Curriculum is the totality of a child’s experience at Wilton CE Primary school, we value each child as an individual with a unique potential for obtaining knowledge and skills. Our aim is to enable every child to participate fully in society as a responsible, confident citizen no matter what their background or ability is. At Wilton we promote the spiritual, moral, cultural mental and physical qualities of all pupils, allowing everyone to belong to the school and feel a part of the community.
At Wilton CE Primary we follow a demanding curriculum that is based on the national curriculum, yet bespoke and suitably demanding for the unique context in which our children come from and the location of the school on the edge of Salisbury.
Our Wilton curriculum is designed with four key objectives:
- Our vision of ‘Everyone belongs, Everyone achieves’ is our golden thread in all aspects of school life
- All children develop a love of learning that enables all pupils to realise their full potential
- All children receive appropriate experiences to develop as confident and responsible citizens
- We provide a coherent and structured academic curriculum that leads to sustained mastery for all and a greater depth of understanding for those who are capable
Through regular discussion, evaluation and reflection, school leaders, teachers and support staff have reached a solid consensus about the knowledge and skills that pupils need in order to take advantage of opportunities, responsibilities and experiences in later life. These are reflected in our school’s curriculum drivers and are key to addressing disadvantage and ensuring all children fulfil their most ambitious potential.
OUR CURRICULUM DRIVERS ARE:
The Wilton curriculum has key drivers that shape our curriculum, bring about the aims and values of our school and respond to the needs of our Wilton community; ‘Identity Wilton’. To sit alongside our drivers we have developed ‘Wilton 21’ this is a set of 21 Activities that we commit to delivering to every child by the time they have left Wilton CE Primary School. The activities start in reception and go through to year 6, each year a child will complete 3 of the ‘Wilton 21’ activities.
THE WILTON CURRICULUM IS A COHERENTLY PLANNED ACADEMIC CURRICULUM
Underpinned by our school values of courage, kindness, love, perseverance and respect, as well as British values, our curriculum drivers and our meta-cognitive approach, our academic curriculum uses either the EYFS or the National Curriculum as the basis for content and expectations and Cornerstones as a useful resource. It is structured in such a way as to ensure that each year group has a clear list of what must be covered.
The curriculum maps for each year group ensures each teacher has clarity as to what to cover. We have an inclusive approach and each child must cover a basic understanding and knowledge for each subject and sometimes a deep understanding, if this is appropriate. Each child must reach their full potential and every member of our staff team has high expectations for every child at Wilton.
At Wilton we firmly believe that reading is at the heart of the curriculum, if you are able to read and understand well, you are therefore able to learn anything. We are determined to ensure that every child is able to learn, no matter what their background, needs or ability. Whilst many children naturally acquire an awareness of the world around them and a language to be able to explain, too many do not, especially those from a disadvantaged background.
So, while for some, this cultural capital, established through experiences brought to them before they reach school age (reading, visiting museums, discussions on current affairs, trips abroad etc), provides a solid foundation on which they can build further knowledge, skills and understanding, we know that some will arrive at school without these key experiences, hence our design of Wilton 21 to complement our curriculum.
Cultural capital takes one tangible form: a pupil’s vocabulary. The size of a pupil’s vocabulary in their early years of schooling is a significant predictor of academic attainment in later schooling and of success in life. Department for Education research suggests that, by the age of seven, the gap in the vocabulary known by children in the top and bottom quartiles is around 4,000 words (children in the top quartile know around 7,000 words). At Wilton, we are committed to ensuring that ALL our children develop the ability to read fluently, comprehend and enjoy language so that we can diminish the difference, close the word gap and ensure all children are able to access and flourish across the curriculum and thus have an equal chance of success.
Our bespoke curriculum is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:
- Learning is most effective when spaced out
- A mixture of subjects and topics help children to commit learning to long-term memory
- Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
In addition to our three principles, at Wilton we recognise and understand that sustained learning takes time. Our curriculum is driven by the needs of our children and the key skills we believe they require in order to succeed at secondary school and beyond: effective communication, both orally and in writing; ambitious aspirations and knowledge of the smaller goals required to reach success; secure life skills that will them grow and be independent adults; the ability to be creative and remain curious about the world and resilience in order to face change.
Reading is at the heart of learning all skills. It is only once a child has learnt to read that they are able to unlock the world around them and realise their true potential. We are committed to ensuring all out pupils can read fluently and with understanding so that they can enjoy all aspects of the curriculum and the opportunities that life has to offer.
A knowledge engaged curriculum
Knowledge underpins and enables the application of skills. We want all children to learn skills alongside knowledge ensuring that both are explicitly developed. At Wilton the knowledge and skills are interwoven in to the curriculum with a focus on ensuring that children are able to use their skills to assimilate new information into an existing we of skills and well-understood knowledge. To do this we link subjects through cross-curricula topics and have a mastery approach to learning. This is important to ensure that the curriculum is engaging and relevant to all children.
An essential aspect to the curriculum is that it is engaging and useful to all children, taught in a logical progressive and systematic way to enable all children to acquire the skills and knowledge. In order to achieve this leaders provide high quality training for staff so that they can become experts in the subjects they teach and lead. Teachers’ own subject knowledge is reviewed on a regular basis and tailored training is provided.
