STJTG Curriculum OVERVIEW
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 that we view the learning of not only the children within our school but the staff and community interactions also.
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. The experiences we offer our pupils are paramount to the personal as well as their academic development.
Click the link below to learn how we promote Personal Development at STJTG in and out of the classroom setting:
SKILLA 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 / tasks where pupils are asked to demonstrate relevant skills e.g. for a geography 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.
To read more about our Curriculum, click on the links below: