YHCLT Primary Curriculum Statement - A Connected Curriculum
Incremental changes to long term memory result in cognitive gain; we call this academic progress. This process is best delivered by enabling pupils to comprehend that all human knowledge is a connected whole, not a disparate collection of unconnected facts but rather a set of subject schema that interlink (Appendix 1). The Connected Curriculum delivers new facts and the connecting concepts that will enable children to make sense of the world they are experiencing.
The school curriculum aims to develop the intellect and the character of each pupil. It consists of the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage, The National Curriculum for England, Religious Education locally agreed syllabus, the Jigsaw (PSHE) curriculum (which includes Sex and Relationship Education and British Values learning), instruction in The Cooperative Values, and any other content decided on by the school. Pupils will experience a wide breadth of study and by the end of each key stage will have built within long-term memory an ambitious body of procedural and semantic knowledge that will positively impact on their cultural capital and life chances.
Cultural Capital1 is the body of knowledge, skills and experience that are needed for every citizen to fully engage with, and participate in, British society and the wider world in all its diversity. Each school curriculum is designed to address the cultural capital deficit that it encounters in its locality.
Curriculum Drivers are those elements of the culture of a school that create its distinctive character and which may give parents reasons to choose the school. They shape the way the school makes the curriculum relevant to the community it serves. The school’s Curriculum Drivers are given in Appendix 3. Curriculum breadth is a product of curriculum drivers, cultural capital, and subject topics and our ambition for students to study the best of what has been thought and said by many generations of academics and scholars.
End Points and schema for learners are ambitious and prepare pupils well for the next stage of their education both intellectually and emotionally. Our aim is for the vast majority of pupils to have mastered all curriculum content / knowledge. Subject domains (see Appendix 2) are ways of thinking about the fundamental characteristics of subjects. A mastery of each domain, and forming links between them will enable learners to form well developed schema (taxonomies). When assessing pupil attainment teachers will consider attainment in each subject domain before reaching an overall assessment for a subject.
SOLO taxonomy (Appendix 4) is the predominant tool employed to enable teachers and pupils to think about, and assess, how well they understand subject knowledge, how well they make connections within each subject, and how well they make connections between different subjects .2
The curriculum distinguishes between subjects (e.g. history), subject topics (e.g Why is Florence Nightingale an important historical figure?), and subject domains (e.g. Investigating and Interpreting the Past, Build and Overview of World History, Chronology). Subject topics are the means through which specific subject content is studied.
3 Subject domains are the subject specific central concepts that underpin subject content and, over time, tie them into meaningful schema.
The school curriculum is sequenced so that subject domains are frequently revisited regardless of the new content being delivered. Through this ‘forwards-and-backwards engineering’ of central curriculum concepts, pupils return to the same fundamentals over and over and gradually build meaningful schema in long term memory.
For each of the foundation subject’s
domains there are four phases - F1/F2,
Y1/Y2, Y3/Y4 and Y5/Y6. School staff
work towards helping pupils master
curriculum content by the end of each of
these phases. Within each phase, pupils
gradually progress in their procedural
fluency and semantic strength through
three cognitive domains: working towards
the expected standard (WT), at the
expected standard (EXS), and working at
greater depth within the expected
The expectation is for the vast majority of
students to display mastery at the
expected standard for each subject by
the end of each phase.
Scales of planning. Schools produce these on YHCLT templates;
● Long Term Subject Plans detailing sequenced subject domain coverage and itemising key domain elements to be covered under each subject domain and gives key vocabulary. These plans are published on the school’s website.
3 Mostly taken from the ‘Purpose of Study’ section of each National Curriculum subject.
● Long Term Year Group Plans detailing the topics to be covered year by year designed to give parents a guide to the school curriculum and is published on the school website.
● Medium Term Plans detailing the subject and subject domain knowledge to be taught. These act as knowledge maps.
Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin curriculum design and inform pedagogy:
● Learning is most effective with spaced repetition to minimise the effects of ‘the 4
forgetting curve’ . Schools decide on the frequency of repetition that will best serve the development of long term memory.
● Decisions about blocking (AAAAABBBBBCCCCC) and interleaving5
(ABCABCABCABCABC) that will best serve the development of long term memory are made by the school.
● Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength. Pupils will be given frequent opportunities to review learning from yesterday, last week, last term and last year.
Our basic pedagogical principles are that;
● Teachers teach age appropriate curriculum content using age appropriate pedagogies based on the ‘mastery’ expectation for the year group they are teaching.
