Like many schools, we are working on our curriculum this year. We started teaching our new curriculum from Autumn 2 2019 and will continue to develop, evaluate and adapt our curriculum as the year progresses.
Our curriculum intent is inherently rooted in our school's vision (see above). This vision was written collaboratively with all staff, pupils and the community.
From this vision, we devised our core value (fairness, equality diversity, respect, democracy, identity, empathy and sustainability). We our built our curriculum around these values because these are things we want our children to embody as empowered and important members of the community. Topic questions are chosen to focus on an understanding of these values and it is highlighted in curriculum plans.
We also have a strong belief that reading and vocabulary plays a huge part in our curriculum. We recognise that our children enter school at different stages, often with a low baseline in Language and Literacy and therefore we need to immerse them in a wealth of high quality, diverse and relevant texts to support their vocabulary and knowledge of the world. We know that our curriculum is most effective when a high quality core text is used to support children’s understanding of vocabulary and knowledge. We know that this vocabulary is key to social mobility, especially for our most vulnerable pupils.
One of our aims of our curriculum is that children will build on their persistent schema of knowledge in each topic and that knowledge will repeatedly be discussed in the context of other knowledge children have and more importantly, in the context of their own lives at Heybrook school in Rochdale. We want them to have a sense of pride in who they are, where they live, where their family is from and the school they attend. We aim to do this by helping them learn about how different places and periods relate to their experiences.
One the main priorities when designing our curriculum is that it is progressive and coherent, designed in a way that maximizes the opportunities to make connections in children's knowledge. We have built in horizontal, vertical and diagonal links within our curriculum.
Vertical links: these are links within a given topic- e.g. the core text in English is linked to the History topic and the art topic. We believe this is the best way to immerse children in the knowledge and vocabulary needed and in turn, the most effective way to retain in.
Horizontal links: these are links within a given year group- e.g. the knowledge learnt in the geography topic in volcanoes with a case study on Pompeii, can be recalled later that year and used in the History topic on Romans and the Geography topic on the physical geography of Italy. This recall of knowledge helps build children's persistent schema of knowledge.
Diagonal links: our curriculum is sequenced and designed for children to revisit their knowledge several times from Nursery to year 6. Our values ensure there are narratives which can be followed from year to year. An example of this is in year 1 when children study Nelson Mandela and study Apartheid. They then revisit this in year 2 topic where children learn about Emeline Pankhurst. They use their knowledge of Apartheid and apply it to the context of Suffrage. Then they study other examples of human rights infringements in year 6 where study the campaigns and tactics of the Suffragettes and the political consequences. These are studied at the same time of year in year 1, 2 and 6 so assemblies can further explore these ideas and staff fully understand the prior knowledge children are taught. Our curriculum is sequenced to maximise these links.
We see the curriculum as the mastery of a body of subject-specific declarative knowledge defined by the school but that we want the procedural knowledge (what you are able to do) to be explicitly developed along side this. We want them to amass a specific, well planned body of declarative and procedural knowledge that can be added to their understanding of themselves and their community.
We are unwaveringly ambitious for all our children and this is evident in our curriculum. It is planned to challenge attitudes and misconceptions especially gender stereotypes. It supports them in forming their own views on issues which affect their lives and gives them the skills to express them (sustainability, local history, civil rights, homelessness).
We know that our children have different and in some cases, limited experiences. Therefore we place great emphasis on supporting their understanding of knowledge and vocabulary through practical experiences. This includes but is not limited to outdoor learning (including forest school), trips in the local area (local walks, parent trips, visits with Mayor and the town hall), trips further afield (Liverpool Museum migration study, theatre trips, opportunities for practical application of their knowledge (orienteering, Robin Wood residential) and real life experiences of knowledge learnt (Owl man, Safari park trip). All of our cultural capital experiences however are only have such a great impact because they are well planned and interwoven into the curriculum and knowledge learnt. We also ensure children start their topics in a way which inspires and engages them, activates their prior knowledge and develops their enquiry skills. All topics are also launched with parents with family homework to engage and take advantage of skills and experience within the community.