The Caldecote Academy Curriculum
In September 2019, Caldecote Church of England Academy implemented a new curriculum that the staff and pupils spent the majority of the 2018-2019 academic year designing and planning.
The school community was ready to embrace changes to its curriculum. There are many different examples of how curriculums can be designed and delivered and the staff in the school were keen to explore the opportunities for outdoor learning and providing exciting opportunities and experiences for our children.
Why did we make the change?
When making our decisions we considered the following questions:
- Was our curriculum relevant to our children in our context or did we simply repeat the same lessons because that is what had always been delivered?
- Were we delivering the deep, rich and diverse curriculum that our children deserved?
- Did our curriculum give our teachers the freedom to explore opportunities as they arose and delve into other exciting knowledge when situations demanded?
- Was there sufficient evidence of knowledge and skills progression in our curriculum over the time that our children would be at our school?
- Was there a clear rationale for our curriculum that considered all the potential variables of our school context?
- Did the curriculum meet the criteria within our school vision and aims?
The answers to these questions were discussed at length. Ultimately, the school community felt that our curriculum needed to be updated at the very least but ideally completely redesigned to ensure that the answers to all the above questions would be an unequivocal 'yes'.
The key question 'why do we do what we do?' is fundamental to our curriculum. All staff agree that our new curriculum meets the following criteria:
- it caters for the needs of all our children; not just their academic needs but their 'lifelong learning' needs as well;
- it inspires our children to have highest expectations of themselves;
- it promotes a love of learning in all our children;
- it promotes outdoor learning to develop our children's understanding of nature, respect for the environment and the impact of humanity on the world in which they live;
- it prepares children for the next stage of their educational journey;
- it provides our children with a variety of life experiences including sport, art, music and technology;
- it provides opportunities for positive parental engagement and collaboration.
- it promotes our school vision where every child can meet their full potential in an inclusive, nurturing and caring learning environment.
- it provides all the opportunities that our children need to flourish.
Our curriculum is designed to ensure that all of our children meet their full potential spiritually, morally, emotionally, socially, culturally and physically and not just academically. Our curriculum is designed to promote a love of learning, collaborative learning and most importantly, develop the foundations for our children to become resilient, confident and creative adults.
In the past each year group or key stage has learnt a series of topics in isolation from other year groups or key stages. This has reduced opportunities for 'whole school' learning or collaboration across different year groups or key stages.
Topics were changed each half-term which often resulted in the teacher rushing to finish the topic before the end of the term and severely limiting opportunities for 'exploring with freedom' in the classroom. Teachers were not able to delve deeper into a topic or an event when opportunities arose because of time constraints.
The new curriculum will be implemented in the following way:
- Each topic lasts for an entire term providing more opportunities for learning freedom allowing teachers to delve deeper into an interesting event of activity providing a depth of learning;
- The whole school studies the same topic but learns different elements of that topic providing knowledge progression over time. For example, a child joining the school in Reception may study the same topic 3 times during their time at the school but will build on their previous knowledge and skills developed earlier;
- Each topic begins with a 'Stunning Start' and ends with a 'Fantastic Finish' which allows our children to share the work with their parents and the wider community;
- Each topic is 'all encompassing' which means that reading texts, maths challenges, art work and technology tasks are planned for that topic rather than be stand alone;
- Our Forest School is a major feature of our curriculum. Children take part in regular sessions that work on the skills and knowledge they have learnt or are learning in each topic.
The new curriculum consist of 6 topics which will revolve on a two-year cycle which means that children will revisit each topic and build on their prior knowledge:
- Our Changing World
- Through the Ages
- Our Blue Planet
Whilst pupil outcomes will always be a quantifiable measure of accountability in schools and a method by which school curriculums are assessed, the fact remains that education is about more than a set of figures or a spreadsheet full of data. The impact of a curriculum and its methodology should be more focused on other factors which in our view are as equally important to test scores and teacher assessments. In fact, our curriculum has been designed to ensure that its impact is seen in other ways rather than just through data.
The curriculum’s impact will be measured by considering the following questions:
- Do our children feel more confident in their abilities and do they feel more able to try something new?
- Do our children demonstrate increased resilience in challenging circumstances?
- Can our children demonstrate an increased ability to work well as part of a group to solve problems?
- Can our children demonstrate an increased ability to resolve conflicts by themselves in a mature manner?
- Do our children demonstrate an increased ability to work independently when required?
- Do our children demonstrate an increased curiosity in their learning?
- Can our children recognise these qualities in themselves and others?
- Do our children demonstrate a love for learning?
- Do our children demonstrate higher aspirations for themselves?
These questions are used to measure the impact of our curriculum because these are the fundamental aims of our curriculum. Whilst we recognise that children should gain knowledge, the attitudes to learning and their values and abilities to use that knowledge well are also essential areas within our curriculum.
Whilst these questions can be answered by the staff in school, the role of parents, other children and the children themselves should not be ignored. Therefore, self-reflection and self-awareness are key ingredients to the success of this curriculum.
Each child builds a portfolio during their time in school that provides a working ‘journey of learning’. Periodically, children are set tasks and observed to measure their progress and to better understand their strengths and areas for development. This is accomplished in much the same way as children are observed in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Children also reflect on their own performance and the views of parents are also sought. The school is currently developing its own Personal Learning and Development Programme for measuring skill progression from Early Years to (eventually) Year 6.
Personal Development Awards
During their time at the school, the children will work towards their Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum Personal Development Awards. Children will be expected to complete challenges, demonstrate confidence in a number of skills and tasks, demonstrate the school's values and show evidence of a commitment to their learning in order to meet the criteria for each level.