At Bure Valley, we provide a broad and balanced curriculum, which allows our pupils to leave us having acquired a secure base of knowledge and a strong level of cultural literacy in all primary curriculum subjects. All whilst enjoying a range of first hand experiences both in and out of school.
We believe that we are all empowered through knowing things, and that in creating a curriculum which is knowledge-rich we will provide all Bure Valley pupils with a solid foundation.
Colleagues achieve this through regular, research driven CPD on how children learn and the importance of a knowledge-rich curriculum, as well as via links with other colleagues in the federation and cluster.
Particular curriculum strengths for us as a school 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 130 year 5 and 6 pupils play as an orchestra, in front of an audience of their friends and family. To our knowledge, this is the largest non-auditioned KS2 orchestra in the country.
- Sport: pupils in all year groups participate in a range of competitive sports against other schools in the cluster and across Norfolk. Last year 58% of pupils represented the school in a sporting activity of some kind. 68% of pupils worked with specialist sports coaches. Both of these are funded through our sports premium funding.
Each subject has a dedicated subject leader. 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. Our approach is beginning to build in spaced retrieval practice, low-stakes testing and lots of repeated practice through drilling. This is our main area for improvement in curriculum this year.
This will then allow us to continue to build our curriculum to create one which is optimally sequenced and built upon as the pupils move through the school.
All core knowledge 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 will also create, this year, core knowledge organisers for all subjects. These will be documents which pupils will be able to use to keep track of the knowledge they need and how they are doing in terms of learning it.
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.
A great strength of our curriculum provision at BVS 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 other schools in the cluster and county. Colleagues from other schools are asking for us to share our work, particularly around core knowledge and assessment of non-core subjects, with them.
In music, we form part (and indeed host) the cluster orchestra and have been praised by the Norfolk music hub for our provision.
In RE, we have been highly involved in the creation and implementation of The Inspired Classrooms curriculum, used across the county.
Our curriculum is enhanced by termly family learning days, organised in conjunction with the federation team. 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 and will this year see a local author and storyteller coming in to work with families.
Other features of our broad and balanced curriculum include, first aid training for every pupil in the school from the Emergency First Responders team. Regular visits to Tesco 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.
As a school our curriculum is also enhanced by our active Friends association. This link allows our pupils to work together to raise money for our school and other great causes, thus providing them with a strong sense of global and local responsibility.
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.
It is also designed to exemplify the cooperative and ethical values of The Aylsham Cluster Trust.
Self-Help: We help our learners to help themselves through such means as; having access to each subject’s core knowledge to practise and learn for themselves outside of school. We provide them with tools to do this such as; apps (TT Rockstars and Quizlet) and their personal planners, which contain all English and maths core knowledge. Across the curriculum, we provide regular opportunities for pupils to critique each other’s work to help with learning. Pupils also work towards an end of academic year exhibition for parents and carer’s. This provides a real world situation for re-drafting work. Critiquing and exhibitions follow our CPD on the work of Ron Berger in ‘Ethic of Excellence’. As a group of colleagues, we are working on creating knowledge organisers for each subject to allow this to expand further. Pastorally, we help pupils to help themselves by teaching them life skills such as 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. As previously mentioned, we are being asked by other schools in the cluster and beyond to share our curriculum design and core knowledge ideas and philosophy, which we are always happy to share.
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.
Caring for Others: Our pastoral curriculum, our mixed-age circle meetings (see section on self-responsibility) as well as our relationship-based PSHE curriculum 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:
@BVSYear_sports @BVSYear_STEM and the main school feed @BureValleySch.
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.’