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"Every Child Flourishing"

Curriculum

Curriculum Statement

Our aim is for every child to flourish.  We create the conditions for staff flourishing, for family flourishing and for community flourishing so that the children of Courthouse are well rounded with individual areas of expertise and choices open to them for the next phase of their education.

We value the pursuit of knowledge, doing the right thing and leadership and team work.

Our vision and values translate into a knowledge rich curriculum, informed by research and designed around the most vulnerable children with the intent of closing the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged.  Our classrooms may be the only source of knowledge for our most vulnerable children and so we must guarantee knowledge through our curriculum.  Our curriculum is ambitious for children with SEND in order to close the attainment gap.  We set out the knowledge and understanding that children will acquire in their time at Courthouse and is a necessary precursor to critical thinking, analysis and creativity. 

Our curriculum is a framework for setting out the aims of our programme of education, including:

  • The knowledge and understanding to be gained at each stage (intent)

  • Translating that framework over time into a structure, narrative and with subject specific pedagogy (implementation)

  • Evaluating what knowledge and understanding pupils have gained against expectations (impact)

 

Influences on curriculum thinking

  • Hirsch’s Cultural Literacy (1984)

  • Hirsch’s Why Knowledge Matters (2016)

  • Willingham’s Why Don’t Students Like School?

  • Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve (1885)

  • Bjork’s desirable difficulties (spacing, retrieval practice)

  • Shirley Clarke’s formative assessment

  • Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction (2012)

  • Kirschner, Sweller and Clarke’s Why Minimally Guided Instruction Does Not Work (2006)

  • Maggie Snowling’s Developing Reading Comprehension

  • Jean Gross’ Time to Talk

  • Graham Nuthall’s Hidden Lives of Learners

  • Hattie’s Visible Learning and the Science of How we Learn

  • Christodoulou’s Seven Myths about Education and Making Good Progress

  • Oakhill’s Understanding and Teaching Reading Comprehension

  • Beck’s Bringing Words to Life

  • Brown’s Make it Stick

  • Lemov’s Reading Reconsidered

  • Tennent and Reedy’s Guiding Reading: Layers of Meaning

  • Myatt’s The Curriculum

  • Hawkes’ The Inner Curriculum

  • Williams’ Towards a Standards Based Curriculum

  • Laar and Holderness’ Reclaiming the Curriculum

 

Curriculum intent

The curriculum enables children to deepen their understanding of the big ideas within each curriculum area through carefully thought out units of work. These big ideas are informed by the work of subject associations.  The analogy of a narrative is used to illustrate the intent of the curriculum. As a narrative’s events build over time to enable the reader to make sense of seemingly unconnected events, the reader’s understanding is deepened and through that understanding comes the joy and appreciation of the narrative – those subtle hints at the beginning hold more importance with hindsight and are vital for understanding the later twists.  Similarly, as children move through school and study the curriculum, they develop an iterative understanding of the key concepts in each subject area and how they are interlinked through internal using a rich knowledge base.

It is the knowledge base that is key to developing understanding and is perhaps the most significant factor that the school can control regarding tackling disadvantage. The various subjects are more than their respective knowledge domains though for mastery of communication is the expression of that knowledge domain using the language patterns of a specialist. Children are taught key language patterns to think and in turn speak and write like a historian, a scientist, a theologian or a musician.

The curriculum is enriched through carefully chosen trips and workshops, which give children the experiences that bring knowledge to life.

 

Curriculum implementation

We are committed to high quality professional learning that focuses on what makes great teaching, subject knowledge development and sound formative assessment practices.

Curriculum design is driven by a curriculum team which supplements the traditional subject leader roles.

Subjects are taught discretely but links are made where there is natural alignment to ensure that children develop an interconnected web of general knowledge.  It is the non core curriculum that is a key driver in developing reading comprehension.

Explicit instruction enables children to see expert modelling and hear expert explanations.

 

Curriculum impact

The curriculum is the progress model – if children are keeping up with the curriculum then they are making good progress.  Progress means knowing more and remembering more. Knowledge that has been learned and retained in long term memory is necessary for analysis, creativity etc.  We ask: has the child gained the knowledge to understand the key concepts and ideas? Is this enabling them to develop the skills they need to master?

We set regular low stakes quizzes as well as cumulative quizzes on old topics.  An end of unit written task is set where children demonstrate their knowledge gained by communicating in the language patterns that they have been taught.

Old units of work are used as prompts for independent writing, giving further opportunities to assess what has been committed to long term memory and can be retrieved easily.