Curriculum Intent & Teaching Pedagogy


Basic principles

1. Learning is a change to long-term memory (see image below).
2. Our aims are to ensure that our students experience a wide breadth of study and have, by the end of each key stage, long-term memory of an ambitious body of procedural and semantic knowledge.
Curriculum intent model

1. Curriculum drivers shape our curriculum breadth. They are derived from an exploration of the backgrounds of our students, our beliefs about high-quality education and our values. They are used to ensure we give our students appropriate and ambitious curriculum opportunities.

2. Cultural capital gives our students the vital background knowledge required to be informed and thoughtful members of our community who understand and believe in British values.

3. Curriculum breadth is shaped by our curriculum drivers, cultural capital, subject topics and our ambition for students to study the best of what has been thought and said by many generations of academics and scholars.

4. Our curriculum distinguishes between subject topics and threshold concepts. Subject topics are the specific aspects of subjects that are studied.

5. Threshold concepts tie together the subject topics into meaningful schema. The same concepts are explored in a wide breadth of topics. Through this ‘forwards-and-backwards engineering’ of the curriculum, students return to the same concepts over and over, and gradually build understanding of them.

6. For each of the threshold concepts, three milestones (each of which includes the procedural and semantic knowledge students need to understand the threshold concepts) provide a progression model.

7. Cognitive science tells us that working memory is limited and that cognitive load is too high if students are rushed through content. This limits the acquisition of long-term memory. Cognitive science also tells us that in order for students to become creative thinkers, or have a greater depth of understanding, they must first master the basics, which takes time.

8.Within each milestone, students gradually progress in their procedural fluency and semantic strength through three cognitive domains: basic, advancing and deep. The goal for students is to display sustained mastery at the advancing stage of understanding by the end of each milestone and for the most able to have a greater depth of understanding at the deep stage. The timescale for sustained mastery or greater depth is, therefore, two years of study.

9. As part of our progression model we use a different pedagogical style in each of the cognitive domains of basic, advancing and deep. This is based on the research of Sweller, Kirschner and Rosenshine who argue for direct instruction (See Woodley 10 below) in the early stages of learning and discovery-based approaches later. We use direct instruction in the basic domain and problem-based discovery in the deep domain. This is called the reversal effect.

10. Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:
• Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.
Interleaving helps students to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention.
Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval

11. In addition to the three principles, we also understand that learning is invisible in the short term and that sustained mastery takes time.

12. Our content is subject specific. We make intra-curricular links to strengthen schema.
13. Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides retrieval practice for previously learned content.

14. Because learning is a change to long-term memory, it is impossible to see impact in the short term.

15. We do, however, use assessment regularly based on deliberate practice. This means that we look at the practices taking place to determine whether they are appropriate, related to our goals and likely to produce results in the long run.

16. We use comparative judgement in two ways: in the tasks we set and in comparing a student's work over time.

17.We use lesson observations to see if the pedagogical style matches our depth expectations (see Woodley 10 below - 'Our Teaching Pedagogy').
Our Teaching Pedagogy