St Hilary School endeavours to deliver a broad and deep curriculum for all children which is underpinned by our school ethos and aims. We have enjoyed the challenge of developing our 'real project curriculum' because we want our children to genuinely enjoy learning....so that they want to learn more!
Our curriculum is built to:
- Instil a love of learning and challenge
- Develop fundamental reading, writing and maths skills both discreetly and across the whole curriculum
- Build confidence, build resilience and build drive
- Teach children to take risks safely
- Develop the 'whole child', in conjunction with our 4 school badges: Kindness consideration and respect for all, Academic, Healthy Living and Creativity.
- Develop a greater depth of learning which can then be applied to real-life outcomes
So how is our curriculum delivered?
During 2015-2016 we introduced the ‘REAL projects based learning’ curriculum across the school. During a staff training day at the beginning of term, we welcomed Carl Jarvis from Hartsholme Academy in Lincolnshire who spoke to us about planning ‘REAL projects’ and immersive learning. We were then able to use this alongside our list of ‘things that already work well’ to come up with a plan! This development in the curriculum had originated from huge successes in 'High Tech High' in America.
From this point, teachers have worked with their pupils on planning exciting topics which lead to real-project, relevant outcomes. Over the past two years we have watched children take part in some wonderful experiences including digging for dinosaur bones; taking over a restaurant for the day to feed our parents; using flints to light small camp fires, digging and spending time in war trenches; completing a fast to raise money for the homeless and making jam to sell at the local farmers market.
So how is the curriculum planned?
All staff work with the children to start planning the following terms curriculum. The first stage is for the class to come up with an ‘essential question’ which is derived from a particular interest or passion within the class. This would be a question that the children investigate during the term but is something that can’t be googled! For example: ‘Could a dog live in the desert?’ or 'Have you ever been truly hungry?'.
At this stage, a real life outcome is also planned which will be the basis for the work over the term. As an example: last year our infant classes were learning about the foods that we plant and that we find in the wild. During the term they worked towards making blackberry jam and selling it at a farmers market as their REAL outcome. The work over the term included picking the blackberries, learning to make jam, learning to measure quantities, investigating jam prices in a range of shops and supermarkets, designing jam labels, planning the sale of the jam and so on. The idea is that the children are totally immersed in their learning because it has a ‘real life’ outcome and completing the task of course incorporates so many aspects of the curriculum- making it broad and rich whilst ensuring there is a real depth of learning and mastery of skills appropriate to their age. In all strands of the curriculum our school ethos and sound british values are intertwined throughout.
One of the key stages of planning the topics are our 'project tuning sessions'. Teachers present their plans and ideas to each other and it is the job of the other staff to act as peer critiques- giving tips and sharing advise and expertise. Trust me…they are very picky!
As the learning over the term progresses, the children are asked to critique each other’s work and learn to redraft and edit as a result, produce pieces of ‘beautiful work’ and complete ‘POL’s (presentations of learning). There will always be some aspects of the national curriculum that need to be taught that don’t fit with the theme/topic and these will still be taught discretely.
The buzz of learning across the school is always very special at St Hilary and any changes that we make to our curriculum are aimed at making it even better. Curriculum information for each of the classes can be found within this curriculum link.
If you would like to know more about our curriculum, then please do not hesiate to get in touch. This can be done by contacting myself or our deputy headteacher, Mr Hamshar (email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01736 763324).