Curriculum at Alexander McLeod
At Alexander McLeod Primary School, we are passionately committed to providing our pupils with the best possible start in life.
We are driven to equip every child with the knowledge, skills and values they need in order to become resilient, responsible and happy citizens of the changing world they live in.
We fervently believe that all children deserve to succeed and our ultimate goal is to nurture articulate, well-informed children who are prepared for life’s many opportunities and challenges.
The role of the curriculum
A curriculum is broadly defined as the totality of pupil experiences that occur in the educational process. Therefore, the curriculum encompasses everything taught, everything learnt and everything lived by the children each day in our school. Priestley (2019) states that ‘the school curriculum is complex, involving considerations of how policy translates into practice’. With this in mind, our curriculum is designed to establish key expectations for the curriculum without prescribing exactly how objectives must be covered and is subject to evolve over time in line with the school’s changing strengths and needs.
- To deliver a relevant and ambitious curriculum that supports our pupils to understand the world around them and encourages them to form and express educated opinions.
- To provide an inclusive and safe environment that equips all children, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities, to unlock their full potential.
- To foster inquisitive minds, providing opportunities for all children to question, choose, evaluate and argue rationally.
- To adequately prepare children for the next stage of their educational journey.
- To maintain high expectations of our pupils’ behaviour and attitude towards learning in school.
- To establish and maintain positive relationships between everybody in our school community including pupils, staff and parents, recognising each person’s worth.
- To maintain a culture of mutual respect and co-operation.
Enquiry Based Learning
In the spring term of 2021, we as a school community set out to establish our shared key priorities for the curriculum at Alexander McLeod moving forwards. Various stakeholders, including Senior Leaders, Class Teachers, Learning Support Assistants, parents and the curriculum governor were consulted and the following strands were common across these groups:
- The curriculum needs to be language-rich
- The curriculum needs to represent the diverse community we serve and promote the consideration of more than one perspective
- The curriculum needs to promote children as independent and active learners
- When planning the curriculum, teachers should feel empowered to be creative and make professional decisions in the best interests of their pupils’ learning
In response to these collective aims, our school adopted an enquiry-based approach in the following subjects:
These subjects now include (sometimes alongside discrete knowledge or skills-based lessons) enquiry units that the children actively participate in planning. The model for these enquiry units is as follows:
In the ‘ASK’ stage, the children are given an overall question or scenario. They are also informed of the agreed outcome of their unit, along with specific stipulations for that outcome. These stipulations are planned carefully by teachers to ensure that the National Curriculum objectives will be met over the course of the unit.
The children help to plan the ‘INVESTIGATE’ stage, which is the part of the enquiry unit where pupils gain the knowledge and skills they will need in order to create the agreed outcome. This stage could include, but is not restricted to: research, trips, observations and simple tests or investigations.
During the ‘CREATE’ stage, pupils work on the agreed final outcome of the unit. During this part of the enquiry, teachers and LSAs provide meaningful feedback which encourages children to articulate their ongoing reflections on their learning so far as well as encouraging them to consider whether they are on track to meet the stipulations for their agreed outcome.
Finally, the ‘REFLECT’ stage of the enquiry is an extremely valuable opportunity for pupils to evaluate their final outcome against the brief they were given, as well as reflecting on the learning process of the enquiry. They are encouraged to answer questions like: ‘What do I understand more deeply now, and how do I know that IU understand it better?’.
In line with our mission statement, we believe as a school that our children have a right to become informed about the issues and current affairs that affect the future of the world they live in. We strongly encourage our pupils to develop informed opinions about the challenges faced around the world and then channel their emotional investment in these issues in a positive and constructive way. It is our hope that all children at Alexander McLeod can make a meaningful and valuable contribution to the world around them.
Inclusion and the curriculum
Alexander McLeod is committed to providing high quality teaching and an inclusive environment as a basic entitlement for all learners. As a school, we value the needs of all learners and foster a positive attitude towards pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. We aim to teach all learners how to build on their strengths and minimise their weaknesses by addressing their barriers to learning, so that they are empowered to be the best that they can be. We believe that we have achieved a curriculum model that reaches and develops every child within the school, including children from disadvantaged backgrounds and those with SEND.
Our curriculum promotes mastery opportunities for all children, including those who are achieving greater depth in their learning. Our Senior Leadership Team, Subject Leaders, Class Teachers and Learning Support Assistants promote equality of opportunity and celebrate diversity and acceptance. As a school, we pride ourselves on our inclusive attitude; we ensure that everything in our power is done to help all children achieve their very best
Knowledge, Skills and Values
The Prototype Theory (Rosch 1973) suggests that when we encounter words, we use our previous knowledge and experiences to inform our understanding of the word. Furthermore, over time we build up webs or networks of meaning called ‘schemata’ (Anderson 1977) and one prototype triggers another, which triggers another, and so on. In order for our pupils to be able to create these layers of meaning and association, it is vital that they encounter rich and subject-specific vocabulary across the curriculum. In this way, every subject in the curriculum serves to improve children’s literacy, rather than the other way around. Sequencing the curriculum is vital; knowledge must be deliberately and explicitly revisited throughout a Key Stage and beyond.
Although skills are not as prevalent in the current national curriculum as perhaps they were previously, they are still a fundamental part of what we teach our children. Fleetham (2018) states that ‘skills-based learning provides classroom environments where independence, thinking skills, collaboration and active learning are developed at the same time as knowledge is acquired.
Therefore, an engaging, high quality curriculum should consist of a balance of both knowledge and skills.
Knowledge and skills are intertwined – being able to effectively use knowledge arguably matters more than just the acquisition of it, which is why skills are equally important. Research indicates that children learn more effectively and remember more when they can use skills to access, process and express their knowledge. An extreme swing to one approach rather than the other leaves a significant gap in children’s learning which is detrimental. (Moore 2017).
At Alexander McLeod, our school values of independence, co-operation, responsibility, self-confidence, respect, perseverance, honesty, effort, friendship, aspiration and equality are extremely important to us and underpin everything that the children learn. By embedding these values into our curriculum and school life, we aim to nurture responsible, resilient and mindful individuals who are well prepared for life in the wider world. We ensure that our values are celebrated in all lessons as well as weekly circle times and children are rewarded for displaying them through our Star of the Week assemblies.
Click on the subject for further information about how it is taught at our school and who the subject lead is.
Curriculum-Gallery (ID 1025)
Design and Technology
Design and Technology
English - Phonics
English - Phonics
English - Reading
English - Reading
English - Writing
English - Writing