At Bure Valley School, we pride ourselves on providing an engaging, broad and balanced curriculum.
We want our pupils to leave us ready for the next phase of their education and feeling empowered because they know that they have acquired a secure base of knowledge that will act as a foundation for future successes.
We are a research driven school that places a great emphasis on continuous professional development. We strive to help teachers to become better teachers, develop their subject knowledge and have better understanding of the science of learning.
This means that our staff are well placed to co-design and deliver our knowledge rich curriculum in an environment that is supportive and conducive to learning.
We believe that unique selling points of our current curriculum offer are:
Music: pupils in year 3 learn African drumming, year 4 children learn the recorder and in upper school (year 5 and 6) choose between woodwind, brass or strings instruments.
One of the highlights of the year is the upper school summer concert, where all year 5 and 6 pupils (120+) play as an orchestra, in front of an audience of their friends and family. To our knowledge, this is one of the largest non-auditioned KS2 orchestras in the country.
Sport: Pupils in all year groups participate in a range of competitive sports against other schools in the cluster and from across Norfolk.
In the year pre-Covid over 58% of our pupils represented the school in a sporting activity of some kind, and 68% of pupils worked with specialist sports coaches as part of our PE curriculum or extra-curricular sports offer.
Each subject has a dedicated subject leader, and all subject leaders are given a morning a term non-contact time to work on their subject. This work includes; maintaining an action plan and resource list, keeping a subject overview to ensure coverage, creating core knowledge requirements for their subject broken down by year groups and devising assessment frameworks based on the core knowledge documents. Other parts of the role to promote their subjects school-wide include; planning and delivering whole school assemblies on their subject and preparing and leading staff CPD.
Knowledge is at the heart of our curriculum and the direction in which we continue to aim. See the further reading section for a list of research which underpins this.
Currently, each subject has a set of core knowledge which pupils are explicitly taught. We look to build in opportunities for spaced retrieval practice, low-stakes testing and lots of repeated practice through drilling.
We continue to work towards building a curriculum that is interconnected, optimally sequenced and progressive.
Our core knowledge material is available to pupils and parents via the school website. Additionally, maths and English core knowledge is in the back of pupil planners for ease of reference. We aspire to have develop knowledge organisers to support the delivery of some subjects.
Pupils have access to an app called Quizlet, which allows them to learn and recall core knowledge in all subject areas – in a fun, interactive manner. This is in conjunctions with students using the same app at AHS, which provides continuity for our children and their families.
A great strength of our curriculum provision is our strong pastoral offer. Our dedicated pastoral leader works with pupils, families and staff to ensure all pupils can access and enjoy the curriculum on a daily basis. This includes nurture provision for some pupils, who may need curriculum elements designed to help their social skills or mental well-being, for example.
Our approach to the curriculum is gaining positive interest from local schools and from schools across the county. Colleagues are asking for us to share our work around core knowledge and the use of low stakes retrieval practice as a learning strategy and assessment tool.
In music, we form part (and host) the cluster orchestra and have been praised by the Norfolk music hub for our provision.
Our school Twitter feeds are full of wonderful photos of our curriculum in action for others to see and share. It encapsulates the breadth and variety of our curriculum.
Our curriculum is enhanced by termly family learning days and three school parent association (SPA) events across the year. These occasions are well attended by parents, carers and members of extended family and have recently included, a wellbeing event, making balloon powered vehicles to race, a local author and storyteller coming in to work with families and will this year see the whole school making kites to fly.
Other features of our broad and balanced curriculum have included, first aid training for every pupil in the school from the Emergency First Responders team. Regular visits to Tesco, local stores and farms to learn about where our food comes from, and how we can eat healthily. In addition to this, we have developed close links with the Aylsham heritage centre, where classes can visit to find out first-hand about our local history. This link has also included pupils from Bure Valley creating the Heritage centre website.
Through the Aylsham Rotary Club we run a STEM Kit Car project and an enterprise project that enables our Y6 pupils to access Lendwithcare. A microfinance lending website from the development charity CARE International UK. Our pupils make small loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, and help them work their way out of poverty.
Our curriculum is also enhanced by our active Friends association - the Friends of BVS. This link allows our pupils to work together to raise money for our school and for other great causes, thus providing them with a strong sense of global and local responsibility.
Our curriculum and the school and federation’s cooperative values
Our curriculum is designed to fit with our school values of Care, Creativity and Challenge.
Care = The strong pastoral and behavioural model we set.
Creativity = The diverse opportunities we offer our pupils in and out of school and the way in which we encourage them to apply their knowledge creatively
Challenge = The high standards we set in all areas of the curriculum, through knowledge learning and high levels of cultural literacy.
Our curriculum is also designed to exemplify the cooperative and ethical values of The Aylsham Cluster Trust.
