We want the pupils at London Fields to learn to be able to think well and feel well so that they can contribute and belong to a better world. We want them to not only leave with the academic knowledge and skills they will need to succeed at secondary school, but also to have a love of learning and a sense of their own agency and importance in the world. We want them to feel they have a voice and a stake in the future.
What does the school want pupils to learn and why?
We have constructed a curriculum that is ambitious and designed to give all pupils the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. Pupils study the full curriculum; it is not narrowed but carefully plotted and timetabled to ensure coverage. Based on clear, essential discipline-specific characteristics and the National Curriculum expectations, our curriculum aims to provide the correct balance of knowledge, skills and understanding. Key over-arching learning intentions and core vocabulary act as vertical scaffolds for learning and help to build progression. Academic learning is supported by rich and considered outside of the classroom experiences which enhance learning and help to build cultural self-esteem.
How is this put into practice in the school curriculum planning?
The school’s curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced towards cumulative knowledge and skills for future learning and employment. Experienced subject leads work with the whole school curriculum lead to plan detailed medium term plans. Foundation subject plans follow a standard format to help build clarity, coherence and consistency. The relevant sections of the National Curriculum are referenced to focus planning content. Essential discipline specific characteristics and Essential Learning Intentions repeat for the foundation subjects in all planning - to enable pupils to embed and deepen understanding progressively and make links between different units of work.
CPD is provided through curriculum planning meetings between subject leads and teachers to help to build subject knowledge and to adapt medium term plans suitably for each cohort. As a result, the curriculum can be successfully modified, designed or developed to be ambitious and meet the needs of pupils with SEND.
A bespoke English curriculum has been developed to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature. The children follow a systematic learning to read programme (Read Write Inc) in EYFS through to KS1. Once the pupils have learned to read independently, they move onto the school’s literacy programme- The Text-Based Curriculum. English subject leads carefully bridge this transition from RWI to The Text-Based Curriculum to ensure smooth progression. Each literacy group has carefully chosen quality core texts (including fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts) which act as the stimulus to teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Having engaging and challenging core texts allows pupils to develop a love literature and read for enjoyment. Ensuring all pupils develop all the skills of language are essential not only in order to access the rest of the curriculum but also to participate fully as a member of society and ultimately impact on their future life chances.
Our Maths curriculum is rooted in developing conceptual and deep understanding of the foundations of Mathematics. Topics and lessons coherently build skills and understanding over time, spending longer on key topics. Our lessons focus on developing depth of understanding. This slower pace enables all learners to become secure through increased opportunities for them to refine their skills through intelligent practice. It also challenges children to deepen their understanding rather than accelerate onto new content. We use a high quality textbook and workbook, Maths No Problem, to support our teachers in planning and delivering high quality, mathematically rich lessons. We believe that success in Mathematics is accessible and achievable for all. Children learn best with their relevant age group, and our lessons are supportive and rich enough to enable pupils to achieve and access age-appropriate content. We aim to foster effective Mathematicians who enjoy and achieve in Maths, and understand the relevance and power of the subject to improve lives.
How do leaders ensure pupils can remember the curriculum long term?
Our curriculum is built on essential characteristics of each discipline giving a consistent and focussed approach. Using the National Curriculum as a baseline, curriculum mapping ensures not only coverage but careful sequencing and progression in knowledge, core skills and understanding. Links between areas of knowledge are maximised and made explicit. Repeated learning and repeated skills in different contexts are then built upon or extended - using essential learning intentions and core vocabulary as scaffolds. Oracy activities are woven into planning to deepen and embed learning and build engagement. CPD on cognitive load theory has informed pedagogy and led to planning that is streamlined and purposeful.
Does the curriculum remain as broad as possible for as long as possible?
The full curriculum is taught throughout the school. Subjects have been carefully timetabled to ensure coverage and progression. Each year group has a simple, standardised class timetable to maximise the use of learning time. Blocked foundation subject planning from Y2 – 6 ensures that:
- all subjects have quality space in the timetable
- opportunities for deep learning are maximised
- teachers and pupils can become immersed and focussed on a specific subject and the learning journey does not become disjointed and fragmented
- workload is manageable and teachers have the time and space to focus on the subject block and planning
- subject leads can support with planning and teaching and monitor the impact of the curriculum more effectively
- cognitive load on pupils is balanced and opportunities for transference of learning into long term memory is increased
How do you use research to support teaching? Can leaders explain the focus, rationale and impact of staff training on the curriculum?
We are an outward looking school that is keen to be innovative and purposeful. We have completed a 2 year Visible Learning programme based on the research findings of John Hattie. We have referred to key messages from EEF toolkit in devising our curriculum. One of our Maths leads is seconded to the local Maths Hub and is a MaST specialist. The headteacher is an NLE and acts as System Leader Support for several out of borough primaries and a SIP for the local authority. Working collaboratively with these schools has helped to clarify and develop our approach and also to learn from others experiences and approaches.
Whole school CPD is closely aligned to SDP priorities and impact in practice is then carefully monitored. Planning, pedagogy and practice are adapted to incorporate findings from research, eg concepts from cognitive load theory or central role of timely feedback. Monitoring feedback informs further support and CPD. Bespoke and individualised CPD is provided through planning meetings and mentoring.
How do leaders know if pupils ‘learn the curriculum’ and how do they track achievements?
