Introduction to our curriculum
Our school mottos is:
Discere Cum Dei Amore/ Learning with God's Love
This is the fundamental principle that underpins the design, implementation and ongoing review of the STJTG curriculum. It is at the very core of our 'why' and defines us as a school; we seek to create a supportive and friendly environment where each child has the opportunity to develop the highest possible standards of achievement fulfilling their academic, moral, physical and spiritual potential in a climate of tolerance of individual differences where Gospel values permeate daily life and we strive to use our skills and talents for the good of all.
We use our school values of Faith, Respect, Self- Belief, Love, Determination and Resilience to personify the kinds of people that STJTG develops.
Is it through these two lenses we view the learning of not only the children within our school but the staff and community interactions also.
Learning Learning is defined as the movement of information from working memory into long-term memory that can be accessed and applied as a skill. In order to support learning going into long- term memory, we ensure concepts link information together with prototypes (examples) and facilitate pupils in developing schema ( inter- connected sets of knowledge), whilst conscious of the limited capacity of short- term/ working memory and not overloading it; which is where knowledge is processed prior to going into long- term memory. Regular revisiting is required to ensure retention and application.
So what does this mean for the STJTG curriculum?
- Reif, F (2008) Applying cognitive science to education states:
Poorly organised knowledge cannot readily be remembered or used. But students don't know how to organise their knowledge effectively
- At STJTG, we kick- start our curriculum with a relevant real life concrete learning experience or ISL (inspirational starter lesson). This is so that children become enthused and excited to learn more. Where an ISL does not happen immediately, this means that engagement or enquiry will begin via a text focus and book talk surrounding a new relevant text.
Our curriculum is thematic, usually with a Humanities (History/ Geography) driver, which includes an over-arching concept beneath which key vocabulary, knowledge and skills are organised. Carefully chosen texts are used within guided reading and English lessons, connected to the theme/ topic. The cross curricular nature of our curriculum facilitates a rapidly changing context (increasing amounts of children who are bilingual and multilingual reflecting a 21st century London) in making relevant links across curriculum subjects so that learning is meaningful, connected, purposeful and organised. These cross- curricular links are not contrived, but include relevant progressive learning objectives from the national curriculum to develop pupils as readers, writers, artists, geographers, historians, scientists, linguists, technologists, mathematicians, musicians, global citizens, philosophers and sportspeople. The language used within our curriculum mapping and delivery reflects this ambition for our pupils. Where learning in some curriculum subjects does not lend itself to the main driver, links are not forced; we either have mini themes within a subject e.g. a sequence of lessons focussing on nutrition in science, or chunk lessons into a themed week e.g. Multi- Faith Week, retaining the thematic approach.
- We regularly evaluate our curriculum against a rapidly changing context and pupil achievement, and will on occasion teach discrete knowledge and skills to address an identified need e.g. grammar. We have mapped out grammar teaching for every year group across the school, considering who our pupils are (multilingual), to equip them with what they need to access and show understanding across the curriculum.
- Considering our awareness of cognitive load theory, we use 'knowledge organisers' for our humanities, PSHE and science driven topics. Within art and music, we use pre and post mindmaps - identifying existing knowledge and vocabulary and then revisiting this at the end of a sequence of lessons; identifying new knowledge and vocabulary , and then revisiting this at the end of a sequence of lessons; identifying new knowledge, skills and vocabulary. Subject specific skills for these lessons are captured within art portfolios, vocabulary books and maths books. Having key knowledge and vocabulary in one place, supports pupils' learning across the topic; and alleviates the immediate burden of having to remember a large quantity of information ( potentially overloading working memory and preventing knowledge from going into long term memory). These have the added bonus of supporting home/ school learning; parents are fully briefed on the key learning that is taking place for the duration of the topic, with an increased ability to support their children.
- The previous years' knowledge organisers are passed to the subsequent teachers, who use these to refer back to prior learning with pupils, and ensure that new learning builds on what has come before particularly making use of previously learned disciplinary knowledge and over-arching concepts. This helps make sequencing more explicit to our pupils, and facilitates retrieval of prior learning, supporting it in becoming firmly lodged within long- term memory.
- We ensure we take full account of the writing process ensuring that writing always has a clear purpose, and that pupils have lessons focussing on planning writing, writing, revisiting/ editing and redrafting, and then using the writing for a specified purpose. We ensure that prior to pupils writing, they have acquired the relevant knowledge of the subject so that pupils' writing is adequately underpinned.
