Curriculum intent - what is the rationale for our curriculum design?
At Wells Primary School we strive to ensure that every child enjoys a happy, fulfilling and successful education within a safe, nurturing environment.
Our Curriculum is designed to:
• Support children’s development, both socially and academically so that they become confident, independent thinkers who make positive life choices at Wells and beyond;
• Teach children to read at a superior level so that they can easily access other curriculum areas;
• Equip children with a broad base of knowledge that builds progressively during their primary schooling;
• Promote pupils’ conceptual understanding, ability to reason, and their development and acquisition of skills in all subjects;
• Inspire all pupils to be motivated, engaged learners who value their education and want to do their best;
• Equip pupils with a set of personal values and behaviours that enable them to form positive relationships and become responsible, caring citizens.
• Equip children with a comprehensive understanding of how to stay safe;
• Expose all children to life-enhancing and memorable opportunities that develop their spiritual growth and cultural capital;
• Set high expectations for all pupils with appropriate levels of challenge and support;
• Accommodate the needs of our school with its 1.5 form entry;
• Reflect the context of our community;
• Provide opportunities to revisit and consolidate learning;
• Go beyond the requirements of the National Curriculum.
Our curriculum is designed to underpin our overarching school aims for the children:
• To work conscientiously and strive to achieve their best;
• To develop confidence yet remain modest;
• To be kind and supportive to others and be generous of spirit;
• To show respect and value diversity;
• To demonstrate excellent standards of behaviour;
• To enjoy life and seize opportunities;
• To value and protect the environment;
• To be proud of their school;
• To prepare for the next stage in their education.
The curriculum at Wells is constantly evolving, based on reflection and a strong desire to ensure the best possible provision for every pupil. Each curriculum area has been considered individually; plans and content have evolved over time and continue to do so. Teachers are encouraged to be creative, to make their lessons engaging, to evoke in children the ‘wow’ factor. But the essence of their excellent teaching must be measured by what the pupils learn, how the children apply their learning and by how much of the learning pupils retain.
At the heart of the curriculum is the development of reading. Reading is seen as the key to unlocking access to the vast majority of learning areas. From early beginnings in Nursery, the children at Wells are encouraged to develop a love of books and a strong desire to read. Our English curriculum is book-based, each text carefully chosen to provide pupils with exposure to a range of authors, genres and subject matter. Some texts are selected to complement the history curriculum for example, others because their content offers opportunities for children’s personal development. In addition, the introduction of the Wells Book Award encourages pupils to read as many books as possible from carefully selected lists, with books rated and recommended for and by peers.
Implementation of the curriculum - how is our curriculum organised and delivered?
Organisation and planning
The curriculum at Wells is very carefully planned and organised to cater for our 1.5 form entry intake. It is broadly organised on a two-year cycle so that pupils build their knowledge progressively without unnecessary repetition. Classes are organised in phase groups for Early Years, Years 1 and 2, Years 3 and 4 and Years 5 and 6. There are three classes within each phase, with one mixed- age class. Children are grouped by age to enable teachers to deliver the curriculum at an appropriate level for their class and individual children within that class. Whilst there is careful timetabling and organisation, flexibility is also key to success. Extensive experience in teaching mixed-aged classes has highlighted some aspects of the curriculum where children may be better catered for in year groups.
Most subjects are taught discretely at Wells. Whilst cross-curricular links are made where appropriate, the school has chosen to teach disciplines separately so that children gain an understanding from an early age of what constitutes each subject and so that knowledge and skills can be revisited and built upon.
Some subjects are taught by specialist teachers. This enables subject specific expertise to be imparted to the pupils in curriculum areas such as PE, French, IT and Music whilst allowing class teachers to concentrate on other subject disciplines. To ensure children have access to a curriculum at a superior level in every discipline, teachers do not teach all subject areas. For example, a class may be taught English, Maths, History and Geography by their class teacher, but all other subjects by different teachers. One teacher may teach all the art across a phase, another may teach all the science. We believe this improves subject expertise for primary education’s generalist teachers, with better outcomes for pupils. This also makes teachers’ workloads more manageable.