● Content is subject specific and explicit references are made to subjects and disciplines within subjects (e.g. biology, physics and chemistry in science).
● Teachers plan for all pupils to make intra-curricular links that form a platform for all children to construct secure subject schema, and give opportunities for all pupils to explore the inter-curricula links between subjects.
● Teachers make continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, that replaces the timetabling of the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum (weather, time etc…) 6
● Teachers provide frequent retrieval practice for the previously learned content and refer back to what was taught previously.
● Teachers use a different pedagogical style in each of the cognitive domains of WT, EXS and GD. This is based on the research of Sweller, Kirschner and Rosenshire who argue to direct instruction in the early stages of learning and discovery based approaches later. In WT learning teachers will predominantly use direct instruction and will increasingly give
opportunities for more independent learning thereafter.
● What will work look like (Appendix 5)? In the early stages of education children will mostly be directed as to how to present their work. As children mature intellectually they should be given opportunities to develop a range of presentational skills and make critical choices between these. Options include;
○ GSites - audio / video
○ Knowledge Posters
Because learning is a change to long-term memory it is impossible to see impact in the short term. Teachers will make learning assessments at three moments in time:
● in lessons about how well a pupil has grasped a learning objective - to inform what knowledge needs to be taught in the next session.
● at the end of sequences of lessons about how well a child has connected subject domain content - to inform what needs to be taught in that subject next time around.
● annually about how well a child has mastered subject domain content - to inform what needs to be taught next year.
Solo Taxonomy (Appendix 4)
This way of thinking about the development of
knowledge acquisition can be used when thinking
formatively in lessons, at the end of sequences of
lessons and summatively during annual assessments.
Solo Taxonomy gives clarity to how well
connected key curriculum concepts are;
in other words how a child is understanding the
subject from the perspective of its key concepts
(subject domains. Children at the Pre-structural, uni-structural and multi-structural stages of knowledge development will be recorded at Working Towards (WT), those at the relational level as being at the Expected Standard (EXS), and those at the extended abstract level as at Greater Depth (GD). These judgements must also be informed by assessment of the child’s topic knowledge. This may be gauged through conversations and observations in lessons, completed quizzes, concept mapping and vocabulary testing.
Quality Assurance In School
To gain a comprehensive view of how well the school is advancing in any one curriculum subject an annual review will take place using the YHCLT methodology of cross-referencing;
● Planning (recorded in GDrive)
● Work output scrutiny (recorded in SISRA Observe)
● Lesson Drop-ins (recorded in SISRA Observe)
● Assessments (recorded in Pupil Asset)
● Pupil Discussions (recorded in SISRA Observe)
● Staff Discussions (recorded in GDrive)
● Any third party analysis
● Any statutory testing
Part of the role of the Curriculum Lead is to carry out an annual review based on this evidence. At the end of the review they produce a report for the EHT / HT / HoS for the subject which answers the questions;
● Did what was planned to happen actually happen?
● How well did staff enable progress in subject domains?
● Are pupils making progress in subject knowledge?
● How enthusiastic are learners about the subject?
● How enthusiastic are teachers about the subject?
● What is the quality of teacher knowledge?
The Curriculum Lead will then make recommendations for school improvement to be considered for inclusion in the curriculum section of the SIP.
Quality Assurance Within YHCLT
Annually the quality of the curriculum will be tested by an Executive Headteacher assisted by colleagues from another YHCLT school. This will most effectively happen alongside school leaders.
The purpose of this annual check will be to assess how well the school is meeting the requirements of this curriculum intent statement.
Appendix 1 - An example of a schema from the geographical topic Rivers and their landscapes.
Fig 1. This is not a schema,
rather it represents a list of
poorly related points of
knowledge and equates the to
multi-structural phase of
SOLO Taxonomy and would
be assessed at WT.
Fig 2. Represents a schema where the connections between points of knowledge indicate an conceptual understanding of the relationships between points of knowledge and equates the to relational phase of SOLO Taxonomy and would be assessed at EXS. The fact that the pupil demonstrates understanding of the connections to trade may indicate emerging GD capacity.
1 C Reynolds, ‘Bordieu - simple explanation’ (2013)
Sociology Live!, ‘Cultural Capital’ (2015)
3 Mostly taken from the ‘Purpose of Study’ section of each National Curriculum subject.
5 Jonathan Firth 2018 The Chartered College of Teaching