Our School Curriculum
Children enter Bishop’s Castle Primary School from a wide range of backgrounds, facing very different challenges, so we have worked hard to design our curriculum with the intent that all children, regardless of their starting points, will thrive and achieve their potential. Having considered the context of our school carefully, the key aims addressed by our curriculum design are:
We intend to widen the children’s sometimes narrow horizons, opening their eyes to the possibilities of the wider world and raising aspirations about their futures;
We will develop every child’s communication and language skills, which in recent years have started from an increasingly low level, so that they can find things out more efficiently, explain ideas more effectively, share their learning more creatively and build better relationships;
Seeing the Big Picture
We want to help children see the connections between subjects, so that they see the ‘big picture’ and learning becomes more relevant;
We aim to nurture children’s creativity, allowing them to be unafraid to explore their ideas and have the confidence to express themselves;
Learning to think /
Thinking to learn
We seek to encourage a broad range of positive learning behaviours, such as being able to learn both independently and collaboratively, developing resilience and deeper thinking skills, so that pupils reason more effectively, become more analytical and more able to critically evaluate their learning, but above all become active rather than passive learners.
Positive relationships and wellbeing
We firmly believe that underpinning all this is each individual child’s sense of wellbeing. Children will not learn if they are unhappy and demotivated. Everyone in our school works together with pupils and parents or carers to help pupils feel they belong, that their voice is heard, that they, and their efforts, are valued and to ensure that they enjoy learning. Our wider curriculum enables pupils to develop healthy bodies, relationships and minds, not just now, but for life. Our curriculum includes enrichment beyond the classroom, where pupils can pursue personal interests and talents. However, more fundamentally, we believe children have not evolved to be stuck inside, sitting in a chair for days on end staring at a whiteboard. There is a wealth of research linking more positive wellbeing and improved learning through spending time outdoors, so we take every opportunity to provide rich, meaningful, educational, but above all, enjoyable experiences out of classroom. We believe that such these opportunities are part of a positive feedback loop, in which improvements in wellbeing and attitudes to learning lead to improved learning, which leads to improvements in wellbeing and attitudes to learning, and so on.
Through taking the above approach, we intend that children will become self–motivated, confident, resilient, inquisitive and creative learners, who can work effectively both independently and collaboratively, and who share our high aspirations for their futures.
Teachers at Bishop’s Castle Primary School have planned a broad, balanced, stimulating curriculum that meets the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework for Reception, and the National Curriculum in Key Stages 1 and 2, and often seeks opportunities to extend children’s knowledge beyond it. Activities are adapted for children with SEND to take account of their individual needs, whilst more able pupils are provided with greater challenges.
Each term’s overarching topic involves at least one educational visit or inspirational visitor. These trips and experiences initiate engagement with the topic, widen the children’s horizons and provide essential experiential learning. We believe it is vital to inspire children with a wealth of experiences and opportunities. Children need to have the opportunity to experience new things, to work with those they wouldn’t normally be with and to use ideas in different contexts.
Fundamental skills and knowledge in language and mathematics, which underpin all other learning, are taught daily. In the modern world, computing skills are also essential for all other learning, and so these are taught in discrete termly units. The fundamentals of communication and language skills are addressed in daily English lessons. However, children are encouraged to apply and further develop these skills in other subject areas. For example, high quality topic books are made, containing extended writing about their learning, and in every subject the key subject terminology is taught explicitly to widen pupils’ vocabularies and allow them to express themselves more accurately.
Our curriculum has been carefully designed to make real and relevant links between subjects, with clear progression in skills, knowledge and vocabulary. This helps children to connect previous, present and future learning. Each class’ long term plans set out the concepts, skills and subject knowledge which will be taught in each year in each subject, ensuring that the requirements of the EYFS and National Curriculum are fully met and explicitly detailing the cross-curricular links that have been made. However, we live in an ever changing world, so teachers at Bishop’s Castle Primary School are expected and encouraged to adapt their teaching and activities, using their professional judgement to enable links to important current events to be made, making our children’s learning even more relevant.
Children are encouraged to explore and develop their creativity, and respond to learning creatively. Certain activities are planned with no pre-set outcome, encouraging children to use their creativity and imagination to develop responses to record or share their learning, an approach which allows them to: follow their own interests, explore using ideas and skills in different contexts, manage their own leaning and have the confidence to express themselves.
