At St Thomas, we believe that primary school should be a safe and wonderful place where children want to be, and learning takes place both in and out of the classroom. Learning should be through a mixture of exploration, discovery, creativity and a variety of sensory and kinaesthetic experiences which encourage learners to want to explore more in a journey of lifelong learning. They will learn the English and Maths skills needed for life and learning and to progress in their education. Children will learn to shape their futures and develop their unique capacities and skills. They will be encouraged to be curious and use thinking skills to innovate, be creative and problem solve. They will develop the first understandings of employment and entrepreneurship. A primary education should set up learners for life, with the knowledge and skills to be well-rounded individuals, emotionally and physically healthy, with an appreciation for and a generosity towards people, the world and the universe around them.
At St Thomas we have a fully sequenced and connected curriculum that spans from Reception to Year 6 that builds towards a clear end-point which helps children to know more, remember more, and do more. It enables children to build knowledge and understanding over time, while offering rich, broad, balanced and engaging content, which is ambitious for all.
It is a systematically designed curriculum that enables us to achieve the triangulation of a well-sequenced curriculum, well-structured and consistent teaching, and meaningful assessment approaches.
We want our children to develop a vast array of knowledge and skills, which they have the ability to transfer across different subjects within the curriculum. With diverse families and different levels of socio-economic status, the staff at St Thomas ensure enrichment is at the heart of the curriculum we teach. Enrichment is woven into the very fabric of our planning, teaching and assessment process in each and every subject. Our children come to school with different life experiences, which impacts on their vocabulary, reasoning and understanding throughout all key stages. We intend to provide a range of experiences to improve learning outside the classroom and to create links between learning and fun for our children.
We want the learning gained from experiences to be invaluable as to how our children develop understanding about the world in which we live and how it can help learning inside the classroom become more tangible. We want to prepare all our children for the next stages in their educational careers as well as allow them to develop their aspirations for adult life.
At St Thomas, we use Cornerstones 22 to plan and deliver the teaching of History, Geography, Science, DT and Art. These subjects have four structural tiers. Each tier builds on the previous to create interconnected layers. These interconnected layers provide a robust framework that ensures connectivity across the curriculum as well as ensuring that Subjects taught through Cornerstones 22 have been structured to ensure that pupils learn both the substantive knowledge and the disciplinary knowledge required to engage successfully with the subject as they move through school, i.e. in addition to learning the specific facts within a unit of learning, pupils also gather the disciplinary knowledge that is needed for them to be effective historians, scientists, geographers etc. The tiers of the curriculum structure are set out in the diagram below, and explained in the following paragraphs.
Tier 1: Big Ideas (global aims)
The curriculum is led by 10 central Big Ideas. These Big Ideas are the overarching aims of the curriculum
Tier 2: Subjects (aspects and concepts)
We use the terms ‘aspects’ and ‘concepts’. An aspect is a particular part or feature of a subject, and a concept is an abstract idea within a subject.
In the curriculum structure, each Big Idea is directly connected to the curriculum subjects, which have the relevant aspects or concepts through which the Big Idea can be delivered. For example, in geography, the Big Idea of Humankind is connected to and delivered through the geographical aspects of Settlements and land use and Human features and landmarks. In history, the Big Idea of Humankind is connected to and delivered through the historical aspects and concepts of Everyday life, Hierarchy and power, and Civilisations.
The diagram below shows how the Big Idea of Humankind is linked to each subject via its aspects and concepts.
Tier 3: Programmes of study (national curriculum coverage)
To ensure coverage of the national curriculum, each subject aspect or concept is then matched to the relevant programmes of study. Across the curriculum, there is full coverage of the programmes of study for art and design, design and technology, geography, history and science.
The diagram below shows an example of how Tier 2 leads into Tier 3
Tier 4: Progression framework (knowledge and skills statements)
In Tier 4, programmes of study, aspects and concepts are broken down into smaller component parts or ‘chunks’ to form a cohesive progression framework. The progression framework runs from Reception to Year 6 and includes knowledge and skills that children need to know and be able to do in order to make progress through the curriculum.
