Our curriculum reforms began in 2019 when, as an institution, we consulted with staff, parents and children on how to move our curriculum entitlement forward. We had two choices: buy and off-the-shelf curriculum package or develop our own bespoke curriculum model which more closely and deliberately aligned with our community and context. We chose the second.
We were clear on 7 guiding principles when developing our curriculum model. The curriculum must be:
- Balanced – it must promote intellectual, moral, spiritual, aesthetic, creative, emotional and physical development as equally important.
- Rigorous – it must seek to develop intra-disciplinary habits of mind; the subject matter must be taught in a way that is faithful to its discipline.
- Coherent – it must make explicit connections between the different subjects and experiences encountered.
- Vertically integrated – it must focus on progression by carefully sequencing knowledge; it must provide clarity about what getting better at a subject means.
- Appropriate – it must look to avoid making unreasonable demands by matching level of challenge to a pupil’s current level of maturity and knowledge.
- Focused – it must seek to keep the curriculum manageable by teaching the most important knowledge; it must identify the big ideas and key concepts within a subject.
- Relevant – it must seek to connect the valued outcomes of the curriculum to the pupils being taught; it must provide opportunities to make informed choices.
We wanted our curriculum to extend beyond the academic and therefore designed it to develop a child’s mind, body and soul. We achieve this through our key Global Themes which run through all Enterprises:
- Rights and responsibilities
- Peace and conflict
- Identity and diversity
- Sustainable development
- Health and wellbeing
However, we were all agreed that our curriculum must be knowledge rich, as knowledge is the foundation of all learning and success. Knowledge is generative and therefore “knowledge begets knowledge”. The 5 guiding principles around our knowledge led curriculum are:
- The acquisition of knowledge and cultural literacy is at the heart of all learning.
- Knowledge is specified in great detail.
- Knowledge is acquired in long-term memory.
- Knowledge is carefully sequenced over time.
- Knowledge is carefully organised into clearly defined subject disciplines.
We are clear within our curriculum around the different types of knowledge:
- Declarative knowledge – to know that…
- Procedural knowledge – to know how…
Our Schemes of Learning are designed to show consistency and progression:
The curriculum is carefully and deliberately designed to be progressive as children move through school.
Declarative knowledge is carefully sequenced to build on previous knowledge, helping children to build grown schema.
The spiral curriculum model is one in which key concepts are presented repeatedly throughout the curriculum, but with deepening layers of complexity, or in different applications.