Each subject is led by a teacher who will not only ensure they have expert knowledge of the curriculum for the year group they teach but for all phases, including understanding the expectations our children will face when they move on to Key Stage 3. Subject leaders stay abreast of all developments in the pedagogical approaches and disseminate this to staff as well as take some responsibility for supporting the development of their colleagues’ subject knowledge and confidence, through development days, coaching and planning support.
In order to achieve the outcomes we know they deserve, children need to retain the knowledge they acquire during lessons. We are developing a curriculum with knowledge retention at its core. If nothing has been altered in the long-term memory, nothing has been learned. One way we are ensuring that information is committed to memory, is by revisiting the key concepts of each subject. From the national curriculum objectives, teachers have identified key concepts drawn from the content to be taught within each subject. These are repeated during several stages of the children’s primary education so that children have the opportunity to revisit the idea, deepening their understanding of that concept and linking it to other key themes; therefore, tightening as well as widening their web of knowledge. For example, the key historical concept of ‘Gods and Worship’ may first be introduced in KS1 as they look into the Romans, then again in LKS2, when children learn about the Ancient Egypt; and then, in UKS2, it may be revisited during the study of the Vikings. It is essential that children re-examine challenging and important concepts such as these, particularly in a comparative and rigorously thought-provoking way, as well as learning concepts which are completely new.
Progression in Knowledge and Skills
At Wilton the subject curriculum is designed and delivered in a way that allows pupils to transfer key knowledge to long-term memory. It is sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before and children work towards clearly defined end points. Teachers consciously plan lessons so that they can build connections between the existing knowledge children have and the new knowledge they need to learn. Developing fluency so that the knowledge can be unconsciously applied as a skill is also key, however teachers are mindful to ensure that the memorising of unconnected facts has no place in our curriculum. We ensure that our curriculum increases in challenge and academic expectation as our children grow older and more knowledgeable, but we are careful not to allow gaps to develop which might cause some children to fall behind on the journey. The specific skills required to be successful in each subject have been identified and crafted into structured progressions. These show what children should be achieving in these subjects, in each phase. Whilst we ensure all objectives from the national curriculum are taught, our priority is to develop depth and a mastery of those key concepts within and across subjects, rather than scattered coverage that is too disconnected or shallow to be retained.
Every subject has it’s own progression document which teachers use for long term planning and to ensure progression across all year group. The progression documentation is reviewed on a regular basis.
Reading at the centre
Reading is at the centre of our curriculum. In order to ensure children can access all that the curriculum and wider world has to offer, they must first be able to read. Reading fluently, with comprehension and for enjoyment allows children to engage with the world around them.
The English and phonics leads along with other leaders ensure there is a rigorous and sequential approach to reading that develops the pupils’ fluency, confidence and enjoyment. At all stages, reading attainment is assessed and gaps are addressed quickly and effectively for all pupils. The sharp focus on ensuring that younger children gain phonics knowledge and language comprehension necessary to read, and the skills to communicate, gives them the foundations for future learning.
In all year groups, we ensure that the children receive the full curriculum, even those year groups which are externally assessed. However, opportunities are given for children who have fallen behind the peers in reading to close the gap. Early intervention is key for ensuring that gaps do not develop in the future and all pupils can read efficiently by the end of key stage 1.
Our curriculum is grouped into a series of themes or topics based around one central question. Each topic begins with an immersive lesson, trip or visit designed to engage the children and frame the learning journey through to identified outcomes. Initial reflection on this lesson supports formative assessment of pupils’ starting points and gives an opportunity for pupil voice to lead the project in directions relevant to the specific cohort’s interests and ambitions.
During the learning journey, a range of objectives in several curriculum subjects are addressed. This content is sequenced to ensure that components of knowledge lead to conceptual learning. This analysis is supported by strong subject knowledge from staff and aims for both depth of learning and breadth of coverage. Opportunities to practise knowledge and skills are built into the curriculum to secure deep understanding of each discipline. The curriculum planning ensures a layering of knowledge and concepts so that all pupils can make progress. The length of each project depends upon the identified learning and outcomes but they will usually last one or two terms.
Topics are well-selected so that any cross-curricular knowledge or vocabulary is clearly linked and specific subject objectives are logically included, not shoe-horned into the journey through tenuous links. When planning their topics, teachers focus on the most important aspects of the topic in relation to usefulness for the pupils, how they are meeting the needs of our school ‘curriculum drivers’, how transferable/connectable the knowledge is and how well-matched the content is to the national curriculum objectives for that age group. Lessons will be well-sequenced so that knowledge is retained, consolidated and built upon as the topic progresses, with content being examined at depth rather than merely touched upon. Although the lessons are linked through the topic, each will have a clearly identified subject area and precise learning intention so that children understand which subject is being taught. It is important that they understand the purpose of the different subjects and have the chance to identify their personal passions, aptitudes and interests.
