CURRICULUM DESIGN PRINCIPLES:
1) Our curriculum content is selected because it is powerful knowledge
2) We teach and assess our curriculum in ways that helps pupils to remember it
Powerful knowledge is important for pupils’ life chances. Knowledge is what we think about and what we think with. Knowledge is also generative – the more that pupils already know, the more easily they are able to make connections to understand new learning.
We therefore make carefully considered choices of the knowledge content and key foundational concepts we want pupils to understand, remember and master for each subject area in our curriculum during their time in primary schooling. Subjects are taught discretely in years 1 to 6, and each is equally valued. Where appropriate, we make wider links between subject disciplines to enrich learning opportunities.
The curriculum at West Wimbledon Primary aims to prepare children to have the knowledge they need to maximise their choices and chances in the next stage of their education. We want our pupils to be equipped to be successful learners and successful citizens, as well as being able to exercise choice as they move forward in life.
We ensure that our curriculum in each subject area is carefully organised and sequenced cumulatively so that new knowledge is built in small steps and linked to prior knowledge, whether from the week before or from previous years, thereby demonstrating coherence and progression. In our curriculum planning, we start from foundational knowledge and concepts upon which later learning depends. The curriculum can be thought of as a spiral in which key concepts and ideas are revisited over time during the primary school years in order to elaborate and refine existing knowledge and understanding in increasingly complex ways. We have a strong focus on vocabulary throughout our curriculum - we think and communicate with words and so words are the building blocks of knowledge.
A successful curriculum needs to be remembered by pupils, and the importance of memory and retention is an everyday part of our approach to the curriculum. We place an emphasis on regular retrieval practice in varied forms to support the transfer core knowledge to their long-term memory. We develop resources such as knowledge organisers that outline this information clearly and enable teachers, parents and students to use them regularly.
Primary school pupils are novice learners and therefore need clear direct instruction and guidance in lessons. Our curriculum is built around teachers using steady, step by step, explicit instruction and detailed explanations of worked examples, and giving students multiple opportunities for deliberate practice, including using use low stakes quizzing to revisit key knowledge and information that we know is vital for children to master. This approach of teaching for remembering is embedded in out Teaching and Learning Framework, which can be downloaded from this LINK.
EARLY YEARS FOUNDATION STAGE
Our nursery and Reception classes make up our EYFS. Children in these classes follow our EYFS curriculum which gives children a broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundations for good future progress through school and life. Our curriculum is language rich and each of our topics uses inspiring stories as starting points.
There are three prime areas of learning which are vitally important and underpin all future learning, which are:
- Communication and Language
- Physical Development
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
There are also four specific areas of learning:
- Understanding the World
- Expressive Arts and Creative Designs
Children in the EYFS learn by playing and exploring, by being active and through creative and critical thinking which takes place both inside and outside the classroom.
Our Reception curriculum is excellent preparation for Year 1 and beyond. Children develop appropriate independence and learning behaviours. They are taught whole class phonic and maths sessions as well as being provided with numerous opportunities to write.
We believe reading is key for academic success and therefore teaching of early reading, which begins in the EYFS, is vital. This is when the children are introduced to phonics. We use the 'Read Write Inc.' synthetic phonics programme, at the heart of which is the systematic teaching of all the common sounds in the English language. Children are taught to recognise the sounds and to put them together into words for reading. Also in the EYFS, we ensure that the teaching of Phonics is alongside a language and text rich environment.
Throughout the school, the teaching of reading ensures that pupils' comprehension of words develops alongside their decoding of the letters and sounds. Reading is taught as a whole class and children complete a range of activities to apply their understanding of a wide range of texts.
The teaching of reading always has a specific focus on vocabulary in context alongside fluency and comprehension. We know that the explicit vocabulary can prove a significant boost for vocabulary development. By combining academic talk, reading, as well as undertaking explicit vocabulary instruction, we take a deliberate and intentional approach to language development that benefits every child.
Children who are not yet 'free readers', work through our school reading scheme – these are levelled books which match the children's current attainment. Children will make guided selections of which books to take home and we expect families at home to read these books with their child each evening.
Children are read to regularly by their class teacher. We foster a love of reading and of good literature, promoting a life-long habit of reading for enjoyment and as a source of information and knowledge.
Either from our well-stocked library or within the classroom, children have access to a selection of books directly linked with the wider curriculum studied across the year. This offers opportunities for the children to apply their reading skills across the curriculum.
At West Wimbledon, we believe that creating a love of literacy is vital. We want to use literature that inspires children to want to write as it is an empowering way to be able to express oneself. Each unit of writing is supported by high quality literature and we adopt a ‘whole text’ teaching approach. During their time at West Wimbledon, children are introduced to literature from the classic cannon of British children’s authors, as well as writing from Children’s Laureates, fairy and folk stories, traditional tales and writing from countries beyond Europe.
