The Way We Structure Teaching and Learning
Our curriculum is structured around five key approaches to learning:
1. Termly Topics: From Year 2-6 we run termly topics. In Years 3&4 and Years 5&6, all classes do the same topic at the same time, over a two-year cycle. This is to facilitate mixed-age classes, which are necessary where we run 1.5 form provision. We use topics for subjects traditionally associated with the ‘arts’, which integrate well around a theme and benefit from extended project work.
The curriculum strands we teach through topics are: English, humanities (history, geography and RE), art, DT including cooking and nutrition, music, cultural experience, vocational experience, cultural competence, and current affairs.
Pupils do their work across these subjects in one, ‘Topic’ exercise book. Where appropriate, we integrate other subjects into our two-week writing cycle. For example, pupils might engage with history content through English lessons, culminating in a piece of report writing.
2. Interleaving: Interleaving involves teaching subject content not in a continuous block, but in chunks which pupils revisit over time. This approach helps embed new learning in long-term memory, through the act of repetition. Repetition for learning is not simply about replicating previous lessons; it involves the act of retrieving previously learnt knowledge and then developing it.
We interleave subjects that involve a lot of interlinked but discrete content. In subjects like science, pupils cover a wide range of subject matter. If this were taught in blocks, irregularly, pupils would be far less likely to remember specific content long-term than if it is embedded through interleaved learning.
We complement interleaving with a process of low-stakes quizzing. Pupils sit a mini-test each time they revisit an area of learning. This facilitates the retrieval of previously learnt knowledge, as well as indicating to teachers and pupils where gaps in learning lie that need filling.
The subjects we interleave are maths, science, PSHE and PE.
3. Rote Learning: Rote learning is an even more intensive act of repetition for memorization. It is useful for thoroughly learning key knowledge that children need to be able to recall and apply instantly. Examples include phonics, times tables and handwriting. We intend all our pupils to have a complete and comprehensive grasp of key facts in English and maths.
Rote learning takes place every day in all our classes. Our Rote Learning Map lays out the content pupils access at different stages of their schooling. Rote learning lessons are short, quick-paced and fun. At the end of each stage of rote learning, pupils sit a check-point test. Some of these tests are statutory, such as the Year 1 phonics test and Year 4 multiplication check. We use these tests to assess whether pupils have learnt the expected knowledge thoroughly. If they have not, we put in place an individual or small-group intervention to help them catch-up. If we are still not successful, we will investigate possible special educational needs and put in place a more personalised approach to meeting pupils’ needs.
4. Online Learning: Online learning involves the use of specific, high quality educational software with pupils. The right programs can be very engaging for pupils and enable them to work individually through content, receiving ongoing feedback. Learners can advance through programs in a personalised way. Online learning enables us to bring specific expertise to our pupils.
All online learning sessions involve a trained member of staff to support, motivate and safeguard pupils. We use online learning sessions to develop maths and spelling skills and knowledge. We also teach Spanish through the app ‘Duolingo’. Our online learning programs are all available to children at home, enabling them to supplement school work with home learning.
5. Routine Learning: Routine learning is not about remembering knowledge or developing specific skills. It is about the regular practice of techniques that are positive for wellbeing and thus learning in general. Routine learning includes daily mindfulness and daily exercise as well as regular ‘reflection time’.
How We Teach
Our schools have a consistent approach to teaching and learning, built on the principles of Evidence Based Teaching. We believe in the importance of teacher autonomy and professional judgement, as well as the need to personalise learning to the needs of individual children and classes. However, we also believe that the approaches teachers take should be strongly informed by the many years of research evidence into what works in the classroom. In our schools, we work as a team, developing each other’s practice to ensure pupils have a high-quality, impactful and consistent experience at every stage of their education. We invest heavily in teacher development.
Our approach to implementing our Curriculum is set out in our Teaching and Learning Policy.