- Experiences: An STJTG pupil's initial experience is that of our ISL/ stimulating new text to ignite excitement for new learning. Following this, we have carefully mapped enrichment experiences across the curriculum. It is these experiences that provide meaningful context to learning. In other words, it makes the learning 'sticky' and gives something for pupils to pin their developing understanding to. The curriculum details experiences that enrich and complement each topic that will ultimately enhance pupil understanding. These experiences also serve a different purpose - they allow our pupils, who come from differing backgrounds, equal opportunity to experience people and places that they may not have access to otherwise; building cultural capital. Through these experiences, they will also develop key life skills that we too often take for granted - how to use transport systems, how to interact with others and how to conduct themselves in public - essential development of them as both student but more importantly as active citizens in our society.
Here is an outline of just some of the exciting experiences our pupils benefit from:
All linked to curriculum - every class to do at least 1 trip a term
E.g. Spring Term
Reception: Dulwich Picture Gallery
Y1: Hever Castle
Y2: The Wetlands Centre
Y3: The Ragged School
Y4: Horniman Museum
Y5: The British Museum, Whitgift School, National Observatory
Y6: The Globe Theatre, English National Opera
Residential Trips: Y5 Activity Centre for team building exercises and/ or to Belgium and France for WW1 focus, Y6 spend a week on the Isle of Wight at the UKSA centre learning to sail, surf and a wide range of water activities.
Experiences/ Assemblies/ Prayer Services/ Church Visits/ Celebration
Harvest Festival - Y3 make lunch, design place mats and menus, complete assembly, write reflections and prayers then serve lunch to friends and family, then collect donations for homeless charity.
Each class has an assembly and a prayer service which parents are invited to.
Y6 lead Christmas Carol Concert, Year 5 lead Stations of the cross service. Year 4 lead Easter reflection, Y3 lead Harvest Festival and assembly.
Local Parishes - termly Mass, Christmas Concerts, Stations of the Cross.
Multi- Faith Weeks - visits to Gurdwara, Synagogue, Mosque
Victorian Day - Ragged School etc.
World Book Day
Poppy Day/ Armistice Day
Friend's Association - Fireworks Display, Seaside trips within holidays targeting families on low income, theatre trips, equipment.
Mother's Day afternoon tea, Father's Day Breakfast
Macmillan Coffee Morning
Croydon Loud and Proud competition ( Public Speaking competition).
Values Week - each class takes a famous person and looks at their personal attributes, their characteristics and how they align with our values. They can be as diverse as the Dalai Lama to Darcey Bussell.
Parent visit classes and discuss their work with them - this is embedded within curriculum time and develops cross- curricular links - over 60 parents volunteered last year.
National Quiz Competitions, Maths, Science and General Knowledge
A wide range of sporting competitions
Year 6 develop own learning focus for post SATs activities, they also have built go- karts as part of a tech project. They also have transition with secondary schools, TFL, the MET and a retreat at the start and end of year.
NSPCC - CEOP and Antibullying
Theatre groups linked to Humanities focus
Royal Academy of Art
Ten Ten Theatre
Anti- gang workshop
British Legion/ Army/ RAF
TFL for transition
Skill - A skill is the application of learning (knowledge) both in and out of the context from which it was first introduced.
So what does this mean for the STJTG curriculum?
- Following the line of thought that a skill is the application of knowledge, we use a blank knowledge organiser at the end of each topic to assess pupils' retention of the key intended knowledge. Within these assessments, there are open ended questions/ asks of pupils to demonstrate relevant skills e.g. a geographer driven water topic - the skill related question could be - to draw and label a diagram containing the different parts of a river.
- In subjects which naturally include more subject specific skills (particularly disciplinary specific procedural skills which arise alongside the teaching of substantive conceptual knowledge) , we have mapped these more specifically e.g. Science progression map and Geography progression map.
The intent of our curriculum is what we expect pupils to learn in each subject at the end of each year. This has been informed initially by reviewing the national curriculum, specifying the key knowledge, skills and vocabulary pupils are expected to learn at the end of different milestones e.g. key stage/ year groups, translating this to long term planning for every year group, then medium term plans for each year group, subject progression documents, ( followed by knowledge organisers where appropriate), which translate into teachers' weekly planning and daily lessons.
