From Early Years to Year 6 at New Bradwell Primary School teachers have developed a curriculum strategy for delivering foundation subjects that focuses on the use of a range of books that serve to fire the imagination of children and inspire them to engage with a broad range of relevant knowledge content.
Books play a vital role in our teaching and learning, enabling us to nurture our children’s interests and encouraging a love of reading. The power of story is used as an integral part of our day but does not and should not limit our learning.
Our approach has evolved from a topic-based approach to curriculum design. It was adopted because exploring a wide range of books (covering a breadth of genres each year) provides a focus for promoting a love of reading and developing and reinforcing core literacy skills. This is in a context where a number of our children are not encouraged to read at home.
Maths and English follow the objectives taught through the national curriculum and we use national assessment points to monitor our impact. These subjects are taught individually but draw upon as many links as possible to the books that children are reading. We believe that if children can hit the national milestones they will be ready for the next stages of their learning.
In Foundation 1 we focus on raising pre phonological awareness, moving onto 'ReadWriteInc' for those children who are ready. From Foundation 2 (Reception) onward we use ‘ReadWriteInc’ to teach phonics and reading skills until such time in Yr1 or Yr2 that pupils are no longer in need of this degree of structure.
In maths we use Power Maths as our main resource across the school from Yr1 to Y6. The programme uses a Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract approach that enables pupils to develop their understanding in practical terms before moving onto more abstract representations. The programme is rooted in pupils developing a strong understanding of place value and number that then underpins their work across the wider maths curriculum, which includes frequent reasoning and problem solving opportunities in order that core maths skills and knowledge can be frequently applied. Foundation 1 and 2 base their Mathematics on the principles of Singapore Maths which feeds very well into Power Maths in Year 1.
The school operates a curriculum where coverage, content, structure and sequencing develop as children move through the school. This is a dynamic process that enables teachers to consider the prior learning and progress that children have made previously when developing their plans and is explained further below.
The work of the Curriculum Group
A curriculum group has been established to work with teaching teams for each year group. Members of the curriculum group act as guardians for the knowledge and skills that are developed by each cohort of children as they progress through the school.
The way that the curriculum group engages with the teaching teams working with each year group is explained below. It is important to recognise the context in which this approach has been developed. The team at New Bradwell is very experienced, the school was judged outstanding at its last inspection (2012) and has delivered consistently strong outcomes in statutory assessments since then. This context has given senior leaders and the local governors the confidence to approach the design of the curriculum using an innovative approach. The commitment, expertise and enthusiasm of staff ensure that children at the school access a curriculum that enables them to secure great progress. This is fundamental, as the senior team clearly communicates that the progress of all children is the cornerstone for judging the success of the school.
An innovative approach to curriculum leadership and design
Teaching teams will agree an initial plan for the books that will be the focus for the coming year with the curriculum groups. They will also highlight external trips and visits that will be planned alongside each book. Once a book has been completed the teaching team will fill out a curriculum monitoring form that will then be shared with the curriculum groups. This charts what skills and knowledge have been covered across all foundation subjects during the period of time that the book has been studied. Knowledge content for science that is listed on the curriculum monitoring form will often not relate to the book that has just been studied but is still included in the document to enable the curriculum group to collate details of the knowledge base covered and the skills that children have developed. The collation of the curriculum monitoring forms for books covered in a year enables the curriculum group to develop a comprehensive understanding of what children access each year. This understanding is explored through curriculum deep dives that compare information within monitoring forms with evidence of outcomes from both book scrutiny activities and discussions with children from that year group. These activities enable the curriculum group to explore the effectiveness of implementation and its impact for the subjects sampled through deep dives.
During and at the end of each academic year the curriculum groups will review the progress that a year group has made in developing the skills summarised within the school curriculum mapping grid and the knowledge topics that have been covered.
