Building on curiosity and a zest for learning
Penn Wood’s school curriculum is the defined knowledge and learning that we commit to. It is what our school stands for, the foundation upon which the school is built, and the learning journeys children go on. It includes lessons but also events and routines, clubs, visits, dramatic performances, and sporting occasions. The national curriculum is an important part of that programme for learning. Penn Wood’s curriculum is the very essence of its work, and we aim to provide highly positive, memorable, and magical experiences, and rich opportunities for high quality learning. Education law says that the curriculum must be balanced and broadly based. Ofsted assesses whether the curriculum is as broad as possible for as long as possible. It must equip children with the knowledge and cultural capital that they need to succeed in life.
The national curriculum introduces children to the essential knowledge that they need to be educated citizens. It introduces pupils to ‘the best that has been thought and said’ and is ‘an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.’ Penn Wood’s curriculum is ambitious for all and is designed to give all learners, particularly the most disadvantaged and those with Special Educational Needs, the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life. This means a knowledge and experience rich curriculum.
The national curriculum sets out a series of expectations for what children should know, understand and be able to do by set points in their primary education. It is a performance model where assessment drives teaching and learning against milestones stipulating what children must achieve mastery of.
Penn Wood School draws upon ‘The Primary Knowledge Curriculum’ to support our intention to provide the absolute best curriculum for our children. This curriculum enables us to check that our curriculum is carefully chosen and sequences in a meaningful way. Our engagement with this model also allows inter-school collaboration.
Our curriculum weaves important concepts such as fairness, justice, liberty, and identity. We believe in ‘Wonderfully different, beautifully the same.’ The curriculum nurtures the minds of children who think often and deeply. Children are taught meaningful content that builds on their prior knowledge. There are carefully planned opportunities to recall and revisit vital prior knowledge and to strengthen retrieval from lesson to lesson, unit to unit and year to year. The knowledge base encourages children to infer, question, interpret, analyse, argue, and reason. Most importantly, the curriculum provides children with the tools they need to participate in their own education that will continue for a lifetime.
The curriculum has the needs of Penn Wood learners at its heart. Literacy is at the core of the curriculum as these subjects form a basis for success across other curriculum subjects. Books are the golden thread weaving a high-quality curriculum together. Reading is a powerful driving force for learning as a whole. We believe that:
- Reading for pleasure is important for academic achievement
- Reading is important ‘for learning,’ to develop knowledge
- Reading develops emotional literacy
- The way we tackle texts differs in different subjects
We ensure that our books, including our poetry books, reflect rich and diverse cultural heritages. Early language and early reading are prioritised within the curriculum and there is a moral imperative to do this if we are to close the attainment gap for disadvantaged learners.
The school has adopted a subject specific approach as opposed to a cross-curricular approach so that children can be introduced to the knowledge and the systems of thought within each subject area. Subjects will, however, be aligned and connected with thought when it is sensible to do so.
Literacy, Numeracy and Creativity are three core pillars of the curriculum. We value and promote the Arts and have our own music, drama and dance specialists. The Arts contribute to:
- A broad and balanced curriculum
- School community and parental engagement
- Health and wellbeing
- Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development
- Social mobility
- Life skills and employability skills
Penn Wood’s curriculum can be thought of as a tree that combines knowledge, skills, and experiences. The branches are the curriculum subjects, and the leaves are the individual bits of learning that are required by the national curriculum. The roots are where the children learn to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, where they learn to work together in teams, develop their own creativity and social skills, learn to investigate, to evaluate, to develop innovative ideas, to be enterprising and to communicate in a wide range of ways with a wide range of people. These skills are built within the context of the knowledge that is taught.
The roots are where the children develop personally as confident individuals, willing to take risks, persevere and deal with setbacks and difficulties. This is character education – helping children to develop personal character strengths or virtues. Honesty, courage, and compassion are just some of the traits we encourage in our children. The whole curriculum contributes to the development of such traits.
Our children know that learning involves ‘thinking hard,’ deliberate practice and knowledge retrieval from the long-term memory. They learn from watching how others to do well and respond to feedback on their learning. We call this having a ‘growth mind-set;’ intelligence is not fixed, and everyone can improve.
The trunk is the quality of the learning experience including the use of new technologies to enhance teaching and learning, having a global perspective, and building real, and often local, experiences into the curriculum. At Penn Wood, we realise the importance of P.E (Physical Education), the Arts and helping children to benefit from nature, our outdoor world. Developing children’s financial awareness becomes increasingly important and we commit to doing more to give our children a financial education.
The curriculum is a living, breathing organism and it will continue to evolve over time. It thrives when it is best suited to its environment, in this case, Penn Wood.
