'Reaching' for Excellence
Our REACHING Curriculum:
Hard work and effort
- First hand and ‘real life’ experiences which are reflected in a curriculum that is broad, balanced and varied
- Tasks build upon prior experience and learning in order to extend thinking further allowing children to make links in their understanding
- A range of resources, contexts, experiences and questions to promote exploration and investigation
- Children are encouraged to have control of their learning and be fully active participants. An element of choice in how children show their understanding is encouraged
- Where possible, local expertise, issues, history and geography are used to contextualise learning. This provides a foundation for children to understand wider contexts and issues.
- Active, enquiry based curriculum opportunities
- Skilful questioning supports children to think for themselves to deepen their learning
- Questioning enables all children to be involved using ABC (agree, build on, challenge + reasons)
- Our children are regularly engaged in the ‘Let’s Think’ approach: (Let’s Think in English; Let’s Think Maths; Let’s Think Early Years) This involves open-ended questioning and structured group discussion. The programme systematically develops students’ skills of problem solving, inference, deduction and analysis, increasing their confidence, resilience, understanding and ability to express their ideas. In particular, they provide oral experience in drafting effective evaluation and comparison answers.
Ambitious- excellence for all
- Children set themselves realistic but high goals and can recognise when something is too easy or too challenging
- Higher order thinking questions and tasks (linking to Blooms Taxonomy) challenge children to think in different ways
- Teachers are flexible within a lesson in order to change the pitch or level of challenge if they deem that something is too easy/too hard
- Assessment is crucial – ascertaining what the children already know, understand and can do, what misconceptions they have and therefore identify and provide for their next steps.
- Tracking, subsequent planning and target setting helps children to achieve ARE and beyond
- High quality task design ensures effective pace and progress
- Feedback, which is linked to assessment and success criteria, supports children to make further progress
- Children take pride in their work and are hard-working.
- Activities are linked to children’s experiences in the community, and where possible, local resources, expertise and real issues are used to as a context for learning.
- Children are encouraged to take on and ‘grow’ responsibility progressively, developing a sense of belonging to and contributing to our school and wider community, including their understanding of our School Values and British values,
- Children are encouraged and challenged to make a difference to their community, through learning about school, local and wider issues and considering how to facilitate change.
- Children reflect on the meaning of equality and diversity in school, in the wider world, and in British law. ‘Everyone is an insider, no matter their beliefs, whatever their colour, gender or sexuality’ (Desmond Tutu 2004).
Hard work and Effort
- ‘We strive to do our best in all we do’ (From our ‘Golden Rules’). Children are encouraged to achieve their personal best, and to be in competition with themselves. We encourage them to recognise the hard work and efforts of others too, with a view that healthy competition requires pride in ourselves for doing the best we can, and praising other’s efforts when they have excelled. The idea of our 'REACHING' curriculum and approach to learning, alludes to this idea of striving to do our best.
- Praise given to children in lessons aims to specifically focus on effort and improvement, not just attainment or accuracy of ‘secretarial skills’ or facts (though there is a place for these aspects).
- Teachers will question and scaffold discussions using strategies to enable children to get to the answer through their own work and efforts (collaboratively or independently), rather than using a more didactic and teacher-led approach. Strategies may include: withholding judgement on a child’s response, (using more neutral terms such as ‘interesting’ rather than ‘fantastic’); inviting children to elaborate on their point (explain using evidence, say more about… can anyone add or build on that point?), cue in children to alternative responses (What are the alternatives? Who has a different point of view? Would anyone like to contest this opinion/ answer?).
- Children identify what they wish to know and questions that they want answered
- Participation by all is encouraged through verbal (paired talk) and non-verbal means (whiteboards, show me activities) and a culture of ‘have a go’ and learning from mistakes exists
- Children are encouraged to be independent, reflective and responsible for their learning
- Teachers progressively build strategies to help the children to evaluate their own work and others work so that they can identify their successes and next steps
- Group work encourages all members to have a clear role in order to contribute and engage in the learning process
- Assessment for learning (WALT -What we are learning today/WILF -What I am looking for) and peer assessment
- Activities are linked to children’s experiences and interests and allow opportunities for personalised learning ensuring that all individuals are involved
- Examples of good work are shared as a model to others
- As children get older, they become more involved in creating their own success criteria
- Children are able to work as individuals or with others within investigations and problem solving activities
- Staff actively support learning within the classroom whilst facilitating independent opportunities for children to practise and consolidate their understanding (allowing children to make mistakes) intervening when appropriate
- Children are given responsibilities that encourage a sense of responsibility towards each other, and our older children are regularly engaged in experiences that nurture our younger pupils.
- Our broad curriculum and range of experiences enables all children to find out and develop their interests and passions, whether this is sport, drama, engineering, gardening, debate, music, art, as a leader, or in ‘academic’ subjects.
- In developing a sense of belonging and self-worth, we help to develop the attitudes and skills necessary to be mentally and physically healthy and resilient.
- Adults model kindness and an appreciation for our gifts (‘God-given’, in the natural world, our own abilities and talents, or the material things that we have available to us).
- Children are encouraged to carry out ‘random acts of kindness’, developing their own sense of being thankful & their readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
- Children are encouraged and expected to be responsible for caring for our ‘gifts’, whether this is our playtime equipment, their own belongings, our school and wider environment.
- Children are encouraged to demonstrate ‘stewardship’ in looking after our world and preserving and protecting its gifts for the future.
- Children participate in charity work that requires a real (if small) sacrifice from them- time, effort, money.
Our ‘REACHING’ learning habits:
Our learning values help our children become better learners by encouraging good learning habits and attitudes (Responsible; Evaluative; Ambitious, Collaborative; Hardworking; Initiative; Nimble-minded; Gritty) which will enable them to face challenges and difficulties in a calm, confident, positive and creative way. This approach, aims to make children fearless in their learning, willing to learn from their mistakes, helping them know what they can get better at something as long as they practise, keep trying and always have an attitude of ‘I may not be able to do it YET’.
'REACHING' to know and remember more:
We know from research that re-activating prior learning helps to strengthen brain pathways to create more lasting memory. We are currently developing 'Handy Facts' as an 'aide memoire' for our curriculum, helping children to be nimble-minded, 'reaching for' and make connections between and across areas of learning.
Please note, our 'Handy Facts' are currently 'work in development' (academic year 2022-23).