The Curriculum at Avening Primary School
At Avening Primary School, children, staff and governors aim to treat everyone with respect. Resourceful, resilient and reflective, we will engage in our learning and aspire to be the very best that we can be. As a community of sucessful learners, we will collaborate to make our world a better place to live and learn. We look forward to our futures with hope.
Together we'll fly.
Our Curriculum Intent
At Avening Primary School, our curriculum and the way in which it is facilitated is determined by our five golden values: Respect, Engage, Aspire, Collaborate, Hope. Within this framework, character, resilience, healthy relationships, physical and mental well-being, and British values such as tolerance, are important characteristics which we want to develop in our young people. Our aim is to provide an exciting, challenging, relevant, outward-looking curriculum which inspires learners – intellectually, socially, emotionally, physically, spiritually, morally and culturally – so that ‘Together we’ll fly.’
Our Golden Values
1. Through our curriculum, we aim for children to be respectful: able to celebrate our difference, but treat one another equally.
2. We aim for our school to be a community of engaged achievers: self-motivated, resourceful, independent and equipped with life-long skills and knowledge.
3. Our curriculum is designed so that our children can aspire: we strive to be ambitious, reflective and achieve excellence.
4. We recognise the importance of collaboration. Our curriculum gives opportunities to learn and develop with others in our school, and learn about our local national and international communities.
5. Finally, we approach the curriculum with hope. We aim to ensure that children leave Avening Primary School with the skills, knowledge and cultural capital required for them to feel empowered and able to make a positive difference to all of our futures.
Our curriculum is carefully and consistently planned across the school to ensure a sequentially planned progression of knowledge, skills, vocabulary and cultural capital from reception to Year 6, set out in the schemes of work for each subject. This is continuously reviewed, refined and adapted by teachers and subject leads to ensure that the curriculum meets the diverse needs of all of our children within the local, national and international context of our school.
Our curriculum intent is to develop a deep body of essential knowledge, introducing our young people to the best that has been thought and said and helping them to engender an appreciation of human creativity and achievement: a curriculum where children have the opportunity to master key concepts that they need to be educated citizens of the future.
In addition, we recognise that our curriculum offer extends beyond the curriculum. Also central to our provision is a wide range of extra-curricular activities – sporting, artistic, musical and cerebral – as well as leadership opportunities, supporting the development of our children into rounded, confident and tolerant individuals who have a positive contribution to make to our society.
Curriculum Implementation - Choreographing a Creative Curriculum PathwayAt Avening Primary School, we see the National Curriculum as a framework on which to build a curriculum that is meaningful and motivating, which supports individual progress and which allows for opportunities to celebrate success. Ofsted (January 2019) state that ‘Learning is at least part defined as a change in long-term memory’. As Sweller et al (2011) have pointed out, ‘if nothing in the long-term memory has been altered, nothing has been learned.’ It is, therefore, important that we use approaches that help pupils to integrate new knowledge into the long-term memory and make enduring connections that foster understanding. Taking this into account, we block learning across the curriculum and repeat practice of key skills and knowledge over time as research indicates that this leads to better long-term retention of knowledge. This repetition is carefully planned through subject specific schemes of work. Our aim each term is to ‘choreograph’ a creative, cohesive and thematic pathway through a thematic learning journey, where fluid links between explicitly taught subjects encourage children to make connections in their learning, so that the knowledge and understanding of every child is built upon and extended. All learning is carefully planned through whole school schemes of work so that progressive knowledge is a key component. Our approach to planning across the curriculum revolves around a five-stage cycle:
In the Early Years Foundation Stage, the Early Years Foundation Stage document (EYFS) shapes curriculum content. From Year 1 – 6, the National Curriculum is divided between terms over a two-year rolling programme, which also includes the Gloucestershire Agreed RE Syllabus and Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship education, with topics taught in phases, so that we can be sure of breadth, balance and coverage.
We then build upon the National Curriculum by considering how learning can be made meaningful: by utilising our local links; by drawing on our own interests and the interests of our classes; and through topical events. When planning each topic, we consider carefully how to involve parents, how we can enrich the experiences of the children through visits and visitors, how to ignite the learning, and how to share and celebrate our successes at the end.
We recognise the clear and compelling evidence about the importance of vocabulary development, and the range of studies which highlight the extent to which there can be a vocabulary gap between children from disadvantaged families and their peers. To address the importance of key vocabulary in children’s long term memory learning, at Avening Primary School we identify and explicitly teach subject specific vocabulary that is crucial to learning and success across the curriculum and for text comprehension. This non-negotiable vocabulary is identified on our schemes of work and used on success criteria shared with the children. Key knowledge and vocabulary is identified and deliberately practised.
In addition to explicit vocabulary instruction, the development of reading comprehension skills is fundamental to our curriculum intent. From carefully matched phonic books to support the early stages of reading, to progression within types of questions in guided reading (inference, retrieval, choice, grammar, structure, summarise, predict) success in reading is recognised as key to unlocking wider understanding. Intervention in reading for children who are not yet at age-related expectations is prioritised.
In order to ensure that our expectations are sufficiently challenging, we use progressive success criteria, ‘Steps to Success’, which are shared with the children. In Maths and English, these are drawn from the National Curriculum requirements. In other areas of the curriculum, they are based on a set of milestones which define expectations at the end of Year 2, Year 4 and Year 6.
We aim for mastery of curriculum content by all children. We recognise that information is best presented with a degree of repetition, particularly in the form of repeating and reviewing key concepts. This is developed through effective questioning. In addition, the use of Knowledge Organisers for topic themes supports effective teaching, providing overview of objectives, content and vocabulary, calling attention to and supporting the review of main ideas.
In line with the aims of the National Curriculum 2014, we see progress as rectangular, rather than linear. Children develop their knowledge and skills, before applying and practising these skills in new contexts. To demonstrate mastery, their learning is deepened – applied successfully in a wide range of contexts or challenges. Deepening the children’s understanding occurs before any acceleration through new content. Across the curriculum, including in maths and English, core knowledge is taught in small steps before being independently applied or innovated creatively.
In addition, in maths, we have deliberate Maths Practice sessions for retrieval practice, which strengthens memory and makes it easier to retrieve the information later. Mathematical concepts are taught in small chunks and then rehearsed so as to lessen the cognitive load. In English, our approach based on Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing, enables both vocabulary to be developed and sentence structures and patterns of language internalised. Story mapping and topic mindmaps are also used to enhance recall, as dual coding theory suggests.
As we aim to create a school full of self-motivated, resilient learners, learning to learn always features in our curriculum planning too. We like the children to ‘work their learning muscles’, developing skills such as ‘managing distractions’, ‘noticing patterns’ and ‘being logical’, found in the ‘Learning Gym Bags’ of our resident superhero animal learners. We look for opportunities to reinforce these important skills through our themes.
Beyond the curriculum, a broad range of activities and experiences are planned for. As a small school, we are proud of the additional opportunities we extend to all of our pupils. There is a packed calendar of sporting events, numerous theatre visits each year to extend our cultural capital, annual musical performances, participation in academic competitions such as Maths 24 and the Nature Quiz, and regular Forest School sessions for all children, as well as additional sessions with our emotional literacy support assistant for our children feeling vulnerable. We foster positive community links, as well as engage proactively with our local secondary schools and playgroup. We have young leaders – Playground Patrollers, School Councillors, an Active Council and an Eco-Council, reading buddies, school monitors and House Captains. This is because we recognise the importance in such leadership opportunities to develop skills such as organisation, communication and team work, as well as self-esteem and confidence. We recognise that when children feel good about themselves, their learning is enhanced.