Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Impact
Together, Barton, East Cowton, Kirkby Fleetham and Ravensworth CE Schools make up Cornerstone Schools. We are four very small, rural schools who work together under one senior leadership team. We have a joint curriculum and subject leadership is shared over our schools.
Our vision statement ‘Building Futures with Love’ comes from the greatest commandment given by Jesus: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ So, each day we live out these commandments through our values of love, hope, courage and perseverance. We learn to love ourselves, each other, our community and our world and learn to grow as active, healthy and engaged citizens.
The curriculum was developed in line with The Church of England Vision for Education which states that ‘our purpose in education is to enable the children, young people and communities we serve to flourish as they experience education for wisdom, hope, community and dignity and discover life in all its fullness which Jesus offers’.
Our curriculum is jointly owned by all staff and was developed in consultation with parents, pupils and governors. It takes into account the life experiences of pupils in our context; what they have already learned by the time they join us in Foundation Stage, and the knowledge and skills we want them to have by the time they leave year 6.
As priorities for the curriculum in our context we identified:
- Opening up horizons – multi cultural awareness and celebrating diversity
- Challenging ‘comfortable complacency’ with a focus on courageous advocacy and challenging injustice
- Challenging things learned, and being challenged by these things, supported by intentional questioning.
- Developing the whole child, with a focus on resilience, perseverance, self-esteem and mental well-being
We are ambitious for all our children and expect them to achieve the highest standards. We have designed four year rolling curriculum to accommodate our mixed age classes. It is a curriculum that is exciting and challenging, which stimulates and enthuses, and which develops them as rounded individuals who can succeed in the modern world. Through our curriculum, pupils develop a rich web of knowledge, which provides capacity for further learning and application of skills, leading to deeper understanding.
Although we are four schools, we plan and work together as one. Subject leadership is shared and staff plan together as a team. Pupils often come together for enrichment and PE activities (online at present). Each school has mixed age classes.
Due to very small cohorts, we aim to bring EYFS children from the schools together when possible, this enhances their learning and provides a richer environment for role play and independent learning.
We have a shared four-year rolling curriculum plan, and although we teach foundation subjects discretely, we ensure that lessons are linked through a common theme where possible. The priorities of the curriculum intent run throughout the curriculum and opportunities to develop these are carefully woven into lessons.
Because of mixed age classes and the rolling design of our curriculum, it is not possible for topics to run in sequence (eg history topics are not in chronological order), However each term’s topic is carefully planned to ensure that lessons flow through a sequence and skills are built upon each lesson to ensure progression.
We bring each topic alive through purposeful activities and carefully chosen learning questions, to which children’s answers develop and change over the course of the topic (eg. KS1: Do all superheroes wear capes? KS2: Does the rest of the world do enough to help when disaster strikes?)
We have a high percentage of SEN pupils in the schools and planning ensures that the needs of all pupils are met through evidence- based interventions as well as whole class approaches.
We have introduced a metacognitive approach to learning and lessons are planned to provide depth and an opportunity for pupils to apply their skills and knowledge in a range of situations, making links across the curriculum. We understand that mastery takes time. Our maths subject leader is a maths mastery specialist for the Archimedes maths Hub and we are developing the mastery approach to maths across all schools. We use the ‘Power Maths’ pupil books to support learning.
Social and emotional learning is at the heart of what we do, we use zones of regulation and ensure that our children feel safe, are self aware, foster positive relationships, embrace diversity and achieve personal well-being.
Oracy is at the heart of teaching and learning, equipping children with the skills to become articulate, respectful and confident communicators. We believe that school closures and lockdown due to Covid-19 have had a significant impact on these skills. Oracy skills are one of the strongest indicators for success later in life, impacting on academic achievement, employability, confidence and self-esteem. We believe that all children, and particularly our vulnerable pupils should be given the opportunity to develop these skills as a fundamental element of our curriculum.
New themes or topics are often introduced through a SOLE lesson (Self Organised Learning Environments), and teachers have received training in this approach. We use digital technology effectively and creatively so that our children are digitally fluent and equipped for life and work in our rural area.
Reading is integral to the whole curriculum and high quality texts are chosen to challenge, engage and stimulate pupils learning. We ensure that these texts are linked to the term’s topic, that they provide variety, deepen learning and knowledge, and meet the needs of the curriculum intent. Writing lessons are based on the current text.
Enrichment days and activities
We bring the curriculum alive for pupils through a range of visits and visitors. Our schools have links with a school in France, The Gambia, India and Canada.
Staff are trained to lead forest schools and this is a very important part of our curriculum. We have woodland areas to visit from each site and are currently working towards the John Muir award for outdoor learning.
Assessment is rigorous and thorough. Judgements are made following work scrutiny, discussions with pupils and observations of learning. We use target tracker to track pupils learning in all areas of the curriculum, but also conduct termly summative assessments in reading, writing, EGPS and maths.
Children are expected to make good or better progress in all subjects and this individual progress is tracked and reported to parents and carers at parents evening and on the end of year report.
The impact of our curriculum is evident in the outcomes of all pupils and there is evidence of swift progress and deep learning. Some pupils demonstrate a greater depth of understanding across most curriculum areas.
Our children are enthusiastic learners; they love school and really enjoy their lessons. We believe this early love of learning stimulates them to become life-long learners, who leave our schools fully equipped for not only the next stage in their education, but to be fantastic role models in society, who are architects of their own futures by being their very best version of themselves in the service of others