We explicitly teach the characteristics of different text types from poems, to letters, to non –fiction texts. Children will be exposed to examples of high quality, carefully chosen literature as models and will be given opportunities to ‘text-mark’ for features of each. The units of writing begin with excellent models and exposure to the genre, then moves on to scaffolded examples. The children move on to the planning phase before being given extended opportunities to write at length and independently – applying all that has been taught in the build-up. Children are taught to re-read their writing and to make edits and improvements so that every piece of writing they produce is something they would like to share with others.
We teach the secretarial aspects of writing including spelling and handwriting. Handwriting lessons begin in our EYFS, where children learn to develop their gross and fine motor skills. We model how to correctly hold a pencil and begin to practise correct letter formation. In the summer term in Reception children are taught their ‘get ready’ stroke which then progresses on to cursive script in year 1. In all classes, we encourage children to take pride in their attractive, swift and fluent script and how their work is presented in all areas of the curriculum but particularly when we are ‘publishing’ writing.
Grammar is embedded into the teaching of writing and, our grammar curriculum, is aligned with the National Curriculum. Our youngest pupils in Reception begin to learn how to punctuate their writing correctly, while older pupils use advanced punctuation and ambitious vocabulary choices to make their writing more effective. We select appropriate grammatical structures to teach alongside the wide range of text types the children are exposed to.
Children are provided with frequent opportunities to write across the curriculum.
We adopt a teaching for mastery approach to mathematics, working closely with our local maths hub. Our aim is to deepen children's understanding of maths and not accelerate learning; as a result, our children develop fluency before moving onto reasoning and problem solving. Our teaching is richly supported by the use of pictorial and concrete resources, before moving to the abstract. We value the microscopic gains pupils make in maths and, therefore believe offering opportunities for all pupils to deliberately practise their fluency is vitally important and this is a key feature of our lessons.
Throughout each year, children will cover and build on their understanding in:
- Number and place value
- Addition and subtraction
- Multiplication and division
- Fractions, decimals and percentages
- Measurement and conversion
- Geometry and properties of shape
- Describing position, direction and movement
Once they have a firm grasp of each new mathematical concept, we challenge our pupils to use what they have learnt and to make rich connections across the distinct areas in order to solve problems, see patterns and make connections. We believe it is important for children to be able not only to find the answers to problems but also to be able to explain the reasoning behind their lines of enquiry using accurate mathematical vocabulary.
By deepening learning and through engaging questioning and challenges, we support our pupils to increase their fluency in maths and to become increasingly sophisticated problem solvers, both in maths and across the curriculum.
Our curriculum follows the national curriculum structure of units and allows the children to keep returning to units and studying them in deeper ways e.g. Animals including Humans. The cumulative knowledge acquired encourages the children to think more objectively.
We encourage the children to develop a sense of excitement and curiosity which can be explored through scientific enquiry. In each unit the children pose questions and seek to find the answers.
Across the science curriculum the children are given the opportunity to:
- observe over time
- seek patterns
- classify (and group)
- carry out comparative and fair testing
- use secondary sources
By explicitly teaching scientific enquiry skills, children are able to apply this knowledge to different topics in science. Throughout our science lessons there is a focus on the correct use of scientific vocabulary. This is particularly important when describing processes.
In Key Stage 2, we follow the ‘Reach Out’ complete curriculum scheme of work and have adapted the Geography curriculum design approaches used in Geography units in Key Stage 1.
Children study the earth and the people who live on it. We teach them to use maps and globes, and to think spatially.
Our curriculum focuses on the children’s own locality first, before moving out towards the wider world. Across their time with us children investigate a range of places including detailed studies of the UK, as well as European countries and beyond.
Our emphasis is on physical geography first, so that pupils fully grasp the concept of location and the physical processes that shape the world. They later move on to human and environmental geography.
The curriculum is very deliberately sequenced, with geographical vocabulary and concepts carefully built up. We revisit key concepts and vocabulary with increasing complexity so that older pupils’ thinking is challenged and their knowledge deepened.
We encourage children to want to know more about the past and to think and act as historians.
Children have opportunities to investigate and interpret the past, understand chronology, build an overview of Britain’s past as well as that of the wider world, and to be able to communicate historically.
Our curriculum covers the national curriculum units largely chronologically. Most year groups study an element of British history, which is progressive in terms of the key knowledge children need to acquire.
Each unit will provide children with:
- An excellent knowledge and understanding of people, events and contexts of the period they are studying
- Opportunities to think critically about history and challenge viewpoints
- The ability to use a range of historical evidence and sources and begin to evaluate them
- Develop and refine questions and lines of enquiry as well as beginning to answer them
- Skills to research people and events of the past
Our PSHE (including Relationship and Heather Education) curriculum helps pupils develop the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to keep themselves healthy and safe, and help them to be prepared for life and work.