The understanding gained by the curriculum groups enables them to support the teaching team planning the next year for this cohort in a way that builds upon what children have previously learned. If there are concerns that some skills need to be revisited the curriculum groups will be able to share these concerns with the teaching team who are planning the next year for these children. The curriculum groups also identify where the skills gaps are for the children compared with the school curriculum mapping grids. This means they can flag those skills that need to be covered or revisited in the year ahead. Since the curriculum groups also know the books and subject knowledge that children have covered previously, they can ensure that the teaching team planning the next year productively and only revisit knowledge already covered if this is going to be productive.
Assessment is a key tool in the development of the curriculum and children’s learning. Each term there is a pupil progress meeting to discuss progress and attainment in specific subjects. The curriculum team, through their deep dives, continue to assess the knowledge that children have retained within their long term memory and share this information with class teachers, to further inform planning. Ongoing assessment activity through the year enables teachers to assess how well knowledge covered through the year has been retained. This all feeds into the end of year reports and targets that are shared with parents.
The pupils' social, moral, spiritual and cultural development is also very important to us at New Bradwell. With ongoing personal growth, pupils will be able to access learning and to make the most of the opportunities they have across the curriculum. Our wider curriculum ensures that pupils have plentiful opportunities for personal development, and this ultimately leads to the very good behaviour, attitudes and conduct that pupils display across our school.
Use of Subject Specialists
Whilst class teachers deliver the majority of foundation subjects the school employs subject specialists to deliver Physical Education, French and Computing throughout the school and an enriched outdoor curriculum for KS1. This ensures that these specialised subjects are delivered to a consistently high standard.
The school is constantly reviewing its provision and deciding whether subjects are better taught by the class teacher or by having specialist in an area of the curriculum.
Whilst this approach might be quite different to the use of subject leaders commonly seen in other schools it delivers the following benefits:
- Plans for each year group build upon the progress that the children have made in previous years ensuring a progressive curriculum.
- The selection of books and subject knowledge made by teaching teams is informed by an understanding of the needs and interests of the children who will be engaging with these books, this is designed to ensure an appropriately ambitious curriculum is delivered.
- The holistic role taken by the curriculum groups maintains an oversight of planning (intent) and monitoring (implementation) providing teaching teams and senior leaders with a high level of confidence regarding the progress of each cohort of children as they move through the school.
- Building the curriculum on the use of 13 books each year encourages the development of reading and literacy and is an effective strategy for promoting a love of reading
- The use of trips and visits actively enriches the curriculum and are viewed by all as an integral part of the broader learning experience that children access.
To find information about our curriculum and how skills and knowledge is built year on year please click on the links below:
Ways to encourage your child’s reading at home
- It sounds obvious but discuss with your child what they are reading. Perhaps start with simple questions about the names of the characters and what has happened in the story so far.
- Before reading the book, encourage your child to make predictions about what may happen in the story from the title and the illustration on the front cover.
- You might want to ask questions about the feelings of the characters and why they might be feeling a certain way at that point in the story.
- Ask why they like a certain character in the book. Is it because they are the hero or heroine? Do they identify with the character in any way?
- You could try and create a different version of the story. For example, ‘What would have happened if Harry Potter had never gone to Hogwarts?’
- Encourage your child to read out loud. This will improve their reading fluency and get them into the flow of the text. It may also make it easier for them to visualise the story.
- Get your child to use a dictionary to look up any unfamiliar words.
- You could try reading one page each, divide the page into paragraphs or even characters. To add a bit of fun and variety, why not encourage using different voices for each character.
- Try asking some questions when your child has finished reading, such as, ‘if you met one of the characters in the book, what would you say to them?’ Or even, ‘What was your least favourite part of the story?’
- Most importantly, enjoy reading with your child!
Catch up plan
Children across KS1 follow read, write inc when being taught their phonics.
If you would like to know more about each year groups curriculum please look at each class page in the children's section of the web site.
If this doesn't answer your questions please ring the school on 01908 312244 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org where we will endeavour to give you the information you need.