St Michael’s Catholic Primary School Curriculum Statement
St Michael’s School offers a curriculum for all children which engages and helps children to know more and remember more.
We audited our curriculum and chose what we want our children to experience and achieve. We want our children to leave St Michael’s School secondary ready and with knowledge and skills to help them in their future lives.
Our pupils’ backgrounds, our culture and our climate for learning provide the following drivers that underpin our curriculum and our vision and weave through all that we do.
- Catholic values – which helps pupils grow spiritually and give them values for life outside of school
- Historic Environment – which helps pupils to understand and appreciate their locality which facilitates their relationship to the wider world
- Resilience – which helps pupils grow as learners
- Independence – which helps pupils to grow as independent learners, not dependent on adults to learn
- Subject knowledge and skills – which help pupils develop their knowledge and skills and give them knowledge for life
- Tolerance – respecting and valuing the beliefs, values, choices and opinions of others
At St. Michael’s school we want our children to:
- Follow a curriculum that has knowledge, skills and vocabulary at the heart of their learning
- Have opportunities to embed BASIC skills and express knowledge in a variety of ways before moving on
- Delve deeper into their learning, building on skills and knowledge progressively each year
- Follow a curriculum that helps them know how to live healthy lifestyles – both physically and mentally
- Be able to read fluently
- Be clear what end points the curriculum is building towards and what they need to know and be able to do to reach those end points
- Experience Spiritual, moral, social and cultural experiences threaded through all we do which will facilitate them with all they need to face any and all futures
- Experience a broad curriculum at all times
- Experience cultural opportunities that they may not have outside of school
- Learn about history and beauty of the city of Durham and their local environment
- Follow a curriculum that is current and responsive
- Follow a curriculum that addresses typical gaps in pupils’ knowledge and skills.
- Follow a curriculum that has been adapted to account for delays and gaps in learning that arise as a result of the pandemic
We have designed our curriculum to recognise children’s prior learning, provide lots of opportunities for retrieval to check what they know and remember; provide first hand learning experiences and to build resilience. We use the national curriculum guidelines in order to develop the content of the curriculum but our aim is to make the curriculum relevant to our children.
In order to ensure that pupils at St Michael’s School leave ‘secondary ready’ it is important that the knowledge and skills taught are stored in their long term memory. We strive to ensure that our curriculum is continually revisited to support this. Each lesson revisits the previous learning and pupils get regular opportunities to practice new learning, in line with Rosenshine’s (2021) Principles of Effective Instruction. This is also supported by revisiting the knowledge mat during the teaching sequence so that teachers can continually make judgement about gaps in knowledge as well as strengths in learning.
With regard to building on prior learning during a lesson, below are strategies for how teachers will design and deliver learning opportunities based on Rosenshines previously mentioned Principles of Effective Instruction.
- All lessons will follow the review, teach, practice, apply and recap approach to teaching and learning.
- Each lesson will offer good teacher modelling with the use of good quality resources and examples of work.
- The environment will be set up to promote both a collaborative and independent approach to learning.
- All lessons will focus on learning and progress with the learning focus being clear and in line with national standards.
- Teachers will have good subject knowledge and will challenge learning through questioning.
- Staff will provide support and scaffolding to help all children achieve in the lesson.
At St Michael’s we have a carefully constructed timetable to ensure that all subjects within the curriculum receive and appropriate amount of coverage as well as meets the needs of the children.
For example – The time allocated for English and Maths is more heavily weighted with additional sessions timetabled for reading, spelling and practising of mathematics basic skills. This is due to these areas being a focus of our school in securing good attainment and progress for the children and the support that they offer to learning in other subjects.
At St. Michael’s School, we plan learning in an individual subject approach to the curriculum with opportunities to inspire discussion and support the development of basic skills within each subject. Subjects have been broken down across each year group to ensure subject progression of knowledge and skills across all areas of the curriculum. All areas are underpinned by strong subject knowledge to ensure teaching is developmental and builds on the prior learning of pupils.