For each topic, a knowledge organiser is created in advance. These are published on our website, stuck in children’s books, displayed on learning walls and sent home so that children and their parents can make constant reference to them throughout the topic. They not only allow children to refer back to content and vocabulary discussed during preceding lessons, but allow children to see where their learning is going to take them over the course of the unit. Teachers and children can use the knowledge organiser to set quizzes and challenge children’s retention and understanding of the key concepts that are being taught. Knowledge organisers help teaching staff to ensure their lessons remain focused on the acquisition and retention of the key ideas that can be covered in that unit without illogical moving between ideas and objectives or focusing on information that is less valuable. A focus on vocabulary is clearly embedded through its inclusion in the knowledge organisers, as well as in individual lesson plans, on learning walls and through teachers conscious focus, encouragement and clearing up of misconceptions during discussions.
Teaching and Inclusion
It is essential, if children are to become masters of the subjects they study, that first the teachers become experts in the subjects they teach. Not only must teachers ensure their subject knowledge is of a high standard for all the subjects they teach, but they must understand the content well enough to be able to select the most useful elements in order to determine what must be taught as well as in which order that knowledge might best be assimilated. Teachers will need to select content so that it ensures coverage of the national curriculum objectives, but allows exploration at a sufficient depth so that pupils’ cumulatively acquire sufficient knowledge and store this in their long-term memory. Teachers are supported in this planning through school and subject leads.
Content is decided upon and detailed in the knowledge organisers, whilst objectives to be met are outlined in the topic maps and progression documents. At this point, teachers will think about their classes’ individual needs whilst planning lessons. In all subjects, teachers present the information clearly, promoting appropriate discussion about the subject matter being taught. They check pupils’ understanding systematically, without creating unnecessary burdens on pupils or themselves, identifying misconceptions accurately and providing clear, direct, yet positive, feedback, that effectively moves learning on. Naturally, teachers adapt their planning and styles to respond to their pupils’ needs, address gaps in their learning and engage them through targeting their interests.
Over the course of each topic, teaching is designed to help pupils remember, long term, the content they have been taught and to integrate new knowledge into larger ideas. This can be achieved in a multitude of ways, including but not limited to the following pedagogical approaches: opportunities for extended pupil talk, including presentations and drama activities; opportunities to write at length; short, fun quizzes; starter games that recap key ideas and vocabulary; immersive or practical activities that engage children and linger in the memory; pre-teaching and revision sessions, particularly for children who are disadvantaged. The key to knowledge retention in our pupils is the commitment from staff to ensure that learning is stored and revised. Creating the spiral diagrams empowered teachers and allowed them to understand how and when concepts are revisited so they can consciously draw upon their pupils’ previously acquired knowledge and scaffold their connections, eventually teaching them to seek out connections for themselves.
All teaching staff at Wilton are committed to creating an environment in which all children make significant progress. Outcomes and resources are rigorously planned out and selected to reflect the school’s ambitious intentions for the course of study. These materials clearly support the intent of a coherently planned curriculum, sequenced towards cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning and employment. All staff ensure that their own speaking, listening, writing and reading of English support pupils in developing their language and vocabulary well. This is modelled consistently and all staff see it as their responsibility to positively and politely pick up on children’s misconceptions when speaking.
At Wilton we are deeply committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for all our children. We consistently strive to ensure that our curriculum is accessible and engaging to every child regardless of their individual needs or barriers to learning. We aim to tailor the curriculum to the interests and learning styles of our children, doing everything we can to ensure all reach their full potential. All staff are committed to ensuring the key skills which drive our curriculum are embedded within every learning journey and the wider enrichment opportunities. The school vision underpins all that we do and the awareness of staff contribute to ensuring all disadvantaged pupils are able to access the curriculum and succeed in line with their peers, through the conscious development of their cultural capital and personal wellbeing.
The impact of our Wilton curriculum is that by the end of each phase- end of EYFS and KS1, end of Years 3 and 4 and finally end of years 5 and 6- the vast majority of pupils have sustained mastery of the content, remembering it and demonstrating fluency in it; with some children showing a greater depth of understanding. We carefully track pupils to ensure that we provide the learning that is right for them to make progress and reach the expectations of our Wilton curriculum. By the time children leave Wilton CE Primary school at the end of year 6 they will have also completed the ‘Wilton 21’ experiences and be ready for their next stage of education. Impact is measure in a number of ways, including but limited to:
- Pupil Voice
- Quality of Learning in Books
- Children’s Performances and Events
- Attendance Data
- Parent Feedback
- Official Outcomes at KS2
- Reading Skills across the Curriculum
The greatest impact will be seen when our children reach the end of their time with us and are ready to carve out a meaning and successful future. We are committed to ensuring that our children are fully prepared for the next stage in their educational journey. Our curriculum is designed to mould resilient, creative, aspirational children who are excellent communicators and who are equipped with a wide-range of essential life skills.
As defined so succinctly in the Church of England’s definition of ‘Character Education’ (an essential aspect of our curriculum foundations), the true impact of the education we provide, ‘will have a legacy far beyond the school gates, impacting young people as friends, neighbours, parents, team members and employers, benefiting the individuals themselves, their wider community and broader society.’