Thursfield Curriculum - A Ticket to Anywhere
1. Learning is a change to long-term memory
2. Repetition is required for long-term memory
3. Knowledge is vital as it is required for thinking and the more one has the easier it is to learn and remember
"If it isn't in long term memory, it hasn't been learned." - Chris Quigley, 2019
Our aim is to provide our children with an engaging, exciting and empowering curriculum which prepares and equips then with the knowledge, skills and understanding for life in modern Britain and the twenty first century. Schools within our Trust ensure the curriculum is designed to recognise children’s prior learning, provide first hand rich experiences, allowing children to develop interpersonal skills, build resilience and become creative, critical and highly motivated thinkers.
Thursfield’s curriculum is driven by 3 drivers. They complement the school’s mission statement and reflect our ethos. These drivers not only help to provide essential knowledge but also help to establish breadth, depth and provide a learning curriculum which meets the future needs of our pupils and wider society whilst linking them closely with the communities in which they live.
Our drivers are identified as:
Values Education- We teach our pupils to become self-responsible, caring citizens, with a desire to learn and grow from within
Enrichment- We enrich our pupils through deepening their thinking and enhancing their experiences
Health and well-being- We ensure we keep our pupils healthy and safe both physically and mentally
Cultural Capital plays a significant role through our 3 curriculum drivers. Cultural capital is the accumulation of knowledge, behaviours and skills a person needs to be an educated citizen. Children with a rich cultural capital will have the essential knowledge “to prepare them for their future success.” (OFSTED 2019).
Therefore, our curriculum has been designed to incorporate embodied cultural capital. Cultural capital includes the selection and complexity of texts children study, the progression of vocabulary children are exposed to, the acquiring and use of general knowledge, cultural experiences children receive and the acquiring of British values. Cultural capital permeates through all our curriculum.
The school recognises that there are six key areas of development that are interrelated and cumulatively contribute to the sum of a student’s cultural capital:
1. Personal Development
2. Social Development, including political and current affairs awareness
3. Physical Development
4. Spiritual Development
5. Moral Development
6. Cultural development
Curriculum breadth and concepts
In order to prevent a narrowing of the curriculum, the curriculum at Thursfield is designed using two key elements of the National Curriculum- The Programme of Study, which is where we focus on the breadth of the curriculum and the Purpose and Aims of Study which is where we use Concepts (These are the ‘Big Ideas’ which shape students thinking within each subject) and are our indicators of progress.
Breadth- within the Programmes of Study, we use a lens to bring about focus and depth, ensuring that knowledge is both relevant and at a deeper level. The breadth of the curriculum is created to build meaningful knowledge in a child’s time here, it links directly to cultural capital and the experiences a child receives.
Concepts- Subject concepts act as coat-hangers to hook information onto. This allows the pupils to store this knowledge into the long term memory and to remember for longer. Developed on research by Jan Meyer and Ray Land (2003), the use of concepts in our curriculum are used to capture the most important essence (knowledge) of the subject. The same concepts are explored in every key stage and students will gradually increase their understanding of them. At Thursfield, the term ‘concepts’ has replaced ‘objectives’ because the term objective implies that there is a target to be met. Instead of meeting objectives, we now advocate exploring concepts as we believe that the exploring of the concept will never be complete, students will continue to study these concepts as long as they continue to study the subject. Children explore the concepts at an age appropriate level, meaning as they revisit them in a wide breadth of subject programmes of study, they develop a new knowledge and understanding, which in turn gradually builds a deeper understanding of them. By relating each concept to previously studied programmes of study, children form strong, meaningful schema (knowledge webs).
Creativity and creative thinking is also another extremely important element of our curriculum. Curiosity are key components of what and how we teach at Thursfield. We want our children to reflect critically on information and to see alternative points of view looking for patterns and connections. Our curriculum is three dimensional, focusing on concepts, knowledge and skills, not just skills and knowledge.
We believe children are motivated when they are enjoying the topics and the delivery of new knowledge, where there is a purpose and emotional connections are made. The school has launch days, which immerse the children in the topic and provide opportunities to find out what the children know. We have parent learning and workshop sessions linked to the theme where parents work with children in these sessions and in the evening, bringing the learning to everyone. To finish the theme, we have a fabulous finish which brings all the learning together and reflects on the knowledge the children have acquired. The learning comes to life in the classroom, in the outdoor environment and is evidenced within the Expert books, and the Weaving Magic Books.
Curriculum Progression and Milestones
In order for children to retain knowledge which is flexible and interconnected children must experience the concepts in order to move from novices to experts. At Thursfield, we believe that the difference between a novice and expert is the flexibility of knowledge. Novices tend to have inflexible knowledge which is explicit but unconnected, whereas experts have strong knowledge schemas which are interconnected and are able to apply this knowledge confidently across different situations or areas of the curriculum.
To help facilitate the progression and deepening of this knowledge within subjects, we use Milestones (KeyStage endpoints), to move children from the novice learner to the expert learner. For each subject concept there are four Milestones, each of which includes the procedural and semantic knowledge children require to understand the concepts.