How our curriculum is organised
We currently have five classes in our school, organised like this:
|Year groups in the class
|Reception and Year 1
|Year 1 and Year 2
|Year 3 and Year 4
|Year 4 and Year 5
Because we have mixed year groups, we our curriculum works in three-year cycles for most of the year groups. Each academic year we teach four 8-9 week long units of work, with the other weeks of term for specific themed weeks or projects. Some subjects, for example RE, PE, PSHE and computing, are discretely taught in half term blocks.
This class structure means that we cannot always introduce material in the order in which it appears in the National Curriculum, in chronological order. Instead, we have arranged the National Curriculum content so that the children are able to visit and revisit themes and events across more than one year. Our curriculum is our progression model. It is designed around themes that we return to again and again, at different levels, so that the children are constantly revising the knowledge that they have alongside their greater knowledge and understanding of the concepts that we are learning. We have two main ways of doing this. The first is our GBA curriculum theme threads (see below) which are referred to constantly, both in planned curriculum learning and in incidental conversations. These threads are a summary of themes that are substantive concepts which are woven through all the different units of work as much as possible. They are not an exhaustive list but are key threads that teachers refer to as much as possible in any subject, including English and maths where applicable.
The second way in which we demonstrate learning and progression is through the use of Big Ideas or Key concepts (second order disciplinary concepts). We are using these in Maths, Science, History and Geography already and will be developing them in some other subject areas alongside our colleagues in Learn Academies Trust. These Big Ideas examine the concepts of what it is to be a scientist or a geographer. We revisit these Big Ideas in different contexts, times and places through our teaching so that the children build a secure understanding of these subject concepts, and understand the ways in which learning in different units of a subject is linked.
We also make sure that everything we learn enriches our understanding of our school's vision and values and helps us to think about ways we can demonstrate them in our lives.
Our curriculum is complex but we are really proud of it. It is unique to our school and contains issues and information that are central to the children and their experiences and needs.
Great Bowden Academy: our curriculum story
This is the story of the way in which we have developed our curriculum and its core themes.
The content of the school’s curriculum and the development of skills to access and enrich it have always been at the heart of Great Bowden Academy’s teaching and learning. In late 2018 we began a complete review of our curriculum, working in partnership with other teachers across Learn Academies Trust. Our new curriculum is a work in progress: it will change over time and we are happy that it will do so.
Sitting in the middle of an ancient village, with the former school building in use as the preschool, our setting and the local environment provide us with a rich heritage and place in which to learn. We used this resource as a starting point for learning. Our curriculum starts in the first years of school with local history and geography and habitats, and weaves the stories and themes found in what is familiar to the children through different places and times as they move through the school.
Our curriculum begins by telling the story of the village and how it has grown and changed, the story of the people who live and lived in it and how their needs changed and developed, and the story of inventions and innovations whose impact in Great Bowden and its surroundings mirrored their impact on a national and international level. This story contains themes about the importance of place, the supply and demand of goods and the people who provide them; and the way that supply and demand creates power which can fluctuate between people. These themes became the core of the narrative of our curriculum. Around these narratives are themes of
commuting, visiting other places, working away, trading, routes between key places and the maps that emerge from linking these journeys, what makes people important and powerful, and how we have been able to identify, analyse and be influenced by these occurrences. Our core curriculum themes are listed in the box at the bottom of this page. Clearly identifying these themes and examining them in the context of different people, places and times has provided continuity, context and progression through all our classrooms. We examine these themes in the context of subject disciplines as well, examining as scientists, geographers and historians the impact of people and place on our lives; and using skills as musicians, artists and designers to investigate and express what we have learned.
We are developing a bank of knowledge posters for each topic that will be carried with each cohort across the school, providing a memory prompt and redefining the context in which our curriculum core threads are woven in and out of the topics that the children are studying. Underlying all of this is the golden thread of literacy, providing skills and language to find out about, record and write about our learning; and our mathematical and reasoning skills which support analysis of the events we are learning.
We are very proud of the curriculum that we are developing, teaching and learning at Great Bowden Academy. We feel it empowers the children with a sense of who they are and where they come from. It gives them not just the vision to see that they are part of a changing world; but also the power to understand that they can be part of that change.