GLF Schools’ Primary Curriculum Overview
This academic year (2023-24), we launched a hugely ambitious and exciting new trust-wide curriculum for Art, Design Technology, Geography, History & Science. The curriculum has been in development in a number of our partner schools since 2018. The curriculum has been reviewed, refined and successfully tested over the years and provides children and staff with a powerful and unapologetically ambitious start to their educational journey. Our interdisciplinary curriculum ensures that explicit links are made between the different subject areas as children move through the curriculum, maximising both retention of learning over time and the understanding of how knowledge is used in the wider world to solve problems.
We are one of a few schools in the country offering such a dedicated and bespoke approach to our curriculum, ensuring that children are inspired and equipped to join a world being transformed by the work of the STEM careers which continue to drive innovation and change across the world. The new curriculum has been designed to revolutionise teaching and learning in our school: the children work collaboratively each term towards creating a final project outcome, utilising the knowledge and skills that have been developed during the learning journey.
The GLF Primary curriculum is designed to make logical and meaningful connections between the different disciplines (Art, DT, History, Geography and Science.) A coherent curriculum ensures that the content, skills and learning experiences are aligned and integrated in a way that enables children to develop and embed their learning into the long-term memory.
Human beings live the world in a connected way. We experience life in a way that means we ultimately want to achieve generalisations. We want to be able to take a skill or an experience and be able to apply it or learn from it in a different context. Coherence is a fundamental aspect to achieving learning in a meaningful way. One of the pitfalls could be when some sessions are ‘stand-alone’ rather than part of a progressive accumulation of knowledge and skills. Rather, each session should build on what was done before.
We believe our curriculum is equipping and exposing children to a very modern way of working; inspiring a future generation to pursue careers in an ever-changing world. During the curriculum’s development in a sister GLF school, following a trip to RAF Brize Norton, a Year 2 girl announced when she returned, "I am going to be an aeronautical engineer when I grow up." It is those aspirations we want to further engender and cultivate in the children in our school.
We have carefully chosen the people we learn about their contribution to industry advances to ensure all children are encouraged to be aspirational and see themselves, their cultures and learning strengths included in our curriculum whilst also selecting industry examples that celebrate and include both local and national cultures so that all children, who naturally have different starting points and life experiences, benefit equitably from the same high-quality, inclusive and aspirational curriculum.
The very intent and core purpose of our curriculum is to empower children. We know that children’s language development impacts on all curriculum areas. Without high-quality teaching that includes a deliberate focus on oracy and the direct instruction of vocabulary, children from disadvantaged backgrounds fall further and further behind (Roulstone, Law et al 2010). Therefore, oracy is the golden thread that connects everything in every subject. The ability to speak eloquently, articulate ideas and thoughts, collaborate with peers and have the confidence to express your views are all vital life skills that support success in learning and life in general. We aim to provide a robust foundation for the development of oracy skills through direct instruction of vocabulary and a vast range of oracy.
We believe that a focus on oracy will enable us to:
· develop a high level of vocabulary in children to expose the depth of their acquired knowledge and composite skills;
· ensure that all children, irrelevant of starting points or barriers, make strong progress and are ambitious in their pursuit for excellence and achievement;
· ensure that there are specifically designed, taught, and experienced opportunities for all children to work on their oracy skills and vocabulary retention;
Through our curriculum we teach the disciplines of the Arts, Design and Technology, Geography, History and Science. Through our education offer, we empower children to acquire and internalise disciplinary behaviours; there is a constant interplay between knowledge learnt, skills acquired and the ability to effectively express oneself.
The Arts (Performance art and fine art and design)
The Arts are interwoven throughout our wider curriculum and the skills to perform are built upon and developed from our youngest years. Children develop skills such as voice projection, how to pitch their performance to their audience and how to effectively work together when presenting or performing.
Fine art disciplinary knowledge and skills are built on year on year. Children build up their skills of drawing, painting and working with 3D media and use these to produce pieces of work linked to the curriculum taught within the term. In our Early Years' classrooms, children begin to explore mark making with a variety of tools and medium, building up to learning how to manipulate marks through pressure and movement. This knowledge is deepened and developed through the subsequent Key Stages where children explore line, pattern tone and texture.
Design and Technology
Design and technology skills and knowledge are built on throughout the primary age in the areas of construction of products, textiles and food technology. Our youngest children explore skills such as how to attach materials together using everyday objects and this is built on in later years with children investigating permanent and semi-permanent joins. Throughout our design and technology lessons we are teaching the children:
· how to develop, plan and communicate their ideas
· how to work safely with different tools and equipment to make quality products
· how to evaluate products and processes
Our geography curriculum develops the children's curiosity and fascination about the world and its people. As the children progress through the curriculum they will deepen their understanding of the diverse nature of the planet in both the physical processes and the communities that exist on it. Locational and place knowledge is built upon from our earliest years, where the children learn about their local area, and then this knowledge is broadened and deepened to look at each of the continents in more detail. Developing geographical skills and field work is also a focus within our geography lessons.
Historical themes are explored as the children progress through the curriculum. For example in Year 1 children explore the local history and its importance for the local community, and in Year 4, the children learn about the effects of power through settlers and invaders. The curriculum builds on historical skills and knowledge such as how the past has contributed to our life in the UK and the wider world. Throughout the Key Stages children also learn how to interpret sources and decide on their reliability.
Science pervades our curriculum and as a golden thread that runs throughout all learning. When working towards our project outcomes, the children, individually or as a whole class, will be working scientifically. That is to say, they will be making observations, generalising, researching, planning, testing and evaluating. Science knowledge and skills are built on and deepened throughout the Key Stages through a cohesive and connected curriculum. Enquiry skills and approaches are explicitly taught to the children to help them question the world around them and how to find the answers to these questions.
For each of the disciplines, we have a detailed progression documents of skills and knowledge from nursery to year 6. Below is an example of our History progression map.
Please contact the school office if you would like a hard copy of our curriculum theory and research.