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.
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.
How is our curriculum designed?
Our curriculum is designed to help pupils form subject-specific schema within their long-term memories. Schema theory states that all knowledge is organised into units. A schema is, therefore, a conceptual system for understanding knowledge. Each schema is a way of organising a subject's semantic and procedural knowledge in a meaningful way; it is an appreciation of how facts are connected and the ways in which they are connected. It is distinct from information, which is just isolated facts that have no organisational basis or links. Big Ideas help form the basis of the schema. Big Ideas are key concepts that underpin the subject.
Each Big Idea has facets of knowledge (known to our pupils as knowledge categories) which help to strengthen the schema. Learning knowledge in each of the categories allows pupils to express and demonstrate their understanding of the Big Idea. These Big Ideas are returned to over and over again in different contexts so the pupils gradually build an understanding of them.
Subject Leads have created each subject schema (known to our pupils as knowledge organisers).
Curriculum Knowledge Maps
Subject leads have created Knowledge Maps outlining the procedural and semantic knowledge pupils will be taught in each knowledge category and when this knowledge will be taught. Knowledge Maps support teachers to maximise opportunities to make links across topics and subjects, helping to deepen an understanding of the Big Ideas.
For each of the Big Ideas in each subject, three milestones have been outlined. These are the key goals pupils are aiming for by the end of Y2/Y4/Y6.
It takes time for pupils to demonstrate mastery or greater depth of the milestones. They need to gradually progress in their semantic strength and procedural fluency through three cognitive domains: basic, advancing and deep.
As part of the progression model a different pedagogical style is used in each of the cognitive domains of basic, advancing and deep. This is based on the research of Sweller, Kirschner and Rosenshine who argue for direct instruction in the basic domain and problem-based discovery in the deep domain.
Each subject’s curriculum planning documents help pupils meet the milestones by providing:
- clearly defined topics to study which ensure curriculum breadth
- the knowledge needed to build a schema
- the vocabulary needed to articulate an understanding of the subject
- an outline of appropriately pitched (cognitive domain) tasks to carry out to show proof of progress
We recognise that oracy is a powerful tool for learning and make time in our curriculum to actively teach the skills needed to be an effective speaker. This time given to 'learning to talk' allows us to use talk as a vehicle for learning. Maximising meaningful talk opportunities throughout the curriculum, helps deepen and embed learning.
How is our curriculum delivered?
We know that learning is most effective with spaced repetition, which is why throughout the year, children study numerous topics for each subject, allowing the Big Ideas to be revisited over and over again. We ensure previously taught knowledge is retrieved regularly, which increases both storage and retrieval strength. Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides retrieval practice for previously taught learning content.
How do we support teaching staff to deliver the curriculum?
Each Subject Lead is an experienced practitioner and, with the support of the Curriculum Lead, is responsible for devising subject schemas, Subject Knowledge Maps, Subject Milestone and subject planning documents. CPD is provided through curriculum planning meetings between subject leads and teachers to help to build subject knowledge and to adapt subject topic planning 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. 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.
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 so that:
- Big Ideas are revisited over and over again, in a range of different contexts
- All subjects have quality space in the timetable
- Opportunities for deep learning are maximised
- Teachers and pupils can become immersed in specific topics and the learning journey does not become disjointed and fragmented
- Workload is manageable and teachers have the time and space to focus on the topic
- 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 are increased
How do you use research to support teaching?
We are an outward looking school that is keen to be innovative and purposeful. We have completed a two 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, e.g. 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. Opportunities to capture pupil voice are built into the planning. The school is currently contributing to the local authority working party of developing meaningful assessment and feedback.
How does your curriculum reflect the culture and climate 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- maximising 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
- Rich experiences – trips, forest school, visitors, 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
- 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
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, 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 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 nationally recognised through various awards. Please select each subject for more details on each subject and click here for a curriculum overview.