We believe that children learn best when they are inspired by, engaged and sufficiently challenged in their work, and at Brocks Hill Primary School, we have devised a creative curriculum in which deep curriculum knowledge, key skills and attitudes are taught through exciting topics. We aim to develop self-directed, responsible pupils who have a life-long love for learning.
In our school, children learn by studying a creative and connected curriculum which is organised into termly topics. The deep knowledge and skills in each of the different subject areas are woven into these topics. Our children access a curriculum that develops them as individuals, challenges their mind-set and excites their imagination. We aim to create irresistible learning experiences which prepare them for their future.
We have built and shaped our curriculum around the concept of a learning tree:
The roots of the tree represent the learning dispositions and our character education. There are six key 'Learning Dispositions', called The 6Rs which are fundamental in our school. These are: respect, resilience, resourcefulness, reflection, reciprocity and responsibility. These permeate all aspects of our school, form the basis of success in all and are vital to life-long learning.
In addition to the 6Rs, there are also a whole range of important other learning dispositions or qualities which we explicitly promote throughout our curriculum. We plan rich, varied lesson activities which ensure that children acquire deep subject knowledge but which are effective incubators of the dispositions and key skills. These dispositions include the following: risk taking, perseverance, communication, cooperation, motivation, taking initiative, open mindedness, patience, self direction, curiosity, flexibility, empathy, gratitude, organisation, imagination, courage, positivity
We strongly believe that our focus on developing this range of learning dispositions, along with a provision for well-being which permeates all aspects of school life, including developing strategies to support positive mental health, significantly impacts on the high achievement of the pupils as well as all-round character development.
We believe that deeper learning is achieved and knowledge acquisition is improved when the considered and appropriate degree of struggle are incorporated into the lessons. We use concepts such as the Learning Pit and grapple and we incorporate elements of the above learning dispositions, including the 6Rs, to establish that struggle and grapple within lessons. We believe that conditions in lessons which induce some errors and reveal misconceptions through appropriate challenge are those which will lead to deeper learning. Incorporating explicit and deliberate content via the learning dispositions is a powerful way to do this.
Furthermore, we believe that knowledge acquisition is improved and enhanced when lessons successfully incorporate these key learning dispositions. They are used to give context, relevance and purpose in lessons which improves engagement, makes knowledge content more memorable. These are the aforementioned ‘irresistible learning experiences’ which inspire, engage and challenge our pupils.
Additionally, alongside the learning dispositions, discrete subject-specific skills and deep knowledge, we will nurture crucial overarching key skills. These skills are represented by the trunk of the tree are applied in other subjects across the curriculum. For example, skills of reasoning and explaining, proving and justifying an opinion with reference to evidence are skills used as much in Reading and Maths as they are in History and Science. These are part of our approach of the ‘Mastery’ curriculum, where skills are developed and learned in depth, and applied in many different contexts. These key skills are deepened, developed and strengthened in each year group The key skills include the following:
Analyse, Describe, Hypothesise, Sequence, Anticipate, Determine, Identify, Simplify, Apply, Discuss, Infer, Solve, Causal link, Elaborate, Interpret, Sort, Choose, Estimate, Organise, Summarise, Classify, Evaluate, Paraphrase, Support, Compare, Explore, Predict, Test, Connect, Generalise, Question, Verify, Contrast, Exemplify, Rank/order, Visualise, Decide, Give reasons, Represent, Define, Group, Respond.
Subject specific skills
In each area of the curriculum, there are a range of subject specific skills. These include calculation methods in Maths, conducting a fair test experiment in science, using tools safely and effectively in Design Technology and coding in Computing. These skills are developed and practised in tandem with learning and remembering knowledge in each subject. These are represented by the branches of the learning tree.
Our Brocks Hill curriculum is sequenced and designed to help our pupils remember what they are taught. We are clear on what we want our children to know, we prioritise “powerful knowledge” and we make this explicit in our teaching. The specifics of what we want the children to learn matter. Our children gain explicit knowledge within a topic, as well as a broad overview. This powerful knowledge is represented by the leaves of the tree.
Our topics are taught to be remembered, not encountered. Children feel empowered through knowing things. Therefore, the knowledge they learn is robust and the experiences they have are rich and memorable. We achieve this through understanding the cognitive science of the working memory and the power of retrieval. We understand that for knowledge to be stored in the children’s long-term memory, we need to build on it, retrieve it and form wide and deep schemas. This is achieved in a variety of ways including knowledge organisers, low stakes testing, repeated practise and spaced retrieval.
In our curriculum planning, we aim to incorporate elements of all four parts of the learning tree into our lessons, where appropriate and possible, and we are explicit about them. We believe that these four elements are interdependent and the development of each one supports the others.
The 6Rs, learning dispositions, a growth mind-set, skills and deep knowledge all have a real impact on the lives and life chances of our young people. We are dedicated to preparing them for their future life, both in education and the world of work, where they can be respectful, flexible, confident, kind and thoughtful individuals who are ready to face change and challenge with resilience and courage.
Our beliefs and commitments are echoed by Prince William who has stated,
“An individual's academic success, wellbeing and mental health depends not only on traditional qualifications, but on nurturing non-academic attributes like self-confidence, discipline and determination. It is not enough that someone is good at English and Maths if they cannot withstand the pressures that life throws up.”