Our lessons develop skills and attributes such as resilience, self-esteem, risk-management, team-working and critical thinking in the context of three core themes: health and wellbeing, relationships and living in the wider world. We use a range of approaches when delivering PSHE lessons which include the use of circle time, drama and debate.
We use the London Borough of Merton, SACRE curriculum. The children acquire and develop a knowledge and understanding of Christianity and the other principal religions represented in Great Britain.
We believe that it is vital for all our pupils to learn from and about religion, so that they can understand the world around them. Through religious education, pupils develop their knowledge of the world faiths, and their understanding and awareness of the beliefs, values and traditions of other individuals, societies, communities and cultures.
We encourage our pupils to ask questions about the world and to reflect on their own beliefs, values and experiences.
Our art curriculum engages, inspires and challenges our pupils equipping them with the knowledge and skills to experiment, invent and create their own works of art.
Children learn the skills of drawing, painting, printing, collage, textiles, 3D work and digital art and are given the opportunity to explore and evaluate different creative ideas
Each year group studies two artists and their work, focusing on a key aspect of their style and one artistic movement. Children learn how the art they are studying fits in along the continuum of art development and the impact it had at the time. We encourage children to express opinions about the art they study as well as being reflective about what they create themselves. Each unit builds in time for creating a composition, editing and revising it as well as evaluating it at the end.
During their time at school, we believe it is important for children to be exposed to art in galleries and therefore we utilise the many galleries available to us in London.
Design and Technology is an inspiring, rigorous and practical subject which encourages children to think and intervene creatively to solve problems both as individuals and as members of a team.
Our curriculum is planned to cover all areas of this discipline, including:
- Cooking and nutrition
Each unit allows the children to investigate existing products, develop relevant skills and then to design and make products. We aim to, wherever possible, link work to other disciplines such as mathematics, science, engineering, computing and art.
Similarly to art, the children are also given opportunities to reflect upon and evaluate past and present design technology as well as chances to reflect and review their own products.
‘Computational thinking’ is a skill that children must be taught if they are to be able to participate effectively and safely in this digital world. We encourage pupils to be discerning users of technology, beginning by teaching key computing skills in Reception.
Our curriculum follows the ‘Switched on Computing’ scheme of work covering six units per year group with the children building on and developing their knowledge in each year. Aspects of the computing curriculum covered are:
- Computational thinking
- Computer networks
- Communication and collaboration
- Online safety
We teach children the power of being digitally literate through providing children with many opportunities to apply their newly acquired skills across the wider curriculum.
We believe every pupil should have the opportunity to participate in a variety of different sports, regardless of their skill level. Throughout each year there are 12 different sports subjects, incorporating differentiation at every stage to ensure access for all, as well as encouraging children to develop their knowledge, skill and understanding.
Our curriculum offers each pupil 2 hours of high quality sports per week. Each subject is taught for half a school term, with specific skills being demonstrated, explored, practised and repeated. Intra School Games Competitions are included at the final stages of each subject, so every pupil has the opportunity to regularly compete in structured competitions against their peers.
French is taught in a weekly lesson by a specialist teacher to children from Year 1 to Year 6. Our aim is to immerse the children into the language and culture at an early age when their language learning skills are at their best. We engage them with a fun and challenging scheme of work developed to build up their level of language gradually, whilst promoting their curiosity in how language works.
We want learning languages to be exciting and we stress the links between French and other areas of the curriculum.
In KS1, the children are taught with a focus on songs, stories and games, where structures are reinforced through the use of mime and gestures to help retain high frequency words and phrases. From Year 3, they begin greater exposure to the written form although the emphasis is still on listening and speaking skills.
Our curriculum has a strong focus on pronunciation learning phonemes through actions and games to enable children to recognise the link between sound and spelling.
In KS2, the structures of the language are reinforced further and the children are exposed to some basic grammar rules alongside interactive language learning through a wide range of topics, complementing where possible class topics and themes.
We believe that music has the power to bring people together through shared expression and enjoyment and it develops skills that are both musical as well as “extra musical”. Children have weekly music lessons from Reception to Year 6, with our specialist music teacher, as well as singing assemblies together in their Key Stages.
We believe that every child can be a musician and should have the opportunity to discover their musical potential. We have designed our curriculum to equip the children with the skills and self-belief they need to participate in a rich and varied musical life.
We work to cultivate a culture of performance, both formal and informal, in our school; our children love to perform and to listen to the performances of other children. We have many concerts in school each year, singing in our year group productions and opportunities for the children to perform outside of school.