Topics often start with a Big Question which is designed to encourage deeper thinking. Reasoning and evaluation skills are taught explicitly through most subjects. We have built flexibility into our curriculum, so that children are encouraged and supported to follow their own lines of enquiry. Children are encouraged to try varied approaches and learn from their mistakes, innovating and taking risks when problem-solving. We expect children to evaluate their approaches, solutions and learning, continually striving to become the best they can be and to be rightly proud of their achievements. Children are provided with regular opportunities to evaluate, share and celebrate their learning. This takes many forms at Bishop’s Castle Primary School. Every term, it might take the form of small scale opportunities such as in-class peer evaluation, inviting other classes to see work, communal displays or sharing with the wider school and parents in class assemblies. Occasionally, children are provided with the opportunity to share their learning on a larger scale, such as a whole school museum or art gallery.
All children’s work in all subjects is valued, developing children’s self-esteem and sense of wellbeing. Assemblies are based around key values such as friendship, courage, perseverance and tolerance, plus British Values and E-safety, in which pupils are given opportunities to contribute and discuss ideas in multi-age groupings, encourage positive attitudes and behaviours in our school. We have a high quality, structured Relationships curriculum which follows the SCARF programme of study, which includes sex education. We have an active School Council, with each class electing two councillors for the year to represent their views, who also act as ambassadors for our school. Our school offers a wide, ever evolving range of extra-curricular activities each term, with recent clubs including choir, cross-country running, Sportsjam, a virtual filmmaking club (in collaboration with the London Film School) and Young Engineers, further enriching children’s education beyond the classroom and providing opportunities for pupils to develop and pursue new personal interests and talents. As previously mentioned, the overarching topic covered each term involves a carefully planned educational visit. Additionally, during the school year, every class has opportunities to explore learning in the outdoors on the school site in both our class gardens and our extensive Forest School area. Further outdoor opportunities for development are provided in the form of increasingly challenging walks, exploring and learning about the local area, which often link to other learning, in subjects such as English, Science, Geography, History and Art.
To ensure high quality provision, teachers make regular assessments of children’s understanding, skills, knowledge and vocabulary across the curriculum, making notes on attainment. Work is marked regularly and clear targets for improvement communicated to the children, plus prompt intervention made to address any issues with key concepts. Assessments are used to track children’s progress and identify areas and pupils needing more targeted intervention. Standards and the teaching of subjects are monitored by designated Subject Leaders following a cycle of review, to ensure continued improvement in our provision.
They understand their responsibilities and know that they are special because they are unique and valued.
At the end of KS2:
Children, having had rich, varied experiences and having visited new places outside the normal scope of many of them, recognise the relevance and importance of what they have learned to the wider world and to their future lives, whilst also having widened horizons and raised aspirations.
They are able to communicate their ideas and opinions eloquently, having acquired a broad vocabulary, plus show respect and interest when listening to the beliefs, ideas and views of others.
Children show pride in examples of how they have responded imaginatively and creatively to their learning, and are unafraid to experiment and to express themselves.
Children show positive approaches to learning such as resilience, adaptability and critical thinking.
They leave Bishop’s Castle Primary School feeling that their efforts were valued and their opinions heard. Their wellbeing has been nurtured, they know how to keep themselves and other safe, and their relationships are positive.
Regular, accurate assessment and tracking means that in future lessons, teachers can respond to previous assessments and help children to progress by addressing any specific issues. Each subject in our curriculum is monitored and reviewed by a designated Subject Leader, allowing CPD needs to be identified and addressed, continually improving our school’s provision, plus refining and improving our curriculum over time. This approach means that the vast majority of children in Bishop’s Castle Primary School make expected progress, at least in line with the national average.
Pupils leave Bishop’s Castle Primary School prepared for the challenges and opportunities of secondary school, with a wide range of key skills and core knowledge which they can apply to future learning and their lives. They have been provided with opportunities to: explore ideas; apply their abilities; develop curiosity; appreciate the beauty of the world and the power of knowledge. They have formed positive attitudes towards learning, allowing them to enjoy it and, in doing so, becoming ‘lifelong learners’.