, we have thought carefully about how we sequence learning over time and have broken down learning into small steps or building blocks, starting from when children enter primary school until they leave. At each step, we consider what specific knowledge and understanding we want our pupils to know and remember at each stage of their learning and in each subject. The end of the Foundation Stage, KS1, Lower KS2 and Upper KS2 are key end points for each of these building blocks of our curriculum. We know what we want our pupils to know and remember at each of these end points, focusing on what will be most useful to them, and have sequenced lessons over time to reach those end points.
The technical term we use for these small steps is components.
When we talk about how we have structured our curriculum offer, we call this curriculum intent. Curriculum intent includes the specific details of what we intend our pupils to learn at each stage in their school journey. What pupils know, remember and can do indicates how well they can achieve (progress).
In our curriculum pages, we have included for you samples of our curriculum documents for each subject, so that you can understand what our curriculum intent looks like in geography, history and all the other subjects we teach.
Our curriculum has been carefully designed so that pupils gain more knowledge over time. Some knowledge is very important, and we return to this regularly to help it ‘stick’ in children’s memory. For example, it is crucial that children automatically know the number facts that combine to make 10 (2+8, 3+7 etc). Knowing these number facts allow pupils to make links with many areas of number throughout their school life, so we revisit this learning regularly in the first few years of school to make sure this knowledge is ‘sticky’.
Knowledge is divided into two types:
Substantive Knowledge: This refers to specific facts to be learned, such as, for example, the names of the countries in the United Kingdom (Geography), or in History key facts about an historic event such as World War 1. In our curriculum pages, we have given you examples of the substantive knowledge that pupils need to know and remember at each stage in their learning and in each subject. Substantive knowledge refers to knowing ‘what’ specific facts need to be remembered.
Disciplinary Knowledge: Whereas substantive knowledge is about ‘what’ facts, disciplinary knowledge is about knowing ‘how’. For example, in music I can know that a minim is the equivalent of 2 beats, a quaver a half beat and a semi-breve four beats (substantive facts), but disciplinary knowledge helps me use this information to clap a rhythm accurately having read it on a musical stave. Sometimes people refer to disciplinary knowledge as skills.
In our curriculum pages, you will see examples of how we have identified the specific substantive knowledge and disciplinary knowledge we want our children to know, remember and use over time.
Knowledge and links with reading and vocabulary acquisition:
We believe that knowledge gained also plays an important part in pupils gaining reading comprehension, and therefore, as we know that reading is so important, we place great emphasis on ensuring knowledge of the wider curriculum is sticky. We know that when pupils read and engage in reading comprehension activities, reading comprehension is dependent on knowledge of the subject being read. What we know allows us to read and understand what we have read. Knowledge learned across the wider curriculum facilitates comprehension. It also helps our pupils gain a broader vocabulary. We know that children are exposed to a richer vocabulary base when they access a broad curriculum, and this is very important to their future success. In our curriculum intent (plans), we have outlined the specific vocabulary children need to know, use and remember at each stage in their learning (see our curriculum pages).
Starting the knowledge journey:
Our curriculum planning starts in Early Years. In Reception, we begin to lay the foundations of the wider curriculum through our Early Years curriculum offer. In Knowledge of the World, for example, children learn about the layout of school and their immediate environment when they start to understand early map work (the foundations of the geography curriculum). On our curriculum pages and Early Years pages we have provided more examples and information about our curriculum intent for early years. We start this journey in early years for two main reasons:
- Access to a rich curriculum broadens children’s exposure to a wealth of vocabulary, which we know to be of crucial importance in the early years.
- Laying the foundations for the wider curriculum prepares children for transition to Year One.
Making sure knowledge is sticky:
When we have designed our curriculum, we have made sure the following applies to enable pupils to retain the important substantive knowledge and disciplinary knowledge:
- Prior knowledge is identified and built upon.
At each stage in the school journey, teachers make sure that they understand what prior learning has taken place and how well children have remembered it. They revisit prior learning, particularly at the start of a unit of work but also at other stages in the learning process, to make sure that they are building new learning on secure foundations.
- Making links with other learning.
We know that knowledge ‘sticks’ when links are made between subjects. Webs of knowledge are created in our memories (schema) when we create meaningful links between learning. The more we introduce pupils to related content, the deeper knowledge will be. Key concepts in each subject are revisited over time and can be seen in our curriculum plans, which have the effect of making these links and building webs of knowledge. You will see some of these key concepts in our curriculum planning on curriculum pages.
- Making sure that the way we implement our curriculum plans places emphasis on the most recent research into how to optimise the science of memory.
We understand that learning is defined as an alteration in long term memory. If nothing is altered in long term memory, then nothing has been learned. Therefore, we train our teachers to use teaching strategies informed by the most up to date research into memory.
When we implement our curriculum plans, we know that knowledge is more likely to be remembered over time when we use strategies including retrieval practice, generative learning strategies and paying attention to not overloading the working memory.
Progress of pupils:
How do we consider progress when we are thinking about the wider curriculum?
We focus on two aspects:
- As children know and remember more across the curriculum area, they are making progress
- When children learn what we have intended them to learn (curriculum intent).
When we assess pupils’ progress, then, we talk to them about what they know and we look in books to see what they can do and remember, and we check to make sure this matches the curriculum we have implemented.
We assess at all stages of the learning process:
Assessment for learning: assessing as we teach by observing and questioning to inform next steps needed for each pupil.
Assessment as learning: using some of these ongoing assessment strategies to consolidate learning and help children deepen knowledge in long term memory (for example, asking children to brainstorm everything they have just learned about the Vikings will help us find out what they know, where the gaps are to inform future teaching but will also help children remember more in the future as knowledge will become increasingly sticky when using strategies such as these).
Assessment of learning: Capturing at key end points precisely what children have remembered over time (we called this summative assessment).
We hope that this overview has provided insight into how we structure our wider curriculum offer (intent), how we implement it (implementation) and how we measure impact (assessment).
Roles and Responsibilities
The Headteacher takes overall responsibility for the curriculum, working with a Curriculum Leader. Subject Leaders monitor their particular subject to ensure that it is implemented consistently and effectively in line with the agreed policies. Consultation relating to the curriculum is facilitated from parents through newsletters and questionnaires, from children through pupil discussions and questionnaires, class discussion and the school council, and from staff and governors at regular meetings
Assessment, Recording, Monitoring and Evaluation
Short and medium term assessment is the responsibility of the class teacher and is in line with the assessment policy. However, teachers will use informal assessment and observation on a daily basis to determine what children can do independently and therefore plan next steps for learning. Formative assessments take many different forms and are reflected in the pupil’s books/work in the detailed marking and provision of constructive feedback. Feedback follows the school’s policy and identifies areas for children to improve giving focused challenges and expecting children to take ownership of their learning and respond and reflect in order to improve. Summative assessments support teacher assessments in the core subjects and children are presented with these in a relaxed format so as to cause minimal anxiety for pupils. These are used to help prepare children though the year groups for the end of key stage testing as our statutory duty.
EYFS pupils are assessed using the Foundation Stage Profile. Pupil profiles are established for each child in the EYFS and assessments are made against the Foundation Stage Profile Statements.
Children’s progress and attainment in each subject will be assessed by their teacher against the learning outcomes and end of year expectations. Pupil progress will be reported to parents at three points in the year either in writing or at an appointment where parents are invited to discuss their child’s progress. More informal class teacher/parent discussions happen on a daily basis before or after school.