Every day we want our pupils to work hard, to be challenged in their thinking, to debate, to discuss, to create and to build their understanding of the world. We want them to be friends, advocates, supporters and defenders of the people around them and to have a deep understanding of equality and justice. We want them to look at the world and ask questions about it which interest them enough that they go and conduct independent research. We want them to look at a challenging task and see possibilities, not difficulties and, when faced with decisions or obstacles, to see solutions and be able to choose from an arsenal of strategies to deploy. We want them to be equipped to deal with all that life may throw at them and to have the resilience and mental health to cope with failure and understand that it is important on the road to success. We want our pupils to be engaged, active, thoughtful and compassionate citizens of their community and the world and we believe that a well-planned, broad and balanced curriculum will give them the foundations on which to build as they move through the next stage of their education.
Underpinned by our Christian values of love, faith, respect and thankfulness, we ensure that our curriculum is inclusive and challenging for all pupils so that they can, irrespective of their backgrounds, achieve and grow. We ensure our curriculum is stimulating and ambitious, giving the children the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in a range of subjects so that they have a wealth of transferable skills that they can call upon. Our curriculum will give children the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their creativity, see clear links between different aspects of their learning, learn within a coherent and progressive framework and develop new skills through a variety of interesting contexts
Because we want children to be lifelong learners who embrace the challenge and enjoyment of learning, we have chosen topics for them to study that we know will inspire them, add depth to existing knowledge and expose them to ideas that will be meaningful as they move through school and into adulthood. We deliver a curriculum that we know pupils will remember well beyond primary school because of the experiences we create, the activities they engage in and the valuable, enriching conversations our topics promote.
To this end, we design our curriculum using Cornerstones themes which enable us to design, plan, deliver and manage our curriculum for our foundation subjects. This enables us to have a clear overview of the objectives and lessons that we teach and the progression across the school in each subject, which means that subject leaders have a clear picture of the teaching and learning in every year group. The lessons are mapped to the National Curriculum objectives so that we can ensure full coverage and subject leaders can carry out coverage analyses and match intended coverage to actual. Therefore, we are confident that the children’s learning meets the National Curriculum requirements, exposes them to topics and learning that we feel will appeal to them as a result of the community they live in and our knowledge of them and begins to prepare them for their future lives.
Cornerstones topics also help us to achieve our aims as the units follow an ‘Engage, Develop, Innovate, Review’ cycle. Children are drawn into the topic with an exciting ‘hook’ that sparks their curiosity, ignites their interest and gives them a memorable experience, from turning the school hall into a circus to discovering a giant’s footprint in the classroom to exploring the world under the sea in a transformed classroom. The classroom, the hallways, the playground and the children’s homes are full of talk about these experiences. The ‘Develop’ stage is where the new learning happens, linked to and built upon the knowledge and skills learnt in previous topics and years. These lessons are full of creative and engaging activities but are also guided by clear objectives and success criteria to ensure that the necessary knowledge, skills and vocabulary are at the heart. During the Innovate stage, the children have the chance to show all they have learnt during the topic by applying their new knowledge and skills to an independent project.
We want pupils to understand the purpose and value of their learning and see its relevance to their past, present and future. Therefore, we provide opportunities for them to explore the breadth and depth of the National Curriculum and develop a rich and deep subject knowledge. Progression in knowledge and skills is carefully planned to ensure that children are able to do this in a logical way that ensures new learning can be linked to prior knowledge to enhance understanding.
Cornerstones is also underpinned by the following ‘Big Ideas’ and these can be found embedded across our curriculum:
School Development Planning
As well as making clear our intention to ensure attainment and progress outcomes continue to improve, our School Development Plan has a clear focus on enriching the curriculum for pupils. Objectives focus on becoming a forest school, embedding Philosophy for Children, working towards the Eco School gold award and building more independent project work into the foundation subjects. These priorities demonstrate our drive to make sure the children are educated citizens of the world who appreciate and take care of natural resources and who can debate big issues and talk confidently about philosophical questions, thus becoming well informed, understanding and compassionate adults. Our SDP also highlights our desire to provide an ambitiously challenging curriculum which addresses disadvantage and is inclusive of pupils with SEND. This we do by ensuring challenging questions and extensions are planned for in all lessons but that teachers are also aware of those children who may be disadvantaged either socially or by SEND need and provide support. This SDP, regularly reviewed by the governing body, puts a broad and balanced curriculum at the centre of the work we do. From this, subject leaders create time-bonded action plans which outline how they intend to ensure progress in their subject, how they will embed systems and how they will bring about and maintain changes. These are reviewed termly and presented to governors so that key stakeholders are informed about progress and development across the curriculum.
