At Arnot St. Mary, everything we do centres around our Vision Statement:
It is our vision that every child who becomes part of our family at Arnot St. Mary is loved for who they are, valued as equals and given the best opportunities to grow in mind, body and spirit – equipped for life in all its fullness. We seek to nurture the uniqueness of each individual, celebrating their success and instilling a belief that, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Phil. 4:13
We live out this vision statement through an ethos and curriculum approach that embodies our core values of resilience, equality, aspiration and love. As a Church of England primary school, we believe our children are created in God’s image and reflect His character. Developing children’s understanding of their own personal faith, and how to ‘live-out’ our Christian values, is at the heart of our approach.
Intent of our curriculum – what are we trying to achieve?
At Arnot St. Mary, the core aim of our curriculum is to enable every child to become the best version of themselves in mind, body and spirit. We don’t want this to be a cliched tag-line without any substance; we want it to be the beating heart of our curriculum. We seek to instil a love of learning and provide our pupils with the powerful knowledge, skills and experiences – the cultural capital they need to be well-prepared for the next stage in their education and equipped for life in all its fullness.
We are passionate about providing every child with the experiences and opportunities they need to become: confident readers, creative writers, fluent mathematicians, investigative scientists, enquiring historians, adventurous geographers, proficient linguists, innovative designers, skilful musicians and artists, insightful theologians, digital experts, physically active, responsible citizens, and above all, have the aspiration and self-belief that they can achieve anything as they ‘love, learn and grow’ throughout their lives.
The curriculum at Arnot St. Mary is specific to the needs of our pupils at this time, and is rooted in the principles of cognitive science and current educational research about how children learn best. Our curriculum takes an enquiry approach that is knowledge-led and intended to inspire, challenge and motivate all learners. It is designed to promote curiosity and encourage pupils to become creative, critical thinkers who are able to approach problems with an open mind.
Within each subject, learning is cumulatively sequenced so that it forms a continuum across the school, and new knowledge builds on what children have already learnt. Through this approach, pupils are able to make sense of new knowledge and build larger schema of understanding because, “Understanding is disguised remembering; every new idea must be built on ideas that the student already knows. To get a student to understand, a teacher must ensure that the right ideas from the student’s long-term memory are pulled up and put into working memory.” (Willingham, 2021)
The principle of ‘powerful knowledge’ underpins our approach as a school, which starts from the idea of equal citizens with an equal entitlement to knowledge that they can take with them for the rest of their lives: “An entitlement which should not be limited on grounds of assumed ability or motivation, ethnicity, class or gender. The curriculum should be seen as a guarantor of equality based on the best knowledge we have, or at least a staged approach towards acquiring it.” (Heathcote, 2002)
We have carefully designed a curriculum which allows children to become confident and fluent with powerful knowledge and vocabulary over time through planned opportunities to revisit, apply and embed their learning as they move through the school. Developing fluency in reading, communication and language is at the heart of our curriculum and we strive to ensure children are suitably equipped with the rich vocabulary they need to access, understand and retain new knowledge.
We want our children to have lasting, memorable experiences which give them a real context for learning beyond the classroom through opportunities which, for many of our pupils, would usually be out of reach. We want our curriculum, “…to enable all students to acquire knowledge that takes them beyond their experience… knowledge which many will not have access to at home, among their friends, or in the communities in which they live. As such, access to this knowledge is the right of all pupils as future citizens.” (Young, 2014)
To that end, we have identified ‘101 things’ an Arnot St. Mary pupil will experience during their time with us, each one carefully chosen to enrich the life of every child and give them first-hand experiences and a strong understanding and appreciation of our vibrant city and the wider world in which they live; exploring its diversity, complexity, simplicity and beauty through experiences which inspire awe and wonder. Fostering a sense of ‘community’ in our children and encouraging their personal and social responsibility through a strong social, moral, spiritual and cultural understanding is fundamental to everything we do. Through these experiences, we hope to promote the development of strong interpersonal skills, self-awareness and emotional well-being.
Implementation of our curriculum – how will we do this?
The curriculum incorporates the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum 2014 and other experiences and opportunities which best meet and support the learning and developmental needs of our children. A blocked curriculum approach has been implemented at the school to ensure coverage and progression across curriculum areas. This approach enables project based learning, fostering children’s curiosity and interest throughout each topic and also enabling the achievement of depth in knowledge and skills.
Knowledge organisers for each subject set out the key knowledge and vocabulary that we want children to become fluent with. They form the milestones by which children’s achievement can be measured at termly intervals across the year. As a planning, teaching and assessment tool, the knowledge organisers make it clear to teachers and pupils what the expected learning will be by the end of the unit within each topic. Specific subject vocabulary is explicitly taught and the expectation is that children will be confident in applying this vocabulary in both written and spoken tasks with fluency and ease. Formative assessment through ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ tasks make it clear what children have learnt within a sequence of learning. ‘Show what you know’ activities in response to a key enquiry question my take the form of written, oral or creative tasks.
Staff are committed to their own continuing professional development to build strong subject knowledge and a deep understanding of a range of pedagogical approaches to maximise pupils’ retention and understanding. Access to integrated video tutorials enhance teacher subject knowledge and pedagogical expertise.
A varied timetable for extra-curricular activities is offered by the school, with clubs that support the core curriculum offer, as well as those which develop specialist skills.
Impact of our curriculum – how do we know we are being successful?
Children can draw on a rich bank of powerful knowledge which has developed over time and become embedded through carefully planned repetition of content which builds on prior learning.
Pupil outcomes show that children can confidently recall and apply key knowledge from current and previous areas of learning.
Children are confident using and applying high-level vocabulary.
Children are independent and resilient learners.
Children are articulate and confident to talk about a wide range of topics.
Children demonstrate many high-level skills, such as analysis, reflection and empathy through written and spoken tasks.
Children enjoy learning and are excited and inspired to learn new things.
Knowledge is retained in children’s long-term memories.
Children are well-rounded individuals who understand the importance of Christian values and British values.
Children have excellent attitudes to learning.
Children show self-awareness when forming their own ideas and beliefs.
Children show respect for all and value difference and diversity.
Children are open-minded to learn and gain new ideas.
Children demonstrate appreciation and wonder of the world in which they live.