How we expose our pupils to powerful knowledge and provide education with character (implementation)
Subject specialism is at the heart of our curriculum and you will see differences in the way that the curriculum is constructed and assessed in different subjects. Standardised written assessments, for example, play less of a role in performance subjects such as music and physical education. The stability of our curriculum allows subject expertise to develop over time, and we are careful to provide sufficient time for teachers of the same subject to plan together and collaborate.
Further subject specialism is provided by United Learning’s subject advisers. These advisers are subject experts who help teachers link the subject discipline to our pupils’ daily experience in the classroom. Subject advisers meet regularly with Heads of Department across United Learning and provide curriculum resources to support the implementation of the subject curriculum.
As a mastery curriculum our pupils study fewer topics in greater depth. A 3-year Key Stage 3 provides pupils with the time and space to gain a secure understanding that builds over time in each subject. In our lessons we expect to see all pupils grappling with the same challenging content, with teachers providing additional support for pupils who need it. Rather than moving on to new content, our higher attainers produce work of greater depth and flair.
Our approach to teaching and learning supports our curriculum by ensuring that lessons build on prior learning and provide sufficient opportunity for independent practice. Our lessons typically follow a simple instructional core:
– Teach: Explanation and modeling
– Check: Check for understanding
– Practice: Independent Practice
The independent practice phase of the lesson is critical, for it’s in this phase that pupils think hard and produce work that is the product of their thinking.
Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction provide us with a shared understanding of the characteristics of effective teaching. These principles support the implementation of the curriculum by ensuring that pupils regularly recall prior learning. You will often see this at the start of our lessons.
We are particularly conscious of the role that literacy and vocabulary play in unlocking the whole curriculum. Our teachers explicitly teach the meaning of subject-specific language, and we expect lessons to contain challenging reading and writing. Knowledge organisers provide students with key information that they are expected to learn and recall with fluency, enabling them to develop their understanding of key concepts outside of their lessons.
Teach Like a Champion (TLAC) techniques such as ‘cold calling’ and ‘no opt-out’ are the practical application of the Rosenshine Principles in the classroom. The Rosenshine Principles and the TLAC techniques are not intended to be a checklist for every lesson. Barak Rosenshine describes his principles as an articulation of the ‘general pattern’ of teaching, while Doug Lemov (author of Teach Like a Champion) describes his approach as a ‘recipe book’ and ‘not an instruction manual’
To allow the mastery approach to be effective (i.e. children learn what they are expected to in the year they are expected to), early catch-up is essential: we aim to promptly identify and support pupils who start secondary school without a secure grasp of reading, writing and mathematics so that they can access the full curriculum.
Everything from which children learn in school – the taught subject timetable, the approach to spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development, the co-curricular provision, and the ethos and ‘hidden curriculum’ of the school – are to be seen as part of the school curriculum. Our principle of ‘Education with Character’ is delivered through the curriculum in this broadest sense.