curriculum design statement
the school context
The design of our curriculum has been informed by three specific features of our school:
1. Salterlee is a small school with most pupils taught in mixed year classes. This means that we have made decisions about our curriculum in order that pupils with wide ranging starting points can all progress in the same class. Our main decision here was to adopt the Chris Quigley Essentials Curriculum. We believe that this curriculum is right for our pupils because it arranges content into three distinct 'Milestones':
- Milestone 1 - Years 1 and 2 (Class 2 at Salterlee)
- Milestone 2 - Years 3 and 4 (Class 3 at Salterlee)
- Milestone 3 - Years 5 and 6 (Class 4 at Salterlee)
In addition to the Milestones matching our pupils' classes, this curriculum also provides progression by focussing on three distinct levels of knowledge within each threshold concept, Basic, Advancing and Deep. This means pupils at Salterlee can be challenged at a level appropriate to their personal knowledge base. For example, whilst learning about The Tudors, a Year 5 pupil may progress through creating a Tudor family tree, whereas a Year 6 pupil may explore the statement that the Tudor dynasty was the most significant in British history. In short, our curriculum means that although all the pupils in a class may be learning about the same topic, the depth of their learning in all subjects will differ according to their starting points.
2. Salterlee is a small school and has fewer teachers than it has subjects. This means that all of our teachers are responsible for being Subject Leaders in more than one subject. To help them manage their workloads in doing this, our Governing Body felt that they should provide them with a professionally produced, coherent and structured curriculum to cut down on planning and assessment time whilst reducing any anxieties about the breadth of coverage and progression.
3. Salterlee's vision incorporates the intention that we will make the most of the cultural capital around us. This means that within our curriculum our teachers have carefully provided lots of opportunities for pupils to learn outside of their classrooms. For example, although Salterlee is not a particularly diverse school, our pupils have been able to visit and make friends with pupils from different backgrounds in other local schools. To help maximise our opportunities to do this, our wider school community has raised lots of money in order to provide and maintain two mini-buses and our governors have set the target that each class will make at least one educational visit per term.
The breadth of our curriculum is designed with two goals in mind:
- To provide a rich 'cultural capital';
- To provide a coherant, structured, academic curriculum that leads to sustained mastery for all and a greater depth of understanding for those who are capable.
Cultural capital is the background knowledge of the world pupils need to infer meaning from what they read. It includes vocabulary which, in turn, helps pupils to express themselves in a sophisticated, mature way.
A coherently planned academic curriculum underpinned by the three drivers, our academic curriculum sets out:
a) a clear list of the breadth of topics that will be covered;
b) the 'threshold concepts' pupils should understand;
c) criteria for progression within threshold concepts;
d) criteria for depth of understanding.
Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:
1) Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.
2) Interleaving helps pupils to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention.
3) Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
In addition to the three principles we also understand that learning is invisible in the short-term and that sustained mastery takes time.
Some of our content is subject specific, whilst other content is combined in a cross-curricular approach. Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides retreival practise for previously learned content.
The imapct of our curriculum is that by the end of each Milestone, the vast majority of pupils have sustained mastery of the content, that is, they remember it all and are fluent in it; Some pupils have a greater depth of understanding. We track carefully to ensure pupils are on track to reach the expectations of our curriculum.
The links below provide an overview of what we cover in each class.
Information for parents about how our curriculum works can be found by clicking this link.