The rationale behind our wider curriculum begins with our children and what they need in order to succeed. The curriculum is creative, coherent and progressive. We aim to deepen our children’s knowledge and understanding of key areas that are linked with both the National Curriculum and, most importantly, relevant to our children’s lives now and going forward.
The Wider Curriculum Review:
The topics on our rolling programme were carefully selected following discussions with subject leaders and with experienced class teachers from all phases. We designed our final curriculum around the needs of our children and, in particular, our significant groups. We mapped each curriculum area to ensure sufficient coverage across the subjects over time.
As a result of our wider curriculum review, we made changes to the way we planned each topic. Using research-based evidence and our valuable knowledge about the children we teach, we identified that our children learn best when they have the following:
- regular opportunities for the repetition of learning
- cross-curricular links between subjects (Art, D&T, English, Music, SMSC). Science, R.E and Maths are linked where appropriate but tenuous links have not been made.
- a spiral curriculum – each learning journey has been carefully planned for the children from the beginning of school to the end of Year 6
- some pre-knowledge to ‘hang’ new information on
- meaningful topic-specific trips which engage the children and deepen their understanding
With this in mind we made the following changes:
- topics were changed and new ones carefully selected to ensure the planned learning journeys are valuable, relevant and provide our children with sufficient coverage of each subject.
- holiday homework is sent out in the school holiday prior to each topic. This allows children to return to school with some pre-knowledge to aid their new learning. As the activities on the homework sheet are designed to be fun and interactive, this also increases the enthusiasm for the topic before it begins.
- learning is embedded into the Long-Term Memory (LTM) by regular ‘Recap’ and ‘Reflect’ sessions. ‘Recap’ sessions are designed to activate relevant knowledge that the children have already learned previously in our curriculum (for example: ‘What is the Geography of where I live like?’ in Year 1/2 links to ‘How and why is our local environment changing?’ in Year 3/4). The ‘Reflect’ session at the end of each topic allows children to consolidate everything they have learnt.
- there will be an exciting experience/trip planned for each topic to increase engagement and understanding.
- books have been carefully linked with the topic to ensure reading is prioritised throughout the curriculum.
- vocabulary has been picked to be displayed in the classroom during each topic. Around 7 topic-specific words have been chosen. The display words are accompanied by pictures in Key Stage 1 and a short-written definition in Key Stage 2. This vocabulary is made up of tier 3 words. Where possible, words have been chosen that the children can apply to other areas of their education throughout their school life.
At The Milford Academy, we prioritise reading and have found that our children are more successful at comprehending texts if they have relevant background knowledge. Knowledge along with meaningful experiences are needed for the children to fully understand and to be able to contextually place the text they are reading.
Our new wider curriculum design therefore:
- provides children with a wealth of relevant knowledge that can be used beyond the topics studied.
- allows children to take part in meaningful trips/experiences which are topic specific and therefore deepen their understanding of the topic (Crime and Punishment – the Galleries of Justice, Ancient Egyptians – The Birmingham Museum, Under the Sea – The Sea Life Centre and many more…)
- has cross-curricular links with our English work. The books used in the English lessons have been carefully selected to utilise the learning for both topic and English.
Our Subject Leaders:
Our subject leaders have the knowledge, expertise and practical skill to design and implement our curriculum. They have been an instrumental part of the wider curriculum design process and have ensured that their subjects are covered adequately with sufficient depth.
The choices of topics were made with our significant groups in mind. The topics have been chosen because they allow all of our children to learn important skills and knowledge in order to succeed in the future. Our teachers are the best people to assess the individual needs of their class; we have allowed flexibility in the wider curriculum design so that teachers can shape the topic to suit these needs. This flexibility means that the delivery is equitable for all groups and appropriate for each individual child.
At our school an important objective is for all pupils to develop as young historians, geographers, scientists, artists, technicians and designers and we will achieve this by recognising the importance of progression. We will challenge and support our pupils to work in a more rigorous manner as they progress through the school. To enable this to happen we have established a wider curriculum which recognises the importance of identifying not just what we want our pupils to know and but also the intellectual outcomes we intend them to achieve through their learning. The level of thinking that will be required of our children will increase as they progress and is organised into the following groups.
By the end of Key Stage 1:
- connect and make links
- compare and contrast
Lower Key Stage 2:
- construct informed responses
- interpret and explain
- demonstrate understanding
Upper Key Stage 2:
- reach informed conclusions
- make reasoned judgements
- hypothesise – devise historically valid enquiry questions
Our assessment is designed thoughtfully to shape future learning. We use various assessment for learning techniques:
- prior knowledge is assessed during the ‘Recap’ session where key questions are asked in order to establish children’s knowledge.
- The teachers and pupils complete a self-assessment grid after each lesson where teachers assess both coverage and understanding.
- We use key questions during the lessons which allow children to apply their knowledge and will test their understanding in order for teachers to make a reliable judgement on their attainment in the subject.
Monitoring and evaluating
Our wider curriculum will be reviewed regularly and any necessary changes will be made in order to continue to serve the children we teach in the best way possible. The Wider Curriculum Lead and the subject leaders will be responsible for monitoring, evaluating and amending the wider curriculum design; to ensure staff have fully understood the new curriculum design and to check and rectify any mismatch between the planned and delivered curriculum.
The following will take place:
- book monitoring which will take place termly and will happen alongside short interviews with children in the school and learning walks.
- any staff requiring CPD in order to successfully teach the wider curriculum will be identified and this will be sourced. CPD is already organised for next year best on the school development priorities. This CPD is linked to a staff meeting so that valuable learning is passed on to the rest of the school staff.
- an INSET day will be used in order for staff to
conduct an annual review of the curriculum and for subject coordinators to
reflect on how the topics are meeting the needs of our children.