Our Curriculum Intent
When Amanda Spielman released her ambition for a refined curriculum, schools everywhere embraced this opportunity to reconsider the detail of their curriculum design. Following her belief that:
“At the very heart of education sits the vast accumulated wealth of human knowledge and what we choose to impart to the next generation: the curriculum. Without receiving knowledge, pupils have learned nothing and no progress has been made…A successful curriculum is about more than just leadership. It includes how well the curriculum is implemented through well-taught and appropriately sequenced content, thoughtfully designed assessment practice and consideration of an appropriate model of progression.”
At Atkinson Road Primary Academy, we have designed an aspirational and inspirational curriculum with the intention of offering carefully sequenced building blocks of knowledge in order for our children to become successful learners. The curriculum content is covered in blocks across the school year with key themes regularly repeated, so key knowledge and concepts can be revisited to ensure that they are remembered more effectively. We have looked to exploit meaningful connections across subjects so that remembering is almost inevitable. In order to develop subject specific knowledge and skills we teach in discrete subjects. This means that each subject has its own rationale and planning system. These plans can be viewed in individual subject files.
The wider intention behind our curriculum design is that our children will lead healthy lifestyles, be moral citizens, be highly employable and ambitiously take opportunities to extend their horizons. We want to support creativity and resilience, going beyond the national curriculum with a personalised offer, appropriate to our context.
Our bespoke curriculum was designed to take full advantage of our locality and goes beyond the statutory aspects of the National Curriculum in order to address cultural capital needs. Alongside subject plans are carefully integrated activities designed to enhance retention and learning. These include a range of trips and practical experiences. We want our children and their families to feel that they belong in all of the amazing local cultural institutions, including our theatres, galleries and museums and other venues in the North East, so that they can learn from and enjoy them. In addition to a raft of enrichment visits, we plan other activities and invite specialists in to enhance and deliver aspects of our curriculum, making it as memorable as possible. We also plan a range of parental engagement activities to include parents in their child’s learning journey.
In recognition of the context and starting points of many of our children, we have a strong focus on the teaching and learning of Maths and English, as a lack of skills in these areas can impact future career options. We allocate a significant amount of time each week to lay these strong foundations for wider learning.
Some say vocabulary is the greatest predeterminer of future success. Mindful of this and our context, we invest time in the explicit teaching of key vocabulary to support retention and learning. We employ a Speech Therapist to lead on this work with staff and have an International New Arrivals / EAL provision. We target essential vocabulary in all subject areas and believe that this has supported our greatly improved writing standards. We understand that our curriculum needs to be language very rich. We are specialists in working with children and families, to whom English is an additional language and with those who have had a late start to formal education. We understand that the development of language is key to success and well-being so we ensure all our children are equipped to find their voice and find success in school and life
Our overarching key themes that are central to our school and curriculum vision are:
Inspire, Achieve and Develop.
Our key aims are that when children leave us to move on to secondary school, they:
- have developed confidence in themselves and can voice their ideas and opinions.
- have a firm grasp of basic skills
- are aspirational, linking learning to success in life and opportunities beyond school
- achieve their very best
- have a strong sense of moral purpose and respect for others
- have had exciting memories of their learning in our school with good recall of key facts
- read for pleasure
- feel happy about themselves, with high self-esteem and a ‘can do’ attitude.
- can work independently and as part of a team
- Enjoy challenge and have a positive attitude to learning
- Are numerate, literate and digitally literate
- Have a strong knowledge base in all subject areas
Our creative, research-based curriculum
At Atkinson Road, we began our personal journey to ensure that we had the richest, bravest, knowledge-based curriculum to suit our school. We needed to decide our ‘what’. We also revisited research about the most effective ways to teach to enable children to retain knowledge (including Daniel Willingham, Bruner, Dunlop, Rosenshine, The Sutton Trust, Education Endowment Foundation, Fischer Family Trust and others) so that we were clear about the ‘why’ and ‘how’. We understood that key facts and concepts would need to be revisited so they could be stored and retrieved securely. We agreed that retrieval practise was essential in order to ‘interrupt forgetting’. We were clear about our barriers and unique nature so we could continue a strong history of bespoke curriculum design and support. Our strategic plan was to consider each subject in turn, considering content, sequencing, resourcing and assessment. We looked and continue to seek out links and experiences to make subject knowledge ‘stick’. Behind our cohesive curriculum overview sits subject, specific long-term plans. Each subject has a lead and deputy, and they have worked with the children, when appropriate, to consider our key themes. Whilst looking carefully at our learning journeys, we reviewed our transition points to smooth and perfect such times, so we have ensured that our planning around transition points is robust.
To find out more about the curriculum our school is following, please get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org