What do we believe makes a great curriculum?
Our curriculum is based upon the belief that children learn through creative and engaging experiences to secure the development of knowledge. Our core values of peace, courage and respect are woven through our curriculum and central to everything we do.
Our aim is to develop lifelong learners with a passion and sense of enjoyment in learning. In essence – to be memorable. We aim to ensure that we maintain a clear focus on making the children the centre of the learning. It is what makes our curriculum distinctive and bespoke to our school and the community it serves. We regularly review learning with the children through our “Prove-its” that enable children to revisit and recall earlier learning in order to make it stick within their longer term memory. In this way, they build strong foundations as learners.
What drives our curriculum?
The school curriculum is driven by the statutory requirements of both the National Curriculum and the Early Years Foundation Stage. It is interpreted through our school vision statement. Please click on the links to find out more about these statutory frameworks.
We are continually striving to improve the quality of our foundation curriculum. Our latest endeavour involved a collaborative effort to refine and enrich the curriculum by embracing an enquiry-based approach. An enquiry-based curriculum fosters learning through questioning, exploration and investigation, empowering pupils to actively engage in discovering knowledge and understanding concepts.
As a school, we also ensure that our approach to the curriculum complies with the duties set out in the Equality Act 2010 and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014. This means that we make the curriculum accessible for those with disabilities or special educational needs.
Early Years Foundation Stage: 2021 EYFS framework
The English and Mathematics programme of study determines the priorities for each phase across primary school.
How do we plan our curriculum?
Because of the size of our school, we have mixed aged classes from year 1 – 6. This occurs when a single teacher instructs more than one year-group of students in the same classroom. We have single aged smaller classes in year R because it is a distinctive phase and approach to education.
Therefore, we have a two-year teaching cycle for all foundation subjects. Details for each subject can be found below, by downloading the planning overviews below. This structure ensures that in our mixed year classes, the whole curriculum requirements will be taught.
This year (academic year 2022/ 2023) we are on cycle 1.
How do we teach children to read?
Our synthetic phonics scheme is Read Write Inc. Read Write Inc is a phonics programme which helps all children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. We use this programme to ensure all children to be readers by 7. If you would like to learn more, please watch this introduction video for a flavour of the programme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjlPILhk7bQ
Each child at Highfield has a reading diary which they take home each day to record their reading. We aim for all pupils to read at least five times a week. If pupils read at least five times at home then they are awarded with a reading point.
When the class has earned 180 points then the class is rewarded with a fantastic treat! These treats have included having hot chocolate, bedtime stories and pyjamas in the classroom as well as making campfires. We pride ourselves for promoting a love of reading and that our children read regularly at home and in school.
What about writing?
We believe in a ‘journey’ approach to writing. We start units by immersing pupils in a text which can involve real life experiences to build language and develop vocabulary. Pupils explore texts in different ways through reading and skill development, before crafting their own piece of writing.
The use of high quality books within the English curriculum is at the heart of a school’s successful approach to engage and support children to become motivated and independent readers. If children enjoy reading, they read more frequently and become better readers. With high quality texts driving the literacy journey, we ensure that children study a range of rich texts during their time at Highfield.
How do we teach maths?
The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils:
- become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
- reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language
- can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and nonroutine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.
We use the teaching for mastery approach at Highfield. Mastery is a range of elements of classroom practice and school organisation that combine to give pupils the best chances of mastering mathematics.
Mastering maths means acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject. At any one point in a pupil’s journey through school, achieving mastery is taken to mean acquiring a solid enough understanding of the maths that’s been taught to enable him/her move on to more advanced material.
How do we ensure progression in each subject?
These are our subject progression ladders. We use these to ensure pupil’s knowledge and understanding of the foundation subjects is built on year on year.
Each subject progression document includes our curriculum intent, implementation and curriculum impact.
How do we assess pupils against the curriculum?
Staff will make assessments for all subjects through a combination of observation, discussion, reflection, marking and formal testing. There are three main forms of assessment in our school: in-school formative assessment, which is used by teachers to evaluate pupils’ knowledge and understanding on a day-to-day basis and to tailor teaching accordingly; in-school summative assessment, which enables our school to evaluate how much a pupil has learned at the end of a teaching period; and nationally standardised summative assessment, which is used by the Government to hold all schools to account.
