While addressing the need to improve the knowledge, skills and understanding of those learning, our curriculum, based on truth, also recognises the importance of uncovering (drawing out) meaning, values and purpose for the learner. (Prior learning, context, big picture – delivery)
There are four elements forming our school curriculum:
Readiness (Redlines of learning): These are mostly skills and knowledge (although understanding underpins their application) that we use as ‘proxy indicators’ of learning.
National Curriculum: We recognise three essential elements within the NC:
- basic skills that are progressive in acquisition, obviously in elements of the reading, writing and maths programmes of study, but also in the other foundation subjects, within the purpose of study;
- knowledge contained within the programmes of study, appendices and subject content for each year group or key stage;
- use & application of the skills and knowledge to gain a deeper understanding, identified in the aims of each subject.
‘Come and See’ National Project: The Religious Education curriculum is underpinned by the national framework and like the NC has progressive elements, supported by knowledge to encourage a deepening of understanding and application.
Pearls & threads: These are a series of attitudes and attributes that form the so called ‘soft skills’ that are essential both in learning and in life. We make explicit reference to these throughout our curriculum so that children can recognise which are important to them.
Our redlines of learning and the basic skills of the NC and ‘Come and See’ form the main structure of our curriculum. We essentially divide the learning time between Religious Education, English, Maths and Science. We place great emphasis upon the acquisition of key skills and knowledge and will intervene to ensure progress, for example providing children with ‘prep’ to be ready for a lesson; precision teaching to overcome a particular barrier; and, additional support with strategies and practice to consolidate learning where necessary.
We maintain ‘discrete’ lessons of PE and music, essentially for the practical reason of ensuring all children access these subjects, because both are key life skills, beyond whatever our children choose to undertake later. But even here, for example, the choral skills of listening and singing are linked to English, or the body health aspects of exercise linked to science…
All the other foundation subjects form the context for learning within our curriculum. For example, the observational element of science draws heavily upon the life drawing skills of art, and, English report writing and narrative composition is deployed in all areas of learning. However, to ensure, as well as the skills and understanding, children gain the required knowledge of the foundation subjects, children are periodically introduced to a so-called ‘Skinny’ of facts drawn from the subject content, which they need to know and use during learning in that context and be able to remember afterwards.
Application to deepen understanding
Within the contexts for learning, children will develop different interest and enjoyment of subjects, and our curriculum provides opportunities for children to move beyond the ‘skinnies’ in aspects that engage them. Indeed, where a child displays a particular appreciation of, let’s say history, they will be able to pursue this context in a wide range of learning experiences across the curriculum. While it is essential they maintain the broad knowledge expected by the NC, there is now a real opportunity for children to pursue their own learning agenda in our curriculum.