What do we want our children to learn?
At Alwoodley Primary our motto learning together, growing stronger underpins our approach. We believe all learners are entitled to an ambitious, knowledge-rich curriculum which will open doors and maximise life chances. We want their education to be meaningful and memorable and hope that it is bookmarked in their memories for them to draw upon for many years to come.
At Alwoodley Primary School, we challenge learners by instilling shared powerful knowledge through a curriculum which is broad and balanced. Curriculum overview grids specify what will be taught and how we have sequenced learning. Subject leaders have implemented progression documents that set out in detail, the knowledge (both substantive and disciplinary) that pupils will remember. These can be shared upon request.
At Alwoodley Primary School, we continuously review and evaluate our curriculum to ensure pupils receive the best possible education and achieve the highest standards in all subjects. We value all subjects and ensure each one is given equal importance, with a clear understanding that all children have their talents that can be seen and promoted in a wide range of areas. Through our inter-leaving approach, we ensure that skills are transferred across subjects and that children are given opportunities to consolidate their understanding whilst retaining prior knowledge. High expectations in speech, language and communication strengthen children’s ability to learn at a deeper level, allowing them to articulate their learning; demonstrate quality thinking and application of skills and knowledge.
We have ensured we meet and go beyond the requirements of the National Curriculum by personalising the curriculum to reflect the needs of our pupils.
Furthermore, we have ensured our curriculum is tailored to create purposeful links with our local and wider community. Physical and mental wellbeing are prioritised within our curriculum allowing children opportunities to develop their spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding, thus preparing them to make a positive contribution to their community and the wider society. Every child is recognised as a unique individual, and we celebrate and welcome differences within our school community. Our Alwoodley Passport is a way of celebrating our broad experiences. Personal development is a priority in school; it is one of our golden threads.
Our curriculum is enhanced by providing an extensive range of extra-curricular activities that extend the formal curriculum. We continuously work together as a staff, alongside governors, parents and pupils, to reflect on, and develop our curriculum as we constantly strive for the highest of standards. We regularly share pupils’ achievements and celebrate their work with parents and our community through a range of events such as art exhibitions, learning mornings, music performances and through our Twitter account.
How do we facilitate their learning journey?
The curriculum incorporates the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum (including RSHE and PSHE) and other experiences and opportunities which best meet the learning and developmental needs of the children in our school, allowing them to flourish. Our curriculum is one where knowledge is built over time, and where children develop their understanding of concepts through the inter-connection of ideas and skills. The curriculum provides children with memorable experiences and opportunities from which they can learn, develop and apply a range of transferable skills.
The curriculum exposes the children to the key concepts of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. It is constructed with deliberate layering of cumulative knowledge as the children progress through the school, with references to past learning made explicit in order to build their understanding. We work to ensure that our children understand that we are all equal in our differences. Protected characteristics are covered in our curriculum offer and enhanced further in our assembly coverage.
As an accredited Advanced Thinking School and a Thinking Matters hub school, our curriculum is informed by the latest evidential research from cognitive science about memory, forgetting and practice in order to help students remember, and apply, the best of what has been thought and said. We make knowledge stick so that it can be flexibly applied in a variety of different contexts and situations. Our sequential knowledge curriculum begins in EYFS so that students can successfully access a broad and balanced curriculum throughout their education. We have worked with specialist colleagues, subject associations and our feeder secondary school on curriculum content decisions to ensure lessons are planned sequentially and that key knowledge enters long-term memory. We place importance on how children learn as well as what they learn; this is another of our golden threads.
Age-related expectations combine the acquisition of knowledge and development of skills to create a purposeful and exciting learning journey for every child. The curriculum has high expectations to combine transferable skills, demonstrate a breadth of vocabulary and develop strong, meaningful cross-curricular links. Inviting classroom environments stimulate learners and engage them in quality thinking and reasoning. Learning enquiry sequences are responsive to children’s needs; incorporating holistic approaches to teaching and learning.
The school takes pride in providing a highly inclusive environment, where learners of all abilities demonstrate high levels of enjoyment in their education and most make very good progress in most subjects and areas of learning. Children at all levels are helped to achieve their potential. Those who are most able are challenged and supported through being offered tasks which provide opportunities for greater depth and those who present with a barrier to learning (including SEND and EAL pupils) are encouraged and given targeted support to embed skills, to develop at their own pace or simply to learn in a style that best suits their individual needs.
Subject leaders play an important part in the success of the curriculum by leading a regular programme of monitoring, evaluation and review and the celebration of good practice contributes to the ongoing commitment to evolve and improve further. Subject leaders are given the opportunity to develop their own subject knowledge, skills and understanding, so they can support curriculum development and their colleagues throughout the school. This model supports staff well-being and demonstrates to the pupils that the adults in school are also – learning which reiterates our motto: learning together, growing stronger.