Parents are regularly informed of how pupils are progressing and how they can support at home.
How do we develop children as learners?
We have adopted the approach to learning to learn espoused by Guy Claxton of Building Learning Power (see www.buildinglearningpower.co.uk). Through the ethos of the school and the curriculum, pupils are encouraged to develop learning capacities which will help them to become confident, capable, creative lifelong learners.
The BLP approach encourages the development of four ‘learning-power dispositions’ – the ‘four R’s:
- resilience – absorption, managing distractions, noticing, perseverance
- resourcefulness – questioning, making links, imagining, reasoning, capitalising
- reflectiveness – planning, revising, distilling, meta-learning
- reciprocity – interdependence, collaboration, empathy and listening, imitation.
Alongside curriculum learning objectives, then, we also have BLP learning objectives, which in our view are even more important. We view the content of the curriculum as the vehicle for learning, not the end of the learning itself.
Find out more about it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlYRhoWtoiM
Each learning behaviour is represented through an animal: the resilient rhino, the resourceful rat, the reciprocal racoon and the reflective rabbit.
We have beautiful BLP mosaics at the infant department, created with an artist and all the infant pupils.
Learning at Highfield
Children’s learning will respond to their current and future personal needs, their future career needs and the needs of the varied societies and cultural groups in which they are likely to play a part. Children’s learning underpins everything we do. Helping children to learn – academically, socially, spiritually, morally, emotionally, and physically – is key.
At Highfield, we define learning as a change to long-term memory.
We aim to ensure that children experience a wide breadth of study and have by the end of each key stage, long-term memory of an ambitious body of procedural and semantic knowledge.
Procedural knowledge develops slowly with lots of repetition and is about knowing ‘how to do things’. Once you know how to do something it becomes implicit and you do it automatically, e.g riding a bike, cutting with scissors.
Semantic knowledge is about recalling general facts that have meaning, e.g. the sounds of letters, the capitals of countries, times tables, spellings. It is more likely that children will retain semantic knowledge if they learn through repetition. Retention of semantic knowledge relies on active learning, repetition and recall.
How do we enrich our curriculum?
Our curriculum extends beyond the National Curriculum and includes a wide range of enriching experiences and opportunities both within and beyond the school day. This includes a programme of after-school clubs, that support the core curriculum offer, as well as those which develop specialist skills, such as Spanish and music. A primary focus of our curriculum is to raise aspirations, engender a sense of personal pride in achievement, and provide a purpose and relevance for learning.
We provide further opportunities to enhance children’s learning wherever possible. These include:
- Educational visits (school trips) throughout the academic year.
- Regular visits from speakers.
- Engaging in events such as; World Book Day, Children in Need, World Maths Day.
- Ensuring that pupils are ‘immersed’ in learning and start units with real life experiences
What is Cultural Capital?
Cultural Capital is the knowledge, behaviours and skills that children need in order to prepare them to be successful in society. It draws on their cultural awareness, knowledge and competence with the aim of exposing children to different life experiences. It helps children achieve goals, become successful and support their next stage of education and in the world of work.
What does OFSTED say about Cultural Capital?
OFSTED defines cultural capital
“As part of making the judgement about quality of education, inspectors will consider the extent to which schools are equipping pupils with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. Ofsted’s understanding of this knowledge and cultural capital matches the understanding set out in the aims of the national curriculum. It is the essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said, and helping to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.”
How is Cultural Capital implemented at Highfield?
At Highfield we aim to provide our children with experiences and opportunities to explore the world around them, ask questions and take part in interesting and stimulating experiences.
- Finding out about the local area and visiting different places to enrich our curriculum
- Appreciating the outdoor environment
- Studying key artists and scientists
- Engaging with real life events such as theatre trips and storytelling
- Learning about people in our community
- Being involved in a charity events and fundraising
- Caring for animals
- Celebrating different cultures, traditions and faiths
- Showcasing talents
- Learning beyond the classroom – extra curricular
- Learning musical instruments and participating in orchestra for KS2
- Taking part in sport competitions within and beyond school
- Learning about road safety and first aid
- Leading others eg play leading and school council
- Learning about inspirational people
- Having fun and working as a team