Like all our schools across the borough, Eastbrook have been hard at work on developing a curriculum which both exceeds statutory requirements and meets the needs of their cohort.
Annual curriculum reviews, which involve students in the process, mean that the curriculum is constantly evolving to ensure that the sequence of learning builds on prior learning and prepares pupils for the next stage.
The development of the curriculum from EYFS to the end of KS4 has been led by Primary Subject Leads and Secondary Heads of Department with respective Deputies co-ordinating the project across key stages. Underlying the curriculum strategy is the principle that students revisit topics to acquire knowledge at a greater depth across each key stage and there has been a focus this term on ensuring students understand how current learning links to prior learning and will link to future learning.
Subject Leads have produced a clear Curriculum Intent document that is shared across both phases with the end point identified as where the pupil needs to be at the end of KS4. This is broken down further into way points for the end of EYFS, KS1, KS2 and KS3 which define where a student will be at each stage in their education. The Curriculum Intent document also outlines the cultural capital of the subject; the transferable skills, in terms of character virtues and with specific reference to other curriculum subjects; and curriculum progression across each year group. In the primary, each subject is broken down into weekly objectives that illustrate how knowledge is built over time.
Leaders are very clear that links across topics in a subject and between subjects across the curriculum have to be strong and purposeful to support students to ‘know more, remember more’. For example, within primary History and Geography, leaders have created acronyms to support students to frame their knowledge within the subject and compare what they are learning in topics over time. This approach will be adopted by all curriculum subjects.
Evan Hollows, Head of Primary, reports that, in terms of classroom teaching and learning, “Getting the documentation right means that you are giving your staff the best springboard to do it well.”
Anamul Khan, Secondary Deputy, shared examples of how this work has shaped curriculum delivery as every subject lead in both primary and secondary is working together to discuss curriculum and develop teaching and learning strategies that incorporate best practice from all key stages. For example, using the primary approach to teaching algebra and statistics has helped secondary colleagues to activate prior knowledge to then build on that learning. Consequently, the project has emphasised the importance of retrieval so that, rather than teaching a topic again, we start with what students already know and then move on to greater depth.
Anamul is conscious that while Eastbrook is an ‘all through school’, the secondary has a number of primary feeders. He is keen to stress that the secondary is using the relationship with their primary to “talk to a KS2 practitioner as someone who knows the curriculum” and that primary and secondary schools in the borough would benefit from using their existing relationships through transition to “build stronger links and tap into each other’s key stage expertise”. Evan feels that the project is transferable to any primary and secondary who have the will to work in this collaborative way.
The ongoing work will inform the school’s research into curriculum development and we are very excited to see how this develops over the course of the year. In the meantime, Evan and Anamul are happy to share their learning and explain how simple the project is to implement: “You just need to get people together.” And with the evolution in the use of digital technology over the last eighteen months that is now easier than ever.