At Black Firs, we deliver out curriculum intent by:
- Prioritising reading, communication and mathematics as the key meta-cognition to other curriculum areas
- A commitment to excellence, innovation, diversity and creativity.
- Ensuring that curriculum knowledge and skills in every area are carefully and discretely sequenced so that they build progressively to deepen understanding
- Bringing learning to life through our Studywork using rich first-hand experiences such as visits, visitors, theme days, making projects and using our locality
- Making learning meaningful, an emotional connection, through relevant content and engaging, high quality literature
- Using our curriculum to advance personal development and a sense of community through the KiVa programme, global learning, Personal, Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural education, RE, physical literacy and our extracurricular offer
- Providing a high-quality learning environment and quality resources (including ICT) which promote independent learning
- Listening to and observing children whilst learning, so that teachers can skilfully adapt lessons as necessary in a timely way
- Promoting a growth mind-set, the ‘learning pit’, GRIT and philosophy-for-children
- Ensuring our curriculum drivers underpin curriculum design - local links; wider world; learning power –resilient, resourceful, reflective, responsible, reasoning; nurture; self-awareness
- Ensuring all staff receive regular training and development in learning and teaching
- Involving parents/ carers in learning
- Maximising learning opportunities
This short video, by the children, explains how we create our termly theme using our Studywork Literature Policy
The curriculum is planned with literature forming the core of our Studywork approach. Texts are chosen carefully to provide threads which lead to further study in the foundation subjects. Literature provides the context for learning. This context is physical (the internal provided environment), intellectual and spiritual.
The physical context is important. In Key Stage One this involves a ‘set induction’ to facilitate structured play including role-play which relates to the text and elicits developmental writing. The creative teacher can devise specific scenarios to stimulate play and learning, for example by introducing, into the set context, situations through letters, concrete materials and problem-solving opportunities which demand responses from the children. The structured physical context is still important in Key Stage Two as it demands of the child a conscious response to and ownership of their own learning. The physical context is created through display drawn from the text. The visual stimulus is arresting and multi-sensory. It offers first-hand experience through a thoughtful grouping of resources. Children respond to a ‘Still Life’ of artefacts linked to an extract of text. To be most effective in motivating children’s learning, the teacher needs to set up the display for the start of term. This acts as a ‘set induction’ to ignite children’s interest and inspire their work.
The intellectual context is that of the cerebral, the cognitive, the conceptual. A literature study offers the teacher a series of ‘chapel hat-pegs’ standing out as obvious hooks on which to hang the children’s learning across the curriculum. This is what we mean by the emotional relevance to learning.
The spiritual context is engendered through the shared experience of the literature and the sense of corporate consciousness. The sensitive teacher seizes moments of awe and wonder.
Within our curriculum literature is used as an aid in developing the children’s literacy skills. Each class teacher selects a work of literature for the term to stimulate oracy, reading, writing and grammar. Using the model of quality fiction as the backbone for language work provides the children with a familiar context in which they can learn new language concepts. Stories can create a shared experience, merging the private and public world.
Through a closeness with the text the teacher can develop within the children a personal and corporate sense of the deeper and more sensitive understanding of language and its many forms.
One of the main aims of using fiction as the starting point for language is to encourage the children to enjoy books and discover for themselves the world literature.
For our less able children the ‘Literature Study’ approach to language enables them to encounter good quality fiction which they may not be able to read for themselves. Fiction allows our children to share in fundamental human experiences and emotions. They can project their own behaviour, their feelings of jealousy, fear, insecurity, envy, onto the appropriate characters in the stories they hear and so understand and come to terms more easily with reality. The children’s response to fiction can take many forms, written, oral, dramatic or artistic. Children are singularly at home in the world of fiction where they can deal with experiences and situations in their own way.
The enthusiasm generated by books carries over into all aspects of the children’s work motivating them towards becoming fluent readers, writers and improving their vocabulary.
The ‘Literature Studywork’ approach elevates the child’s writing from the mundane to the extraordinary. It enables them to experience adventure, fantasy, it involves them in the impossible. Fiction can transport children to other times and places. Fiction allows the child to be a spectator and view ways of life beyond their own range. Powerful literacy brings to the young unbounded freedom, and can show the child how they too can become an author by writing stories to match those they read. Responding to fiction can help the child write personally in an almost confessional mode. Don Graves calls this writing with ‘Voice’ and without the voice of our children within their work, the writing becomes just ‘words following words’.
Fiction helps us as teachers to develop a more creative approach to grammar which is not produced in isolated exercises, but bound closely with the literature the children are familiar with and so is more meaningful. Literature extends vocabulary, spelling and punctuation. It can provide the children with a bank of techniques which they will be able to use when they have a subject about which they really want to write. The Literature Study and related texts provide a rich bank of ‘extracts’ to model writing in the Literacy hour as access points to other areas of the curriculum.
Our ‘Literature Studywork’ approach to language encourages the children to become independent writers; it enables them to build a store of satisfying and enriching experiences so that they will have something to draw on as life goes on.
In Reception our School curriculum progression maps also pick up the areas of learning designated in the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ strategy. Early years children learn through structured play. Play is vitally important throughout School as it brings the ‘real world’ into the classroom letting children practice their skills. In Year 1 the play element is more structured and the Curriculum is more formally introduced. It is not natural to learn in subject areas; no one’s brain thinks in eleven subjects. Our children integrate subjects, holistic learning, from very young in to their play and investigation.
Holistic Studywork areas are chosen by the teacher which cover many areas of learning. This is predominantly based on our Studywork Literature approach. The termly titles of our studywork often come from the title of our class book or series of books. In Early years and yr1 our studywork titles might be ‘Ourselves’, ‘Water’ or ‘Colour’. By yr2 and through to yr6, our studywork is based around the shared class story and the method continues the ‘hands on’ approach of experiential, enquiry-based learning of early years by planning stimulating rich integrated learning experiences.
In our Teaching-teams termly plans we recognise the important contribution which all subjects make to the key skills of literacy and numeracy.
We continue to provide a broad, balanced, relevant and differentiated curriculum. Studywork Assignments will have science, technology, geography, history, art, and music focuses. Physical Education, PE, is sometimes integrated through dance but is often taught as a standalone theme; we place a great emphasis on PE and Sport. We believe that, as well as physical skills, PE and sport help to develop a child’s emotional intelligences - their inter-personal and intra-personal intelligences. These are essential for successful life-long learners.
Other areas of learning are integrated into our Studywork assignments. These might include drama, health & safety, citizenship – local & global, philosophy for learning, multi-cultural themes, Forest Schools, equal opportunities and health and relationships education. We do use some formal schemes for example, we use ‘Linking Sounds & Letters’ for teaching of phonics.Next - Our Learning Process