introduction & overview
Introduction and Overview
"Leaders have developed an exciting, broad and balanced curriculum where academic rigour is complemented by a range of wider experiences. This enables pupils to develop knowledge and understanding alongside self-confidence and self-esteem." (Ofsted - June 2017)
During 2019-20 we embarked on a major review, and this produced our 'Quest Curriculum'. This document structures our long-term planning, so that there is a clear and meaningful sequencing of knowledge, skills & experiences across Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. In 2020-21 we embarked upon our ‘Quest 2’ project, designed to add detail, with the aim of ensuring a well-structured and carefully sequenced Medium Term Plans (all of which can be viewed on the individual subject pages on our website).
We have used the term Quest Curriculum because learning is, in part, a 'quest for knowledge and understanding'. Given the key role that knowledge plays in learning, we have ensured that subject content - i.e. knowledge - is clear and carefully organised. This careful sequencing of knowledge ensures that each step builds upon the last, and prepares the children for what lies ahead.
Our curriculum is designed to inspire enthusiasm for learning, to ensure achievement and to support pupils' well-being.
We provide first hand learning experiences that enable children to deepen their knowledge, and to link this to the skills required for successful learning.
Our curriculum encourages and nurtures interpersonal skills, self-confidence, curiosity and mutual respect. It is broad and balanced and provides a wide range of curricular activities involving visits out of school and visitors to school, to enhance learning and extend pupils’ cultural capital.
Our PSHE lessons and assemblies promote positive attitudes, which reflect the values and skills needed for future learning and success.
We are an inclusive school, and our curriculum recognises and celebrates the differences within our diverse community. We encourage all to be kind and respectful of themselves and others.
Running parallel to our KS1/KS2 Curriculum Review, we also reviewed and further developed our Early Years curriculum.
Intent, Implementation and Impact
- Taking our context into account, we ensure that our Curriculum incorporates activities that build cultural capital i.e. the age-appropriate knowledge and experiences that children need, in order to grow intellectually and so that they can process new knowledge with understanding and insight. We provide a programme of visits to culturally significant sites and venues - for example local museums, theatres and art galleries – as well as a curriculum that provides culturally significant knowledge & experiences (for example via high-quality, carefully chosen books, and through history, SMSC, drama, RE, PSHE, etc).
- Our curriculum is rich in culturally significant knowledge, and thus builds cultural capital. For example, our main library - and each class library - offers a wide selection of high quality age appropriate reading books. We have made careful choices in terms of the knowledge we include in our curriculum planning documents, so that cultural capital is optimised and tailored to our children.
- We emphasise the importance of hands-on, practical experiences - again acknowledging and closing the ‘cultural capital’ gap.
- As a school, we place great value upon the arts - the children work with specialist music and drama teachers on a weekly basis. These subjects are enriched with age-appropriate cultural capital - in other words ‘significant knowledge about music that a child in Grangetown needs to know, in order to thrive’.
- We have developed a rich ‘international’ curriculum - we teach French from years 2-6 and our links with China and Nepal have provided the children with a range of significant cultural insights.
- Our SMSC and PSHE curricula add greatly to learning, in terms of cultural capital, and - especially - in helping children make (subconscious) sense of the interface between cultural knowledge and how to make use of this both in terms of their ongoing academic learning and in their ‘personal’ and ‘interpersonal’ development.
We have worked so hard developing our Curriculum because we know that a high quality curriculum, taught by skilled teachers, will have a huge, life-changing impact on each and every child. It is the curriculum – in the hands of great teachers – that drives successful learning.
We believe that our Curriculum has significant and far-reaching impact, and in terms of explaining this we would break it down into 3 key areas: Academic, Interpersonal and Social, and in what can be termed ‘character and disposition’.
- Academic: Pupils will achieve their potential in the key areas of numeracy and literacy, and will also have a secure understanding of the content (knowledge, skills) taught across all National Curriculum areas. They will be ready for, and equipped for, the academic challenges that lie ahead (in the next yeargroup, and in secondary school). The children will also enjoy learning, will gain satisfaction from the rigour and effort required to learn, and will have the subject specific skills – for example skills in research, the ability to use grammar, being able to carry out mathematical operations swiftly, to record and evaluate evidence in science, etc, - required to enable them to successfully tackle the next stage of their learning. They will possess an appropriate level of age appropriate ‘cultural capital’, across a range of domains, and – as they mature - this will help them make sense of the world and of the new knowledge they accumulate as they move through secondary school.
- Inter-personal & Social: The children will develop good communication skills and will be able to form appropriate bonds with others. They will appreciate that getting along with other people requires give and take, the ability to listen, and a willingness to understand and respect the views of others. They will have the ability to cooperate with others, and to make a successful contribution to a group.
