We at St Mary’s work together to provide a warm and caring environment in which all of our children can thrive and achieve their full potential.
We have shaped a bespoke and exciting curriculum into themes so that children can make connections between subjects. We call this our thematic curriculum, and the children explore subjects through a termly question. There is a strong emphasis on the basic skills of speaking, reading, writing and maths as we believe they are the building blocks to effective learning. We encourage our children to express themselves creatively and to use prior knowledge and skills to develop new ideas. We have carefully planned a range of exciting experiences both here in school and on visits which will stimulate their minds and help them to make greater sense of the world around them. (See our Blackbrook Bucket List). This curriculum is tailor-made to suit our children, their learning and their futures.
We recognise that our children need to develop and hone skills that are subject specific in order to gain a varied and in-depth education. It is because of this that we have decided to engage in a Discover, Explore, and Create approach to our curriculum.
In the autumn term, children will enter the ‘Discover’ section of the curriculum and in key stage 2, history will drive the termly theme, but all national curriculum subjects will be covered. This will help the children to develop subject specific skills such as examining and interpreting different historical sources, concluding whether the sources are reliable or biased and evaluating their impact on historical events. They will be developing skills as a historian whilst exploring specific time periods.
Our spring term will take on the ‘Explore’ aspect of our approach. This is where Science and Geography will become the driving force and children will again learn subject specific skills that they will undoubtedly use in the real world and deepen their understanding of what it means to be a geographer and a scientist. Summer will be our ‘Creative’ term where the children will engage in a theme that is centred around Art and Design Technology. Here, once again, they will hone their subject specific skills and learn how to be an artist, an inventor and a performer.
We promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of every pupil. We prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of their future lives by helping them to understand their own and others’ rights. We emphasise the moral values of self-respect, respect for others, respect for property, building up of self-confidence and initiative, responsibility and self-discipline. We recognise that we are building citizens of the future and want to encourage them to make a difference to society. To achieve this, the staff work as a team in cooperation with parents, governors and LA, whilst keeping abreast of the current and changing trends in education.
When your child leaves this school, we want them to recognise their strengths and to understand the world they live in more fully. We want them to be able to express themselves confidently in a range of forms and be fully prepared for the next stage in their lives. We will work in partnership with parents and families to make this happen. This we feel is embodied in our Mission Statement and Core Values. The school follows the National Curriculum for England. Details of this curriculum, year group by year group, are contained within this website.
It is our aim that by the end of each academic year our children will have built upon and expanded their skill set enabling them not only to understand each subject in depth but to also understand how these skills can be applied in real life.
The process of developing our curriculum
As we embarked on the journey of innovating our curriculum to make it more coherent, we began with the basic question, ‘what do our children need by the time they leave us?
We reflected on this in terms of the statutory national curriculum and considered our fundamental principles as Christians and began to shape our curriculum.
Our intent for the curriculum as a whole is to provide our children with a rich array of opportunities to learn a deep body of knowledge and in doing so learn new vocabulary to support their thinking in all curriculum areas. We believe developing their language will support the retention of knowledge and this will address social justice inequities thus giving all children the best opportunities.
The initial stages
We began to look at pupil progress and what that meant in terms of the knowledge and vocabulary our children would need. We planned a more systematic delivery encompassing a range of ideas and concepts. We worked together over time to be assured there was clarity in our collective vision. Progression was considered in terms of ‘knowing more and remembering more’ and the curriculum has been mapped out to allow children to learn and in doing so ‘make a change in their long-term memory’. We recognised that thinking skills (metacognition) would play a large part in the effectiveness of this.
We recognise that progress is to know more and remember more. Knowledge should be retained over time and the curriculum needs to give clarity as to what knowledge is important. Knowledge and language are interlinked and there is a causal link between vocabulary size and academic success. Therefore, we recognised it was important to consider both the language and knowledge in our curriculum.
We asked ourselves these questions
What do the children already know that will help then understand this new learning?
What will they know by the time they have completed this unit of work?
What will they be able to do at the end of this unit?
What vocabulary will support this? Will this vocabulary be useful again?
We also knew that we needed to ensure children have the background knowledge to support and prepare them for future learning. The importance of language in making connections is key. Knowledge is carefully chosen because it allows for transferrable concepts and ideas, thus allowing children to compare, contrast and build on what they know.
It is from this process that the curriculum maps were developed. The termly topic overviews can be found on the class pages of the website. These are simply a brief outline. The documents in school identify the key learning end points per term and the vocabulary we expect them to learn. It has been our aim to develop a curriculum that has powerful knowledge, transferable knowledge and that the knowledge has been sequenced carefully. We continue to keep the curriculum under review and prioritise key knowledge in light of the lost learning incurred during the pandemic as we recognise the powerful impact that a rich and exciting curriculum has on our children, their futures and the future of our world in the coming years.