At Merritts Brook, our aim is to ensure we provide a broad and balanced curriculum to equip our pupils with the skills, knowledge and understanding to be successful in their future lives. We also recognise the importance of enriching the curriculum for our pupils and ensure it is full of engaging and thoughtful content that links to all aspects of society.
The curriculum at Merritts Brook
The curriculum at Merritts Brook and its development is a collaborative planned approach that builds on the foundations of knowledge and vocabulary set in previous year groups and builds on this embedded understanding which can continue to expand our pupil’s minds. This approach has allowed our curriculum to carefully consider and implement all learning behaviours, approaches and knowledge to ensure each pupil receives high quality content in each and every lessons.
The content that is taught as established facts within the subject
What pupils learn about how knowledge was established and developed and how it continues to be reviewed by all
The steps and processes that are put in place to enable a task to be performed or a question solved/answered.
The curriculum that we follow at MBA allows the children to take part in a ‘knowledge-rich’ experience which maintains high quality teaching, expectations and so then allows the building and developing of schemas through a repeated pattern of behaviour and tasks. This in turn, allows the child to develop their scheme from experiencing learning through play, exploration and work to build their depth of knowledge from EYFS to Year 6.
Our approach to the curriculum is equally as much about staff professional development, enhancing and developing their knowledge and expertise, as it is about curriculum as an output as we believe that this will facilitate ‘deep rooted’ implementation and sustainability.
We believe that the choices we make about the content we provide and the order we present it are crucially important. They make a huge difference to how pupils are able to develop effective schema and retain and recall knowledge and skills in long-term memory.
Long term memory – Schemas
The curriculum was led by research into memory and making sure children have this secure knowledge embedded. All of the research underpins the curriculum we have developed and by following this cycle it allows us to provide a robust and rounded curriculum for the children.
Due to how the curriculum at MBA is planned out, it provides the essential skills that are needed for the working memory of our pupils to develop into their long term memory and retention of this knowledge. The transference of this knowledge is established through the timeline of each subject so that memory is built upon in each year group and allows the children to make connections from previous years, subjects and content. This therefore allows for a fully knowledge based curriculum to be broad, balanced and robust.
The Principles behind our curriculum
In order to establish our curriculum, our academy follows specific values, along with British values, that are taught throughout the year that enables everyone to achieve to the best of their ability. These are:
aspirational and reflection
Every member of staff believes in the philosophy and ethos that has been created at MBA and so wherever you go, whatever lesson you visit you will see a consistent and coherent curriculum being taught.
The curriculum and its subjects were carefully selected to ensure knowledge, vocabulary and skills are engaging, thought-provoking, meaningful and challenging for our pupils in order to promote a love of learning and prepare them for their future. This is done through the use of cultural capital which is defined as: “the essential knowledge that children need to be educated citizens” and promotes our academy ethos of Opening minds, Opening doors.
Lessons follow a set principle and sequence which allows for deliberate practise and recall throughout the subject but at the same time being challenging and curious.
The consistent approach to teaching also allows the children to be immersed and familiar with the lessons that are being taught. The curriculum in inclusive for ALL pupils regardless of needs and is adapted to suit each individual. Through the use of consistent learning approaches i.e. Marking ladders in English and White Rose in Maths we can ensure that every member of staff is aware of what has come before and after so to deliver the curriculum objectives effectively.
To allow this knowledge to come to life the children are provided with enrichment opportunities whether this be through class workshops, reading breakfast, trips to the Think Tank and Isle of Wight which allow the pupils to have a deeper learning opportunity and so to secure schema through different ways. We are able to see the impact of the curriculum through assessment opportunities at the start, middle and conclusion of a unit by allowing the children to build a knowledge tree, use of quizzes and a detailed written task to gather knowledge from what they have retained.
Click on the link below to see the MBA Knowledge Tree:
Organisation and Planning
The curriculum follows a set of stages that combine to fulfil the learning needs of each pupil. They are as follows:
- Whole school map of what each year group unit and objectives are which is shared to every member of the school community. This is an overview of what is taught and when and includes a detailed medium term plan that explicitly focuses on the skills needed. For some subjects a key question is used to generate discussion. For example, in History in Year 5 the overarching question is ‘Slums are unhealthy and dangerous places to live. Do you agree? This question will then be used as a final writing piece for children to show the knowledge they have retained.
