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Welcome to our Academy’s Curriculum Approach – The Background


How did we design our curriculum?

 As a school, we started to look at ways in which we could make learning ’stick’ for our pupils and we had a keen interest in the messages that were coming from cognitive science theories.  We had strongly held views that a curriculum was not to be imposed on our staff and that all members of the school needed to be involved in its construction, as it needed to embody our shared vision, values, ethos before it could be successfully implemented.  We also believed that Subject Leads needed to be key in our approach and in the curriculum being successfully implemented across the whole school.  

We spent a considerable amount of time on initial designs, discussing the needs of the pupils, the relevance of our local community/ history, and combined this with extensive research. We  continue to dedicate staff CPD and INSET sessions to further support staff in their implementation and enhancement of our  curriculum going forward. Our staff have been given regular release time in order to develop their subject areas whilst covering National Curriculum objectives. 


It is also of paramount importance to us that our core fundamental values of ensuring we produce young members of society who are ‘Self-aware, Unique, Problem-solving, Empathetic, Responsible, and Benevolent citizens’,  is embedded throughout our whole approach – which led us to implement the  ‘SUPERB’ citizen approach to  learning.


Curriculum Design Statement: intent, implementation, impact


Our Intent

At Old Clee Primary Academy our curriculum offer gives children the opportunity to understand the world around them through the acquisition of declarative knowledge (a rich and deep subject knowledge), alongside procedural knowledge (learning new skills) across a variety of exciting curriculum drivers.  We believe that learning is a change to long term memory and it is our aim to ensure our children become subject specific geniuses where knowledge is connected through intra-curricular links. Ultimately, we not only want our children to remember more, but apply their knowledge through a web of schemas. 


Therefore, our curriculum approach has been developed in order to ensure learning is revisited, ensuring knowledge becomes embedded, transferable,  engrained and useable. Our curriculum enables pupils to build a web of knowledge where meaningful links can be made within and across subject areas.  We understand that children need to understand what they are doing and learning so that they can link it to prior learning using knowledge categories which are continuously re-visited.  We aim to make this happen through ensuring our planning is built on coherent and well sequenced units of work - units of work which encapsulate the interests of the pupils at Old Clee, are appropriate, and embody our uniqueness in our locality. 


We understand that at times children will need to be taught learning directly whilst at other times children will need to learn through self directed exploration.  We will go forwards and backwards, engineering knowledge links which children can retain – and therefore build upon.  With this in mind, our delivery approaches will be informed, managed, planned and well thought through, with clear intentions for choosing each approach.   


At Old Clee Primary Academy it is our underlying belief that every child should feel valued and experience the feeling of success in a wide range of curriculum areas. Therefore, we have designed, organised and planned our curriculum to ensure every child receives an appropriate mix of academic and personal development and have aligned the need for pupils to secure the expected standard at the end of KS2 by placing greater importance on the role foundation subjects play in contributing towards this. 


How do pupils progress and achieve within our curriculum?

At Old Clee, our definition of progress is the widening, deepening, recall and use of essential knowledge and understanding – all of which will have been acquired through excellent pupil  learning behaviours. We have designed, organised and planned our curriculum ensuring children are not merely covering content but achieving a depth to their learning which enables them to use their knowledge and understanding across all areas. Our curriculum design and planning means we build in many opportunities for revisiting, practise and retrieval of essential  knowledge and understanding in every subject. This ensures children can revisit previous learning, which allows them to gradually develop a deeper understanding of the skills and processes within subjects, at their own pace and in the best possible way for each individual child.


Our Implementation

Our curriculum implementation is underpinned by our three goals in mind:


(1) To give pupils appropriate experience to develop as confident, responsible citizens;


Experiences which bring about the aims and values of our school, and respond to the particular needs of our community:

  • For pupils to become independent thinkers and learners – having the knowledge, skill and resilience to tackle challenges and find the answers out themselves;
  • For pupils to become articulate individuals who are able to think and express themselves at a deeper and more mature level;
  • That our approach increase the life chances and aspirations of our pupils so they are open to more possibilities and are able to make more choices about their future.


(2) To provide a rich ‘cultural capital’:


Cultural capital is gained through first hand curriculum experiences when pupils are exposed to a large variety of subject areas and arts. It includes rich vocabulary and powerful knowledge which, in turn, helps pupils become subject specific experts. Our curriculum promotes character building qualities, thus helping our pupils to  become independent thinkers and well rounded global citizens.


(3) To provide a coherent, structured, academic curriculum that leads to sustained mastery for all and a greater depth understanding for those capable:


  • Long Term Plans provide a clear list of the breadth of topics that will be covered – they are our ‘curriculum drivers’
  • The ‘Subject Concepts’ are the consistent ‘umbrella’ concepts that all objectives sit under.  They are the same across Y1 to Y6 and will be continually revisited. Each subject concept has its own facets of rich knowledge categories which helps to strengthen the schema. 
  • Criteria for progression sits within the National Curriculum Subject Skills and Knowledge set out for each year group. These are  the end points pupils should reach to show they are meeting the expectations of the curriculum. The route to achieving the goals includes creating a strong schema, based on rich knowledge, subject specific vocabulary and POP tasks (proof of progress). 


Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:

  1. Learning is most effective with spaced repetition – ‘wait and then revisit’ – leading to a strengthened memory
  2. Interleaving - teaching many ‘content drivers’  in parallel rather than blocking them.  This aids pupils’ long term retention. 
  3. Retrieval of previously learned knowledge 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.  That some of our content drivers are subject specific, whilst other content is combined in a cross curricular approach. 


Sustained Mastery

Nothing is learned unless it rests in pupils’ long-term memories.  This does not happen, and cannot be assessed in the short term.  Assessment, therefore answers two main questions: ‘How are pupils engaging with the curriculum content and their learning?’  And ‘How well are they retaining previously taught knowledge and skills?’


Our Impact

The impact aim of our curriculum is that by the end of each year, the vast majority of pupils have sustained mastery of the content and concepts delivered - that is -  they will remember, recall and further build on secure platforms, year after year; some pupils will have a greater depth of understanding. But for all – learning has been transferable so that the vast majority are ready to progress on to the next year’s curriculum having reached clear end points.    


Pupils have also developed into SUPERB’ citizens  - capable of playing an active and successful role in society and who have happy and fulfilled lives.


Monitoring of this will be robust - through continuous, everyday metacognitive process whereby learners think about their own learning more explicitly and acquire the ability to monitor, direct and review learning themselves; and through teachers using many AFL opportunities, and through employing teacher/pupil ‘Assessment Conversations’; in addition,  more summative POP tasks designed to retrieve learning will be used.  More formal testing will also provide quantitative data for some subject areas.   



If you would like further information on the curriculum we teach, please contact the school directly.