This over-all intent statement needs to be viewed within the context of subject intent statements. Within History, for example, decisions have been made about who the significant people and places for study are. In Geography, the selection of contrasting environments matters. Which artists or movements do children learn about in Art?
Our intent is for subject leads and teams to champion their own subjects whilst staying true to our curriculum values and principles:
- A broad knowledge base and cultural capital
- A curriculum that prioritises reading
- A curriculum that builds on prior learning and enables children to make connections
- An ambitious curriculum for all learners
- A curriculum that is accessible to all learners
- An engaging and interesting curriculum that promotes a love of learning
- A curriculum that is implemented in a way that it is retained over time
- A curriculum that assesses children’s understanding and uses this information to inform teaching and learning
- A curriculum that is representative, culturally diverse, promotes diversity and respect and develops our children as individuals of good character
- A curriculum with experiences that supplement and strengthen their learning
At Penn Wood we take time to look at the curriculum – to stand back and reflect. This helps us to see the wood from the trees.
Please find details in each subject section above about the curriculum areas. As Penn Wood follows the National Curriculum, you can find out more detailed information on subjects by viewing the curriculum here:
Penn Wood Curriculum Statement
Inspiring hearts and minds
'Learning refers to significant enhancements in knowledge, capabilities, values, attitudes or understanding (including but going beyond the acquisition of factual knowledge) by individuals, groups, organisations or society.' (Coffield, 2019)
We believe that the curriculum should ensure learners become:
- ambitious, capable learners, ready to learn throughout their lives
- enterprising, creative contributors, ready to play a full part in life and work
- ethical, informed citizens of England and the world
- healthy, confident individuals, ready to lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.
The school curriculum is what children learn at Penn Wood Primary and Nursery School. It includes lessons but also events and routines, clubs, visits, dramatic performances and sporting occasions. The broad and balanced national curriculum is an important part of that programme for learning. Penn Wood’s curriculum is the very essence of its work and we aim to provide highly positive, memorable and awe inspiring experiences, and rich opportunities for high quality learning.
The national curriculum introduces children to the essential knowledge that they need to be educated citizens. It introduces pupils to ‘the best that has been thought and said’ and is ‘an appreciation of human creativity and achievement.’ It sets out a series of expectations for what children should know, understand and be able to do by set points in their primary education. It is a performance model where assessment drives teaching and learning against end points stipulating what children must achieve mastery of.
Developing a web of knowledge
Penn Wood depicts its curriculum as a tree. The branches are the curriculum disciplines, each with its own narrative, and the leaves are the chunks of knowledge that build together to create understanding of the ‘big ideas’ within each subject. The roots are where the children learn to be critical thinkers and problem solvers within the curriculum. It’s here where they learn to work together in teams, develop their own creativity and social skills, learn to investigate, to evaluate, to develop new ideas, to be enterprising and to communicate in a wide range of ways with a wide range of people.
The roots are also where the children develop personally as confident individuals, willing to take risks, persevere and deal with setbacks and difficulties. They know that learning involves ‘thinking hard’, deliberate practice and knowledge retrieval from the long term memory. They learn from watching how others to do well and respond to feedback on their learning. This is sometimes called ‘character education.’ We believe in building children’s ‘self-efficacy,’ their belief in their ability to succeed, through achieving success in their learning.
The trunk is the quality of the learning experience including the use of new technologies to enhance teaching and learning, having a global perspective and building real experiences into the curriculum that embrace local opportunities.
The curriculum is coherent and sequenced, careful thought has gone into putting things together, making connections, so that the curriculum can be learnt. It has the needs of Penn Wood learners at its heart. Reading is at the core of the curriculum as the ability to read forms the basis for success across other curriculum disciplines. The school has adopted a subject specific approach as opposed to a cross-curricular approach so that children can be introduced to the knowledge and the systems of thought within each subject area. Subjects will, however, be aligned and connected when it is sensible to do so. Books are the golden thread.
Realising the ambition
We are committed to high quality professional learning that focuses on what makes great teaching, subject knowledge development with a strong focus on reading and sound formative assessment practices. Curriculum design is driven by a curriculum team of senior leaders and this supplements the traditional subject leader roles. We are an ‘evidence informed’ school and we carefully select the research that is going to underpin our work.
The curriculum and improving the teachers we have (Dylan Wiliam) are the two universal approaches to help improve education for all. We commit to improving educational outcomes and the life chances of the long term disadvantaged.
How we know if the curriculum is being learned
The curriculum is the progress model – if children are keeping up with the curriculum then they are making good progress. Progress means knowing more and remembering more.
There are 5 principles for progression:
- increasing breadth and depth of knowledge
- deepening understanding of subjects and the concepts within
- refinement and growing sophistication in the use and application of knowledge
- making connections and transferring learning into new contexts
- increasing effectiveness – this includes knowledge of self as a learner