The Castle Curriculum
At Castle Primary School we strive for our pupils to reach their potential by delivering an engaging curriculum, and championing children’s aspirations.
We understand that when learning is exciting, engaging and hands-on, children learn more effectively and can be inspired to continue their learning outside of school.
Our teaching is based on enquiries that enable children to take an active role in their learning and to be in at the forefront of learning experiences. Pupils are encouraged to ask their own questions, to do their own finding out and to make sense of new knowledge. Whilst knowledge is valued to help children move through the enquiry process, skills and understanding are given equal priority as these allow children to apply knowledge in a range of contexts and for a variety of purposes.
Through a safe and caring environment, we develop and celebrate children’s personal and academic progress so they ‘thrive and learn’. Through our curriculum we aim to broaden their horizons and help them to make positive contributions to our local community.
As part of the Castle Primary School learning journey, all children experience a broad and balanced curriculum that is coherently planned and sequenced in order to ensure that they have opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding they need to think critically and contribute to their learning journey.
Our curriculum is designed to prepare children for the next stage of their education. It supports them to:
and value learning.
Our enquiry curriculum provides a broad and balanced programme of study that adheres to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework and the guidance provided by the National Curriculum, whilst promoting learning alongside personal growth and development. Children’s knowledge, skills and understanding are developed through studying subjects as discrete disciplines that are often, although not always, framed by an overarching, open-ended enquiry.
Each enquiry follows a specific line of investigation using a ‘big question’ driven by a main subject. These ‘big questions’ are deliberately open-ended to ensure all children develop their knowledge, skills and understanding. Our enquiry curriculum enables children to go beyond memorising dates and facts, to develop new knowledge and skills or deepen existing ones through an engaging approach where they are supported to make links between aspects of learning in different subjects and draw on previous learning as building blocks from which they develop new understanding.
Our enquiry curriculum:
- has four ‘drivers’ at its core (see below)
- is well organised and purposefully designed to facilitate learning
- is planned around the needs of the children
- has a clear outcome, designed to raise standards
- values the voice of the child
- enables children to take ownership of their learning and reach their goals
- nurtures children’s interests and talents
- encourages curiosity and a love of learning
- increases motivation and engagement
- gives a real context for the application of basic skills
- allows writing to be meaningfully embedded
Whilst designing the Castle Primary School curriculum we identified key barriers to learning for our pupils and considered the interests of our children to ensure all pupils can reach their potential.
This led to our Curriculum Intent having four key drivers at its core:
- Reading for pleasure
- Healthy lifestyles and
- Equality and diversity
Through these carefully selected curriculum drivers we aim to provide an opportunity to develop new interests and pay particular attention to any aspects of learning, which left unaddressed, have the potential to impact on children’s progress as well as their attainment.
These drivers, alongside our school values, underpin the direction and development of all aspects of school life and are integral to each enquiry, enabling children to encounter and incrementally build essential knowledge and experience in key areas, across different contexts over time. Our drivers of oracy, reading for pleasure, healthy lifestyles, and equality and diversity enrich as well as personalise our curriculum, ensuring it meets the needs, interests and ambitions of our children and their families.
At Castle Primary School we explicitly teach oracy and deliver a talk-rich curriculum that enables children to experience a wide-range of contexts for speaking across the curriculum.
Oral language is the most important communication tool and fundamental to children’s success in education and beyond. Research also shows that engaging in high-quality classroom talk has a range of positive emotional and social benefits for children.
Reading for Pleasure
Through our curriculum, we aim to foster an enjoyment in reading for all children and to provide them with opportunities to read in different ways and for different purposes. There are frequent opportunities to read individually, with a partner, in a group, as a whole class and with the whole school. We also ensure that children interact with a wide range of different text types: fiction, non-fiction, comics, magazines, junior newspapers, websites, e-books etc. Reading materials, as well as reading environments are welcoming and routinely refreshed.
Alongside oracy, reading attainment is instrumental to future educational success. Research relating to reading for pleasure (DfE May 2012) references the research of OECD (2002) which reports reading enjoyment as more important to a child’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status. Children who choose to read for pleasure at 11 years old are more likely to achieve higher educational outcomes at 16 years old.
We aim for children to be aware of the impact that their own and others’ behaviour and choices have on themselves, on wider-society, and on the natural world.
Our curriculum supports them to make informed choices around activity (including screen-time), exercise, diet, and life-style, and to understand both the short as well as longer term impact of these choices.
We educate children to make ‘safer’ decisions when they are in their own homes, when they are using technology and when they are out in the community. We help them to learn about their own physical and mental health and the many ways in which this is connected to the choices they make.
Children will learn about climate change and how our individual and collective actions impact on the natural world. We ensure that this teaching is linked to service that enables pupils to feel positive about and hopeful for the difference human beings can make as custodians of our natural world.
Equality and Diversity
We aim for children to learn about equality and the concept of accepting and promoting people’s differences in all their forms. We strive to ensure that individuals are treated fairly. We also help children to understand that some people may need extra help to enable them to have the same opportunities, and that provision of this additional support is just and fair.
We want our children to learn about diversity and value people as unique individuals so that they move on from Caste Primary School at the end of KS2 with a secure understanding of themselves, their society, their nation and the world.
Within this driver sits a commitment to ensuring that pupils have equitable access to the curriculum and a high quality, coherent and progressive experience of each subject. Learning ability, physical ability, linguistic ability, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and/or cultural circumstances will not impede pupils from accessing any aspect of learning at Castle Primary School.