What difference does learning at Alwoodley make?
Our children are very well-prepared for each stage of their learning journey. Practice across the school provides a strong foundation and opportunities for children to collaborate and develop social skills both indoors and out. The curriculum design provides a structured path for children to develop their knowledge and understanding over time, connecting ideas and taking opportunities to develop their own thoughts and ideas about the world they live in, and to see the world in a new way. The curriculum enables the children to question and challenge ideas, to voice their thoughts and opinions in an articulate way and to participate confidently in discussion.
Enjoyment of the curriculum promotes achievement, self-confidence and good behaviour. Children feel safe to try new things and present excellent behaviour for learning. High quality visits and visitors to the school enhance the curriculum and provide opportunities for broadening horizons and enriching the learning experience.
The curriculum organisation at Alwoodley ensures that the needs of individual and small groups of children can be met within the environment of Quality First teaching, supported by targeted, proven interventions where appropriate. In this way it can be seen to impact positively on children’s outcomes.
Subject leaders monitor individual subjects: reviewing learning, evaluating pupil voice, providing individual feedback to move practice forward, celebrating positives and highlighting areas of development that can be addressed collaboratively. Our whole school team strengthens our ethos and vision as we work together to reflect upon our curriculum and revise it according to the needs of our school community. We don’t confuse coverage with progress when assessing. Learning is measured through the analysis of learners’ application of skills across the curriculum and through showing how the acquisition of knowledge is reflected in quality thinking and the demonstration of individual understanding.
Golden Thread One - Cognitive Education.
Cognitive learning is an active style of learning that focuses on helping you learn how to maximize your brain’s potential. It makes it easier for you to connect new information with existing ideas hence deepening your memory and retention capacity.
Alwoodley Primary School has been reaccredited as an Advanced
Thinking School by Thinking Schools@Exeter at the University of Exeter.
The Advanced Thinking School Status has been awarded until July 2024.
A Thinking School is, ‘an educational community in which all members share a common commitment to giving regular careful thought to everything that takes place. This will involve both students and staff learning how to think reflectively, critically and creatively, and to employing these skills and techniques in the co-construction of a meaningful curriculum and associated activities. Successful outcomes will be reflected in students’ development across a wide range of abilities demonstrating independent and co-operative learning skills, high levels of achievement and both enjoyment and satisfaction in learning. Benefits will be shown in ways in which all members of the community interact with and show consideration for each other and in the positive psychological well-being of both students and staff.’ (Burden, 2006).
We are thrilled to that Alwoodley Primary School has been asked and agreed to becoming a Hub school in the Thinking Schools Network. This means we will support visitors in understanding more about developing a whole school approach to metacognition. We have also committed to sharing best practice and ideas with the network via a variety of mediums. This is a huge privilege for our school and shows our long-standing dedication to developing cognitive education and lifelong learners.
At Alwoodley Primary, we use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised as our SSP across school.
Children in Nursery use the Foundation for Phonics to help children to develop an awareness of sound through engaging activities that nurture focused listening and attention, including oral blending. This ensures that children are prepared to begin grapheme-phoneme correspondence and blending at the start of Reception. In Reception, children begin learning the alphabetic code and how to blend words containing it. This continues into alternative pronunciations in Year 1 and reviewing their knowledge of the alphabetic code in Year 2. All children receive daily phonics sessions and three reading practice sessions each week where they are grouped according to phonics ability. Within these sessions, trained teachers and teaching assistants focus on decoding, prosody and comprehension to develop the child as a reader. Children who need further support with phonics, receive daily intervention in small groups or 1:1. They are assessed regularly to identify further support that may be needed.
Golden Thread Three - Personal Development
Personal Development - Building knowledge, attitudes, skills, relationships and behaviours that can be used to navigate the world we live in.
At Alwoodley, we consistently promote the personal development of our pupils by providing rich and varied opportunities. It is reflected in our learning environment, pedagogy and curriculum. Our children learn in an inclusive environment where they are able to develop a sense of enjoyment and fascination when learning about themselves, others and the world around them. We celebrate every individual, their characteristics and their differences and want every child to leave school feeling confident, unique and proud. We teach our children attributes such as confidence, resilience and independence as well as an understanding of British values. We make explicit links to the British Values and protected characteristics and, throughout the curriculum and within our assemblies, we celebrate and expose children to a variety of diverse role models, making them feel valued and represented. At Alwoodley, we believe that Personal Development is not just a subject but an ethos too which is promoted throughout the curriculum.
If you have any questions regarding the curriculum we teach please look at the subject pages, year group pages or contact the school directly.