It focuses on the acquisition of key facts, concepts and vocabulary in every subject, and we recognise that a knowledge-led curriculum which is accessible to all has the power to reverse inequalities and narrow gaps between learners.
The content of our curriculum reflects the belief that every student has an entitlement to a body of knowledge that is both valuable and empowering. There should be no ‘alternative’ core of knowledge for less able, or disadvantaged, students. It is our belief that curriculum content needs to be relevant to the lives and needs of individual students and that it must be valued by all members of our school community.
Research shows that knowledge, more so than skills, can be transferable between different areas of the curriculum. It is, therefore, vital that teachers in every subject establish a robust knowledge base which will allow students to develop the core skills that they require to be successful. This is only possible when teachers strive continually to enhance their own subject knowledge so that they are experts within the classroom.
Spiral curriculum and low stakes testing
We believe that the delivery of knowledge and concepts should be sequential and chronological, allowing students to regularly revisit and consolidate their learning. This can be viewed as a ‘spiral curriculum’, where students engage with the same topics or concepts throughout their school lives and each encounter increases in complexity whilst reinforcing previous learning. Regular ‘low stakes’ testing enables students to secure the knowledge that they acquire and this approach has been shown to support the transference of knowledge from working to long-term memory.
Curriculum design should, however, be considerate of the amount of knowledge that a student can ‘hold’ at any given time. Our planning takes account of this ‘cognitive load’ whilst aiming to develop resilience within our students. We understand that the most effective method of developing learning is by delivering curriculum content that anticipates common misconceptions so that we can address these in our teaching. In addition to this it should provide opportunities for students to be creative and gain moral, social and cultural experiences to enhance their learning and to build character.
There is clear evidence to show that a curriculum that is based on the acquisition of knowledge, vocabulary and facts will engage students in their learning, and that this is the best way to secure academic success for every learner.
In summary, our whole school approach to curriculum is teach knowledge and key vocabulary first to allow the development of concepts and skills. Use a spiral curriculum with increasing complexity which revisits topics or concepts every year. Consolidate learning by transferring knowledge to long term memory through regular low stakes testing.