The Creative Curriculum

 

At Westgate Hill Primary Academy, we have worked hard with teachers, parents and pupils to develop a unique curriculum, bespoke to our school, in order to inspire children’s thirst for knowledge and life-long learning. Building on research carried out by Hart and Risley in 1995 and again in 2003 (“The Early Catastrophe: The 30 Million Word Gap by Age 3” by University of Kansas researchers Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley) we recognise the importance of a rich and varied vocabulary for all children in order to improve academic outcomes. Analysis of assessment data supports our view that vocabulary development should be at the core of everything we do. With this in mind, we have created a curriculum that is language rich, allowing children from our community to build upon the strong foundations of what they already know and to have brand new experiences, expanding their horizons.

Our creative curriculum, developed ‘for Westgate Hill, by Westgate Hill’, has been designed in order to nurture and encourage natural curiosity. All the most recent research (Learning Sciences and Brain Research Project, OECD 2004) demonstrates that the most effective, memorable learning is learning that affects the emotions. For this reason we have developed our BRAVE curriculum: Bold, Relevant, Aspirational, Varied and Engaging.  

 

Our BRAVE Curriculum

 

Bold

We have taken a thematic approach to our curriculum, grouping individual subjects into three themes that are taught across the year: ‘Create’, ‘Discover’ and ‘Explore’. These themes are big, bold and full of possibilities. We encourage the children to ask ‘What if..?’

Relevant

Our themes reflect where we live and our unique school community. For this reason, each topic has a geographical or cultural link, allowing children to contextualise their learning.

Aspirational

At our school, we have high expectations of all learners, and this is reflected in the quality of work, both in pupil books and on display. We are aspirational for our pupils, encouraging them to broaden their horizons through the themes and topics we cover. Our language rich curriculum will support pupils in their aspirations by developing their vocabulary.

Varied

We recognise the importance of developing active learners with independent learning habits, in order to prepare them for the future. With this in mind, we allow children the opportunity to work in different ways and in different environments.

Engaging

Crucially, it is important that all children are engaged in and stimulated by our curriculum. Each theme memorably starts with a ‘Big Bang Topic Launch’. This is an event which serves to fully immerse the learners in the theme for that half term. All learners, no matter what their proficiency in English, will have a concept upon which to base their learning.

 

Our creative curriculum is organised into three broad themes: create, explore and discover. Within each theme are two topics, carefully selected to motivate and inspire children.

 

Create

Within this theme, children will be taught the practical skills of designing and making products in order to meet an identified need using creativity and imagination. Pupils will learn how to take risks, becoming resourceful, innovative, enterprising and capable citizens. Children will learn the skills of drawing, painting, sculpture and textile design. They will learn about the art work of great artists and crafts people and know how art and design reflect and shape our history and contribute to the culture and creativity of our nation. Finally, pupils will perform, listen to, understand and explore a range of music and develop a critical engagement with music. The create theme will support pupils in exploring their creativity and talent and so increase their self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement.

 

Discover

This theme will fire pupils’ curiosity to learn more about the past. Pupils will learn to ask perceptive questions and think critically. In every topic within this theme children will order events in time; find differences and similarities; identify cases and consequences and compare different historical periods. They will use a range of sources to evaluate their usefulness and communicate their understanding. All classes will aim to link ‘then’ with ‘now’. This theme allows pupils to see the diversity of human experience, and understand more about themselves as individuals and members of society. What they learn can influence their decisions about personal choices, attitudes and values.

 

Explore

Our Explore theme inspires in our pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people. Learning in our Explore topics is about understanding the world by: comparing locations; investigating; researching different sources; writing and talking about places; asking and answering questions. Children learn about diverse places, people, resources and natural and human environments, together with a deep understanding of the Earth’s key physical and human processes. Children will learn many transferable skills, such as research, observation, measurement, recording and presentation.

