Catherine Kucia: We firmly believe that curriculum
is everything that school is about, it’s not just something that happens on a Wednesday
afternoon in year three, it is part and parcel of the life of our school. So we developed
our Thrive curriculum and we built a curriculum design model based around the recommendations
in Successful Futures. We shared that with staff and that drove all of the behaviours
of our staff within our first year of opening in terms of their planning, the way that they
develop themes, the way that they approached their pedagogy and the teaching on a day-to-day
basis within the school as well. And for us, those Four Purposes are the “why.” They’re
the starting point of all the theme work that our staff do and the planning that our staff
do. Theo: I think like the Four Purposes kind
of like hold the school together because everything we do is like around the Four Purposes.
Liam: They’re like the backbone of this new curriculum.
Lucas: On our enrichment days, when we did one on Wales, we were linking Wales to our
new curriculum with the one – Ethical, Informed Citizens. We were learning about that, so
we can, when we get out of education, be an ethical, informed citizen.
Catherine Kucia: We have used all of the new draft curriculum documentation to plan with,
so our staff are using the What Matters statements and the knowledge skills and experiences across
all AoLEs and we’re actually fully tried in that now in Nursery, in Year 2 and Year 3
and in Year 6. Rachel Tottle: It’s almost a culture change
for me now, and it’s a different mind-set now that we are looking at the What Matters
statement. That’s our starting point now and we will unpick that and think, right, what
experience do we want our children to gain? Lucy Boon: Yeah.
Rachel Tottle: What do we want them to get out of this experience? And drill down on
that then and think about experiences that we can give rather than a lesson.
Catherine Kucia: We’ve gone through an awful lot of debate and discussion with our staff
around making sure we’re not activity-led, but we’re learning-led. As a teacher myself,
I automatically think activity a lot of the time and it’s about unpicking that and saying,
what are children actually learning? Lucy Boon: We’re not looking at, “Oh, that
task would fit in,” Or, “That activity would be good, I want to do this activity with the
children, how are we going to fit it into the curriculum?” It starts at the Four Purposes
and it’s brought down, we go through, we unpick it and then it all unfolds. It’s natural and
it’s authentic and the children get a lot out of it. Yeah.
Catherine Kucia: Our pupils have a strong voice within our school. We are majorly pupil-influenced,
but we’re not pupil-led, and I think that’s a key difference, again, in terms of the language
used. Liam: We have a voice of what we want to do,
but there is also that very good balance of what the teachers decide, and so the teacher
sort of enhances these ideas to develop new skills. Then, this is what makes our lessons
really interesting and fun. Lucas: We feel like we have a choice and we’re
involved with it, so then when we’re doing the lesson that we said we wanted to do, it
like really makes us like happy because it shows that the teachers listen to us.
Sarah Cook: One of the other things that we’ve all tried to bring in is that shared reflection
with the children. So we’re reflecting on our medium-term planning when we’re looking
at it in our journals, but we’re also talking to the children about that and they’re having
those opportunities to really reflect and talk about with their peers, the learning
process . Liam: We got learning capacities as well,
resilience, resourcefulness, effort, self-awareness and collaboration.
Rosie: Our learner capacities, they help us as well like wonder – we wonder and like
self-aware, we need to be self-aware. Erin: And that all links to us in learning
and how we do proceed when we learn. Carrie Sellers: My children very much use
the language of the new curriculum. They very often say their “learner capacities”.
They like to quote them to me, and I think, “Oh my gosh, I didn’t really expect that from
you.” Sarah Cook: They’re talking about areas of
learning, the Four Purposes, we’ve recently used them in our learner reviews with parents
where children have been able to talk about the progression they’re making to the Four
Purposes. Catherine Kucia: And that language of learning
really helps our children articulate how they feel in the learning process and where they
are in a learning process. To help them with that, we have something called PLRs, which
are Pupil Learning Reviews. So every teacher, from Year 2 to Year 6, once a half term has
a day that they can work alongside their children out of class. They can talk to their children
about learning, they have learning-focused targets related to the Four Purposes and they
keep a record in their own online journal as to how they’re progressing towards those
Four Purposes and the elements that they need to focus on.
Lucas: We get to show what we’ve really liked doing and what was our favourite piece of
work of the team. And then we have barriers to learning. So we get to tell our teachers
what we think we’re struggling with, and then we had put a way forward to what we think
could help that and how we can improve. Catherine Kucia: One of the key things for
us from January of this year, was we felt we needed to go back to the drawing board
in terms of professional learning development and really make sure all our staff had a clear
understanding of the recommendations in Successful Futures.
Sarah Cook: So reading and research has had a huge impact, we really wanted to ensure
that staff had time given to engage in such fundamental reading and research. We spent
a lot of time building that in and linking that with our professional learning sessions,
which on a weekly basis include all our staff, TAs and teachers.
Catherine Kucia: In line with that, we’ve developed something called passion projects,
where our staff are able to choose something that they really want to find out more about,
they’re interested in, or they’ve spotted as a need within their class and they’re completing
some independent research for the whole year. Sarah G.: I think we’ve got such a lovely
culture of collaboration within the school that nothing is scary. I feel like we can
tackle it all together and we’ve got that kind of openness and you know we can say,
“What do you think about this? I’m not sure about this,” and that constant dialogue that
we’ve got going on makes it a real safe place for us to learn, really.
Rachel Tottle: Information certainly is shared between everybody, so it is a completely open-door
policy here. Yeah, the same information is shared between pupils to parents and it’s
that shared language. Carrie Sellers: I think we’re very lucky that
we have that insight into what’s happening in our child’s education.
Kate Inwood: Absolutely. Carrie Sellers: We’re very much involved by
the school in what’s being done and what the changes are and what that means for us and
what it means for our children. They’re very inclusive.
Kate Inwood: It’s really inclusive environment. And I think that’s so important, not just
for the children but for the parents as well. Sarah Cook: It has genuinely created a real
passion for learning, hasn’t it, really? And a real excitement for the children.
Rosie: It’s helped us a lot with our learning and kind of made us a bit more confident being
learners. Sarah G.: I think there’s much more dialogue
that’s occurring within the classroom and making those links for children, so getting
them to understand, you know, why are they doing this, or how could they use this in
the future, you know? There’s loads of my children at the moment who are learning new
skills and sewing, and I’m saying, “Well, you can go to college and you can do this,”
and they’re excited about it. They can see the “why,” and I feel like this new curriculum
has sparked a buzz again, like an excitement. There’s lots of possibilities.
Sarah Cook: It really has been an exciting, unnerving and scary for some, and it’s about
that collaboration, we’re all in it together, and working together in this way and going
through the process is what’s hopefully going to give our children the best experiences.