When designing sequences of learning across the curriculum we use a teaching backwards approach. We start with the national curriculum expectations for the next year group and decide what else we feel our children need to know to be ready for the learning next time. Teachers consider the most important knowledge or concepts pupils need to know and focus on these. Our teachers plan and teach from a clear and well defined destination with the end point clearly in mind. With this knowledge our staff design learning that focuses on small steps progression. It is sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before and pupils can work towards the clearly defined end points. EEF research and best practice tell us that new learning is fragile and usually forgotten unless explicit steps are taken over time to revisit and refresh learning. Pre and post unit mini quizzes link back to the previous unit and units taught over the year, these along with evidence in books help teachers assess how much information has been learnt and remembered by pupils.
Our approach of a more flexible delivery of the curriculum means that some weeks, children may not study all subjects, instead they will have a focus on one subject. During other weeks, the opposite may be true, and some weeks there may be a balance across the subjects.
Teachers have expert knowledge of the subjects that they teach. If they do not, they are supported to address gaps in their knowledge so that pupils are not disadvantaged by ineffective teaching.
Enquiry Based Learning
At times learning will be directed and other times more open-ended enquiry based approach through big questions posed by the teacher to develop our children’s love of learning and independence. We use a mix of both practical and written work. We encourage our children to ‘have a go’ and work hard at developing their resilience in everyday life to help prepare them for their future lives.
Basic Skills Teaching
The development of basic skills will be applied across all areas of the curriculum. We believe that developing the basic skills of reading, writing and maths will allow the children to progress and succeed in other areas of the curriculum.
We believe in offering interventions for all children to develop their skills further and to close gaps in their learning helping them to keep up. We have a flexible approach to the grouping and timing of these to ensure that children do not miss out on learning in other subjects.
Subject Specific Vocabulary
Subject specific vocabulary will be planned within all units of learning and explicitly taught. Opportunities will be provided for the children to explore both oral and written language. Vocabulary will be enhanced across all areas of the curriculum.
Use of Environment
Our school is set within the mining village of Esh, which is part of the historic Cathedral city of Durham. We endeavour to make links to these and other local areas across our curriculum believing that it is not only important for children to have a deeper understanding and appreciation of where they live but also as valuable opportunities to make their learning more ‘real’ and in turn more memorable.
First and foremost, we want to instill in our children a love of learning and an understanding that the learning is part of a journey they are on. Each day we encourage our children to work hard, have a positive mind-set, have the confidence to make mistakes, persevere and not give up – in order to succeed, and to feel good about themselves.
How we know we are successful in this is through:
- End of Key Stage National Assessments
- Retrieval practice such as pre and post learning quizzes, questioning, flash cards; games; kahoot quizes; children presenting their learning
- Teacher assessment – formative and summative – through ongoing questioning, dialogue, verbal and written feedback, informal quizzes, practical tasks, day to day work.
- Learner Voice – pupil questionnaires, self and peer assessment, school council, learning dialogue in the classroom that encourages self-evaluation.
- Parental Feedback – parent questionnaires, parental engagement sessions, parent/teacher meetings, Facebook group, Friends of the school
- Data Analysis – internal with SLT, subject leadership, pupil progress meetings, governors, Education Development Partner (EDP), Peer Review and external data (National Assessments)
- Quality Assurance – regular and triangulated monitoring from leaders at all levels.
- Pupils are making progress in that they know more, remember more and are able to do more. They are learning what is intended in the curriculum.
- All learning building towards an end point. Pupils are being prepared for their next stage of education.
The impact of what we do and what the children achieve cannot always be measured in data sets and numbers so we always try to look holistically at the whole child. Disadvantaged pupils and pupils with SEND acquire the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life
Our daily interactions provide a regular check showing children demonstrating St Michael’s values – children demonstrating this in their learning and behaviour around school. Children making the right choices for their safety.
We see children displaying positive attitudes to Learning – children engaged and inspired by their learning, posing own enquiry questions, taking initiative and being more resilient.
We consider our children as individuals. who are facing future challenges and ultimately leave us secondary school ready having enjoyed and embraced their learning experiences along the way.
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