Over time, considering a changing context and world, our curriculum offer has grown and gone from strength to strength.
Click on the links below to see the relevant curriculum information:
Whole school progression by subject
You can see progression by Writing here - awaiting upload
The intent of our curriculum, however, goes far beyond the mapping above. We have thoughtfully constructed a curriculum which focuses not solely on academia but on shaping our pupils into confident successful individuals who become future leaders - the aspects of the STJTG school life which are not on long or medium term planning. These include, but are not limited to:
School leadership team
Head Boy and Head Girl Team - leads school council and organises elections and feedback to Headteacher action points and areas for whole school development
Show visitors around
Welcome new children
Speak to prospective parents
Says goodbye to staff when leaving
Giving out certificates at assembly
Talk to their teams in house meetings to encourage good behaviour and remind of expectations
Lead their teams on sports day
Support the chaplaincy team in raising money for charities and key fundraising events.
Lead collective worship in particular the school prayer at assembly
Teach the children sign language for hymns
Set up hall for collective worship
Servers at Mass
Write prayers for services
Organise charity events and select charities to benefit
Visit charities when donating and speak to workers
Support parish priest on the Year 6 retreat
Attend annual mass at St George's cathedral representing the school
Attend picnic and prayers at Aylesford Abbey
Support staff in the playground acting as mediators with the younger children
Support younger children with identifying areas to improve their social skills
Have benefitted from training on mediation
Support the librarian in keeping the library tidy and organised
Read with small groups of children
Be knowledgeable about current books and suggest appropriate books for younger children
Lead world book day
Write to authors to invite them in
Speak at parents evening to promote the whole school ethos of reading
Represent the school at events supporting staff and reporting on sporting achievements
Writes to local papers to highlight successes
Work towards young sport leader's awards
Set up mini tournaments and inter-house tournaments with the lead
Organise games at play times and lunchtimes
Help support staff on wet plays
Work with younger children to discourage rough play and increase collaboration
Help support staff and dining hall set up and put away tables
Help monitor packed lunches
Be aware of children with nut allergies and check lunches for nutes
Help our younger children with their food and demonstrate good social eating habits
Y1-Y6 ( plus reception in Summer) led by Pupil Leadership Team
Meet SLT and Governors
Invite local MP in
Trip to Houses of Parliament
In order to maximise the potential of pupils as readers, writers, artists, geographers, historians, scientists, linguists, technologists, mathematicians, musicians, global citizens, philosophers and sportspeople, we have subject leaders in position, responsible for quality and standards in that subject across the school. At STJTG, we operate a shadow subject leader approach so staff have the opportunity to work collaboratively, and build leadership capacity within one another. Having leaders appointed for each subject area, enables us as a school to ensure that when these areas are taught, that there is strong subject specific pedagogy underpinning the teaching of each subject e.g. concrete>pictorial>abstract approach to maths implementation, underpinned by the understanding that the national curriculum is a mastery curriculum. For example, recognising the importance of reading, the implementation of our reading curriculum and the pedagogy underpinning this, is as follows:
We teach reading through a whole class guided reading approach where the same high quality text is shared. This is to enable mastery based on a social constructivist and Vygotskian approach to learning.
We start our guided reading set text each Monday through whole class reading using the I, we, you approach ( ensuring strong modelling). The teacher introduces the text and models oracy, intonation and responds to the punctuation prompts. The whole class then read the text together and work as a team to deconstruct vocabulary.
At times, and as age appropriate, our first lesson may need to be teaching new vocabulary or themes if our cohort has limited experience of the topic. This is so that children become engaged, and it's a first- hand concrete experience of the new text.
For the next three consecutive days we work on the principal of Whole Class Follow up, where the teacher will work with a guided group in the class against set AFL questions and concepts which will be drawn from our Reading Standards Policy. These are broken down into specific learning skills and questions to deepen the children's inference and deduction of various elements of the text.
During this time, the TA works with 2 guided groups from each class which is alternated. This will ensure every child is heard to read aloud at least once per week. This is not to replace KS1 and EYFS having 1:1 reading but is in addition to this program.
The teachers and TA's fill in the reading comprehension record for their focus group to show how the children's responses have echoed their understanding and mastery of specified skill.
