The curriculum in each subject can be accessed on the subject-specific pages of the website. Subject specialism is at the heart of our curriculum and you will see differences in the way that the curriculum is constructed and assessed in different subjects. Standardised written assessments, for example, play less of a role in performance subjects such as music, drama and physical education. The stability of our curriculum allows subject expertise to develop over time, and we are careful to provide sufficient time for teachers of the same subject to plan together and collaborate.
Further subject specialism is provided by United Learning’s subject advisors. These advisors are subject experts who help teachers link the subject discipline to our pupils’ daily experience in the classroom. Subject advisors meet regularly with Heads of Department across United Learning and provide curriculum resources to support the implementation of the subject curriculum.
As a mastery curriculum our students study fewer topics in greater depth, with the expectation that we don’t move on to the next topic until all students have a secure understanding of the current topic. A 3-year Key Stage 3 provides students with the time and space to gain this secure understanding. In our lessons we expect to see all students grappling with the same challenging content, with teachers providing additional support for students who need it. Rather than moving on to new content, our higher attainers produce work of greater depth and flair.
Our approach to teaching and learning supports our curriculum by ensuring that lessons build on prior learning and provide sufficient opportunity for guided and independent practice. We use Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction to develop our teaching practice. At the heart of Rosenshine’s principles is a simple instructional core:
- Demonstration (explanation and modelling) of new material in small steps (I)
- Guided practice with prompts and scaffolds (we)
- Independent practice with monitoring and feedback from teacher (you)
At each point in this instructional core, teachers check understanding of all students by asking lots of questions and providing feedback.
The Rosenshine principles support the implementation of the curriculum by ensuring that students regularly recall prior learning. You will often see this at the start of our lessons. When prior learning is committed to long term memory it becomes fluent or ‘automatic’, freeing space in our working memory which can then be used for comprehension, application, and problem solving.
In order to allow the mastery approach to be effective (i.e. children learn what they are expected to in the year they are expected to), early catch-up is essential: we aim to promptly identify and support students who start secondary school without a secure grasp of reading, writing and mathematics so that they can access the full curriculum.
Everything from which children learn in school – the taught subject timetable, the approach to spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, the co-curricular provision and the ethos and ‘hidden curriculum’ of the school – are to be seen as part of the school curriculum. Our principle of ‘Education with Character’ is delivered through the curriculum in this broadest sense.