The process behind the Canada Hill Curriculum
Our curriculum is based on the following:
- It is knowledge-led
- It is ambitious
- It is sensitive to cognitive overload
- Knowledge is revisited and revised to help children retain it
- Lessons focus on deepening children's understanding by using subject specific skills to evaluate, synthesise, analyse and apply their knowledge
- It has to be relevant to our children and their lives in modern day Newton Abbot and Ogwell
Starting with the whole school community and cultural capital
To start our journey, we met as a whole school, with teachers, teaching assistants, and governors all discussing the idea of a 3D knowledge-led curriculum. The main focus of this meeting was that we wanted to create a bespoke curriculum for our school and our children that fulfilled the NC2014 requirements but also reflected our school ethos and values. So, we wrote down everything that children should know about Newton Abbot, Devon, the South West, the UK, and the World. This was the cultural capital that we felt that children at the school should have when they left us and would help them understand their place in the world. The list will never be finished, and we will never be able to cover everything, however some things really jumped out. Such as, William of Orange landed at Brixham, and was declared King of the United Kingdom in Newton Abbot (allegedly). The fact that Otters are actually recovering nationally and the hotspot for recovery is Newton Abbot.
Knowledge led or skills led?
We have chose what we call a Knowledge-led curriculum because we firmly believe that children will be better prepared for lessons if they already have knowledge about the subject they are about to study. This reduces cognitive-load in he classroom and allows teachers to plan clear and concise lessons that help pupils develop subject specific skills and understanding that deepens their experience of each subject within the school.
Looking into strands
As a staff, we then spent time investigating the NC2014 strands that run through each subject, with an initial focus on History, Science and Geography as they are huge 'driver' subjects in the school.
Strand Progression documents
We looked at how strands might progress in the school and then decided that we wanted to produce Strand Progression documents that mapped each strand out.
Each subject now has a document for each strand which allows us to ensure a sensible development of knowledge in each area of each subject by looking for gaps or unnecessary repetition. It also allows teachers to be really clear about what they should expect children to already know.
Detailed Medium Term Plans
In order to create meaningful Strand Progression documents, we had to create detailed Medium Term Plans for each unit of work in History, Science and Geography in order to see how each unit of work slotted into the bigger picture.
Each Medium term plan looks at the following areas:
- Prior Knowledge - what do we expect them to know from previous learning?
- Background knowledge - what knowledge do we want to put on a Knowledge Organiser for them to learn before our lessons. This knowledge gives them the broader context in which our more focussed lessons sit.
- Core knowledge - This is the knowledge we will be using in class as it allows us to develop one or more of the subject specific strands and use subject specific skills effectively.
- Tier 3 Vocabulary - the subject specific vocabulary that will be on their knowledge organiser
- Tier 2 Vocabulary - that will help them explain their understanding
- Core vocabulary/concepts/questions - what key questions do we want them to be able to confidently answer at the end of the unit?
- Subject specific skills - which skills are the developing in this unit of work?
- Relevance - How are we connecting the learning back to their everyday lives and making it useful for them?
- Outcome - How will they demonstrate their knowledge, skills and understanding?
- Display - What displays will help the learning or celebrate the outcomes?