At Medlock Primary School, our curriculum is designed to recognise and celebrate the diversity of the community we serve. It provides meaningful learning experiences that enable our children to be able to actively engage with the world around them.
Our curriculum encourages our pupils to be curious, thoughtful, active and resilient learners. It demands that children and adults love learning: to make connections, ask questions and think critically about the world they live in.
Our curriculum ensures that every meaningful learning experience the children encounter is a stepping stone for the next stage in their education. We encourage our children to find their voices; whatever form that may take providing opportunities for self expression. It promotes the use of language. Communication through all mediums: spoken language, the written word and information technology platforms.
At its heart our curriculum ensures pupils challenge preconceptions about the world they live in, use empathy and kindness to speak up for what is right - informed by their understanding of British Values - and better equips them to prepare for their lives beyond Medlock Primary School.
At Medlock, we follow our own sequenced curriculum in EYFS, scaffolded by the statutory guidance of the Early Years Curriculum and then follow the programmes of study in the National Curriculum for all subjects in years 1-6.
In mathematics, we follow the Maths No Problem scheme from Years 1-6, which meets the requirements set out in the National Curriculum. We believe that knowledge and skills are both vital to building understanding and so we ensure that our curriculum is knowledge engaged.
Some subjects, such as Art, DT, PE and music place a greater emphasis on the development of skills but are enriched by knowledge of people and events and work of significance. In other subjects, such as science, children learn skills alongside knowledge and both are explicitly developed. New knowledge is taught first and then is enhanced by the development of skills.
Our Curriculum is deliberately constructed to ensure that it is progressive; sequenced in such a way that it builds: within a lesson, from lesson to lesson and from year to year. Opportunities are explicitly planned for children to revisit and develop concepts and skills in subsequent years. Where possible, links are also made between and across subjects for example in year 2’s topic on Oceans they will explore major oceans and continents of the world alongside a closer understanding of marine habitats in science as well as a significant figure: Jacques Cousteau.
We believe that this approach is especially important to enable learning to stick. Within subjects, core strands have been identified and these are revisited, meaning children have opportunities to make links and demonstrate their understanding of these core concepts year on year. For example, in history, the children will encounter the idea of settlement within different historical time periods. This is supported by ensuring that each year, the skills that children are taught or use become progressively more challenging so that they have the tools to best demonstrate and apply the knowledge that they have remembered.
There is an expectation that those delivering our curriculum have a secure understanding of what the children have already learnt and where their piece of the puzzle fits. To support this, teachers have opportunities to plan within teams, across year groups and phases, as well as with subject specialists and senior leaders.
All pupils at Medlock study the full curriculum; it is not narrowed for anybody. We have the same high ambition for all our pupils and so scaffold learning so that it is as demanding as possible for all pupils, particularly those with SEND. Where interventions are necessary, we rotate them so that the same learning and experiences are not missed regularly by the same pupils.
Rigorous implementation is possible because we prioritise the development of subject expertise with regular opportunities for our staff to undertake professional development, regardless of the stage of their career. This is to both improve and enhance their subject knowledge and to raise standards of teaching and learning in the wider curriculum. Good teaching and learning in the wider curriculum should include;
● Opportunities which build on pupils’ knowledge and understanding;
● Clear learning intentions and outcomes;
● Quality formative assessment including targeted questioning;
● Respond to gaps in learning in order to develop an understanding of the world around them;
● Teacher and peer modeling of concepts, skills, knowledge and application of learning;
● Guided and independent learning opportunities, carefully planned;
● Explicit teaching of subject specific tier 3 and appropriate tier 2 vocabulary;
● Regular opportunities to practice key concepts, skills and knowledge;
● Appropriate challenge for all learners including modification where necessary;
● Opportunities to meaningfully apply literacy and numeracy skills.
When a series of lessons is planned we consider how best to engage and inspire in order to encourage our children to ask questions and make connections with their prior learning - this could include: using a range of stimuli as a hook to start off a unit of work or to take learning in a different direction.
Our curriculum provides a range of experiences which enable children to make sense of what they have been taught and to understand that learning can take place beyond the classroom. This means that there are planned opportunities for our children to visit the various cultural institutions on their doorsteps at least once a year as well as visiting places outside the local area, which enhances learning in other themes. For example, children in year 4 will conduct fieldwork on a local river as part of a larger river topic.
They are planned in such a way that the experiences build upon previous visits. These visits and cultural experiences are seen as vital and central to the learning journey. Due to our urban locality, we also recognise the importance of providing structured opportunities for learning to take place outside: within our own Forest School and community garden areas with a particular focus on development of scientific knowledge and skills.
We have specifically developed opportunities within our curriculum to reflect the diversity of our community and build on their own prior knowledge, which may be different to their peers or that of children in other parts of the country. We recognise that many of our children and their parents come to school with particular ‘funds of knowledge’ and that these deep and varied experiences, knowledge and skills shape and enhance conversations, connections and learning at school for children and adults alike. It is then our task to shape this knowledge and to give children the necessary tools to share coherently with others, and to apply it to other contexts or aspects of the curriculum.
Knowledge organisers are used to support the pre-teaching of vocabulary and core concepts; strengthening home/school links; prioritising quality conversations at home.
The end points for each topic are identified and those skills or particular knowledge that are most important to unlock the following year’s curriculum are assessed. Any gaps in knowledge, understanding or development of vital skills are then revisited both straight after a topic and then at the beginning of a new topic or year. This approach to retrieval should be comfortable for the children as the expectation is that each lesson begins with some retrieval of previous learning or clarification of misconceptions; alongside direct vocabulary instruction or clarification.
Through regular low stakes assessment, our children are given opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of what they have been taught and apply it in different ways.