“A curriculum exists to change the pupil, to give the pupil new power. One acid test for a curriculum is whether it enables lower-attaining or disadvantaged pupils to clamber in to the discourse and practices of educated people, so that they gain the powers of the powerful.”
Considering our unique context and our educational philosophy, we have set 5 Curriculum Principles.
1. Future-focussed (and aspirational)
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
We strive to keep that spark of curiosity alive, and to continuously re-generate a contagious enthusiasm for learning by providing memorable, creative and engaging experiences for our pupils.
We want to make learning “come alive”: from paint-balling in Reception to creating a live tsunami outside in Year 6. This helps learning to “stick”, especially when activities are multi-sensory and exciting.
We aim to demonstrate the diverse richness of the world we live in to our pupils, so that we can expose them to experiences, knowledge and role models that lift them up out of their familiar context and give them the kind of perspective that comes from encountering new and different situations.
We also aspire to inspire the artists, engineers, musicians, scientists, linguists, mathematicians, inventors and sportspeople of tomorrow.
2. Powerful knowledge for all
Knowledge deepens understanding and underpins and enables the application of skills.
” [The] Purpose of curriculum is to build up the content of long-term memory so that when students are asked to think, they are able to think in more powerful ways.”
Our bespoke curriculum is based on evidence from cognitive science:
- Learning is most effective when spaced out
- A mixture of subjects and topics help children to commit learning to long-term memory
- Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
At Woodlands we recognise and understand that sustained learning takes time.
We know that new information can get lost in our long term memory, if we fail to make it ‘stick.’
Our pedagogical approach is designed to support pupils to remember the key aspects of what they are taught over the long term. We believe that the more children know, the more they can learn, providing learning hooks similar to “mental velcro”.
We aspire for our pupils to be able to apply this knowledge to consider, weigh, analyse, evaluate, create, adapt etc.
We aspire for our pupils to learn how to be wise, not just well-informed.
3. Connecting and linking knowledge
By creating and developing a knowledge-rich curriculum, we will impart knowledge to our children that will help make the next piece of learning possible and purposeful, which will enable our children to evaluate, analyse and synthesise current and further knowledge.
Our curriculum is taught in a logical, progressive and systematic way to enable all children to acquire the desired skills and knowledge.
Reading is at the heart of learning all skills. It is only once a child has learnt to read that they are able to unlock the world around them and realise their true potential. We are committed to ensuring all out pupils can read fluently and with understanding so that they can enjoy all aspects of the curriculum and the opportunities that life has to offer.
Furthermore, we also know that pupils with strong background knowledge are far more able to read challenging texts with confidence and, most importantly, clear understanding.
A knowledge-rich curriculum therefore supports and is supported by excellent reading practice.
(Background knowledge + reading comprehension strategies = skilled reading)
The content of our curriculum has been structured and sequenced so that new knowledge builds upon and links to prior knowledge.
Our long-term memory is made up of interconnected webs, known as schema. Our ability to build deep, wide schema is at the heart of learning.
These webs of knowledge ease the acquisition of new, related information (by making knowledge ‘sticky’) and increase the ability to rapidly recall information.
We make links explicit to children, where they are relevant and where they will enhance learning.
Units of learning always start with the ‘big picture’ first, so that our pupils see the connections in their developing web of knowledge.
4. Inclusive and challenging
We have a moral duty to ensure our curriculum is designed so that it is flexible enough to be accessible and challenging for all.
We believe in supporting our children through pre-teaching and scaffolding as necessary. A key aspect of ensuring inclusivity and challenge in our curriculum is setting an appropriate pace.
The ultimate goal is for all our pupils to gain the knowledge and skills to empower them in their lives.
All class teachers are responsible for providing a curriculum that is suitable for all pupils in the class, including those with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND).
We have high expectations for all pupils and are committed to ensuring our curriculum complies with the Equality Act 2010 and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014.
Our inclusion statement emphasises the importance of providing an inclusive learning environment for all pupils including those with SEND.
5. Real, purposeful and relevant
It is essential that each of our pupils can feel that our curriculum relates to them. They need to understand why they are learning about certain objects, processes, people and events and they should see the relevance to their own lives, whenever possible.
When we provide children with an authentic audience and a meaningful purpose in their learning, we can increase motivation even more.
Consequently, we seek out links with local experts who can add further depth to the learning e.g. the artist involved in our Year 3 “Reading Bench” Rotary project and several expert historians from Salisbury museum sharing real artefacts and historically-themed dressing-up costumes for our Year 5 class to investigate and try on.
Trip opportunities are planned to link to and enhance learning e.g. the Tank Museum and Salisbury cathedral. We take advantage of specific geographical and historical features of our location to contextualise knowledge and understanding.
Where possible, outdoor learning is used to bring lessons to life and give the children ‘real’ and related experiences outside the classroom.
We look for opportunities to build sustainable, productive and mutually beneficial links with our community.
We want our pupils to be proud of where they live and seek out positive ways to make contributions to our community now and in the future e.g. by inviting the Salisbury Mayor- who lives very close to Woodlands- to a whole school assembly to talk about his role and responsibilities.