Teaching at St. John’s seeks to provide challenge to children of all backgrounds and ensures that lessons are inclusive. In order to ensure inclusivity in all classrooms, the teachers know their pupils extremely well. ISPs, progress meetings and frequent STIP team meetings mean that teachers are always thinking about the individual needs of pupils in their class and measures are being put in place both in and outside of the classroom where necessary. The themes the children study and the texts they read expose them to challenging language and concepts which expand their understanding of the world and teachers provide challenge through feedback, questioning, differentiated tasks or extension activities.
Teachers plan together in their year groups each week and planning is a fluid process which takes into consideration the needs, characteristics and interests of our children, their prior learning, the changing local, national and global contexts and the National Curriculum. Therefore, teachers have flexibility to adapt the schemes of work that we use to ensure they are fit for purpose.
In all lessons, children will be clear about the learning objective and success criteria. Teachers will ensure that learning is engaging and gives the children time to discuss important questions, share ideas, work with partners and to practise the skills they are being taught. Teachers will model tasks clearly for the children and these will be displayed on working walls so that they can be referred to for support. Children will have access to a range of resources during lessons from vocabulary mats to manipulatives in maths and they are able to identify objects or resources that will best help them to access the learning and succeed. Children are encouraged to work in groups, with partners and independently so that they develop the skills of team work as well as individual perseverance. To meet the needs of all pupils, extension tasks and challenges are available if necessary. Lessons end with a chance for the children to consolidate learning or to look at how the learning of the lesson can be applied in both future lessons and in the wider world. Mini-plenaries during lessons are used to address misconceptions, move understanding on or share good examples. Teachers mark the books against the learning objectives and set green pen tasks which ask the children to correct errors or to extend their learning. During verbal feedback weeks, teachers will visit pupils during lessons and give support. The children will write their understanding of this feedback in their books and address it immediately.
Subject leaders have a clear understanding of the progression of skills and knowledge in their subject area and these are clearly articulated and updates shared in staff meetings. Subject leaders demonstrate a good understanding of teaching and learning in their subject as a result of rigorous monitoring and provide support to teachers where and when necessary.
Governors are kept regularly updated on the quality of teaching and learning and also on the quality of the curriculum. Governor visits include learning walks of all subjects and they are given the opportunity to discuss what they have seen with a senior member of staff. Subject leaders are invited to present to governors and share their overviews.
We know that pupils are attaining and progressing if the work they produce during lessons and in their books shows that they have secured the objectives and if, over time, they show they are adding to an already secure knowledge base by articulating and identifying links. Through observations, conversations and feedback in the classroom, teachers are able to identify which pupils are achieving objectives and who needs further support.
Each term, teachers attend pupil progress meetings in which we discuss and identify children whose progress is of concern. We talk about the barriers these children face and possible strategies and next steps. These strategies may range from the use of manipulatives, to guided teaching, to task boards, to interventions. These interventions are put in place to build key skills – these may be run by teaching assistants or by class teachers during collective worship time. Teacher’s knowledge of the children and the Target Tracker system enable us to locate the knowledge and skills that each child is missing so that intervention can be well targeted. Concepts are revisited during the year so that children have a chance to embed their understanding. If children are struggling during lessons, teachers intervene with questions or modelling or reframe the information/task so that pupils understand. Teachers will speak to parents if there are any specific concerns so that both parties can work together. Support is available from the inclusion team and external agencies e.g. the STIP team if teachers feel there is further need analysis required.
Reading, writing and maths assessments are recorded in Target Tracker and, from this, progress and attainment can be analysed, patterns and trends identified and support or training put in place for specific teachers, year groups or the whole school if required. Gap analyses for individual pupils help teachers and support assistants to identify areas of focus for pupils. Referrals are made to the SENCo and, from there, external agencies where required. Progress and attainment is shared with parents as are any concerns or ideas for support they can give at home.
ISPs and provision maps highlight specific targets and support for pupils and are reviewed regularly. They are shared with all who work with the pupils so everyone is working towards shared goals.
Foundation assessments are recorded in grids which outline the National Curriculum objectives and the lessons that have been taught to meet these. This means that teachers and subject leaders are able to identify specific areas to address and where training may be needed.
As a result of a comprehensive PSHE curriculum, pupils will make progress in their social skills and ability to work collaboratively. They will be more aware of their own thoughts and feelings, make considered choices and use mindfulness techniques to help them focus on learning.
Teachers are aware of the needs of all pupils in their class and support is individualised and efficient so that children are able to achieve.