Irresistible Learning Curriculum for History, Geography, Art and DT
At St Mary Magdalene, we believe that the Curriculum is a whole learning experience offered and celebrated by the school. It is not just the lessons and activities which are planned and taught, it also includes the ethos for learning i.e. the attitudes and loving three values we expect implicitly in all lessons through our Learning behaviours. At St Mary Magdalene Primary School, we aim to teach our children how to grow into independent learners, who can also work and co-operate with others while developing their knowledge and skills, so they can achieve their full potential.
Our curriculum is carefully designed to meet the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. As a Christian school, we believe that Christ has called us in every aspect of our working together to live out our ‘Loving Three’ values: love, wisdom and joy (launching June 22). Opportunities to develop in these four areas are seized throughout our curriculum and are demonstrated through pupil work and classroom experience.
We pride ourselves on being a diverse community where kindness and compassion are celebrated. In valuing all as God’s children, we are committed to promoting the development of the whole child. We nurture academic habits and creativity across a range of subjects by providing aspirational opportunities to widen horizons.
How we aim to achieve our vision
Through the effective delivery of a coherently planned and sequenced curriculum which show opportunities to deliberately practise activities that will in time, embed and deepen knowledge thus enabling children to make connections between topics and build a conceptual understanding.
Ensuring our curriculum, through our three curriculum drivers (possibilities, initiative, community), is full, ambitious and designed to give all learners, particularly the most disadvantaged and those with SEND needs, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. Our curriculum drivers provides a broad range of experiences and opportunities to teach the context of the curriculum through pupil’s lives or experiences.
Our three curriculum drivers shape, personalise and underpin our curriculum, bring about the aims and values of our school, and respond to the particular needs of our curriculum.
Possibilities– which helps our pupils to build aspirations and know available possibilities for their future lives.
Community- which helps pupils to be an active, responsible member of our school, our church, the locality, our country and the world.
Initiative– which helps our pupils grow as independent learners and develops our children as subject specialists.
As a school which is focused on the importance of retrieval and embedding learning into long-term memory, we plan our curriculum with the below key messages in mind.
- our well sequenced lessons with building knowledge into application which will then be through investigation and meaningful learning opportunities;
- interleaving concepts and knowledge;
- blocking topics to build foundations in knowledge but revisiting knowledge concepts through our knowledge categories and threshold tasks;
- meaningful links to other aspects of the curriculum through our Irresistible learning approach.
- revisiting our knowledge categories;
- our threshold tasks where children link to prior learning and compare concepts through history e.g. comparing society in the civilization they have just explored to ones they have previously learnt about in previous year groups. This can be seen in our sequencing through year groups document where we promote transfer of knowledge to new tasks/concepts/contexts/situations;
- our POP (proof of progress tasks).
- focusing on specific knowledge categories when exploring topics rather than just overloading with facts about a topic.
- variety of question types, tasks;
- retrieval practice throughout lessons and through spaced retrieval (after a few weeks, last term, last year);
- through threshold tasks (repeated opportunities to practice and revisit concepts to develop fluency).
- practising activities to develop retrieval strength not just retrieval storage. Developing fluency of conceptual understanding and not just remembering facts;
- interleaving concepts and subjects so they revisited regularly.
We have structured a coherently planned curriculum so it is consistent throughout KS1 and KS2. Each year group has:
1. A curriculum map/ overview which states clearly the breadth of what needs to be covered.
2. Mid- term planning which shows the ‘threshold concepts’ (which allow children to think as historians, geographers, artists, designers and develop children as subject specialists) and the criteria for progression within the threshold concepts through Chris Quigley milestone objectives. Activities are planned alongside the milestone objectives where there is a strong emphasis on a balance of:
- the acquisition of key semantic knowledge in order for pupils to understand key geographical, historical, art and other subject concepts;
- providing vocabulary in order for children to be able to articulate their understanding of subject content;
- building the strength of retrieval from long term memory (frequently and for all pupil abilities) through a range and balance of retrieval practice types – spaced and in lessons as learning strategies;
- providing opportunities to practise and apply skills (procedural knowledge).
