We have a flexible and responsive curriculum delivered through a progressive, whole-school topic approach. Our ethos words of inspire, inclusive and individualised are key in all our curriculum planning.
Flexible, Responsive and Hands-on
Our curriculum has to be highly flexible and responsive to reflect the needs of our school community, designed both to inspire pupils quickly and also be accessible at varying levels of prior national curriculum exposure, ability and English acquisition. We have observed that all our children learn best when they are excited, inspired, have high levels of engagement and hands on experiences. We are striving to establish key knowledge and skills which will be taught and assessed in a consistent way across all year groups and bound together with common topics and themes to support quick ‘buy in’ from pupils. Our staff are skilled at adapting planning to include all children in the learning experiences.
Whole School Topic Approach supporting progress
Though the topics share a common 'umbrella' theme across the school they are personalised for each year group to avoid repetition but support recall. Shared topics also mean pupils ‘bump into’ the themes as they move around the school thus reinforcing their learning as well as providing opportunities for pupils and staff to enjoy inspiring whole school topic hooks and finales which nurtures our school's family feel. Through this we aim to ensure all children, even if they have arrived mid-academic year or stage, make at least good progress in their learning from entry to exit.
To support progress our our model is very much built on individualised next steps used regularly across all curriculum areas in all year groups and child-friendly ‘I Can’ statements used for assessment. These statements lay out the non-negotiable agreed knowledge and skills based on the national curriculum and the observed needs and learning gaps of our pupils.
For the time being our topics have been inspired by what we know children enjoy learning about and we hope to give teachers more autonomy to individualise the topics to the interests of their class in the future, based on the ‘I Can’ statements, in the future.
Due to the young age, diverse backgrounds and individual needs of our students, our curriculum has a strong emphasis on learning outside of the classroom and includes a variety of local trips, visits, focus days and weeks. These opportunities enhance and develop our pupils cultural capital and prepare them for future life by exposing them to real life experiences which helps them to link and “glue” their learning together. We hope to re-address the balance of screen time they receive at home with limited screen time at school.
Through our weekly ‘Badge Time’ (introduced 2019/20), children are able to gain skills in an area chosen by them and earn a badge for their learning. Coupled with regular extended ‘deep-play’ times, usually outside, pupils can deepen their understanding of the world and their interests and skills in a play based way. We are developing our “breath in, breathe out” model whereby pupils have times of sustained learning in class- working quietly, independently and with increasing focus balanced with 'deep play' times which may be louder, hands on, collaborative and often outside learning times. Both these elements support the inclusive nature of our school and curriculum.