At St Dennis Primary Academy, we are passionate about ensuring our curriculum is designed to broaden horizons. We intend to provide a wealth of opportunities and engage and motivate our children so that by the time they leave, they have the greatest number of choices and options open to them.
Our curriculum reflects our key values, which have personal development at their core. These are aspiration, courage, achievement, friendship, teamwork and responsibility. These weave through every aspect of our curriculum along with spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.
Curriculum Drivers - We have identified key drivers that are based around factors we have considered - how we can make the most of our local and regional location, how can we best champion the culture and climate we value, and what backgrounds and previous experiences our pupils have.
All these drivers intend to ensure that every child, irrespective of their starting point, achieves at the very highest standards, develops life-long skills such as independence, confidence, resilience along with the virtues of empathy, kindness and respect.
Real-life experiences - Our curriculum aims to help our pupils to appreciate and be interested in the wider world around them and to inspire ‘awe and wonder’. We want children to be curious and be provided with magical moments that open doors to worlds that children don’t even know exist. The aim is that children are excited, engaged and continue to be curious.
Oracy - Being articulate, engaging with others positively and to learn through spoken language is a key intent of our curriculum. We aim to develop the physical skills of oracy, along with vocabulary and grammar. In turn we also aim to ensure that oracy develops thinking skills, so children can express their feelings, their knowledge and explain their understanding. It is also an aim to develop key social skills, including the ability to work co-operatively through active listening and showing respect and tolerance of each other’s opinions.
Environment and Community - We want our children to have a sense of pride in their local area and understand that the world is beyond their immediate doorstep. Our curriculum aims to develop a sense that their home and the wider world is a wonderful place to live now, and in the future. Our curriculum provides opportunities to experience the richness of the world’s diversity and show how they can care about its management and sustainability. Also, that working collaboratively helps this to happen.
Wellbeing - Children being physically and mentally healthy so they have the strength to be successful and happy, is a key element in our curriculum intent. We aim to ensure that children have the knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to make healthy decisions and choices in the future, as throughout their lives our children may face difficult challenges.
At St Dennis Primary Academy, we use the Chris Quigley structure to ensure we implement a coherently planned curriculum underpinned by our drivers.
The curriculum breadth for each year group provides the key knowledge within subjects and also provides for children’s growing cultural capital.
Threshold concepts are the key aspects of each subject. They are chosen to build conceptual understanding within subjects and are repeated many times in each topic. This enables children to reinforce and build upon prior learning, make connections and develop subject specific language. This provides the vertical accumulation of knowledge and skills.
Milestones define the standards at each stage for the threshold concepts.
In addition to this, we have identified critical knowledge and skills that are to be achieved in units of learning across the wider curriculum.
St Dennis Primary Academy is passionate about reading and storytelling. It is at the heart of our curriculum because we know that the capacity to learn and to enjoy learning goes hand-in hand with reading skill. Therefore, we strive to nurture life-long readers. Oracy also underpins our curriculum implementation and pupils are ‘taught to talk’ and ‘learn through talk’ thus developing physical, linguistic, cognitive and social and emotional skills. With both reading and oracy being central to our curriculum implementation, we ensure that vocabulary which enriches knowledge and understanding about the world is taught.
Each year group studies a new topic every half term which is approached through a ‘big question’. This ignites a thirst for knowledge through investigation, engagement, imagination, thought and discussion. Our ‘big questions’ do not have one correct answer and inspire the need to explore every possibility and share findings.
In order to explore, a range of stimulating and high-quality resources and experiences are utilised. These include our ‘Stunning Starts’ where an engaging activity brings a topic to life and launches the ‘big question’. Real-life experiences are key, so we use visits and visitors to enhance and deepen knowledge as they provide opportunities for generating questions and further enquiry and research. We also introduce our pupils to a diverse range of art, music and drama. We like to take advantage of experiences and opportunities that arise; these might link to local, national or international events. All topics culminate in a ‘Fabulous Finish’ where parents, carers and family members are invited into school to share in our pupils’ findings.
In addition to the subject based curriculum are ‘Dazzle Days’ where children develop their knowledge, understanding and skills through activities planned around promoting and enhancing our core values. These fortnightly days are a creative way of enriching our curriculum further and enabling our children to experience their learning in a way that challenges them and gives opportunities for all children to ‘dazzle’ us in so many different ways! Half-termly whole school themes in the coming year include learning about St Dennis and Cornwall, Cornish myths and legends, carrying out an environmental project, cultural arts and ‘healthy me’.
Further enrichment is through vast array of extra-curricular opportunities and outdoor learning where every child can be involved. These experiences, along with the teaching of a range of rich vocabulary within our designed curriculum, give our children the essential knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed now and in the future.
Throughout our curriculum, we weave the British Values of democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, and we explicitly encourage them to value diversity.
PSHE learning is also inherent in all curriculum areas and is routed in three core themes: health and well-being, relationships and living in the wider world. Responsibility is key within our curriculum and this is particularly evident through our Mentors, School Council and Eco Council, whose projects lead into whole-school learning.
