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In May 2019, staff and children at St Helen’s embarked on a project to redesign the curriculum across the school. Our aim was to create a 21st century curriculum, which built on our strengths, was true to our distinctive Christian ethos, but like the great adventurers who have gone before, dared to pursue a curriculum that pushed further than we had gone before.
We want our children to be equipped with values, knowledge, skills and understanding through a relevant, immersive and expansive curriculum that inspires them to make a difference in their world.
‘Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, To venture on wider seas, where storms will show your mastery; Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask You to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.’
Sir Francis Drake, Explorer, 1540-1596
Read on to find out more about our ambitions for our curriculum, a timeline showing the plans for development and some case studies of the early impact that we’ve seen from it.
Our ambitions for our curriculum:
‘Theirs is an increasingly globalised and interconnected world in which everyday lives and local communities cannot be fully understood without reference to a wider global picture. On the one hand, it is full of wonder and the possibilities and opportunities afforded by technology. On the other, it is marked by division, extreme inequality, injustice, and poverty, conflict and environmental crises. We know it to be near impossible to shield children from such issues. Even the youngest in our schools bring with them knowledge of injustice, disadvantage and conflict, gleaned through the media, and often, direct personal experience. With that very partial knowledge, they also bring into school a complex set of questions, concerns and emotions. The good news is that our schools can, and often do, provide a much-needed safe space and structure in which children can begin to make sense of the world they are encountering and explore their place within it. They can also nurture the values, attitudes, understanding and skills their pupils will need if they are to realise their hopes and aspirations for a more just and sustainable world in which we live well together, at local, national and global levels.’
Christian Aid, January 2018
It is our intent to carefully design and construct a curriculum, relevant to the 21st Century and one which prepares the children for the world in which they will live and work. Through our curriculum, we aim to provide the pupils with the knowledge, skills, habits and character traits that can be applied across all traditional academic subject areas an in all educational, career and social settings throughout their life.
We aim to provide rich opportunities for the children to explore citizenship and real life world issues, which at times they may have to grapple with and make sense of, working together to develop ‘Learning and Life’ skills such as collaboration and communication.
Our Christian values are central to our curriculum and underpin everything that we do. Values like respect, justice, courage, compassion and forgiveness shape the way that we live together and our response to the issues that we will encounter through our global curriculum.
The curriculum is designed using a cross-curricular approach, as we know this enables our children to make connections across their learning, leading to deeper learning experiences so that the learning is purposeful and meaningful, and they can apply their reading, writing, mathematical and computing skills across the whole of the curriculum. Through this approach, the learning is slowed down, covering less but in much greater depth to allow pupils to master the skills through each sequence of learning. Links are made across all subjects, however Science, R.E, French and P.E are often planned for and taught in a discrete manner.
Ultimately, we want the curriculum at St Helen’s to prepare our children to meet the world. We want it to develop and enhance their skills in critical and creative thinking, reasoning and communication and to enable the children to view themselves as ‘changemakers’ as they ‘let their light shine’ in the world that they are growing up in.
For more information about our approach to curriculum design and the features of the curriculum we are trialling, click here.
Curriculum Development Timeline
Creating this new approach to curriculum will take time. We also believe that partnering with others and learning from their expertise will make our curriculum stronger and the opportunities for the children that much richer. Over the course of the 2019/20 academic year, we will be assembling a ‘curriculum working party’ made up of members of the St Helen’s and St Mary’s teaching staff, faciliated by an independent teaching and learning consultant to create a 2 year rolling curriculum for both schools.
In summary, our proposed curriculum development timeline is:
2018/19 academic year:
Term 5 and 6 –
Trial revised approach to curriculum across the school in phases (Y1/2 – ‘Hedgehog Protection’ and ‘Plastics in the Ocean’, Y3/4 – ‘What footprints do we leave behind’ and Y5/6 – ‘How do I make my voice heard?’)
2019/20 academic year:
Term 1 and 2 -
- Incorporate lessons learnt and trial revised curriculum approach across the school in phases
- Pilot planning and delivering a cross-school curriculum topic (Y3/4 working across St Mary’s and St Helen’s)
- Launch ‘Curriculum Working Party’ who will construct with colleagues a 2 year rolling plan for curriculum to launch January 2020
Term 3 and ongoing -
- Launch 2 year rolling curriculum plan from January 2020
- Cross-school curriculum planning and delivery in place for St Helen’s and St Mary’s
Impact from Summer Term 2019 Revised Curriculum Pilot:
As a school, we have been delighted with the early impact of the revised approach to the curriculum. Children and staff have spoken about their enthusaism for the new curriculum topics, their pride in the quality of the outcomes to their learning and the impact on the world around is clear.
The best way to see the impact of our curriculum is by visiting the school, talking to the children and visiting the classrooms. We also love to share our learning on Twitter – follow us to keep up to date with our learning.