School Context and Curriculum Rationale
Roskear Primary and Nursery School is situated in a rural and coastal town in the Southwest of Cornwall. We are situated in an area of high deprivation with a predominantly white British community. Additional layers have been added more recently with the migration of families from Eastern European countries, which support our local industries such as: care, hospitality, and farming. Since the decline of the mining industry, there has been and remains a legacy of low- skilled job opportunities, low wages and as a result low aspirations often follow. The growth of the tourism industry has seen the migration of city- dwellers, as second home- owners, pushing up house prices and the cost of living, resulting in large socio-economic disparities.
General attitudes among children are shaped by an assumption that people stay where they live and that this is typical of the rest of the country and the world. There is strong local pride in being Cornish.
Our aims are broad and focused on learning to learn as well as specific knowledge and skills.
The school context drives the curriculum design and as such, it therefore addresses cultural poverty, bias and ‘single story’ thinking. It is broad and balanced and designed with humanities at its core, providing pupils the knowledge and understanding about environments including: of their locality, their nation and their world in the past, present and future.
Our curriculum framework meets the requirements of the latest National Curriculum, providing pupils with the requisite skills and knowledge, in all subjects, to be successful, independent, resilient and motivated learners in readiness for their next stage of education. The content and challenge of our units of learning inspire children to nurture a passion for learning and prepare them for life as a global citizen, in which they can communicate effectively, in a fast-changing and interdependent world. It provides opportunities to explore complex and controversial global issues such as equality which they may encounter through the media and their own experiences. The curriculum enables pupils to develop their skills as agents of change and see how they can work together to develop and create a better future.
Our values: Caring, Ambitious, Inquisitive, Active and Happy, support the development of the whole child as a reflective learner. Our PSHE curriculum, alongside the fundamental British values, supports quality teaching and learning, whilst making a positive contribution to the development of a fair, just and civil society.
Our curriculum is broad and balanced, we have considered the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are required to achieve academic excellence in each subject. This ensures that pupils in each phase receive a rigorous, coherent and intelligently sequenced curriculum, which builds on what has come before. The curriculum, at Roskear, is grounded in the strongest available evidence about how pupils learn and retain knowledge in the long term : Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction. The Principles include : explicit teaching, modelling scaffolding and deliberate practice. We have identified the key learning to be acquired within a lesson, half-term, year and phase. We have ensured pupils are encountering ‘fewer things; in greater depth.’ Our teachers also plan for and understand that pupils will ‘remember what they pay attention to’ and ensure the independent practice facilitates this. Our marking and feedback policy states that best practice is when pupils’ receive immediate feedback, in order to make changes, rather than practice that embeds mistakes. Teachers also plan for and address misconceptions.We develop life- long learners by promoting our Characteristics of Learning: Resilience, Reciprocity, Resourcefulness, Reflectiveness and Responsible. This begin in Early years and is developed throughout the school, in all subjects.
Our approach to how our curriculum design is deliberate and based on the interplay of knowledge, skills and concepts. Our Long Term Plan (LTP) is structured using half-termly, whole school themes, with a geography or history focus. Geography units develop the concepts of place, space and scale. Where possible they provide the geographical context for the following history topic. In history, the periods studied enable pupils to make connections in local, national and world history by developing the key concepts of: chronology, evidence, significance, change and interpretation. Where appropriate core and foundation subjects have been linked to provide depth, breadth and interconnectedness within the units.
Our Medium Term Plans (MTP) are supported by our ‘small steps ’document which breaks the learning down and identifies the substantive and disciplinary knowledge to be taught and learned, ensuring a progression in both concepts and content. It identifies the misconceptions, links to prior knowledge, vocabulary. In order to develop our pupils’ intellectual architecture, the new information from a different context helps it to ‘stick’ to a concept and the children can make sense of their learning.
There is a balance of bespoke curriculums and ‘adopted’ curriculums. For those subjects with more hierarchical knowledge structures (Maths: White Rose , Music: Music Express and Churanga, phonics: Read Write Inc, Spanish: Catherine Cheeter) we use commercially produced Schemes of work, which are adapted to meet the needs and context of our school. These schemes of work are two-fold as they reduce teacher workload and also develop teacher subject knowledge. We follow the Cornwall Agreed Syllabus for Religious and Education and Jigsaw for Personal, Social, Health Education ( PSHE).
Fertile questions are used across the curriculum to at Roskear to embed learning and build synoptic links. It is used as a way of shifting the focus away from content coverage, to the key concepts and ideas, which we want our pupils to know at a deep level. Information without structure becomes disconnected and easily forgotton. Therefore, overarching questions (where appropriate) helps information to be organised in learners’ brains, relieving cognitive overload and allowing ‘holding power’ .
In order for pupils to make our pupils ‘word-rich’ and contemplate the curriculum, they must be able to articulate the subjects using the subject -specific vocabulary. There is an intrinsic link with pupils progress and language acquisition. Vocabulary is identified within the Small step documents; made explicit within lessons and is visible on learning walls. Pupils are expected to speak and write in full sentences to develop language patterns, the use of sentence stem supports this, and their thinking. The use of talk partners within class ensures ample opportunities to rehearse the language and vocabulary they require.
Continued Professional Development (CPD)
Expert subject knowledge of teachers and leaders is key to the successful implementation of the curriculum. At Roskear school we use a coaching approach whereby, teachers and subject Leaders are responsible for developing their subject knowledge and becoming experts. The Teaching and Learning Leader is responsible for monitoring Continued Professional Development and addresses any whole school training needs and ensuring a balance of subject experitise and generic pedagogy. All subject Leaders are members of their subject association and have access to the National College online training website.
Visits and Visitors
The purpose of visits and visitors is to cement the curriculum and bring it to life. Visits and visitors enhance and deepen knowledge as they provide opportunities for generating questions, further research and purposeful writing opportunities. These opportuinties are identified on the small step documents and include visits such as : the local beach (Portreath) , woods (Tehidy), Cathedral (Truro), church ( Methodist), St Michaels mount, museum ( Truro), mines ( East Pool) Eden Project, London, Isles of Scilly.
Our Knowledge organisers support our teachers’ subject knowledge of what has come before and what comes after. They make teachers think about what they are going to teach. They capture the key information, dates and terminology that is to be retained in pupils’ long term memory. Pupils will encounter other technical vocabulary and facts throughout a unit of learning. The learning on the organiser is necessary but not sufficient for gaining deep knowledge over time. They provide pupils with the learning they need to succeed, they are expected to acquire this knowledge, incrementally over time. This supports resilience as the expectation is that pupils gain ownership of these ‘organisers,’ over time. This is done by setting homework, revisiting in class and low stakes testing.
Humans’ minds seek causal relationships and are predisposed to remember information that is presented as a story. Stories that include: causality, conflict, complications and character are likely to’ stick.’ Where possible teachers frame their explanations as a story. Closely linked to stories are analogies, which make the abstract seem familiar. By relating a concept to something they recognise it can be understood.