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“Working and learning together to improve children’s lives”

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Making a Start on Foundation Subjects

Posted 8/3/2019

Implementing a high-quality primary curriculum for the foundation subjects is challenging.

How do we create a curriculum that effectively builds pupils’ essential knowledge and skills cumulatively in each subject across KS2?

As highlighted previously, we need a more effective sequential knowledge building curriculum in foundation subjects and this will require carefully planned blocking and timetabling of each subject. There are key principles of knowledge acquisition for all schools to consider, but the implementation of the curriculum will vary and depends on a school’s context, particularly the size of school. For example, the organisation required for the delivery of foundation subjects in a 2/3 form entry primary school will be very different to a small rural school with all KS2 pupils in one class.

However, it is important that schools do not rush into their implementation of blocking foundation subjects before they have agreed the planned sequence of deepening knowledge and learning in each foundation subject throughout all age groups.

We started in history by analysing current practice, including coverage and content. We wanted to understand whether or not the children were actually acquiring knowledge which was being built upon over time. As a starting point, we looked at completed units of work throughout the school to see if there were clear threads of learning. This very quickly revealed that there was greater emphasis on coverage rather than a knowing more about less approach.

With this in mind, we used a training day and a series of staff meetings to begin the process of developing a knowledge-rich history curriculum which was clearly sequenced throughout the school. It was very important for us to understand how children retain knowledge so research into long term memory was essential to gain a better understanding of how much content to introduce. We knew that we had to be very clear about the curricular goals that we want our children to achieve by the time they leave primary education and as a result our planned components for each age group have to build towards this.

Once we had a clear vision of how to sequence history units throughout the school, we turned our attention to medium term planning. We felt that at this point, it was important to explore the use of horizontal and vertical vocabulary within each unit. It was also necessary to identify how children could apply knowledge from other areas of the curriculum within history as long as links being made were explicit.

Our learning journeys are now aligned with the planned components and also show the links to other areas of the curriculum.  The daily planning reflects the thread of learning and demonstrates the acquisition of knowledge throughout the unit. Low stake assessments are planned throughout the year in order to establish whether knowledge is embedded within the children’s long-term memory.

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Click here to view examples of our progress to date:

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