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Curriculum Framework

Academic Structure and Purpose: The What


The Big Shapes


The earlier the better – moving forward together

We have high but precise expectations for what all pupils should achieve by Easter of Year 1- high to ensure they all have the strongest of foundations going forward; precise to ensure focus as well as to ensure there is time for play and encouraging self-regulation throughout Year 1.

Expectations: by Easter of Year 1: all pupils to have mastered:-

  1. Phase 5 phonics – both blending and segmenting and all high frequency up to phase 5 tricky words and using words in their writing
  2. Reading independently phase 5 phonics books
  3. Correct pencil grip and cursive handwriting
  4. Numbers to 20
  5. 12 oral retells
  6. Familiarity with 100 quality books

To achieve this:-

  • pupils will be read to constantly from a supply of 100 core books. These books will be revisited over and over again by teachers, volunteers and chatterchums.
  • pupils will focus on writing less better – achieving above expectations in their writing.
  • pupils will focus on numbers to 20 to deliver the majority of the number concepts.


Clarity but not – a logical arc, a strong narrative

Mark Lehain says, ‘to view the entire curriculum as a single project- so that an overarching view of a pupil’s knowledge is maintained.’

  • Coherence in long term planning, showing a logical arc or narrative in the acquisition of concepts and ideas that takes children on a journey across their time at school. The National Curriculum is our scaffold but delivery is defined by our context and beliefs.
  • While we strive for clarity, we also accept/ embrace complexity. We look for sensible and logical ways for the curriculum to be linked ‘allowing children to build an understanding of ideas, concepts, chronology and themes.’ (Debra Kidd 2019) and embracing the complexity of learning and knowledge. ‘A map does not converse in sentences. Its language is a half-heard rumour, fractured, fitful, non-discursive, non-linear—It is many tongued, a chorus reciting centuries of accumulated knowledge in echoed chants … A map provides no answers, it only suggests where to look.’ (Miles Harvey- The Island of Lost Maps)

We start with a map but accept it will be the kind of ‘conceptual trip for which there preexists no map- a voyage for which one must leave one’s normal discourse behind and never be quite sure where one will land.’ D Kidd

  • In defining this logical arc, we look to desired outcomes for Year 6 pupils at our school and work backwards. These have become our curriculum threads. For example if one outcome might be the capacity to understand and appreciate other cultures, younger pupils might study aspects of different cultures working progressively towards Year 6 pupils who are able to compare our culture with other cultures in a sympathetic and enlightened way.


Individual Subjects and cross disciplinary learning
  • We recognise the integrity and value of different subject disciplines and the part they can play in opening up the world and our reverence for life.
  • Simultaneously we maintain a commitment to cross disciplinary learning, recognising that when used/ studied together, subjects can sometimes be more than the sum of their parts. We would argue this is especially pertinent in a primary school environment but also relevant all the way up to university level education.

Frans Johansson described this as the ‘Medici effect’- referring to the enormous creativity that resulted when the Medici family in Florence brought together sculptors, scientists, poets, philosophers, painters and architects, a creativity that spawned the Renaissance.

‘The difference between knowledge and understanding? I can give an example. Let us assume that you have studied everything that you can study, from a theological, sociological, anthropological, biological, and even biochemical point of view, about a human phenomenon called love. The result is that you will know everything that you can know about love, but sooner or later you will realize that you will never understand love unless you fall in love. What does that mean? That you can only attempt to understand that of which you become a part. If we fall in love, as the Latin song says, we are much more than two. When you belong, you understand. When you’re separated, you can accumulate knowledge. And that’s been the function of science. Science is divided into parts but understanding is holistic.’ (Manfred Max-Neef).


Vocabulary as a knowledge base

We see the active, systematic teaching of vocabulary as one critical scaffold for learning and knowledge building and deepening.
‘A rich vocabulary supports learning about the world, encountering new ideas, enjoying the beauty of language.’ (Isabel Beck)
We focus on developing improved comprehension of tier 2 words and aim for all pupils to have a love of words.

Philosophy at the heart of the project

We are committed to Socratic Dialogue, to Philosophy For Children: a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to draw out ideas and underlying presuppositions.
One pupil, DK, said, ‘The lessons I most enjoy are the ones when the teachers listen to what I have to say. P4C – I enjoy this a lot because it is about listening.’

Moral Purpose

We recognise the ‘purpose of learning takes on a new dimension when we ask ourselves where could this go, who else needs to know about this, are there links we could make with this knowledge with the wider community and who might be an external audience for what we have done?’ (Myatt, 2018)


Disciplinary Knowledge:

We want our pupils to take from their primary education a delight in learning and to see possibilities everywhere; to be well set up for life. We see disciplinary knowledge as a way of revealing to them different ways of learning and hence opening up the world to them. For example we want them to know what it is to be a scientist and to feel enthusiastic at the prospect of science.


