St. Paul's Catholic Junior School
At St. Paul’s Catholic Junior School, everything that we do centres around our Mission Statement:
‘Learning from the example of Jesus, our school will be a place where everyone feels loved, valued and encouraged to be and do the best they can.’
We live out this mission statement through developing an ethos and curriculum that encourages our children to be kind, be respectful and be resilient. As a Catholic school, we believe that fostering a knowledge of Christ and nurturing the spiritual, personal, moral and cultural development of our children is fundamental to all that we do.
Our curriculum model uses the National Curriculum as its foundation, promoting our core values of kindness, respectfulness and resilience wherever possible. At St. Paul’s, we want all of our children to become independent, active, responsible, articulate and confident citizens of the future. To do this, we aim for our curriculum to be both knowledge and humanity rich. Our approach has been developed in partnership with the Ignite project and is largely based on the research of Dorothy Heathcote and her ‘continuum of engagement’.
We aim for children not to be content with merely being engaged in their curriculum. We want each child to be actively invested in his or her curriculum, encouraging a ‘botheredness’ mindset around learning, which is particularly created by using narratives where applicable within the wider curriculum. As the cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham has stated, ‘stories are psychologically privileged’, allowing better retention of knowledge within our long term memory.
1 ‘Dorothy Heathcote’s Continuum of Engagement’ adapted from Mantle of the Expert PSLN Took Kit.
2 Willingham, ‘Ask the Cognitive Scientist’
Linking in with this, Oracy runs as a thread through the curriculum. Research has shown a language and communication deficit for some children, particularly children from low income households. Our curriculum aims to be talk and vocabulary rich to help counter this. Talk can also foster empathy and understanding, which again contributes to our ‘knowledge and humanity rich’ curriculum approach,
Our curriculum seeks to provide our young learners with the knowledge contained in the National Curriculum and then apply it in order to make a difference to their own lives, in their community and in their world. Our twice yearly Ignite link projects, based on social justice and conservation, provide opportunities for us to inspire our children to use their skills and their voices to create change for good in their own lives, in their communities and in the world.
Throughout all of our learning and application of that learning, we promote a growth mindset approach. We aim to encourage resilience amongst our pupils, an ‘I can…’ attitude which perseveres when challenges are faced.
Our school’s curriculum is planned and sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before. We recognise that new learning is fragile, so our approach is both generative and ‘sticky’, enabling our pupils to make links between new and existing knowledge to aid long term retention.
Subject co-ordinators map out progressive curriculum coverage and year group specific long term curriculum maps identify when the different subjects and topics will be taught across the academic year. Most subjects are taught discretely, but staff make meaningful links across subjects to deepen children’s learning. The Adrift refugee project and Chester Zoo conservation project, at the end of the Spring and Summer terms respectively, provide opportunities for children to apply their prior knowledge and understanding by actively engaging with real life issues.
We apply a range of strategies within our lessons to enable the children to become invested in their education, again following the Heathcote model. Dilemma led learning, drama and ‘mantle of the expert’ are all selectively used by teaching staff to provide a purpose for curriculum learning. We are also beginning to develop Oracy within our school (in conjunction with Voice 21) as a way of enabling all children to develop confidence about their own opinions and eloquence in expressing them. We promote quality talk using Voice 21 strategies and encourage our pupils to reflect upon and evaluate their views and those of others concerning themselves, their community and the world. We have the expectation that this will also improve wider academic outcomes.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Vocabulary development is integral to all of our teaching. It is progressively built up across lesson sequences and is evident in displays around the school. A range of quality texts and sources also help to enrich the children’s learning experience.
Personal, social and emotional development is taught both in discrete lessons and also through assemblies, as we seek to develop the whole child. British Values are addressed through PSHE but are also referenced where applicable across the curriculum. Sport has always played a very important role in the life of St. Paul’s, and we promote a healthy and active lifestyle for our pupils.
Communication Trust, ‘Talking about a Generation’ (2017)
As a school we continually invest heavily in CPD around the curriculum for our teachers. We seek to enhance teaching skills and strategies to help raise standards across the full breadth of the curriculum. Our monitoring cycle is set out at the start of each academic year. Monitoring includes book scrutinies, lesson observations, learning walks and pupil voice surveys. All monitoring undertaken helps to improve our practice, with the aim of bettering the outcomes for our pupils.
Formative assessment takes place in every lesson. Our use of live marking and verbal feedback enables teachers to target next steps for pupils effectively, and opportunities for children to review and improve their learning are embedded into lessons.
Currently, the curriculum is assessed against key end of year statements using the following categories: working towards the expected level; at the expected level and above the expected level. We are moving away from yearly key assessments and instead assessments will take place at the end of subject specific units within each year group, based upon the objectives that have been covered.
Our curriculum aims: