Curriculum, the Fairmeadows Way
Fairmeadows Foundation Primary School is incredibly passionate about ensuring that our children have a lively, interesting and fulfilling curriculum which builds on skills and knowledge.
The breadth of our curriculum is designed with three goals in mind:
1. To give pupils appropriate experiences to develop as confident, responsible citizens;
2. To provide a rich ‘cultural capital’;
3. To provide a coherent, structured, academic curriculum that leads to sustained a greater depth of understanding.
This is where our learning culture is promoted through eight Learning Powers used to focus and empower children so that they become responsible for their own learning and resilient in the face of challenges.
These powers are:
These Powers underpin our curriculum aims and develop growth-mind-set. They also provide our children with the right start preparing for life outside beyond Fairmeadows.
Cultural capital is the background knowledge of the world pupils need to infer meaning from what they read and experience. It is the currency for social mobility and the acquisition of this will allow pupils to transcend their economic-given status whilst repairing divisions in society caused by gaps in knowledge.
Specifically, cultural capital is powerful knowledge. It includes vocabulary which, in turn, helps pupils to express themselves in a sophisticated, mature way. At Fairmeadows Foundation Primary School, the way in which cultural capital is acquired and developed. Giving our children Valuable experiences is at the heart of what we aim to achieve.
We give pupils access to carefully considered areas of knowledge through our breadth of curriculum design. Pupils are able to develop their knowledge of many topics. Continuous provision also plays a part in the development of each and every one of our pupil’s procurement of cultural capital and further opportunities continue to be reviewed, enhanced and added.
A Coherently Planned Curriculum
Teachers plan in Year group pairs, e.g. Year 1 and 2, allowing them to develop a depth of study over the two years that builds on prior knowledge. This will also have a positive impact on workload as collaborative planning is simpler also allowing resources to be shared. Covering fewer topics but in greater depth also allows school to focus on resourcing fewer areas providing a greater range and higher level of quality than before.
The curriculum breadth for each year group ensures each teacher has clarity as to what to cover. As well as providing the key knowledge within subjects it also provides for pupils’ growing cultural capital.
Threshold concepts are the key disciplinary aspects of each subject. They are chosen to build conceptual understanding within subjects and are repeated many times in each topic.
Milestones define the standards for the threshold concepts.
We expect pupils in the first year of the milestone to develop a Basic understanding of the concepts and an Advancing or Deep understanding in the second year of the milestone. Phase one (Years 1, 3 and 5) in a Milestone is the knowledge building phase that provides the fundamental foundations for later application. LEARNING AT THIS STAGE MUST NOT BE RUSHED and will involve a high degree of repetition so that knowledge enters pupils’ long term memory. If all of the core knowledge is acquired quickly, teachers create extended knowledge. Those children working at below a Basic understanding will work to build smaller steps of understanding, working towards a Milestone.
Implementation of History/Computing / Music/ Languages/ Geography/Physical Education/Science and Art & Design
Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:
1. learning is most effective with spaced repetition.
2. Interleaving helps pupils to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention.
3. Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
The school’s curriculum content is based upon “Essential Curriculum” model and “Curriculum Companions”. This involves the children being immersed in a curriculum that is coherent, progressive and is appropriately sequenced to enable our pupils to develop subject specific knowledge and skills to prepare them well for the next stages of their education.
The milestones (1, 2 and 3) that are built into our curriculum, allow the children to embed their knowledge. These milestones are aligned to the National Curriculum and indeed go beyond the National Curriculum requirements. We have mapped out key knowledge and skills for each subject across each milestone (a 2-year cycle). Choosing this approach enables our children to develop meaningful links and opens their eyes to a world beyond their immediate locality. It also builds their cultural capital, preparing them with essential knowledge for their future success. Planning in this way ensures all children have access to a full curriculum which progresses in skills and knowledge across the year - we know that during each milestone every indicator is covered at least twice, so children have the chance to work at a Basic, Advancing and Deep level.
Assessment of Reading, Writing and Maths.
At Fairmeadows, we have designed our own Assessment system to track and assess the progress of children in Reading, Writing and Maths. We use the objectives from the National Curriculum and then score each one using a 0-3 scale.
0- Taught but not understood.
1-Understand with the support of an adult
2- Secure understanding.
3- Greater Depth understanding.
This information then creates a total score and categorises the children as one of the following.
The expectation is that the children reach Secure in Summer 2. Teachers use their formative, summative and professional judgement to update their assessments. We track the progress that the children are making based on entry judgements and then identify any children who are not making expected progress during Pupil Progress Meetings each term.
Assessment of Science and Foundation Subjects (Art, PE, DT etc.)
At Fairmeadows, we have chosen to adopt an assessment system developed by Chris Quigley (a well-regarded educational professional) called for Science and no-core subjects.
Imagine starting to learn something for the first time. You are a bit like a child paddling their toes in the water. You may need someone holding your hand; showing you what to do; instructing you. You probably don’t feel very sure of yourself. At this stage in learning, we may regard the learner as being at a and heavily dependent on a range of support.
As you begin to deepen your understanding and gain in confidence and skill, you start to be able to use the new learning to do more e.g. problem solve; interpret; categorise; organise; classify and compare. This is a bit like being able to snorkel i.e. you can swim on the surface (you’ve acquired the skill) and you are confident to move away from the shore (the support on offer). At this there is less reliance on support, although reminders and guidance will still be needed and there is greater cognitive (thinking) challenge.
Beyond this, higher order thinking skills are needed. Learners are able to be more independent in their thinking, need little support and are asked more probing questions or are being coached by staff or peers to develop deeper understanding. They will tackle more complex and abstract problems/tasks, perhaps requiring many steps and which may have many possible solutions. They will be able to explain concepts; investigate; hypothesise; design; create; prove and use evidence and reasoning to support their ideas. When a learner is operating at this stage, they are at a
It is expected that a child starting school with an average starting point, will progress to reach an by the end of each Milestone. This equates to the nationally expected standard for a child of this age. by the end of a milestone will equate to above the nationally expected standard.
All children are different and do not all start at the same points nor make progress at the same rates as others. Age and maturity also play a part in children’s progress and development. Children will be supported to make the progress they are capable of with the aim that all children will catch-up and reach Advancing DOL by the end of i.e. the nationally expected standard. This means that your child is ready academically for the next phase in their education.
How will I know if my child is making progress?
All children will be expected to make good progress from their starting point. If a child leaves Reception at the ‘emerging’ stage, and they make good progress they will leave Milestone 1 (at the end of Y2) at ‘basic 2’ which means working towards national expectation. However, at the end of Milestone 2 and 3, they will be expected to leave at ‘advancing 1’, slightly below national expectations.
Alternatively, if a child left Reception at the ‘expected’ stage, they should leave Milestone 1, 2 and 3 at ‘advancing 2’ which means that they are working at national expectations.
However, if a child left Reception at the ‘exceeding’ stage, they should leave Milestone 1, 2 and 3 at either ‘deep 1’ or ‘deep 2’. (From September 2021, children are no longer assessed as 'exceeding' in EYFS).