Critical Concepts
  • We look to develop understanding in individual subject disciplines. We focus on critical concepts in these different subject disciplines. These are concepts that have been identified as transformational, in that once they are mastered they have the capacity to transform a pupil’s understanding and appreciation of a subject discipline. ‘Concepts enable connections to be made across a disparate range of facts; they reside in the long term memory and can be called on to make sense of new information. Concepts provide the intellectual architecture onto which new knowledge and insights can be pinned.’ (Myatt, 2019)
  • At the primary level these threshold concepts will often be centred more on disciplinary knowledge but can include some substantive knowledge.

Example at Minchinhampton:

Aim: If asked, a child will say they see themselves as a ‘Scientist’ and that they enjoy Science.

(Threshold) Critical Concepts for Science: – to be revisited 3+ times across the unit (can be cross-curricular)

  1. Pupils understand concept of fair testing
  2. Pupils able to hypothesise
  • The best lessons will have an epistemic quality, where learners engage explicitly with ways of knowing or critical concepts in that subject.
  • Critical concepts are revisited time and again in varied contexts until pupils have fully understood them and/or they have settled in pupils’ long term memories.


Substantive Knowledge:

Our Curriculum Threads: a core body of understanding: substantive and attitudinal

  • We have seven common threads running through the curriculum project – all leading to core knowledge and understanding and attitudes we hope our Year 6 pupils will embody by the time they leave the school.
  • We must recognise that our pupils enter school with an existing knowledge base and we must look to build upon, connect and sometimes dismantle this base; while at the same time bringing something new to the equation.

In defining desired outcomes for Year 6 pupils (at the end of the thread) we therefore look to:-

a) our own beliefs about the purpose of primary education (i.e. what we would like to bring to the equation)
b) our community context (ie what our community brings to the equation)
c) our core values as a school (ie what our church distinctiveness helps to bring to the equation)

Curriculum Thread 1: Spirituality & Core Values
Curriculum Thread 2: Sense of Community
Curriculum Thread 3: Strengths and Interests:
Curriculum Thread 4: Appreciation of Difference
Curriculum Thread 5: Environmental Activism
Curriculum Thread 6: Creativity and the Appreciation of Beauty
Curriculum Thread 7: Wellbeing

  • These Curriculum threads will be laced through subject topics with teachers aiming to achieve year group milestones for their children. They will be the focus of assemblies and school events and focus weeks and P4C. They will be the focus of some Ethical Communities.


Curriculum Thread 1: Spirituality & Core Values

Contextual Feature: Our church school distinctiveness and our reverence of learning and life

Desired outcomes for our Year 6 pupils:- We want our pupils to have a reverence for learning; to be experiencing awe and wonder daily; to have a sense of something bigger beyond themselves. We want them aiming to live their lives by strong values and principles. Our pupils will understand the influence of Christianity on our culture, community and way of life.

Therefore: Spirituality is a vein that runs through the curriculum from start to finish and our values inform the way we work.
Partners: Holy Trinity Church, Minchinhampton Baptist Church


Curriculum Thread 2: Sense of Community

Contextual feature: The positive impact on mental health of individuals’ sense of community/ sense of belonging.

Desired outcomes for our Year 6 pupils: –
To feel a sense of belonging, to feel part of a community. Pupils to understand and appreciate their own British/ local/ school/ family cultures. They will have in depth knowledge about historical and geographic features of their local community as well as features of scientific interest. They will feel inspired, in awe and feel protective about the wonderful world on their very own doorstep. They will know how to access resources in their local community including local sports clubs, music, literature. They will have positive memories of local cultural events they have visited as well as some they have taken part in. They will be proud of contributions they have made to the life of the school including responsibilities they have had as well as those they have made to the wider community for example visiting the local hospice. They will have experiences of ‘making a difference’ through the school’s ethical communities – both in the school environment and reaching out into the local community. They will be able to list links they have made in the local community and recognise the positive impact these links have made on them.

Therefore:The curriculum will draw upon and celebrate the local community; it will be relevant to the children’s own lives. The moral purpose behind their learning will, wherever possible, draw upon the local context.
Partners: Longfield Hospice; Cecily Court; History Society


Curriculum Thread 3: Strengths and Interests:

Contextual Feature: Community characterised by polarised socio-economics

We must recognise ‘the importance of viewing children as an end in themselves, and their interests and experiences as vital starting points for teaching and learning.’ Diane Reay ‘17

Desired outcomes:
To feel valued and valuable; feel they have been recognised for who they are and for their interests and individual strengths and attributes. They will feel their own interests have been recognised in the school’s curriculum. They will know their own 5 key strengths (see Positive Psychology); be able to give examples and explain how they use their strengths when approaching things in life. They will have a growth mindset and believe they can achieve what they want to achieve in life. They will see themselves as important / playing an important role in their school community and beyond but not as any more important than the next person. They will have a sense that we are all driving forward together and that everyone appreciates each other.

