The curriculum lies at the heart of education. It determines what children will know, understand and be able to do by the time they leave Russell Lower School. The curriculum is broad, balanced, ambitious and coherently planned and sequenced towards cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for the next stage in children’s education. It provides children with the knowledge, skills and learning behaviours required to become successful life-long learners. Our curriculum is a progression model: we have subject-specific, year group milestones that focus on progression through content and skills learned.
The curriculum’s intent:
At Russell Lower School, we have designed a curriculum which is built upon our vision statement, so children can be challenged, enjoy their learning, respect each other and succeed.
At the heart of our school are a set of core rights and values. These underpin our curriculum and the ethos of the school. At Russell Lower School, we place great importance on a curriculum which develops the whole child. Through our core values and rights, we foster an environment where the emotional, physical, academic, social, moral, spiritual and cultural development of each child is developed. We firmly believe that everyone is entitled to an ambitious curriculum and our curriculum design is accessible for all, including children with SEND and disadvantaged backgrounds.
At Russell Lower School, we are a knowledge-engaged school, where knowledge underpins and enables the application of skills, and we aim to develop both. We also aim to develop life skills such as resilience, a growth mind-set and perseverance, alongside our school values and four Russell Rights. See more on this below in our ‘Whole School Curriculum’:
Within our curriculum, there is a strong emphasis on developing core skills in literacy and maths, but also personal, social and emotional skills. There are opportunities to apply these across the curriculum. We consider the Russell curriculum to be so much more that the individual subjects.
The curriculum is the totality of all the children’s learning experiences.
At Russell Lower School we believe that the curriculum should be broad, balanced and relevant. It should meet all the needs of the children, whatever their ability. The curriculum taught is made up of:
- the Early Year Foundation Stage Curriculum (2021)
- the National Curriculum (September 2013)
- The Rising Stars Progression Framework
- RE syllabus (Religious Education in English Schools, Non-statutory Guidance 2010 - Agreed 2017 – 23)
- Personal, Social, Relationships and Health Education
- Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural education
- British Values
- Russell Rights and values
- A wide range of extra-curricular activities and experiences
The curriculum taught meets the statutory requirements.
Our curriculum intends:
- To provide children with the skills, knowledge and understanding they need to be educated citizens across a broad range of subjects and experiences
- To include everyone: all children have equal access to the curriculum and be treated fairly regardless of race, religion or ability
- To promote high standards of achievement and progress
- To make connections across areas of leaning through a highly practical, cross-curricular thematic approach
- To capture children’s interests through engaging and exciting opportunities linked to real life experiences wherever possible
- To promote social, moral, spiritual and cultural development and an understanding of themselves and others
- To develop caring and responsible citizens who respect one another, our planet and a range of values and beliefs
- To help children think creatively and to solve problems
- To develop children’s capacity to learn and work both independently and collaboratively
- To encourage children to self-regulate where possible
The Implementation of the curriculum:
Implementation describes the way in which we deliver our curriculum intent consistently each day. To do this we have carefully designed our knowledge engaged curriculum. This is designed to enable all children to acquire relevant subject knowledge which underpins the application of skills. Knowledge, skills and understanding are carefully and progressively mapped across each key stage and subject area using Milestones.
Knowledge is consolidated and built upon to support retention and recall. This ensures that by the time children leave our school they have learned, and are able to recall and apply the key information that we feel is important in order for them to be successful in the future.
To ensure the highest possible levels of progress and attainment for all the children who attend Russell Lower School, it is essential that there is a shared understanding of what constitutes highly effective learning and the highly effective teaching that enables this to occur. We aim to use research-based approaches, with proven impact. ‘Golden threads’ through our implementation are a focus on teaching, learning and using vocabulary and building ‘sticky knowledge’ via ‘Flashback 4’ and similar recall methods.