The school has comprehensive long and medium term plans. Teachers plan collaboratively within their phases to meet the needs of children. To avoid repetition of planning and unnecessary bureaucracy, teachers prepare Notebooks instead of individual lesson plans. Expectations for lesson sequences include: identified learning objectives and success criteria; subject specific vocabulary; a balanced approach to exposition and independent learning; a clear path of progression; opportunities for review; opportunities for reflection and commitment to memory; feedback to pupils; opportunities to revisit aspects of learning.
Teachers set high expectations for all pupils, irrespective of their starting points. Personalised learning is a strength of the school. Teachers may tailor their early morning work, for example, to meet individual pupils’ needs or to meet whole class areas for development.
Over the past few years, we have built our bank of curriculum knowledge boards. These are reviewed at the beginning of a unit of work to identify the key facts and associated learning to be taught. By completing this process, teachers refresh their own subject expertise, identify key learning objectives and associated vocabulary, and note common misconceptions that may need to be addressed with the children.
Feedback and Assessment
Teachers use mini quizzes, discussion opportunities and pupils’ work to assess pupils’ progress against the key objectives identified. In some areas of the curriculum, summative assessments are used to monitor progress. At the end of each phase (end of Year 2, 4, and 6) we are introducing more comprehensive assessments to ascertain how much knowledge has been retained. Assessments are purposeful and accurate, informing teachers’ planning and next steps for learning.
The classroom environment is expected to be calm and productive. We have a ‘no minutes wasted’ approach. Displays in classrooms are a mix of teaching displays and a celebration of children’s work.
Enhanced delivery and wider opportunities
Where possible, use is made of the local area to enhance our curriculum provision. In recent years, we have been able to build regular tennis and hockey into our PE curriculum by forging links with a local sports club. Most year groups use the nearby Epping Forest to develop knowledge in science or geography. We travel by London Underground where possible to access London’s theatres, museums, the Houses of Parliament or City Hall; this also equips children with the life skills necessary for living in our capital city.
Similarly, we enrich our curriculum with visits by a variety of people. More recently, children have enjoyed visits by several children’s authors, a barrister and judge, a pilot, sports professionals, Shakespearean actors, and maths experts. Parents and carers are invited into school to share their experiences and professions.
In planning the curriculum, the school has identified some key experiences and learning opportunities that children must complete. At Wells, for example, we want all of our pupils to complete a sailing course; to learn to swim; to learn to tie shoelaces and a tie; to be able to identify specific classical pieces of music or works of art; to learn how to use basic British Sign Language to accompany some musical pieces; to learn to sew and to prepare a basic, nutritious meal.
We are a small school with small number of staff. To ensure effective subject leadership and development, staff work in teams that include senior members of the school. This provides effective CPD for less experienced staff, and continuity of subject expertise when teachers move on.
The school invests heavily in CPD for staff, both internally and via networks and external courses. Our maths leaders for example are now in their third year of ‘mastery’ with the North East London Mathematics hub.
Monitoring the implementation
Regular monitoring of the implementation of the curriculum by leaders at all levels ensures effective implementation. Drop-ins, lesson observations, discussions with pupils and book scrutinies contribute to the monitoring process.
Impact of the curriculum
The Wells Curriculum is aspirational for all pupils. We expect it to:
• Motivate pupils to aspire to achieve their best and establish good working habits that will set them up for life;
• Enable the vast majority of pupils to attain beyond national expectations for their age, as has been the case for many years;
• Provide disadvantaged pupils with the opportunities and experiences to achieve as well as their peers;
• Meet the needs of pupils with SEND and provide equal access to curriculum opportunities;
• Ensure that pupils move on to secondary school with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel;
• Ensure that pupils leave the school with a set of personal values and behaviours that make them model citizens;
• Equip children with personal qualities such as confidence, resilience, perseverance, diligence, compassion, respect and honesty that allow them to thrive in today’s world;
• Equip children with the necessary knowledge and skills to stay safe now and in the future.