Alongside academic excellence, at Diseworth we want our children to grow to be happy, resilient and kind people. As a small school we are proud to be able to provide a nurturing environment where every child’s individuality is celebrated and developed. Our excellent PSHE curriculum teaches children how to understand and manage their feelings and emotions. All young people are individuals and our curriculum recognises that. We aim to offer our children the best educational experience possible. We want our curriculum to be exciting, interesting and engaging so that children are curious, inspired and enjoy learning.
The breadth of our curriculum is designed with three goals in mind:
- To give pupils appropriate experiences to develop as confident, responsible citizens;
- To provide a rich ‘cultural capital’;
- To provide a coherent, structured, academic curriculum that leads to sustained mastery for all and a greater depth of understanding for those who are capable.
1. Appropriate experiences
We have developed a curriculum driver that shapes our curriculum, brings about the aims and values of our school, and responds to the particular needs of our community:
Diversity – which helps pupils to develop an understanding of the world and its people, to recognise and celebrate similarities and differences.
2. Cultural capital
Cultural capital is the background knowledge of the world pupils need to infer meaning from what they read. It includes vocabulary which, in turn and alongside our oracy approach, helps pupils to express themselves in a confident, mature way.
3. A coherently planned academic curriculum underpinned by the curriculum driver, our academic curriculum sets out:
a) a clear list of the breadth of topics that will be covered;
b) the ‘threshold concepts’ pupils should understand;
c) criteria for progression within the threshold concepts;
d) criteria for depth of understanding.
The diagram below shows the model of our curriculum structure:
The curriculum breadth for each year group ensures each teacher has clarity as to what to cover. As well as providing the key knowledge within subjects it also provides for pupils’ growing cultural capital.
- Threshold concepts are the key disciplinary aspects of each subject. They are chosen to build conceptual understanding within subjects and are repeated many times in each topic. We share these with pupils as “learning hooks” which underpin learning in each milestone. This enables pupils 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 for the threshold concepts.
- Depth: we expect pupils in year 1 of the milestone to develop a Basic (B) understanding of the concepts and an Advancing (A) or Deep (D) understanding in Year 2 of the milestone. Phase one (Years 1, 3 and 5) in a Milestone is the knowledge building phase that provides the fundamental foundations for later application. LEARNING AT THIS STAGE MUST NOT BE RUSHED and will involve a high degree of repetition so that knowledge enters pupils’ long-term memory. If all of the core knowledge is acquired quickly, teachers create extended knowledge. The repetition of threshold concepts enables vertical accumulation as pupils move through their school journey.
Sustained Mastery /Greater Depth
Nothing is learned unless it rests in pupils’ long-term memories. This does not happen, and cannot be assessed, in the short term. Assessment, therefore answers two main questions: ‘How well are pupils coping with curriculum content? and ‘How well are they retaining previously taught content?
Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:
- Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.
- Interleaving (deliberate leaving and coming back to through beginning with exposure then keep returning to explore further) helps pupils to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention.
- Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
The impact of our curriculum is that by the end of each milestone, the vast majority of pupils have sustained mastery of the content, that is, they remember it all and are fluent in it; learning is embedded in their long-term memory. Some pupils have a greater depth of understanding. Pupils’ have developed a connected understanding of our curriculum content. We track carefully to ensure pupils are on track to reach the expectations of our curriculum
Monitoring and Review
Our Governing Body's School Strategic Committee is responsible for monitoring the way in which the school curriculum is implemented. Governors liaise with subject leaders through visits, reports and presentations to view the impact of the subjects within the curriculum. Governors are assigned to key areas within the curriculum and areas of our School Improvement Plan. There is also a named governor assigned to SEND and Safeguarding.
The Headteacher organises the monitoring of teaching and learning as well as curriculum development and receive feedback from subject leaders.
Together with the Headteacher, who is the curriculum lead, the subject leaders contribute to the curriculum development planning. Subject leaders also monitor the way in which their subject is taught throughout the school. They examine long-term and medium-term planning, books, talk to children, participate in learning walks and ensure that appropriate teaching strategies are used to ensure maximum impact and progress in their subject area.