Taddington EPIC Curriculum design
Enterprise, Possibilities, Inquiry, Community
How we will assess knowledge at Taddington
Enlivening learning through authentic & relevant experiences
Each half termly theme begins with a motivating Entry point, often a visit or experience to immerse the children in the topic. To celebrate learning at the end of a topic, we like to invite parents to come into school to share some of our learning. We take an innovative approach to learning and are responsive to needs and opportunities that arise, so every term we will adapt and update our curriculum plans. Wherever possible, we also link English learning to these topics to give writing a genuine purpose and real-life audience. Real-life math’s opportunities are also implemented e.g. data collection or planning an event with a given budget.
The topics are enhanced by home learning projects which are fun and practical for families to do together e.g. build a volcano or construct a medieval castle. All topics culminate in a landing which pulls together all of the learning. Once a term, there is a real-world outcome which has an impact beyond our immediate school community of pupils, staff and parents. Examples of a real world outcome may be the screening of a film in the cinema to the public, a museum in a pop-up shop which is open to the public, the creating of an electronic nature trail for the public to use or a workshop and puppet show/presentation to pre-school children.
In school we have worked hard to promote a growth mindset which underpins our approach to teaching and learning. Growth mindset is based on the belief that everyone can change and grow through application and experience. This links with our curriculum driver 'Possibilities' We teach pupils that changes occur in the structure of the brain as they learn to do new things. When they first start to challenge themselves it may seem hard but if they keep persevering then challenges become easier. Praise is focused on the effort children have given, rather than their achievement. Feedback, even if critical, is seen as an opportunity for learning and children respond positively accepting the fact that their first try isn’t always the best. Children are given opportunities to continuously review and improve their work with purple polishing pens. Rather than being seen as a failure, mistakes are seen as an opportunity for learning. We have tried to embed that there is no such thing as “I can’t do it.” Instead we say that “I can’t do it …yet”.
At Taddington and Priestcliffe we strive to provide a tailor made, thematic creative curriculum that engages and inspires our children whilst ensuring National Curriculum coverage. Each year, our curriculum is divided into six themes through which a selection of National Curriculum subjects will be taught. Research tells us that from the earliest age, learners should be involved in decisions about how they learn best. Principles of inquiry; children leading the direction their learning tasks, asking and seeking the answers to their questions are integral practices to support this aim. In addition we have carefully considered the overarching curriculum drivers Enterprise, Possibilities Inquiry ,and Community which enable us to create an EPIC curriculum that is unique and relevant to our learners. We are deeply aware that children only get one chance at their primary education and our Ethos and Values reflect our commitment to ensuring that all children reach for the highest levels of personal achievement and development.
Knowledge and Skills
At Taddington we are focused on ensuring that children acquire and retain key knowledge in subject areas. In view of this, our robust planning process involves the construction of knowledge organiser documents. These focus teacher and learner attention on the key non-negotiables for the unit of work/theme including key concepts, vocabulary and where appropriate facts and figure, dates and timelines. Knowledge organisers are shared half termly with parents along with an idea of how we will assess the extent to which knowledge has been learnt. Underpinning the entire curriculum are the basic skills of Literacy, Mathematics and ICT. The children at our school are given every opportunity to use and apply their skills in these areas when studying a theme. Personal goals underpin the individual qualities and dispositions we believe children will find essential in the 21st century. Enquiry, resilience, morality, communication, thoughtfulness, cooperation, respect and adaptability. Opportunities to experience and practice these are built into the learning tasks within each unit of work.
For our children, learning beyond the village is essential. As such global learning goals help our young children begin the move towards an increasingly sophisticated national, international and intercultural perspective. Each thematic unit includes an international aspect to help develop a sense of ‘international mindedness’.
click these links
to see how, at a school level, big ideas thread through the curriculum and how knowledge and skills build year upon year, linking with other areas of the curriculum
Navigate to our subject pages to see how leaders monitor, evaluate, investigate, develop and maintain three key factors in our EPIC curriculum: intent, implementation and impact.
Year group knowledge and skill progression documents
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to see how, in each year group, big ideas thread through the curriculum and how knowledge and skills build year upon year, linking with other areas of the curriculum
(Please visit class pages for Knowledge Organisers)
For students to succeed in a particular area, they must have a foundation of factual knowledge, understand those facts in the context of a conceptual framework and organise knowledge in order to facilitate retrieval and application (Bransford et al., 2000). We can see knowledge organisers as a way to enable this, in a much more systematic way than traditional revision guides and textbooks.
When making decisions about what must be included we have to consider that not everything can be included on an A4 piece of paper. So we must balance the need to use concise space-saving definitions while still including meaning enough for it to be useful. The finite space also leads to choices about which knowledge we deem most important and which we exclude. Powerful knowledge, as defined by Young (Yong, 2013), is specialised rather than general knowledge, and is differentiated from the experiences of students. Finally, we have to decide which knowledge is most useful for the understanding of the domain and which is important for the sample of the domain – the assessment. For example, the continued development of the USSR post-1945 would be useful knowledge for students studying Animal Farm but would not be assessed, so should it be included on the KO?
As well as what to include, we also need to think about how the material is presented. In knowledge organisers, information is commonly presented in list form, which not be the best way to depict it in terms of showing links between ideas. It is therefore important that information is organised in such a way as to facilitate further organisation. Material should also be presented in such a way that it can be easily tested, to maximise the opportunity for retrieval practice.
The use of knowledge organisers needs to be integrated into teachers’ practice and students’ habits. This includes using the following strategies regularly and routinely.
Regular retrieval practice is important, because active retrieval aids later retention (Roediger et al., 2011). This can take various forms, e.g. low-stakes quizzes during lessons, or writing down the dates for key events in a timeline from the KO. It could be free recall, where students write down everything that they can remember on the topic, before checking the KO, or perhaps filling in a blank (or partially blank) knowledge organiser. Testing will also identify gaps in knowledge, lead to more learning on the next study session and produce better organisation of knowledge (Roediger et al., 2011).
We ensure that the material included in knowledge organisers is elaborated upon, by relating it to additional knowledge associated with it, often in the form of ‘why’ questions. There is an element of retrieval practice contained in this strategy, known as elaborative interrogation, but it works by ensuring that there is some sort of active understanding and meaningful consideration of what is being learnt (Willingham, 2014). Building complex schemas requires knowledge to be connected, so that this can be used when learning X by asking, ‘How does concept X relate to concept Y?’
All of these strategies are regularly used by teachers, but we must ensure that students are aware of how and when to use these strategies themselves, something that won’t happen without explicit instruction (Zimmerman, 2010). When using knowledge organisers in class, teachers can articulate why the particular strategy being used is effective and model its use with the KO. For students to get the most out of this, we can encourage them to use the metacognitive regulation cycle: plan how to undertake the task; monitor the effectiveness of the strategy; evaluate the overall success (EEF, 2018). For example, students might wish to learn a series of events and dates, so they might plan to use flashcards in several ways. They know that retrieval practice is effective so they use them to self-quiz. They know that elaborative interrogation is important, so they consider why each event was important and how it contributed to ultimate outcomes. They understand that knowledge may stick better if organised in different ways, so they organise the dates chronologically. They monitor which dates are known, then retest those not yet learnt. They reflect, following this, on tricky dates and then place each in turn in the centre of a concept map and consider how each relates to the other dates.
Knowledge organisers form a central part of our knowledge-based curriculum.