- SEND children are taught within the whole class group and have the same opportunities to learn and develop but in a differentiate plan. The expectation of these children is still the same but opportunities for pre-teaching, word bank are provided to allow them to access the curriculum. For children who have a deeper understanding the mastery/greater depth questions and opportunities are used to engage their minds to the unit.
- As mentioned early, assessment of the curriculum is a key part of the children’s knowledge. Quizzes, informal discussions and the knowledge tree are used to demonstrate this along with an end of unit task that allows a deeper opportunity for children to express what they have learnt.
- Short term plans mainly consist of overviews of the lesson, PowerPoint presentations for the objective, focus on fluency, problem solving and reasoning.
Learning Over Time
We believe it is a child’s right to have a well-balanced and robust curriculum and as facilitators of this we work with the Rubric model to show this. Our main focus is to ensure the teacher clearly facilitates pupils’ progress over time which is shown by how much a pupil masters the curriculum taught. Good pedagogical subject knowledge and skilled medium and long term planning clearly ensures the teacher and their pupils are able to demonstrate learning over time, in line with challenging curriculum intentions. Pupils can clearly articulate what they have learned and what they need to do to close gaps and achieve their potential. Good quality planning, delivery, feedback, assessments and re-teaching is then evident in pupils work over time.
The four pillars are the foundations of the curriculum that enable all stakeholders to have a starting point from where to establish their robust and knowledge rich curriculum:
Pillar 1 – Knowledge Rich and Vocabulary – This allows the learner to focus on the key facts that is needed for them to fully experience the unit they are being taught. Different subjects then have this split into key areas of learning ie History has – Daily Life, Rulers, Significant event and Period specific. By focusing on the facts this gives the child a robust understanding and an improved schema.
Pillar 2 – Subject Specific – This pillar takes into account the national curriculum expectations, objectives and aims that the children need to have in order to be able to learn the knowledge from Pillar. These skills are repeated so that consistency is part of the curriculum and are embedded due to this sequence.
Pillar 3 – Inclusive/Mastery – The third pillar states how at MBA we provide an inclusive curriculum for all, whilst still focusing on mastery elements within learning. We do not put a limit on what a child can learn regardless of their abilities and will facilitate activities from differentiation so that ALL children are able to be immersed within the curriculum.
Pillar 4 – Building Long Term Memory – The final pillar is the result of the strategies put in place through the other pillars. It is how we secure the schema of our pupils through a variety of ways. Making sure the curriculum flows and is progressive enables the layers of schema to embed and due to the timeline and sequence of lessons from EYFS to Year 6 memory is sustained and broadened.
At MBA we follow a set of Non-Negotiables that feature in lessons so that staff are aware of what the expectations are and that they are to be consistent across the academy.
- Staff to research and pre –read the information needed in order to teach the objectives effectively
- Knowledge organisers are used in the lesson and for home learning to allow children to read ahead and discover more about the unit
- Lesson objectives and success criteria are shared with the children before every lesson and are used to mark the progress of the child in the lesson
- Vocabulary is shared with the children and explained and is expected to be used within the lesson and evidence in the pupil books
- Presentation and marking policies are adhered to throughout the school. The use of a red step question in marking supports the consolidation of the lesson, whilst a green step is used to deepen the thinking of the child who achieves all of the success criteria.
- Units start with the tree ok knowledge to harvest what the children already know, mid-point the tree is added onto with what new knowledge has been retained, alongside an informal quiz and at the conclusion of the unit a final quiz and task are used to determine the attainment of the pupils.
Roles and Responsibilities
Every subject is led by a member of staff who alongside SLT will monitor and support staff in the delivery of the objectives. These members of staff took a key role in the planning of their curriculum, alongside the wider school community. They have a solid understanding of this area and can use their expertise to further develop the curriculum.
All staff are responsible for the delivery of the curriculum and are expected to do so in a clear and concise manner. SLT and middle leaders will deliver CPD to support curriculum, provide lesson observations through the Rubric, coaching of staff for progress and monitoring of books during book scrutinies.
Monitoring and moderation of end of key stage children is done as an SLT and whole school community to ensure consistency with grades and marking.
We believe parents play an important role in their children’s learning and so every half-term they are invited to attend a presentation of their learning. The children enjoy taking part and it helps to give a sense of purpose to their learning activities. We also ask parents to support our half termly homework projects in a shared home learning challenge that is carefully linked to the work children have been doing in school. The results of this collaboration are then displayed around the school.