Our Curriculum Vision
The curriculum at our school is designed to provide a broad and balanced education that meets the needs of all children. It provides opportunities for children to develop as independent, confident and successful learners, with high aspirations, who know how to make a positive contribution to their community and the wider society. The curriculum ensures that academic success, creativity and problem solving, reliability, responsibility and resilience, as well as physical development, well-being and mental health are key elements that support the development of the whole child and promote a positive attitude to learning. The curriculum celebrates the diversity and utilises the skills, knowledge and cultural wealth of the community while supporting the children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, ensuring that children are well prepared for life in modern Britain.
The Cornerstones curriculum that we have adopted provides an excellent foundation. We have worked with children, parents and staff to develop curriculum drivers . These enable further personalisation of the curriculum for each school.
We believe our curriculum supports and reflects values of each individual school and the motto of the Federation : Whatever you do, do it well !
The intent of the curriculum is led by
ten central Big Ideas, or macro concepts, that provide the overarching aims of the curriculum. Conceived by careful analysis of the national curriculum subjects, and drawing out common themes in primary education, the Big Ideas put significant transferable concepts at the heart of the curriculum and support its horizontal, vertical and diagonal organisation.
Concepts and aspects
Each Big Idea links directly to the subjects of the curriculum and is broken down
into smaller parts that we call disciplinary concepts (micro concepts) and aspects (non-concepts). The concepts and aspects identify essential strands of each subject and help to organise the specific knowledge and skills of the curriculum.
In the final tier of the curriculum, we set out the essential knowledge and skills of the curriculum to build on the previous, so children’s understanding of concepts and aspects develops over time. The organisation of the knowledge and skills also allows for planned retrieval. Each subject page above outlines the knowledge and skills, concepts and aspects that we want children to know and remember by the time they leave our schools.
Every class will experience 6 projects in a year through a range of Knowledge Rich Projects. In addition there will be ‘companion projects’. Each individual project is split into four stages of learning: Engage, Develop, Innovate and Express.
The progression framework is implemented through a series of engaging and knowledge-rich projects. The projects are organised so that curriculum content, knowledge and skills are taught in a well-sequenced way that allows children to learn and do more as they progress throughout each year group. Each project is subject-driven and contains high-quality teaching resources.
Each project is delivered through a series of well-planned lessons built around Cornerstones’ four-stage pedagogy Engage-Develop-Innovate-Express.
Each lesson is supported by the best primary resources available. Each resource is meticulously researched and designed for maximum learning benefits. We insist on using only the best quality images and refrain from using cartoons or simplified imagery. This ensures that all children can see authentic representations of people and places.
Each project has a knowledge organiser that sets out the core information children need to know. Unlike more secondary-based offerings, our knowledge organisers present information in a fluent, engaging and age-appropriate way and can be used flexibly across the curriculum. Each knowledge organiser is rich in vocabulary and includes a project glossary. All EYFS projects contain an age-appropriate version of our knowledge organisers entitled ‘Did you know?’
For students to succeed in a particular area, they must have a foundation of factual knowledge, understand those facts in the context of a conceptual framework and organise knowledge in order to facilitate retrieval and application (Bransford et al., 2000). We can see knowledge organisers as a way to enable this, in a much more systematic way than traditional revision guides and textbooks.
When making decisions about what must be included we have to consider that not everything can be included on an A4 piece of paper. So we must balance the need to use concise space-saving definitions while still including meaning enough for it to be useful. The finite space also leads to choices about which knowledge we deem most important and which we exclude. Powerful knowledge, as defined by Young (Yong, 2013), is specialised rather than general knowledge, and is differentiated from the experiences of students. Finally, we have to decide which knowledge is most useful for the understanding of the domain and which is important for the sample of the domain – the assessment. For example, the continued development of the USSR post-1945 would be useful knowledge for students studying Animal Farm but would not be assessed, so should it be included on the KO?
As well as what to include, we also need to think about how the material is presented. In knowledge organisers, information is commonly presented in list form, which not be the best way to depict it in terms of showing links between ideas. It is therefore important that information is organised in such a way as to facilitate further organisation. Material should also be presented in such a way that it can be easily tested, to maximise the opportunity for retrieval practice.
The use of knowledge organisers needs to be integrated into teachers’ practice and students’ habits. This includes using the following strategies regularly and routinely.
Regular retrieval practice is important, because active retrieval aids later retention (Roediger et al., 2011). This can take various forms, e.g. low-stakes quizzes during lessons, or writing down the dates for key events in a timeline from the KO. It could be free recall, where students write down everything that they can remember on the topic, before checking the KO, or perhaps filling in a blank (or partially blank) knowledge organiser. Testing will also identify gaps in knowledge, lead to more learning on the next study session and produce better organisation of knowledge (Roediger et al., 2011).
We ensure that the material included in knowledge organisers is elaborated upon, by relating it to additional knowledge associated with it, often in the form of ‘why’ questions. There is an element of retrieval practice contained in this strategy, known as elaborative interrogation, but it works by ensuring that there is some sort of active understanding and meaningful consideration of what is being learnt (Willingham, 2014). Building complex schemas requires knowledge to be connected, so that this can be used when learning X by asking, ‘How does concept X relate to concept Y?’
All of these strategies are regularly used by teachers, but we must ensure that students are aware of how and when to use these strategies themselves, something that won’t happen without explicit instruction (Zimmerman, 2010). When using knowledge organisers in class, teachers can articulate why the particular strategy being used is effective and model its use with the KO. For students to get the most out of this, we can encourage them to use the metacognitive regulation cycle: plan how to undertake the task; monitor the effectiveness of the strategy; evaluate the overall success (EEF, 2018). For example, students might wish to learn a series of events and dates, so they might plan to use flashcards in several ways. They know that retrieval practice is effective so they use them to self-quiz. They know that elaborative interrogation is important, so they consider why each event was important and how it contributed to ultimate outcomes. They understand that knowledge may stick better if organised in different ways, so they organise the dates chronologically. They monitor which dates are known, then retest those not yet learnt. They reflect, following this, on tricky dates and then place each in turn in the centre of a concept map and consider how each relates to the other dates.
Testing and low-stakes quizzes
Most projects have a question-and-answer sheet or low-stakes quiz to help assess children’s learning. These can be used at the end of a project or for retrieval practice at different points across the school year.
Assessment and monitoring
The curriculum is fully integrated with Cornerstones comprehensive assessment system, enabling assessment of children’s learning in all subjects. With the dynamic assessment of class, group and individual progress, the assessment system provides us with immediate data on any gaps in children’s learning and progress overall.
Strengthening subject leadership across our schools remains an important priority. Subject leaders follow the ABC model ( Analyse, Build, Cultivate) in order to evaluate and further develop the curriculum. More information can be found on the subject leadership page and on individual subject pages.
As a group of schools within the Federation, we were delighted to introduce a new curriculum in January 2023, as part of our exciting school developments, to make sure we are providing the best quality of education possible for your children. As a leadership team, the driver for these developments was the ‘voice’ of pupils, parents and staff- so thank you for your ongoing feedback.
The ‘Cornerstones Curriculum’ is based on inspirational, fully sequenced and interconnected learning activities which take place in a classroom environment that allows children to learn in a way that motivates and interests them. Cornerstones will provide our children with challenge, giving them opportunities to solve problems, apply themselves creatively and express their knowledge and understanding across the curriculum.
Broad, balanced and ambitious coverage
Subject skills and knowledge endpoints
Sequenced and connected learning
Live monitoring of curriculum impact