The weekly guided reading is celebrated at the end of each week with our Love of Reading Friday where children in all year groups are given this time to read quality text of their own choice and are given the opportunity to discuss these with one another and the staff. (Massive % of objectives from the national curriculum for reading are attitudinal and enjoyment based).
Teachers ensure that each group is engaged with an independent task, which builds on the skills taught that week. Children are given the opportunity to practice skills in order to develop mastery in that area. In some year groups, it will be appropriate to have children writing their own responses to text and what they have read in order to ascertain their own deeper comprehension.
The whole school is also fortunate to have access to the Bug club scheme. This full scheme was purchased to allow each year group quality texts in full guided reading sets to further implement comprehension exercises. This also allows every child in our school access to online reading resources which cover the full range of genre. These books are organised against the banding which is then set by the class teacher for each child to access at their own level, which allows freedom to set for challenging texts to move our children on who we aspire to reach greater depth. Each text takes the children through a variety of reading skills and has set questions which deepen their understanding of the text and expose them to assessment questions against age related standards.
Lexia is a program that is also used as a form of catching pupils up with their comprehension and reading. This is something that the parents have to sign into also as a collaborative approach to ensuring the children work on their reading progress in the home too. Pupils who are accessing the Lexia approach are tracked and monitored by our librarian, whom the school also commissions to run a before and after school lexia club; targeting the lowest 20% of readers across the school.
Fresh Start is being used throughout KS2 as a means of catching up with phonetic decoding and understanding skills. These children have been identified as needing this approach in order to help their reading process further.
The EYFS and KS1 use the Read, Write Inc approach to their reading and learning pf phonics. There is a fluidity of groups based on continuous formative assessment with half-termly summative assessment.
In addition to securing strong subject specific pedagogy as underpinning the teaching of each subject, our subject leaders and shadow leaders, ensure resourcing, staff cpd, monitoring of quality and standards informing development planning, and consulting with pupils and parents take place regularly. Our subject leaders then present to the governing body via a presentation day, at the end of each academic year - where governors receive reports from each curriculum leader on the aforementioned points. This day is key as it gives all governors a good discrete and holistic understanding of our curriculum, whilst also planning for succession; giving all leaders similar opportunities to senior leaders.
To compliment this, and further enhance leadership capacity and as a result quality of teaching, our Deputy Head/ Curriculum Leader has overseen the design and implementation of the STJTG coaching process as part of his NPQH. This process is separate to performance management processes ( though is a part of performance management to engage with coaching), where a senior leader ( or other member of the team who is knowledgeable/ skilled with specific expertise) is paired with each member of the team, and work on professional goals together. The STJTG coaching process is an investment in teachers as professionals (pedagogy/ leadership goals) and as individuals ( confidential wellbeing focus - similar to supervision within other professions). Our coaching process also ensures that professional expertise is shared across the team e.g. an action towards achieving a goal, may be to observe a peer/ have a learning conversation with a colleague etc. As a result, each staff member receives tailored and bespoke CPD as part of a self-sustaining system i.e. not outsourcing/ externally commissioning professional growth for our staff - this would be the exception rather than the rule. The STJTG coaching process is a key ingredient in ensuring that curriculum leaders have strong capacity to lead, and that teachers have the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the curriculum to best effect.
Measuring our curriculum's impact
Qualitative Data: We gather achievement data ( focussing on 'point in time' assessment - is the pupil on track?) at three points in the year - the end of autumn term, the end of spring term and the end of summer term. (Note: Due to Coronavirus, we have gathered this information more regularly and to inform amendments to curriculum). These assessments are quality assured via standardised tests across the school in reading and maths ( PUMA and PIRA) which are computerised, considering teacher workload; assessments self-mark and produce detailed reports. Across other subjects, knowledge organiser quizzes, pre and post mindmaps, and evidence e.g. art portfolios, books, formative assessment, STJTG progression documents, underpin summative assessment.
Quantitative Data: At STJTG we have collaborative book looks - where relevant leaders sit down with teachers to co-monitor pupil books and evidence.
Senior leaders in addition to subject leaders monitor lessons either via formal lesson observations, learning walks, or informal observation e.g. as part of our STJTG coaching approach.
Leaders regularly join school council meetings to consult with, and survey pupils, taking account their views in order to shape next steps and curriculum development.
External curriculum impact can be evidenced via statutory outcomes STJTG produces but also in the way our pupils conduct themselves in and out of STJTG and the knowledge and skills our pupils retain and apply.