A range of assessment measures are used as outlined in the Teaching and Learning Policy and Assessment Policy. The school is currently contributing to the local authority working party of developing meaningful assessment and feedback.
How does your curriculum reflect the culture, climate and values of your school?
The school offers a bespoke curriculum, designed carefully with our children in mind and also with our vision of what education should be. In creating and developing our offer, we considered:
- Cultural bias – maximise opportunities for raising cultural self-esteem both in the subject planning and also in the wider environment, eg, class names, images, assemblies. Planning actively promotes BAME role models and challenges European bias where possible. British values are woven through pastoral care and SMSC as well as the academic curriculum. Social and moral rights and responsibilities are taught in context through the academic curriculum as well as through assemblies, Philosophy for Children and the pastoral offer.
- Overlearning – how can planning and pedagogy allow for purposeful overlearning and understand the necessity for correct pitch and challenge
- Rich experiences – trips, forest school, art weeks, visit, work week to not only support particular curriculum topics but also to provide wide life experiences to all and to support social mobility
- Strong SEND provision – bespoke curriculum within curriculum for pupils with complex additional needs
- Cohesive and coherent structures to aid systematic, purposeful learning and also to support teachers’ subject knowledge and understanding
- Overarching learning intentions to build progression and make links across topics, helping deepen understanding and skills
- Blocked curriculum carefully constructed to support balanced cognitive load and transfer of knowledge to long term memory
- Links made between subjects and topics where possible
- Core vocabulary reinforced and presented in different contexts to aid deeper understanding of core knowledge
- Strong well-being offer to support children to ‘feel well’ and to develop their social and emotional literacy using a simple whole school approach - Zones of Regulation
- Experienced subject leads provide detailed MTP, co-ordinated by curriculum lead, to support teacher subject knowledge. Timetabling planning meetings allow teachers to have input and to provide valuable CPD opportunities
How have you decided on the breadth of experiences you provide?
Whole school timetabling and mapping ensure a wide and balanced curriculum developed from the obligations of the National Curriculum. Knowledge, understanding and skills have been carefully considered across key stages to ensure breadth and balance. Using the essential characteristics of each subject and simple yet purposeful learning intentions which are taught repeatedly in different contexts, detailed medium term planning has been developed by experienced subject leads. Planning is regularly challenged for potential unconscious bias and audited for opportunities to teach and promote BAME role models. Trips, workshops and experiences, such as Work Week and Sustainability Week are planned to support the academic curriculum and also to contribute to personal development and pupils’ sense of agency.
How does the curriculum provide for physical and mental wellbeing?
Our school vision is built on the two clear concepts of ‘Can my mind think well? Can my mind feel well?’ We believe that well-being needs to be taught and explored explicitly through lessons in the curriculum such as Healthy Living in Science, Wellbeing Week, assemblies, Cookery and PE and implicitly through the way all members of the school respect each other, listen to each other and care for each other. Our approach to behaviour encourages pupils to develop their emotional literacy and to discuss and acknowledge their feelings and emotions. Bespoke packages of support are developed for vulnerable pupils.
What is the role of subject or other leaders in ensuring curriculum coverage, progression and improvements?
Subject leads work with the Curriculum Lead to ensure that statutory aspects of the curriculum are met. Curriculum overviews and MTP are plotted out using the whole school planning formats. Planning is resourced by the subject leads and teachers are given extra release time to attend planning meeting with the subject lead to discuss MTPs. The purpose of these meetings is not only to ensure that the planning is refined to meet the needs of the current relevant cohort but also to provide valuable CPD to teachers and allow their input and increase their sense of ownership.
The teaching of subjects is monitored and feedback from lesson observations, learning walks and work scrutinies etc as well as pupil voice feedback informs future planning refinements and developments – under the guidance of the Curriculum Lead. This ensures coherence and cohesion.
In this academic year, the role of shadow subject lead is being trialled to increase capacity and to develop teachers’ subject knowledge and experience.
What is it like to be a pupil at this school?
Here’s what the pupils say…
One of the best things about our school is the poetry. Lots of children like listening to poems and reading poems and the teachers inspire you to create your own poems.
Teachers in our school help you discover your talents - the school gives you a lot of chances to find out what you're good at
Science is really fun - the fact that it's so logical. You can say, 'oh this happens and so that happens' and the more science you learn, the more you understand it.
I really like Literacy in our school. I really love the books we get to read, and they're all so different.
We're doing Music at the moment and it's so nice for people who thought they didn't like it to find out that they're really good at it, and the teachers make sure everyone is good at it.
I also really love D&T - it's so cool. We do things I would never have even thought of, like, a few years ago we made night lights and I remember the Year Sixes made fairground rides - I hope we get to do that. We do such cool projects - things I would never even think of making.
I also love creative writing because it isn't very restrictive, we can put our own twists on it and there aren't really any limits on what you can write. I can be really creative.
I like the way we block our subjects. We get to spend a long time thinking about one subject and we can link back to our other lessons and you can remember everything you've learned.
[When asked about blocked curriculum] I always feel proud of my work because I can spend a long time on a project and the teachers give me time to create something I can be proud of. I'm proud of my books because I know I've done a good job.
I like the way the subjects sometimes mix up. For example, in Science, we drew scientific drawings of skulls so we were doing Art and Science at the same time.
We are very proud of our curriculum which has been developed by subject specialists and been nationally recognised through various awards. Please select each subject for more details on each subject and click here for a curriculum overview.