At Thorney Close Primary School we believe that learning is a change to long-term memory. As we serve an area of high deprivation we place great emphasis upon developing children’s speech and listening, vocabulary and cultural experiences. Due to the high number of pupils with SEND, incorporating our Deaf Resource Provision, we ensure learning is sequential, repetitive and has literacy and language skills at its core.
We aim to ensure that our children experience a wide breadth of study based upon and cross referenced with the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. We ensure that children, by the end of each key stage, have developed a long-term memory of ambitious semantic and procedural knowledge in all National Curriculum subjects.
1. Curriculum drivers shape our curriculum. At Thorney Close Primary School these include, community, diversity, possibilities, mindfulness, the environment and sport are our main curriculum drivers. These are based upon the needs of our children and our beliefs about high quality education and our values. They are used to ensure we give our children appropriate and ambitious curriculum opportunities.
2. Cultural capital gives our children the vital background knowledge required to be informed and thoughtful members of our community who understand and believe in British values (Democracy, English Law, Accountability, Individual Liberty, Equality, Tolerance).
3. Curriculum breadth is shaped by curriculum drivers, cultural capital, subject topics and our ambition for children to study the best of what has been thought and said by many generations of educators.
4. Our curriculum distinguishes between subject topics and threshold concepts. Subject topics are specific aspects of subjects that are studied.
5. Threshold concepts tie together topics into meaningful schema. The same concepts are explored in a wide breadth of topics. Through this ‘forwards-and-backwards’ engineering of the curriculum, children return to the same concepts over and over and gradually build understanding of them.
6. For each of the threshold concepts three Milestones, each of which includes the procedural and semantic knowledge students need to understand the threshold concepts, provides a progression model.
7. Knowledge organisers in each subject give children a way of expressing their understanding of threshold concepts.
8. Cognitive science tells us that working memory is limited and that cognitive load is too high if children are rushed through content. This limits the acquisition of long-term memory. Cognitive science also tells us that in order for children to become creative thinkers, or have a greater depth of understanding they must first master the basics, which takes time.
9. Within each Milestone, children gradually progress in their procedural fluency and sematic strength through three cognitive domains: basic, advancing and deep. The goal for children is to display sustained mastery at the ‘advancing’ stage of understanding by the end of each milestone and for the most able to have a greater depth of understanding at the ‘deep’ stage.
10. As part of our progression model we use a different pedagogical style in each of the cognitive domains of basic, advancing and deep. This is based on the research of Sweller, Kirschner and Rosenshine who argue to direct instruction in the early stages of learning and discovery based approaches later. We use direct instruction in the basic domain and problem based discovery in the deep domain.
11. Also as part of our progression model we use POP tasks (Proof of Progress) which shows our curriculum expectations in each cognitive domain.
12. Our curriculum is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:
*Learning is most effective with spaced repetition
*Interleaving helps pupils to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention
*Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
13. In addition to the three principles, we also understand that learning is invisible in the short-term and that sustained mastery takes time.
14. Our content is subject specific. We make intra-curricular links to strengthen the schema.
15. Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum, in other cases provides retrieval practice for previously learned content.
16. Children with SEND access the full curriculum with reasonable adjustments and scaffolding. In some cases children may follow their own bespoke curriculum as directed by other agencies and their EHCP.
17. Because learning is a change to long-term memory it is impossible to see the impact in the short term.
18. We do, however use deliberate practise. The means that we look at the practices taking place to determine whether they are appropriate, related to our goals and likely to produce results in the long-run.
19. We use comparative judgement in two ways; in the tasks we set (POP tasks see point 11) and in comparing student’s work over time.
20. Children in the bottom 20% of the school population will make good progress due to staff considering and planning steps to allow them to overcome their learning barriers.
21. We use learning walks and lesson visits to see if pedagogical style matches our depth expectations (see point 10).