Exploring the rationale for curriculum design at New Bradwell Primary School
From Yr 1-6 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.
In Foundation 1 (Nursery) and Foundation 2 (Reception) 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 incredible and is used as an integral part of our day but does not and should not limit our learning.
The approach has evolved from a topic-based curriculum. 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 as many links are made 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 Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds, moving onto ReadWriteInc for those children who are ready (but not usually until the Summer Term). 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 is building a curriculum where coverage, content, structure and sequencing develop as children move through the school and is a dynamic process to ensure impact and a curriculum that truly builds on previous learning.
A curriculum group, led by the Deputy Head, has been established to work with teaching teams for each year group. Members of the curriculum group act as custodians 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 engage 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 governing body the confidence to approach the design of the curriculum using an innovative approach that continues to evolve. 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 group. 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 group. 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.
At the end of each academic year the curriculum group will review the progress that a year group has made in developing the skills summarised within the Trust curriculum mapping grid and the knowledge topics that have been covered.
The understanding gained by the curriculum group 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 group will be able to share these concerns with the teaching team who are planning the next year for these children. The curriculum group also identifies where the skills gaps are for the children compared with the Trust curriculum mapping grid. This means they can flag those skills that need to be covered or revisited in the year ahead. Since the curriculum group 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 and share this information with class teachers, to further inform planning. As well as ongoing assessment activity through the year the school will be introducing an end of year project that 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 specialist to deliver Physical Education and French throughout the school and an enriched outdoor curriculum for KS1. This ensures that these specialised subjects are delivered to a consistent 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:
Find information about our curriculum below.
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.