As we are in the early stages of implementing our school enquiry curriculum we are reviewing it at the end of each stage. The curriculum team will be reviewing it against these criteria:
- Impact on learning and raising standards and embedding key skills
- Opportunities to develop further links to the local area
- Review each enquiry against our values and core drivers
Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural (SMSC) Awareness and Fundamental British Values
As well as equipping children with the skills and knowledge of the National Curriculum, our curriculum develops children’s social, moral, spiritual and cultural awareness and their understanding of fundamental British values.
Much of this teaching is addressed through our PHSE and RHSE curriculums and through assemblies and extra-curricular activity.
We also aim to support parents in equipping their child(ren) with the skills every child needs to successfully navigate the next stages of their education, and to be members of their local communities and wider society.
Our curriculum also incorporates teaching about the core British values of:
- the rule of law
- individual liberty
- mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs
These values are taught across the curriculum and are also implicitly experienced through our relationships, our pedagogy and our celebration of diversity and the promotion of equality and inclusion.
They are taught alongside our Castle Primary School values of
- Value ourselves
- Value others and
- Value learning
and are linked to universal human values such as kindness, fairness, trust, responsibility, honesty and a sense of community and citizenship.
Each term, children in Years 1 - 6 undertake a new enquiry. Across the following subjects, links are made where these support pupils’ understanding and application of new learning: Art and Design, Design and Technology, Geography, History, Music and Science. Remaining subjects (Computing; English; Languages (Spanish); Maths; Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (including Relationships, Health and Sex Education); Physical Education, and Religious Education are in the main, taught discretely but are linked to our enquiries where links occur. For example, core learning in Maths might be applied to a Science lesson that involves collecting data.
Each enquiry begins with a main question that provides the focus for the learning. The question cannot be answered straightaway. Instead, children are guided by their teacher so that by the end of the enquiry they are able to answer the question.
Teachers begin an enquiry by checking and identifying what the children already know. Links are made to previous enquiries. This helps children to connect with new learning and teachers to ascertain the starting points for their teaching.
As our enquiries combine different subjects, teaching units have been planned as a series of steps and different steps provide learning in different subjects. This allows children to practise applying new knowledge and skills in a given subject. Each step has its own enquiry question that feeds into the learning and enables each child to make an informed response to the ‘big question’ at the end of the enquiry.
Within each enquiry, key knowledge that will be revisited in future enquiries is highlighted. Teachers assess children’s learning against this key knowledge.
We ensure that the relevant objectives from the National Curriculum are covered and each child's progress is assessed against these objectives. Lessons also ensure that children understand the different social, moral and cultural contexts that exist, both within their direct experience and also in the wider world.
At the start of a new enquiry, teachers immerse children in the knowledge and skills they will need to frame their learning. This involves the teacher building on prior knowledge by modelling certain skills and then teaching the specific knowledge the children need. Once children have developed their background knowledge and skills, they are given the opportunity to decide how they would like to take their learning further. Children are encouraged to steer the learning by posing questions that they want to know more about. Teachers refer to children’s questions throughout the enquiry so that they can see that their contributions are valued and their questions drive their learning.
Children are then given the opportunity to put their skills and knowledge into practice during the second phase of the enquiry. They are encouraged to make mistakes, ask questions and use a range of resources to find out what they want to know. Teachers explicitly teach and model for the children, how to plan and monitor their line of enquiry so they can consider what appropriate strategies they will use to approach and conclude the task. Children are encouraged to think about how to effectively organise and manage their learning independently and in groups, while assessing their progress throughout. The activities in this phase are designed to challenge, motivate and build on knowledge and skills as children acquire the multi-layered knowledge needed to enable them to respond to the ‘big question’ at the enquiry’s core.
Throughout an enquiry, children are encouraged to discuss their learning. There is also a vocabulary focus within each enquiry that supports children to communicate effectively about their learning.
Children’s learning is made visible in many ways. They record their learning experiences in displays, in floorbooks and in individual enquiry books. These help to ‘tell the story’ of children’s learning, remind them of the important facts and vocabulary, and help them to remember the learning. Floorbooks also play a central role in re-visiting and reinforcing the learning from previous enquiries.
We enrich our curriculum and bring it to life through real experiences such as trips and visitors, which are essential part of the Castle Primary School curriculum. Firstly, we take advantage of our local area and capitalise on the fact that Keynsham is a town close to the cities of Bath and Bristol that offer a wealth of opportunities in geography, history and the arts. Secondly, we relate the learning to real life situations where we can. Our use of visitors (both in person and remotely), provides positive role models and opens doors to worlds that children have not yet had an opportunity to experience. Visits and visitors also raise awareness of future opportunities and nurture children’s expectations. Across 2021-22 visitors have included: Author Stuart Foster, Paralympian Hannah Cockroft, Magician and Actor Peter Clifford, Make-up Artist Val Garland, Author Gill Lewis, Gymnast Josh Hunter, BBC Spring Watch presenter Gillian Burke and Poet Lawrence Hoo.
The outdoor environment is considered an opportunity for active learning for all pupils and is promoted and planned for. The school grounds are currently being further developed to enrich different curriculum areas and outdoor learning.
Our strategy for the successful implementation of our intended curriculum is to create a culture where collaboration and professional dialogue between subject leaders delivers a curriculum that builds on prior learning, deepens knowledge and enhances skills that foster learning and achievement. We engage in a constant cycle of review and evaluation to ensure that our curriculum is informed by self-evaluation, research, and the latest educational thinking.