Our Curriculum

Our aim is to provide an excellent education which brings out the best in every student, and prepares them for success throughout their life.  

Our curriculum is designed to provide students with the core knowledge they need for success in education and later in life; to maximise their cognitive development; to develop the whole person and the talents of the individual, and to allow all children to become active and economically self-sufficient citizens.  

Whole School Curriculum Purpose 

Our overall mission is to provide the young people of Greenwich with equal or better life chances than any other school in the UK with the accompanying vision of being a school where young people thrive and grow in an environment that brings out the best in everyone. In order to achieve this, we know that we must provide an excellent curriculum for our students, ensuring that they receive a world-class education which brings out the best in all of them and prepares them for success in education and life.  Therefore, our curriculum equips children with powerful knowledge, maximises their cognitive development and nourishes their whole person and individual passions.

Our overriding aim is that this curriculum liberates and empowers, providing students with the confidence to understand and shape the world around them, to be active and economically self-sufficient citizens, and to ‘enter into the conversation of mankind’ (Michael Oakeshott). In line with the United Learning common curriculum, our school curriculum is based on these six key principles: 

  • ENTITLEMENT

    Entitlement: Our curriculum is designed to be inclusive and cater for all of our students; all students have the right to learn what is in the curriculum, and our teachers have a duty to ensure that they are all taught the whole of it. 

  • COHERENCE

    Coherence: Taking the National Curriculum as its starting point, our curriculum is carefully sequenced so that powerful knowledge builds term by term and year by year. We make meaningful connections within subjects and between subjects. 

  • MASTERY

    Mastery: We ensure that foundational knowledge, skills, and concepts are secure before moving on. Pupils revisit prior learning and apply their understanding in new contexts.  

  • ADAPTABILITY

    Adaptability: The core content – the ‘what’ – of our curriculum is stable and in line with what the best schools are teaching, but we ensure we bring it to life for our own local context in South-East London. Equally, teachers will adapt lessons – the ‘how’ – to meet the needs of their own classes. 

  • REPRESENTATION

    Representation: We are committed to the idea of ‘the mirror and the window’, that pupils see themselves in our curriculum, ensuring diversity and equality, but that our curriculum takes all pupils beyond their immediate experience, building cultural capital and aspiration.  

  • EDUCATION WITH CHARACTER

    Education with character: Our curriculum, which includes the taught subject timetable as well as spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development, is intended to spark curiosity and to nourish both the head and the heart. 

  • Implementation – how we expose our students to powerful knowledge and provide education with character

    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.

  • Impact – how we measure and secure continuous improvement for all

    With thousands of students across United Learning following the same curriculum, we have been able to develop common assessments in most subjects.  These are summative assessments which allow students to demonstrate their growing understanding of their subjects and enable teachers to assess the impact of their teaching. These summative assessments are typically taken once or twice a year, allowing teachers to focus on formative assessment from lesson to lesson.

    We are particularly conscious of the role that literacy and vocabulary plays in unlocking the whole curriculum. Our teachers explicitly teach the meaning of subject-specific language, and we expect lessons to contain challenging reading and writing. Knowledge organisers provide students with key information that they are expected to learn and recall with fluency, enabling them to develop their understanding of key concepts outside of their lessons.

    The culmination of our curriculum is that students leave our school with the confidence and intelligence to thrive. We know our students as individuals which enables us to provide curriculum guidance and careers guidance throughout their time with us. We expect all students to leave our school with the grades required to progress to their desired destination, and the character required to flourish once they get there.

    By teaching our curriculum well, and delivering education with character, we bring out the best in everyone

  • A Diverse and Inclusive Secondary Curriculum

    A Diverse and Inclusive Secondary Curriculum 

    In the autumn term of 2020, United Learning accrued out an all-school review on diversity and inclusion. The focus of the review was race equality, as the killing of George Floyd, and the global movement that followed, caused us to reflect on our contribution as schools to racial justice. Across United Learning we are committed to doing more to allow people of all races to thrive. A powerfully diverse and inclusive curriculum is central to this work, and we know that we owe this to our students at The John Roan school.  

    While racial justice was our starting point, we hope that our end point is a curriculum that is coherent and ambitious, that remains committed to each subject’s unique quest for truth, that builds a solid understanding of core concepts over time, and that tells the story not just of ethnic minorities, but of all groups whose voices have not always been heard. 

    In light of the United Learning curriculum review, we adapted and improved the six principles that have shaped our curriculum to ensure that diversity and inclusion are at the centre of our provision. We re-state these here:  

    • Entitlement: Our curriculum is designed to be inclusive and cater for all of our students; all students have the right to learn what is in the curriculum, and our teachers have a duty to ensure that they are all taught the whole of it. 

    • Coherence: Taking the National Curriculum as its starting point, our curriculum is carefully sequenced so that powerful knowledge builds term by term and year by year. We make meaningful connections within subjects and between subjects. 

    • Mastery: We ensure that foundational knowledge, skills, and concepts are secure before moving on. Pupils revisit prior learning and apply their understanding in new contexts.  

    • Adaptability: The core content – the ‘what’ – of our curriculum is stable and in line with what the best schools are teaching, but we ensure bring it to life for our own local context in South-East London. Equally, teachers will adapt lessons – the ‘how’ – to meet the needs of their own classes. 

    • Representation: We are committed to the idea of ‘the mirror and the window’, that pupils see themselves in our curriculum, ensuring diversity and equality, but that our curriculum takes all pupils beyond their immediate experience, building cultural capital and aspiration.  

    • Education with character: Our curriculum - which includes the taught subject timetable as well as spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development, is intended to spark curiosity and to nourish both the head and the heart. 

    The Taught Subject Curriculum 

    As a result of our Diversity and Inclusion review, United Learning updated their common curriculum to ensure that each subject provides a powerfully diverse curriculum, and as a school we have followed suit with our own curriculum work. We approached this commitment with the following principles in mind: 

    • We celebrate the best in everyone. We want our curriculum to represent the diversity of the community we serve in South-East London and the richness of cultures within our school.  

    • Our school already has a common language for race equality, based on fundamental British values such as democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. We can draw on these values in this work. 

    • The United Learning Framework for Excellence includes a commitment to powerful knowledge. Powerful knowledge includes the concepts and ideas that form the bedrock of our understanding of the world – the things we want all pupils to know by the time they leave our care. Such knowledge is powerful because it exposes pupils to concepts, skills, ideas, people and places that they might not otherwise encounter. By exposing all pupils to this knowledge – no matter their starting point – we enable individuals, and ultimately society, to grow and flourish. 

    • All subjects are driven by the pursuit of truth. A commitment to honesty and accuracy will ensure that our curriculum serves our schools for several years and serves our pupils for the rest of their lives. 

    • We remain committed to a carefully sequenced and coherent curriculum which supports pupils in building a solid understanding of core concepts over time in each subject. 

    Diversity and Inclusion in Each Subject 

    We have shared these principles here so that schools can consider their own curriculum against these objectives. The list below provides a reminder of the subjects covered by our common curriculum and a summary of the outcomes of the diversity and inclusion review. Naturally, it was subjects like English, history and geography - where the human experience takes centre stage – that proposed the most significant changes through this review. 

The school is part of United Learning. United Learning comprises: UCST (Registered in England No: 2780748. Charity No. 1016538) and ULT (Registered in England No. 4439859. An Exempt Charity). Companies limited by guarantee. VAT number 834 8515 12.
Registered address: United Learning, Worldwide House, Thorpe Wood, Peterborough, PE3 6SB. Tel: 01832 864 444

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