As curriculum lies at the heart of education, and subject lies at the heart of the curriculum, then it follows that teachers need solid knowledge: content knowledge and understanding of the subjects they teach. As well as this, they need to know how to teach that particular subject (pedagogical knowledge), and more generally how to teach effectively. At Russell Lower School we use ‘Rosenshine’s Principles of Effective Instruction’ and the EEF’s ‘Great Teaching Toolkit’ as our guiding models.
How do we plan for Cultural Capital?
Cultural capital is the essential knowledge that children need to prepare them for their future success. It is about giving children the best possible start to their early education.
At Russell Lower School, we see cultural capital as the accumulation of knowledge, skills, attitudes, habits and vocabulary that enables individuals to thrive. Our curriculum plays a crucial role in developing this through immersing children in sport, dance, music, visiting theatres, galleries and historic sites; and by introducing them to literature and art.
Embedding cultural capital into our curriculum is a way of closing the gap between children from differing socio-economic backgrounds by ensuring that children from all backgrounds have opportunities to achieve their full potential.
Organisation of the Curriculum:
The curriculum is designed to promote enjoyment of learning and to be fun. We endeavour to ‘bring learning to life’ and make it ‘irresistible’ wherever possible through visits out, visitors, theme days and ‘wow’ events. We consult the children regularly to involve them in planning and decision making and involve parents in their children’s learning at every opportunity. We have challenged our own previous practice, by asking ‘how much will this contribute to a child’s learning and, furthermore, their cultural capital?’ If the answer is very little, we will change the plan.
Assessment for Learning (AfL) is used in every lesson to ensure skills, knowledge and understanding are built on from what children already know, at a pace and level that ensures good progression and achievement.
Long Term Planning:
An overview of the themes covered from FS to Year 4 gives a broad outline of what the themes in each year. The next level of planning is: year group long-term plans and subject long-term plans. These are then further broken down into milestones for each year group and each subject. These documents set out end of year expectations.
Medium Term Planning:
Theme webs are designed by each year group to show in more detail what will be taught within the theme that term. In Foundation Stage the themes are half termly; in the rest of the school these are termly. These are shared with parents. Year group termly overviews add further planning detail.
Teachers work together in year groups to develop weekly plans for each subject. This planning shows the Learning Objectives (or WALT in KS1), the success criteria, the vocabulary, the differentiation, the resources and a flexible outline of the lesson plan. Each teacher then personalises the plans for their own class, carefully ensuring the plans and resources meet the needs of all their children.
Teachers teach what their children need and will amend plans according to the outcomes of on-going AfL (assessment for learning).
The Impact of the curriculum:
Children leave Russell Lower School with the academic, personal, social, moral and cultural skills, knowledge and understanding that they need to be successful in the next stage of their education. They know how to make a positive contribution to their local community and how to be the best they can be. Children leave Russell Lower School as confident and respectful learners.
Ultimately, the impact of the curriculum is the sum total of the skills, knowledge and understanding the children have acquired, as well as the personal characteristics they have developed, during their time at Russell Lower School.
The impact of the curriculum is measured in a variety of ways, using data and ‘softer’ outcomes such as behaviours, attitudes, knowledge, skills, understanding and enjoyment.
Staff assess the impact of the lessons they teach using a range of methods. Formative assessment and feedback are on-going all the time in lessons. Planning is adapted in the light of assessment so that learning activities best meet the children’s needs and enables progress to the next steps in learning.
Classroom Monitor captures the outcome of assessments. Each autumn, spring and summer term, summative assessment information is gathered and shared via Pupil Progress Meetings and Subject Leader monitoring.
Pupil voice interviews, planning scrutinies, book scrutinies, deep dives and lesson observations take place termly to assess the quality and impact of the curriculum.
Children’s achievements are celebrated regularly in school through discussion, marking and feedback, displays, certificates and stickers, parent events and assemblies.
Parents receive feedback on the impact of the curriculum via their children, Parents’ evenings, reports and discussions with staff.