- ensuring that when exploring the Arts children learn from designers, artists; take inspiration from the Greats, styles and periods, combining this inspiration with the practise of techniques when designing, planning and making final pieces.
These are all shown in carefully well- sequenced plans which show that knowledge and skills are taught incrementally so children can progress through the school’s curriculum. (See examples in the appendices below).
3. A progression document which shows clear criteria for depth of understanding through our bronze, silver, gold and platinum metal system.
4. Weekly planning which shows how milestone objectives are differentiated to provide depth in learning. Children challenge themselves with the levels they feel confident to achieve and this is scaffolded through our use of a metal system. We use higher order questioning and higher order vocabulary, through the use of Bloom’s, to regularly form our bronze, silver, gold and platinum outcomes which reassure pupils that challenging learning is good and they are more likely to be remembered.
5. An assessment system which tracks children’s progress towards achieving depth of learning in the milestones.
The Curriculum is the whole learning experience offered by the school. It is not just the lessons and activities which are planned and taught. It also includes the ethos for learning i.e. the attitudes and loving four values we expect implicitly in all lessons through our learning 10 behaviours. At St Mary Magdalene Primary School, we aim to teach our children how to grow into independent learners, who can also work and co-operate with others while developing their knowledge and skills, so they can achieve their full potential.
In Nursery and Reception, the children have their own set of learning behaviours which we believe matter most and help them to be successful learners. These are referred to as our ‘Learning Gems’ They consist of:
Solve my own problem. Work independently and with others.
Talk about my learning. Keep trying even when things are tricky.
We encourage them to develop and demonstrate these throughout their work and play. These links closely to the characteristics of effective learning which is set out in the statuary framework and encourage children to be creative and critical thinkers that embrace new challenges. This links closely with our ethos and values across the school. Activities within the EYFS are designed to encourage the children’s development towards competency and confidence in these learning behaviours.
Our learning behaviours ‘Standing Together Six” (launching June 2022) which we believe children across KS1 and KS2 should display when engaging with the curriculum, consist of:
Enthusiasm Reflective Inquisitive
Risk taker Aspiration Collaboration
The curriculum should be seen as much in terms of experience as of the knowledge and skills that children should acquire. It should also be equally concerned with personal and faith development, positive behaviour and relationships.
The curriculum is designed to be creative, challenging and inspiring; the children are inspired through a range of themes, topics and independent learning activities. The school utilises the appropriate documentation, including the National Curriculum and the Early Years Foundation Stage documentation to ensure learning matches national requirements, whilst children enjoy learning which is irresistible and engage their interests.
The school’s curriculum is based on the following principles:
- Interleaving - sequencing learning within other learning- allowing time to recall and retrieve specific learning to embed understanding.
- Conscious connections – making meaningful links between different subjects, practicing basic skills in English and Maths.
- Longitudinal learning – so that concepts and objectives can be revisited overtime.
- A text-led approach – developing deeper understanding of historical contexts and the texts explored allow children to see the world through the eyes of different characters, which may include significant religious leaders.
The impact of our curriculum is that by the end of each milestone, the vast majority of pupils have sustained mastery of the milestone they have worked in. Some pupils will have a greater depth of understanding of the threshold concepts within the milestone. We track carefully through our assessment system to ensure pupils are on track to reach the expectations of our curriculum.
Intent - Developing subject specialists
Implementation - Curriculum maps and overviews
Implementation- Progression documents
Sequencing across school
Year Group Overviews
Sequencing of lessons
Examples of Mid Term and Weekly Plans
Depth of learning through milestones and POP tasks
Examples of knowledge webs- taken from Chris Quigley Curriculum Companions
Parents/carers are viewed as active supporters of learning in our school. They are encouraged to be part of school life through a range of activities which take place in the stunning starts, marvellous middles and fantastic finishes of our irresistible learning themes. Through our curriculum drivers we draw on the experiences and expertise of our school community to maximise creative learning opportunities.
Parents/carers have regular contact with staff and are able to discuss their child’s progress on a regular basis. Additionally, the school requests that every parent/carer support their children by working with them at home on activities in their learning log which encourage children to present their own way.