- Character and disposition: Our curriculum will help the children develop a range of key dispositions, all of which will have a positive influence on their ability to lead successful lives and become life-long learners. These dispositions include: being caring, having patience, being tolerant, having the ability to persevere, being able to solve problems, being independent in their learning, and being able to deal with challenging situations (knowing what to do when ‘stuck’). In addition, the children will develop self-confidence and self-belief, and will understand the importance of hard work in achieving whatever goals they set themselves.
A 'Grangetown Curriculum'
In developing our Quest Curriculum, we have thought carefully about the following:
- How can we ensure that we tailor our Curriculum to the needs of our children, and to the school's context?
- What makes our Curriculum unique and special?
These questions have always been at the heart of our work in developing our Curriculum, and they remained central as we have worked through our latest review of the curriculum between 2019 to 2022.
Whilst we do of course want to ensure that our curriculum is fully in-line with the National Curriculum, and that is is taught effectively and in a way that reflects 'what works', we also wanted to make sure that our curriculum was geared to the needs of Grangetown children, and that it reflected what we - as an experienced team - feel really 'makes a difference' and adds the 'Grangetown X-Factor' not only to the principles that underpin our curriculum but also to our day to day teaching of the curriculum.
In a staff meeting discussion in April 2922, staff worked in groups to discuss and explore what makes our curriculum distinctive, and the ways we meet the needs of GPS children - key points are below.
- The curriculum is planned through engaging themes and a carefully chosen range of core books.
- On entry, many children do not have a great deal of independence - we ensure that our curriculum has a range of learning experience to promote independence in learning and to build age-appropriate life-skills
- Core Stories are woven throughout our curriculum, to encourage a love of reading and a familiarity with the traditional characters and scenarios in these well-loved stories - this also builds vocabulary and listening skills.
- Play is central - staff put a lot of thought and effort into planning our day to day play provision, because of how much children gain from this and how much it complements and enhances learning.
- In Early Years, we have the flexibility to design topics and units of learning based upon the children's interests, thus creating engagement and enthusiasm for learning, as well as making learning purposeful.
- Areas of learning are enhanced with a range of external visits - this exposes the children to new experiences - to our local parks and beaches, the farm, museums, and so on.
- We make extensive use of the outdoors. Staff think carefully about how the design of - and use of - the outdoor environment, can enhance the quality of learning.
- Providing engaging, practical and meaningful learning experiences helps to underpin and embed the concepts and understanding that children need to acquire the more abstract aspects of learning and development.
- We ensure that the children revisit already learned knowledge in different ways - this embeds learning and aids recall. For example, in maths - numicon, number hunts, maps, games.
- Learning moves at a just the right pace, to give the children enough time to explore new understandings whilst also providing appropriate challenge.
- We make extensive use of the local community - for example: working with our community police officers, a bus journey (public bus) to local attractions, visiting the local shops, posting a letter at our local post office, visiting our local church and meeting the vicar, visiting our local parks, beaches and museums, looking at local maps, etc, - new experiences, cultural capital, and lots of opportunities for talk.
Key Stages 1 and 2
- Our Curriculum was carefully designed by our own teachers, who know and care for the children - it is therefore as 'bespoke' as we can possibly make it, in terms of meeting the needs of our children.
- Out teachers plan plenty of well-structured opportunities for recap, recall and re-visit.
- Our curriculum takes starting points into account. For example, we focus on building language and vocabulary, because this area in one of the barriers to learning - these skills are generally not so well developed on entry.
- We have a strong focus on Reading, across the curriculum.
- The curriculum is 'hands-on' where appropriate - this adds to motivation and purpose, and makes the learning memorable. All subjects have opportunities for practical learning. In Maths for example the children understand the day to day application of maths, and also use equipment to help with understanding abstract concepts (concrete to abstract). Visits and visitors are carefully planned, to extend and enrich the curriculum.
- We use a range of technology to support teaching and learning.
- We make use of the local area, where appropriate. This adds to cultural capital, creates meaningful experiences, and gives the children an appreciation of what the area around school, around Sunderland, and even further afield, has to offer. For example: Backhouse Park, Raich Carter Centre, Silksworth Ski Slope, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, The Empire Theatre, Durham Gala Theatre, Penshaw Monument, Herrington Country Park, St Peter's Church, Souter Lighthouse, Newcastle Discovery Museum, the Centre for Life, St Aidan's Church, and so on. These visits are often part of a project set up via an external partner - for example our current local history project exploring East End history through our links with Sunderland Music Hub.
|Early Years Foundation Stage||V Hanlon|
|Key Stage 1 & Joint-English||N Roberts|
|Lower Key Stage 2 & Mathematics||L Millican|
|Upper Key Stage 2 & Joint English||S Hunter|
PSHE . SMSC
N Holyoak: EYFS & KS1
V Stell: KS2
|Religious Education||C Tose|
|Computing and ICT||V Mitchell|
|Design Technology||H Cassidy|
|MFL / French||C Blackett|