Therefore: Content that reflects and draws upon the strengths and interests of individual pupils including notably the minority of less ‘school-sure’ pupils. to ensure they. Project work.
Partners: Penn Institute USA


Curriculum Thread 4: Appreciation of Difference

Contextual Feature: Predominantly mono-cultural community

Desired outcome for Year 6 pupils:
We want pupils to have a broad knowledge of other cultures and be able to appreciate and celebrate differences with their own culture. For pupils to be able to fully appreciate what they have; to feel at peace with who they are; to be able to make informed comparisons with the experiences of others. As a result of this self-appreciation, people are able to value difference – to appreciate the value and preciousness of each and every person and all life on earth; hence people who help to make the world a better place. Pupils who avoid a culture of comparison; instead who nurture courage and humility; who recognise strength and appreciate variety, appreciate differences; who are fascinated by other people.

Therefore: Opportunities taken throughout the curriculum to appreciate other and difference. Each cohort linked to another school in another country or part of the country.
Partners: British Council, partner schools in Sierra Leone, Thailand, Tanzania


Curriculum Thread 5: Environmental Activism

Contextual Feature: Concerns for the environment

Desired Outcome for Year 6 pupils:
Pupils who are environmentally aware and confident to speak their truth and act to make the world a better place, both in their personal habits and through environmental activism. Pupils who are confident that we have the solutions to hand and believe they can make a difference. They understand there are 4 main areas we need to tackle to improve sustainability and save the environment:- Energy, Transport, Food, Giving the land back to nature. To show a personal commitment to improving these as well as a commitment to reaching out and convincing others.

Pupils to create book to inspire environmental activism, sponsored by Ecotricity.
Opportunities for pupils to develop concern and skill in environmental activism.
Each cohort with area of responsibility re school sustainability.
‘Learning about micro plastics in Science week was fascinating. You got to learn about how we need to cut back on our plastic use. Who knows what will happen if we don’t cut back now?’ Year 6 pupil 2019

Partners: Ecotricity, Extinction Rebellion, RSPB, National Trust, Bath Spa, WWT, Forestry Commission


Curriculum Thread 6: Creativity and the Appreciation of Beauty

Contextual Feature: Creative local community

Desired Outcome for our Year 6 pupils: Pupils to see the world as a wondrous, beautiful place, full of possibility.

We find opportunities to appreciate beauty. ‘I asked the earth, I asked the sea and the deeps, among the living animals, the things that creep. I asked the winds that blow, I asked the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars and to all things that stand at the doors of my flesh…My question was the gaze I turned to them. Their answer was their beauty.’ (St Augustine)

We look to opportunities across the curriculum for pupils to produce work of high quality. We are influenced in this by the work of Ron Berger, ‘When you have done quality work, deeper work, you know you are always capable of doing more.’ His approach is exemplified by ‘Austin’s Butterfly’ and at the heart of his approach is the belief that children’s work should be honoured. It is imperative for the work to have real purpose and for different drafts to be undertaken, all the while taking feedback which is precise, robust and kind.

‘It seems to me the quality that makes any book, music, painting worthwhile is life, just that. Books, music, painting are not life, can never be as full, rich, complex, surprising or beautiful, but the best of them can catch an echo of that, can turn you back to look out of the window, go out of the door aware that you’ve been enriched, that you have been in the company of something alive that has caused you to realise once again how astonishing life is, and you leave the book, gallery or concert hall with that illumination, which feels I’m going to say holy, by which i mean human raptness.’ Nial Williams, This is Happiness, 2019

Partners: local artists, authors,


Curriculum Thread 7: Wellbeing

Contextual Feature: Mental health a challenge for young people in modern world

‘The Good Childhood Report published by The Children’s Society in 2015 found that ‘overall children in England have relatively low levels of subjective well-being compared to other countries…This despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the survey.’ Diane Reay ‘17
Desired outcome for our Year 6 pupils: Pupils to feel unique, valued, attended to and a part of something bigger than themselves. Pupils to feel they have meaning in their life and that they are worthwhile. Pupils to be emotionally literate, to express how they feel and not feel ashamed. Pupils to know how to resolve conflict. Pupils to know how to be calm, how to relax.

Mindfulness taught to all pupils and opportunities provided for this through the week.
Use online survey as start point for each year’s focus. Strengths surveys and reflections. Happiness surveys and reflections.

Partners: Restorative Practice, Healthy Schools (GHLR), PSHE, Counsellor, Play Therapist, Early Help team


Deep learning to generate concern

We aim to narrow the focus of a topic and go deep. This way we hope our pupils will become not just enthused but inspired or concerned or morally engaged in the knowledge they are encountering.

Where possible these deep encounters will also touch upon our curriculum threads.
Here are some examples of deep learning topics:-
Year 2- The Great Exhibition
Year 3/4 -Tutankhamun & Howard Carter
Year 5/6-Microplastics – link to SRG – science fair


Knowledge Organisers to ensure continuity and progression

KO’s will provide us with the minimum knowledge and skills we want to get into the children’s heads. They will
Remember heart and soul- interest— personal response not just definitive response to a fact or vocab—conversations re interests and individuals.

They will include:-

  • Critical concepts
  • Curriculum threads
  • Knowledge cues
  • Vocab re subject discipline
  • Vocab re : Topic specific
  • Foci
  • Evaluation suggestions

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