We have a very exciting and engaging curriculum at Hunsley Primary – our children tell us they love to learn! Above all other things, the curriculum is the heart of the school: the skills, knowledge and understanding our children gain, and the ways in which the children are taught and learn, make each school day vibrant and engaging for pupils and teachers alike.
So what is our curriculum ethos? The whole school curriculum at Hunsley Primary is arranged around a Big Question approach, with children exploring a new question each half term. Each question provides a fantastic source of topics to explore and investigations to carry out, allowing all of the curriculum subjects, from maths to music, to come alive for the children. Across the classes and year groups, the questions are consistent each year, but there is still room for pupil-led choice: ‘What’s the big idea about…?’ this year, enabled classes to choose their own topic and teaching staff were challenged to plan learning which built on the children’s own interests, questions and targets.
‘How is the world filled with colour?’ allows us to learn about other countries and cultures, but also invites some brilliant exploration of arts and technologies, science and literature.
‘What’s it like inside the egg?’ had the children investigating life cycles, farming, materials and fairy-tales, each with its own unique connection to the Big Question investigation.
So how do teachers plan for progress in the curriculum subjects? Teachers plan together, sharing responsibility for mapping the curriculum across the year groups, using their excellent knowledge of the children’s strengths and skills, as well as their understanding of how children’s learning progresses and deepens as they move from year to year. We teach in subjects and make sure the children understand what it is to be a historian, an artist, a writer and so on. We have own own set of’ curriculum ‘can do’ statements which tell us what children should be able to achieve each year, and with these statements, we shape the lessons for stretch, challenge and support.
Collaboration across the teaching team is what makes our curriculum so special. Teachers are as excited by new Big Questions as the children are and map out our medium and long term plans to allow for progression in each subject area, whilst still letting the children explore their Big Question to the full.
How do you use the partnership with South Hunsley to enhance your curriculum? We are proud to be the ‘sister’ feeder school to South Hunsley. Hunsley Primary grew from the secondary ethos, vision and values – we share the same ambition and rigour; we share the same staff and teams. We make the most of the learning resources we have access to, from the sports facilities and libraries to the outdoor learning spaces. Secondary subject specialists, for example in maths, PE, French, Drama and English, help to shape the curriculum which will eventually see the children transition from Y6 to Y7 with confidence! As our Key Stage 2 curriculum takes shape in 2018/19, we will keep our close working relationships (joint planning, training, monitoring) even though we will be on our brand new site.
Do the children experience a wide and engaging curriculum? Yes! From educational visits off site, to places like Pottteric Carr and Conisbrough Castle, to in-house workshops and guests, such as our storytelling, Healthy Living and Siemens Materials workshops, the children enjoy a school day designed to engage, challenge, allow for thinking and reflection. After-school clubs, lunchtime groups, sports, languages, gardening and pupils leadership all take place in this thriving school curriculum offer.
How do you enrich the children’s spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding, as well as their personal development, in matters of health, economics and wellbeing? The children have a programme of activities, such as assemblies, Talk Time, Religious Studies and House Theme Days, as well as some key approaches such as our Values, Characteristics and safety SafeAPPS, which are delivered throughout the year; we revisit these key areas and concepts again and again, to ensure that all children have opportunities to broaden their understanding of the world, develop confidence in how to care for themselves and stay safe, and maintain a thirst for learning about the world and their place in it.
As a free school, do you teach the National Curriculum? We do – we know that our children must be ready for the world beyond school. In Reception, we follow the statutory curriculum framework. In Key Stage 1 and 2, we follow the National Curriculum to ensure that our children are very well-prepared for life beyond primary education. We place emphasis upon transferable skills based on ‘working scientifically’ principles, with all areas of the curriculum underpinned by investigation, questioning, enquiry and ‘looking like a scientist’ at the world.
Are the children always taught in their year groups? All year groups currently explore the same Big Questions simultaneously, allowing us to bring together classes in teams on vertical PSHE Theme Days, as well as sharing some of our Find Out Friday investigations. Each Big Question can be explored through investigation of English, Maths, Science, Art, Technologies, PE and so on, creating an exciting and interwoven curriculum which shows how all learning is connected, how it progresses from year to year, and allows the children to learn to apply their learning in a wide range of ways. Where children will benefit from a personalised programme of learning, we look to teach them in the best ways possible, which can sometimes involve being taught specific skills with other year groups for stretch and challenge.
For more information about the curriculum, please talk to your child’s teacher. For some inspiring images of our children learning, explore this website or follow us on Twitter or Facebook!