When implementing our curriculum, we adhere to our Trauma and Mental Health Informed School Relationship Policy where we are committed to educational practices which protect, relate, regulate and reflect.
A new addition to the curriculum this year is 'Memory Masters' as we recognise the value in pupils having the opportunity to revisit, recall, revise, remember, reinforce, relearn and reflect upon previously taught content. ‘Memory Masters’ is a weekly session which will enable pupils to use these skills to retain key information across the whole curriculum.
Memory Masters sessions will be evident in books through a TBAT Learning Objective, showing the Memory Masters symbol. Alongside this TBAT there will be an opportunity for pupils to record their achievements. Examples of this could be a score from a quiz, a scale of confidence or key information remembered.
This year will see an enhanced focus on key skills in reading, writing and maths. Reading will be developed through Book and Novel Study and additional Storytime in Key Stage 1. In EYFS, there will be a diet of 5-a-day with communication being a core focus. Phonics will be taught twice a day in Key Stage 1 with additional time for one-to-one interventions for those who have not yet reached the expected standard. In addition to this, spelling, punctuation and grammar will be taught daily for half an hour in Key Stage 2. This content is planned to include the previous year’s content to ensure all gaps are filled and knowledge is embedded whilst moving forward with key learning. A new handwriting scheme will also be implemented to ensure high expectations are set from the start of the year.
In maths, fluency will be the focus of an additional 15-minute session with counting and number being the core focus.
Mental Health has a new leader in place and will be a core focus with the use of the Boxhall Profile to create class, group and individual plans. Learning behaviours will also be developed through the curriculum and values further explored. One example of this will be team building days at the beginning of the year where children will achieve, be aspirational, show courage and responsibility, use teamwork skills and show great friendship.
Pupil conferencing, mini quizes, small group learning and daily assessment for learning will supplement summative assessments to identify gaps in learning. These will be woven into new learning and also be supported for individuals and small groups through targeted interventions delivered by trained Teaching Assistants. Memory Masters time is being introduced as a whole school initiative where prevously taught content is revisited, repeated, revised, remembered, recalled, reflected upon and reinforced.
Marking and feedback has been reviewed in line with the EEF Report ‘A marked improvement? A review of the evidence on written marking’ to include greater emphasis on pupil editing, verbal feedback, targets, live marking and whole class feedback to ensure rapid progress.
Within the wider curriculum, all subjects will be taught, with a priority on key objectives and milestones to ensure the key skills of reading, writing and maths are a daily focus.
Gaps in critical knowledge and skills, along with missed curriculum content which have been identified across the wider curriculum will continue to be part of the planned curriculum.
At St Dennis Primary Academy, we use a range of qualitative and quantitative data to review our curriculum impact and subsequent design.
How? We analyse data from national tests to inform future planning along with regular summative tests and retrieval practice to review connections, sequencing and develop the curriculum. We also use rigorous monitoring throughout the year to evaluate our curriculum design and the quality of education. Alongside the senior leadership team, middle leaders and subject leaders review learning through being in classrooms, studying learning sequences and outcomes and evaluating pupil voice to provide individual and whole-school feedback to move practice forward. This celebrates successes and highlights areas for development.
We use the standardised tests of PIRA, PUMA and GAPS to assess attainment in English and maths along with Target Tracker statements and steps. TAPS focussed assessments are used in science and assessments by teachers based on critical knowledge and skills are made in other subject areas. The senior leadership team and core subject leaders regularly meet teachers to review attainment and progress of every pupil against Key Performance Indicators to ensure that they achieve their full potential. We don’t confuse coverage with progress when assessing, as learning is measured through careful analysis of the application of skills across the curriculum.
What? High quality learning outcomes are produced as pupils are given opportunities for multiple drafts which are scaffolded by specific feedback. Subsequently, pupils are proud of their learning.
Our curriculum ensures that we develop well-rounded pupils with a clear understanding of core values such as aspiration, courage, achievement, friendship, teamwork and responsibility. It also investigates our similarities and differences, promotes acceptance, diversity, and citizenship. Physical, linguistic, cognitive and social and emotional skills are developed through oracy resulting in confident and articulate communicators, ready for the next stage of their education and beyond.
Learning dispositions and character traits are developed, leading to success both now and in the future. Children demonstrate good levels of resilience and motivation, and a growth mindset when faced with different types of challenge. They develop attitudes and dispositions to make a positive contribution to the world in terms of community and the environment. Our daily interactions and observations on school visits and memorable events provide a regular check on this. Success across the wider areas of the curriculum reflect this.
Baseline reading ages, key mental maths skills and knowledge will be assessed and regularly revisited to monitor and evaluate provision. Detailed gap analysis and moderation has been carried out to forensically identify specific areas within subjects to ensure planning is focused. This information supplements planned summative testing throughout the year which also informs next steps to ensure children revisit previously missed content during lockdown.