Future Ready Curriculum
A Problem Based Approach
Blue Coat Primary School aims to provide a curriculum that matches the needs of its children. Our vision is built around “future readiness” and, as such, what we teach our children needs to precisely match the way in which we teach them. Through doing this, we ensure that our children are prepared as learners and as individuals for their future lives in an exponentially evolving world. In short, we aim for children to be empowered learners.
Many schools present, as their curriculum, a set of objectives that their children are expected to achieve during their time at school. This forms part of our curriculum, and in our Subject Progression documents we have sequenced the learning in order that knowledge, skills and understanding build progressively on each other. Objectives are taken from the National Curriculum as well as objectives that we have recognised as being essential to the needs of our children to be future ready. End points have been created to ensure that there is clarity as to what the learning is building towards.
However, our curriculum goes beyond a set of objectives. Our curriculum is based around the understanding that the way in which our children are presented with objectives and the way in which they are asked to engage with them, shapes their learning experience. An effective curriculum is a cohesive whole that incorporates every aspect of the child’s learning. This links with our vision, where we recognise that for our children to be “future ready”, they need to be empowered with the skills to learn for themselves as highly effective problem solvers.
Our curriculum is an innovative curriculum. We teach children through a Problem Based Learning approach. This is an approach that is research rich with regards to its efficacy, meaning that we know that it will work. Problem Based Learning is often used in higher education settings but we have adapted the approach to suit our children, as we believe that they deserve a first class education based upon the best evidence available.
Why Problem Based Learning?
At Blue Coat Primary School, we work towards achieving our vision. We believe that our children need to be equipped to thrive in an unknown future. In an ever changing and developing world, our children need to be prepared to take their place in a world with jobs that do not yet exist and using technology that has not been created. We are committed to having the highest possible expectations for our children and we have created a curriculum that prepares them to flourish rather than just meet the National Curriculum.
Problem Based Learning incorporates the same objectives as a traditional curriculum. However, it goes further. It involves the children in tackling a problem, or a trigger They are involved in agreeing what knowledge, skills and understanding they need to learn in order to make progress and structure their learning sequence alongside their teacher. At every point, the children are considering what they need to learn to be successful and where their learning fits within the context of the topic. Rather than a curriculum being seen as something that is done to them, they are active participants in the process (Problem‐based learning: Using students' questions to drive knowledge construction, 2004: Chin and Chia).
A Problem Based Learning curriculum matches the individual needs of the children of Blue Coat Primary School. It is a curricular approach that enhances learners ability to learn for a purpose whilst being participant in constructing the objectives and shaping the learning. This, ultimately, ensures that children are future ready.
A 3 Dimensional Curriculum
Education has the habit of swinging from one area of emphasis to another. Just like within our curriculum, we aim to build upon what has gone before and not build from the start each time an aspect of quality education is in focus.
Our Problem Based Learning curriculum does focus on ensuring that the objectives that have been carefully selected, are taught in practice. However, we are also aware of the limitations of a curriculum that skips quickly over objectives without ensuring a depth of understanding. As children learn objectives, we also ensure that their understanding is deepened. We use SOLO taxonomy as a consistent approach to ensure that teachers and children are equipped to simplify and extend their learning. As objectives build sequentially and progressively, they are supported by an equally progressive and sequential depth of understanding within each objective (Biggs and Collis, 1982: Evaluating the Quality of Learning).
Committing Learning to the Long Term Memory
Learning can be defined, at least in part, as an alteration to the long term memory (Kirschner et al, 2006, Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work). This definition, guides us to ensure that the way that our curriculum is designed, as well as the way that we teach the curriculum, aims to embed the learning so that it can be retained over time. As a research driven school, we investigated the most effective ways in which to ensure that learning is committed to the long term memory. These are:
Practice testing. This is where students have to generate an answer to a question.
Motivation and relevance. Ensure that the learning has purpose and relevance for the children in order to spark an intrinsic desire to
Distributed practice. Sometimes referred to as “spacing”, distributed practice involves doing little bits of work often instead of a lot all at once (ie cramming). Essentially, students remember more if they spread out their learning.
Interleaved practice. Interleaving is where students mix up either the types of problem or different subjects, so as to avoid “blocking” their time on just one type of question. This helps keep things fresh and makes it easier for students to identify similarities and differences between the materials they are studying.
Elaborative interrogation or deep learning. Asking “why is this true?” or “why might this be the case?” helps students think about the material and make connections to previously learned information. However, this technique does require students to have a good base knowledge for it to work effectively.
These approaches have been integrated into our curriculum in order to ensure that learning remains learnt. This were not added as an amendment but were the pillars upon which our approach, planning and pedagogy were built. The way in which they are used are briefly described below:
Practice testing. Mini assessments are to be utilized throughout the learning process. Using small chunks of the audit or summative assessments and the start of a unit of learning as well as frequently interweaving test style questions into lessons will support this process.
Motivation and relevance. A problem based learning curriculum provides a hook, which not only links the objectives to a relevant purpose but also engages the children in designing the learning pathway alongside the teacher.
Distributed practice. Our medium term plans have been designed as a distributed curriculum, which repeats key objectives as part of lessons regularly after the original input on the key objective in question.
Interleaved practice. As a problem based approach, children identify different aspects of a topic that they need to learn simultaneously. Our distributed objectives also ensure different objectives are being taught simultaneously.
Elaborative interrogation or deep learning. We use SOLO taxonomy to ensure a depth of understanding for all children as part of our teaching, learning and assessment practices
Reference: Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions From Cognitive and Educational Psychology John Dunlosky, Katherine A. Rawson, Elizabeth J. Marsh, Mitchell J. Nathan, and Daniel T. Willingham
We have made clear the cultural capital that we wish to equip our children with. At each stage in the learning, aspects that reflect this are embedded within each subject of our curriculum. As part of our process of constructing a clearly sequenced curriculum, we placed cultural capital opportunities within the overall structure. Part of being “Future Ready” means that our children need to have the cultural reference points to thrive socially and academically.
At Bluecoat, Early Readers will be taught:
- grapheme–phoneme correspondences in a clearly defined, incremental sequence
- to apply the skill of blending (synthesising) phonemes in order to read words
- to apply the skills of segmenting words into their constituent phonemes in order to develop spelling skills
- that blending and segmenting are reversible processes.
We also use a combination of early reading schemes and interventions when necessary. These include Oxford Reading scheme, Phonic Bug and Hero Academy.
Below are files that outline our curriculum. Further below are the intent preambles, progression maps and end points for our curriculum subjects.
|Art Intent Preamble.pdf||Download|
|Art Progression Map.pdf||Download|
|Art Subject Endpoints.pdf||Download|
|Computing Intent Preamble.pdf||Download|
|Computing Progression Map MP1.pdf||Download|
|Computing Progression Map MP2.pdf||Download|
|Computing Progression Map MP3.pdf||Download|
|Computing Subject Endpoints.pdf||Download|
|DT Intent Preamble.pdf||Download|
|DT Progression Map MP1.pdf||Download|