Curriculum and Assessment
Our federation’s bespoke curriculum has been carefully designed to meet the needs of our children as they move through our small, mixed-age classes. Its design takes this into account whilst ensuring learning is coherent and sequenced.
Since 2019 the federation has continued to reflect and build upon our inspection findings (Ofsted 2019) which noted our 'innovative approach to the curriculum'. We continue to focus on 'enabling pupils to thrive in an ever-changing world by developing their subject knowledge and by teaching them to be independent learners'.
Our curriculum is not static. We value flexibility, recognising that our curriculum is a 'never-ending story' (Myatt 2021) in order to 'future-proof' our pupils.
The National Curriculum is just one of our curriculum ingredients. Whilst we make sure that children reach clear endpoints through appropriate content coverage, we also enhance their learning through the inclusion of other equally important aspects creating, 'a rich curriculum that is unique to your federation' (Weston-under-Penyard Ofsted 2019).
Work that matters
We believe fundamentally that children should have the opportunity to produce “work that matters”.
We believe that young people can produce meaningful work of real value to the world today.
The philosophy of meaningful learning, is at the heart of our curriculum.
The importance of meaningful outcomes
The final outcome of a Learning Journey, which might be a product (such as a machine or an artwork), a performance (such as a theatre piece or a debate), or a service (such as giving a lesson to younger students), creates a focus for the project that gives it a feeling of purpose from day one. We believe that it is important that the outcome of a Learning Journey be something that students (as well as other people) value. A good test for this is whether students’ work is being kept at the end of a Learning Journey, being used for a purpose or thrown away.
Three big questions we ask ourselves when planning a meaningful Learning Journey
Will this Learning Journey engage my students?
- Is the Learning Journey important to our pupils?
- Does the Learning Journey foster pupil ownership?
- Is the Learning Journey purposeful and will it result in a product, service or body of knowledge that they and others will make use of? Will the process seem authentic to students?
- Is the Learning Journey pervasive and will it sufficiently engage children so that they’ll want to voluntarily take the learning outside school and school hours?
- Does the Learning Journey tap into student passions?
Will this Learning Journey engage me?
- Are we personally curious about the Learning Journey and will we learn new things from it?
- We will we learn alongside our pupils? Will our pupils be able to teach us something new?
- Do we ask our pupils about their prior knowledge, experiences and skills before beginning to plan the Learning Journey?
- What is going to drive us, and our pupils, to produce high-quality work?
Will our pupils learn something meaningful from this Learning Journey?
- Just because a Learning Journey is enjoyable, does it add much to our pupils’ learning?
- What do we expect our pupils to have learned? What subject content and skills, as well as attributes, will be acquired or enhanced through the Learning Journey?
- Have we made contact with experts outside our school, rooting our Learning Journey in ‘real life’?
When considering such meaningful Learning Journeys, we keep in mind these wise words from Professor Tim Brighouse,
“There are always those adventurers in education who are wanting to push the frontiers of what is possible and are driven by a passionate belief in what schooling should and could be like. It is such people who have always found ways to unlock the future for many youngsters who would otherwise spend their lives realising only a fraction of their potential.”
‘Assessment for learning’ is at the heart of our practice. Leadership, teaching and assessment are inextricably linked. In essence this means quality first teaching where staff know exactly what each child do and where to take their learning next. Children having a sound understanding of their own learning, knowing how well they are doing and how to improve is in integral part of this.
This is achieved through giving children ongoing feedback and developing peer learning which enables each child to make good progress. This happens in our school through listening carefully to children, through effective questioning, through giving children time to improve and through a continuous focus on quality first teaching.
As a result of this approach children talk with confidence about their learning, about having a growth mind set and about the steps they need to take in order to make progress.
All staff, together with governors, evaluate summative assessment of children’s learning as individuals, groups and cohorts. This includes analysis of data, book trawls, taking to children and learning walks. Moderation across our federation is key as it is more widely with our Wye Valley Learning Network partners. Information is shared with parents via homework tasks, parent meetings and ongoing access to our school’s tracking system.