Focusing on the curriculum
The curriculum is the substance of what is taught. It is the specific plan of what learners need to know and should be able to do. The curriculum shapes and determines what learners of all ages will get out of their educational experience. For this reason, the curriculum is at the heart of the proposed quality of education judgement.
For our extensive curriculum research over the last couple of academic years, from 2014-2019, to support discussions with staff, we have been using a working definition of the curriculum which recognises that it passes through different states: it is conceived, taught and experienced. The working definition was that the curriculum is:
That definition informed the development of the quality of education model now set out in the Ofsted framework and inspection handbooks. The curriculum covers the intent and much of the implementation of the quality of education provided, but it is distinct from the impact, which is a measure of how well the curriculum has been learned. The curriculum is, therefore, integral to but not the whole of a judgement on the quality of education.
The curriculum is also distinct from pedagogy, which is how the curriculum is taught. Furthermore, it is distinct from assessment, which is a means of evaluating whether learners are learning/have learned the intended curriculum, although of course the curriculum and assessment need to work hand in hand. In so doing, the curriculum becomes the progression model. Learning is not linear.
Learning has been defined in cognitive psychology as an alteration in long-term memory: “If nothing has altered in long-term memory nothing has been learned.” Progress, therefore, means knowing more (including knowing how to do more) and remembering more. When new knowledge and existing knowledge connect in learners’ minds, this gives rise to understanding. As learners develop unconscious competence and fluency, this will allow them to develop skills. Progress should not be defined by hitting the next data point. Rather, if learners attain within a well-sequenced, well-constructed curriculum, they are making progress.
A divisive debate has emerged in some quarters that creates an unnecessary opposition between knowledge and skills, suggesting they are separate alternatives. In reality, knowledge and skills are closely interconnected. Ofsted considers a skill to be the capacity to perform complex operations, whether cognitively or physically, drawing on what is known. The and ask inspectors to consider what providers are doing to develop both learners’ knowledge and their skills.
Ofsted recognises that schools take different approaches to the curriculum, with a freedom to choose their own curriculum approaches within the appropriate legal parameters. As an Academy we have chosen to use the National Curriculum which exists in our local context, and will incorporate discrete lessons as well as cross-curricular themes and topics.
Statements of Intent
Our curriculum Statement of Intent
Curriculum design statement: intent, implementation, impact.
The aim of Victoria Road Academy is to provide opportunities for children to develop as independent, confident, successful learners with high aspirations who know how to make a positive contribution to their community and the wider society.
Our aim is to provide our children with an engaging, exciting and empowering curriculum that equips them for today and tomorrow. Our Curriculum is delivered through rich, imaginative and cross-curricular learning that will inspire children.
The curriculum is designed to: recognise children’s prior learning, provide first hand learning experiences, allow the children to develop interpersonal skills, build resilience and become creative, independent and critical thinkers.
Every child is recognised as a unique individual. We celebrate and welcome differences within the diverse school community. The ability to learn is underpinned by the teaching of basic skills, knowledge, concepts and values with a vision to prepare them for life beyond primary school. We constantly provide enrichment opportunities to engage learning. The Local Governing Board allow the Headteacher to have flexible funding support for school trips, residentials and visitors into the school. We believe that childhood should be a happy, investigative and enquiring time in our lives, where there are no limits to curiosity and there is a thirst for new experiences and knowledge. We use our Respecting Rights of the Child Values and our BLP values of reciprocity, resilience, perseverance and resourcefulness to promote positive attitudes to learning which reflect the values and skills needed to promote responsibility for learning and future success.
Community involvement is an integral part of our curriculum, inviting families, carers, veterans, other professionals and visitors to facilitate learning new skills and sharing experiences such as assemblies, curriculum outcomes and International Food Evening and Community Day. We are a Fairtrade school, a Global learning Expert Hub with an International School Mark accredited by the British Council and GLP Charity.
It is our intent that children leave Victoria Road with a sense of belonging to a tightly knit community where they have the confidence and skills to make decisions, self-evaluate, make connections and become lifelong learners.
We are focused on encouraging children to embrace our Horizon Academy and individual school vision of being PROUD of all we do. This encompasses the values of perseverance, respect, striving to be outstanding, uniqueness and dynamism. We focus on Determination to succeed, Creativity and Respect for themselves, others and the environment. By offering a broad and balanced curriculum, we inspire children to learn and develop in their moral, spiritual, social and cultural understanding. The Victoria Road ensures that children are well prepared for life in modern Britain and are aware of how they can contribute and understand their local community.
TEACHING & LEARNING Separate areas of the Curriculum Statements of Intent can be found under subject tabs.
Teaching & Learning 2019-21
Curriculum Statements of Intent
The breadth of our curriculum is designed with two goals in mind:
for each year group ensure all teachers have the clarity as to what to cover in their year group topics and discrete subjects. Curriculum Skills Maps indicate what knowledge, skills and understanding are being covered each year and how it is sequenced through planning to meet all the essential criteria of the National Curriculum. This is to demonstrate progression and progress in learning from starting points. Statements are recorded against each child to indicate whether they are at ARE within year groups per subject. Some Knowledge organisers are being developed to help with Home Learning, Parental liaison and engagement and children’s revision of topics prior to sustained mini quizzes.
We do not view Knowledge Organisers as encompassing all the knowledge, skills and understanding required for any topic, theme or subject, but simply and aide-memoire to children and parents and do not wish to develop a "pub style quizz" culture in supplying these.
Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:
1) Learning is most effective when spaced rather than blocked, with a tiered and layered approach.
2) Interleaving helps pupils to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention.
3) Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
In addition to the three principles we also understand that learning is invisible in the short-term and that sustained mastery takes time.
Some of our content is subject specific, whilst other content is combined in a cross-curricular approach. Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides retrieval practice for previously learned content.
The impact of our curriculum is that by the end of each topic, year group and Key Stage, where the vast majority of pupils have sustained mastery of the content, that is, they remember it all and are fluent in it; Some pupils have greater depth of understanding. We track carefully to ensure pupils are on track to reach expectations of our curriculum. We record on SIMS. We use various schemes and tests such as NFER, Accelerated Reader, RWINc, Somerset Literacy Network, Visual Maths, White Rose Maths, Times Tables Rock Stars and Mathletics.
EYFS statement of intent
Working in partnership with parents to encourage independent, happy learners who thrive in school and reach their full potential. We assess through Tapestry. There is a MAT Early years policy as well as our own EYFS policy.