At St Mark’s, we believe our curriculum is very ambitious!
When we talk about our curriculum, we mean the full range of experiences that children have at our school. It is broader than the subjects we teach, although that will provide a foundation for learning. It includes the additional opportunities children have, the way we structure what we do, the investment we put into character, the way we strive to look outside ourselves to make our world a better place, the way we help the children to think, the skills they learn, and much, much more. The curriculum enables us to become who we will be as much as it defines the knowledge we learn. For us, the curriculum is a demonstration of life in all its fullness.
When we talk about an ambitious curriculum, we mean that:
- it is for every child in our school;
- it has high expectations;
- it is well-put together;
- it is technically accurate;
- it is well delivered;
- it meets the needs of our pupils; and,
- it enables children to go on succeeding in the future.
We have spent much time building our curriculum so that it is ambitious for our children. It is an ongoing process, too; we adapt and change it so that it suits the needs of children who are growing up in an ever-changing world.
The Model Is Key
Our curriculum model shows the building blocks of our curriculum. At its heart are our Christian values, learning behaviours and HeartSmart High-Five. These help our children to learn deeply that character comes first. They learn that who we are is more important than what we do or achieve.
Underpinned by our Vision
Our curriculum model is underpinned by our vision, which is ambitious in itself. It states that our curriculum should:
- Be irresistible for ALL children to learn and irresistible for teachers to teach.
- Put character before qualification to develop every child so they can experience life in all its fullness.
- Deliver a full, knowledge-rich, rigorous and critically thinking curriculum, which equips our children to be life-long learners and become agents of change in our world.
- Link our learning with our family, local community, country & global world to build a more richly connected future for our children.
Learning and teaching at it’s core
In addition to this, our model explains that teaching and learning is a central element to our curriculum. Our “High-Fives of Teaching” include Challenge for All Learners; Modelling for Learning; Vocabulary for Learning; Purpose for Learning; and, Assessment for Learning. Having learning at the heart of our teaching ensures we focus on the reason we do what we do: it’s all for our children!
Another reason our curriculum is ambitious is because it is knowledge-rich. We have thought very carefully about what we teach and what we want children to know. In our curriculum, knowledge is:
- Powerful – Children acquire knowledge to help make sense of the world and see connections between and within subjects, concepts and ideas.
- Sequenced – We have thought carefully about how our curriculum is structured, in order for children to build on prior learning
- Remembered – We help children to remember what they have learned, and use strategies to help learning go into long-term memory.
- More than facts – Substantive & Declarative (‘know that’), Procedural (‘know how’), Disciplinary (specific to a domain), Prior (sequenced), Core (key), and Hinterland (the wider picture)
- Purposeful – Children don’t just do or learn history; they gain knowledge to become historians (for example). They can then apply their knowledge more successfully.
Key elements that make our curriculum ambitious include:
- Big Questions – these help children to make sense of the learning. They bring together their prior and new learning, and give opportunities for higher-order thinking.
- Spiritual Development – Our children consider the wider questions and purpose of life – the things seen and unseen. This helps understanding of ourselves, one another and our world.
- Agents of Change – We teach children that they can make a difference in our world – agents of change. This makes our world a better place.
- Critical Thinking – Our children grapple with ideas, consider different viewpoints, and think through the complexities of decisions and situations.
- Reading – We love to read, and help our children to become passionate readers. We also use a planned variety of text types to support vocabulary development.
So in summary, we believe our curriculum is ambitious for the following reasons:
- It is designed for all pupils, especially our pupils.
- We value every subject and every part of what we do, not just core subjects.
- Through our ‘Big Questions’ we give opportunities for children to think beyond the immediate learning.
- We are very clear on the knowledge and skills which children learn – in all year groups and in all subjects.
- We have identified the key ideas and concepts in each subject that we teach.
- Our curriculum is well-sequenced. We plan carefully what children learn, and when.
- We expect a lot from our children – and help them to reach our expectations and beyond.
- We make our children think, and pitch our learning with sufficient challenge.
- We invest in teaching; this gives our children high-quality learning experiences.
- We also invest in resources for learning, and encourage thinking outside of the box.
- Our subject leaders know their subject well, and cascade their knowledge and expectations to our team.
- The planned vocabulary we teach is technical and rich. This helps children to have an excellent understanding of the ideas in each subject, and to explain those ideas accurately.