Self-Help: We help our learners to help themselves by teaching them effective learning strategies based on cognitive science. We encourage a good attitude to learning and promote effort and hard work as being key to success. Pupils have access to each subject’s core knowledge to practise and learn. We also give pupils different ways to access and practice retrieving core knowledge (Pupil Planners, TT Rockstars and Quizlet for instance). Across the curriculum, we provide regular opportunities for pupils to critique and develop each other’s work. Pupils also work towards publishing work for an end of year exhibition for parents and carer’s. This provides a real world situation for re-drafting and improving work. Critiquing and exhibitions follow our CPD on the work of Ron Berger in ‘Ethic of Excellence’. Pastorally, we help pupils to help themselves by teaching them life skills such as first aid, cookery, mindfulness and how to interact socially.
Self-responsibility: Our curriculum promotes and supports self-responsibility through activities such as; mixed age circle meetings where all pupils come together to learn about and discuss world issues, for example, pollution and refugees as well as significant people, for example Shakespeare and Rosa Parks. They are also used for school issues, for example class behaviour, safeguarding, to ensure our pupils have a voice. Our pupil leaders system is also a huge part of encouraging pupils to take responsibility for their curriculum (amongst other things), with pupils such as English Leaders and Head Librarians shaping the content of our library.
Democracy: There are many opportunities for our pupils to learn about democracy as well as have a say in how our school is run. Perhaps the most significant is our School Council. Elections with manifestos and ballots are carried out each year to elect two council members from each class. The school council meets fortnightly to discuss issues raised by their classes, themselves or members of the teaching staff. They affect real change in many areas including curriculum. An example being a recent pupil survey enquiring about pupil’s perceptions of levels of challenge in the classroom and areas covered in the curriculum, which will lead to adaptations in lessons.
Equality: Our curriculum approach no longer favours differentiated learning groups. Through initiatives such as Maths Mastery and Whole Class guided reading, all pupils, irrespective of any pupils group they may belong to (SEN, EAL, LAC PP), have access to high challenge and vocabulary in all lessons. Support and extension in many forms is then provided as necessary.
Equity: As shown in the above section our curriculum is completely inclusive. In addition, we celebrate diversity through offering a range of areas and styles of learning, to allow all pupils to find their strength or passion. This is also demonstrated in the texts and topics chosen in different subject areas and through assembly and family learning themes. Our PSHE curriculum, which runs through all we do, is being redesigned to take into account the more modern day issues our pupils come across, such as cyber-bullying, self-harm and gender identification. As a staff we reflect weekly, in staff meetings, on how our curriculum has provided opportunities for SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social Cultural) that week.
Solidarity: Our curriculum is designed, maintained and updated alongside colleagues from both AHS and JoG. Through cluster networks our staff have opportunities to work alongside staff from other cluster schools. The sharing of best practice helps to raise standards across all TACT schools.
Honesty: Curriculum design decisions are made by all staff based on the best interests of the pupils and at all times supports pupils to understand the importance of doing what is right and admitting when we have got it wrong.
Openess: As outlined in the self-Help section above, critiquing, re-drafting and learning from our mistakes form part of subjects across our whole curriculum. As a staff we open about the mistakes we make and how this helps us to improve. As a school we are open to trying new things. Our Performance Development cycle encourages teachers lead action research projects or teaching and learning trials.
Caring for Others: Our pastoral curriculum, our mixed-age circle meetings (see section on self-responsibility) as well as our relationship-based PSHE curriculum RSE offer and RE curriculum, at all times promote an ethos of caring for others - from the school environment to the local area and the wider world.
A whole school curriculum overview showing areas covered in each subject in each year group is available.
Each year group has their own twitter feed to share our wonderful curriculum work with others.
There are also:
Texts (all available to borrow from our CPD library in room 9)
Trivium 21C – Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric by Martin Robinson
‘The Learning Rainforest’ by Tom Sherrington
‘Why Students Don’t Like School’ by Daniel Willingham
‘The Knowledge Deficit’ by E.D. Hirsch
‘Making Good Progress’ by Daisy Christodoulou
‘Closing the Vocabulary Gap’ by Alex Quigley
‘Bringing Words to Life’ by Beck, McKeown, Kucan
‘Creating Robust Vocabulary’ Beck, McKeown, Kucan
‘What Does This look like in my Classroom?’ by Carl Hendrick and Robin MacPherson
‘Reading Reconsidered’ by Doug Lemov
‘Writing Revolution’ by Hochman, Wexler
‘Memorable teaching’ by Peps Mccrea
‘Making It Stick’ by Brown, Rodiger, McDanial
‘Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn’ by John Hattie & Gregory Yates
‘Practice Perfect’ by Lemov, Woolway, Yezzi
Blogs and Twitter:
Jon Brunskill – @jon_brunskill. Blog: That Boy Can Teach
Tom Sherrington’s blog : Teacher head – in particular a post named: ‘What is a knowledge-rich curriculum? Principle and Practice.’