How the curriculum is arranged
Organisation and planning of the curriculum
- 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. Whilst there is careful timetabling and organisation, flexibility is also key to success.
- The curriculum at Wells is knowledge-based in principle, however the development of skills is never overlooked. It is a constantly evolving curriculum, based on reflection and a desire to ensure the best possible provision for every pupil. Each curriculum area has been considered individually; plans and developments 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.
- 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 has enabled 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. From September 2019, to ensure children have access to a curriculum at a superior level in every discipline, teachers will be expected to teach even fewer 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 will improve subject expertise for primary education’s generalist teachers, with better outcomes for pupils. We are also mindful that we need to make teachers’ workloads more manageable.
- The school has comprehensive long and medium term plans. Teachers then 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.
- Over the past year, we have been building our bank of curriculum knowledge boards. In Science, for example, teachers prepare knowledge boards 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. Teachers assess pupils’ progress against the key objectives identified.
- Embedded in the curriculum are opportunities to develop pupils spiritual, moral, social and cultural education.
- 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 life skills necessary for living in the capital,
- 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 our pupils to complete a basic sailing course; to learn to tie shoelaces and a tie; to be able to identify specific classical pieces of music; to learn how to use basic British Sign Language to accompany some musical pieces; to learn to sew and to cook a basic, nutritious meal.