 

English

 

At Westgate Hill Primary Academy we firmly believe that reading is the key to educational success, and with this in mind, reading fluency and comprehension is at the core of our English teaching. We have a determination that all children will be competent readers by the time they leave our school; able to decode accurately and to comprehend what they have read. Through our vibrant reading culture and high quality teaching, we aim to engender a love of reading and literature which will sow the seeds of success to last a lifetime.

According to the Reading Panel (2000), the core components of reading include phonemic awareness, phonics and word study, fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Frequent reading practice is said to encourage vocabulary development, which decreases the difficulty with reading and can lead therefore to a promotion in reading satisfaction.

For this reason we take every opportunity to develop and widen children’s vocabulary, creating a language rich environment in order to stimulate our pupils’ natural curiosity about new words.

We also understand that good readers become good writers. Our choice of high quality, engaging and age-appropriate literature provide motivation and stimulus for enjoyable writing opportunities with clear audience, purpose and role. Where writing is concerned, practice makes perfect, so our pupils are given frequent opportunities to produce complete pieces of writing, building to one piece of extended writing per week in Key Stage 2. Pupils at our school are proud of their written work and understand the importance of being able to communicate effectively in both their spoken and written language.

 

Maths

 

At Westgate Hill Primary Academy we feel it is vital that a positive attitude towards mathematics is encouraged amongst all of our pupils in order to foster confidence and achievement in a skill that is essential in everyday life. We aim to ensure that all pupils become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, through varied and frequent practice with problems over time to develop conceptual understanding, reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, looking for relationships and making generalisations and can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety problems, persevering in seeking solutions. To ensure a good understanding of maths concepts, a wide variety of practical apparatus is used, along with a range of published materials and ICT.

(In Early Years and Key Stage 1 pupils develop mental fluency and reasoning and problem solving with whole numbers, counting and place value. This involves working with numerals, developing key maths vocabulary in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and using practical resources, such as Numicon, Dienes and Cuisenaire. As pupils move through school in Key Stage 2 they develop further their fluency and reasoning and problem solving skills with whole numbers and the four operations, including number facts and the concept of place value. When answering calculations and solving problems, pupils develop the skill of using efficient written and mental methods.  They make connections between multiplication and division with fractions, decimals, percentages and ratio.)  

Assessment for Learning, an emphasis on investigation, problem solving and the development of mathematical thinking are therefore essential components of our approach to teaching maths.

 

Science

 

Science is a collaborative and creative subject that inspires and excites the imagination due to our desire to understand the world around us. Learning science through inquiry enables students to ask more questions, and to develop and evaluate explanations of events and the phenomena they encounter.

At Westgate Hill Primary Academy we have created our own enriched science curriculum that seeks to provide our children with opportunities to develop their planning, investigating, and evaluating skills. The children will be exposed to a wide variety of engaging topics that support the children’s curiosity for learning including,

  • Working Scientifically
  • Life Processes & Living Things
  • Materials and their Properties
  • Physical Processes

The aim of our curriculum is to promote a love of investigation and a desire to explore new topics without barriers. We strive to develop a high quality use of language that children will be able to use throughout all their learning and that deepens their understanding of every topic.

Early Years

 

The Early Years team at Westgate Hill Primary Academy provide a nurturing and enabling environment where children feel safe, secure and valued.  We deliver a motivating and engaging curriculum that is based on children’s interests and aims to deliver exciting activities that promote independence. Our goal is for all children to feel supported and challenged wherever possible to take risks, learn from mistakes and practise new skills. Children develop good communication skills in our language rich environment where they are encouraged to form strong friendships and respect each other’s cultures and backgrounds. In our Early Years, we aim to build strong relationships with families and carers that will help families to feel involved with their child’s individual journey as they learn and grow with us. Through a balanced curriculum of child initiated and formal teaching, we give children every possible chance to succeed beyond our Early Years.

In EYFS and KS1, Westgate Hill Primary Academy use the Phonics scheme of work Read Write Inc. More can information on RWi can be found here.