Our curriculum is built on The Four Cornerstones of Learning – Engage, Develop, Innovate and Express. These are four distinct stages that actively promote children’s learning and thinking
National Curriculum Subjects that fall outside Cornerstones
Specialist schemes of work have been adopted for PE, PSHE, Music, Computing, MFL and RE. In conjunction with Cornerstones, these offer complete coverage of the National Curriculum and a clear progression of knowledge and skills to ensure that pupils know more, remember more and can do more, as they progress through school:
PE- Beyond the Physical
RE- Kirklees, Calderdale and Leeds Agreed Syllabus
COMPUTING- Teach Computing
PSHE/RSE- PSHE Association St Thomas Built Curriculum
MFL (French) KS2- iLanguages
SEND and disadvantaged learners
The Ofsted school inspection handbook states that leaders of good and outstanding schools ‘adopt or construct a curriculum that is ambitious and designed to give all pupils, particularly disadvantaged pupils and including pupils with SEND, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life’.
Our curriculum, using Cornerstones Curriculum 22 and other specialist schemes, is deliberately ambitious for all learners. One of the main principles of an ambitious curriculum is that ambitious learning, particularly knowledge acquisition, should be an entitlement for all children, regardless of their starting points or prior learning.
With this in mind, we strive to deliver lessons that all children can access and that all leaners acquire the knowledge they need to succeed as they progress through school. Even though some lesson plans or resources may seem challenging at first, as teachers, we consider the different ways they can be used to ensure all children can access the learning intention of the lesson. However, we recognise that some learners will need adaptations within and around the lessons. And, more so, across school as a whole, as the curriculum embeds itself over the coming years.
It is crucial then that, when delivering an ambitious curriculum, that teachers use their professional expertise to offer the appropriate support for any child or group of children. Support could be offered through discussion, flexible use of resources and reading information aloud, particularly where the level of a text is too difficult for a child to access independently. Teachers ask themselves the questions ‘How can I deliver this content in a way that makes sense to that child?’ and ‘How can I teach this lesson or use these resources so that all children can access the same knowledge?’
Our teachers carefully adapt, differentiate and remove any learning barriers within each lesson, with the goal of ALL learners leaving the lesson having learnt the same. For children with a SEND, this means help that is in addition to, or different, from the support generally given to all children of the same age.
The way in which we reflect and review each lesson should also support retention of knowledge for all, however we do recognise that some of our pupils may need extra support and aids to be able to accomplish this, and some pupils may also need a bespoke curriculum offering which meets their specific needs.
Cultural Capital At St Thomas
At St Thomas Primary School we understand the term ‘cultural capital’ as the characteristics, knowledge and skills that promote social mobility, both now and in the future. We ensure that children are exposed to a wide range of experiences that will develop their cultural capital and give them an advantage in later life.
The impact and measure of this is to ensure children not only acquire the appropriate age related knowledge linked to the curriculum but also skills which equip them to progress from their starting points. In shaping our curriculum this way, progress can be measured and evidenced for all children, regardless of their starting points or specific needs.
We teach our children to ensure we alter their long term memories and we define progress as knowing and remembering more.
Teachers and staff work hard to plan a broad and balanced curriculum which is expertly delivered to ensure a child’s entire school experience enables them to develop a deep body of knowledge and skills which will see them through to further study, work and a successful adult life in whatever they choose. We pride ourselves on not just pushing our children through a SATs driven curriculum, where their creativity is stifled and well-being is compromised.
When our children leave us, as well as being ready for a KS3 curriculum, they have a wealth of transferrable skills which have been developed throughout their time at primary school in an inclusive and nurturing environment. We are proud that once the children from St Thomas CE (vc) Primary School have left, they are ready to make a positive contribution to society; have been supported through their transition; have been exposed to rich vocabulary and have high aspirations and self-belief all through the teaching of this broad and balanced curriculum.
Long Term Overviews
These documents give an overview of the curriculum for each year group across the year.