Intent, Implementation and Impact Statement
At Meopham Community Academy, we are committed to providing a curriculum that is broad and balanced, and provides our pupils with opportunities to gain essential knowledge, skills and understanding. We want all children to enjoy their learning, achieve their potential and become independent life-long learners. We will aim high, striving for every child to achieve more than they thought possible. Our curriculum will nurture curious minds, stretch the imagination and provide opportunities for every child to discover their particular talents. We believe that education should take place in a fully inclusive environment with equal opportunities for all where children feel safe to try new things.
Every child is recognised as a unique individual. We celebrate and welcome differences within our school community. Our whole school values of Respect, Integrity, Resilience, Equality and Aspiration and our motto of ‘Enjoy, Learn, Aspire’, drive our curriculum and everything that we do.
‘Enjoy’ is to provide our pupils with an engaging, bespoke curriculum which fosters a desire to keep learning because “education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire” aiming to build positive memories and become life-long learners.
‘Learn’ is to ensure that all of our pupils, irrespective of background or needs, successfully reach their academic goals through high quality teaching, hard work, determination and persistence.
'Aspire’ to ignite our pupils with dreams and aspirations that they know are within their reach. To have high aspirations for their future and know all of the available opportunities open to them
- Curriculum drivers shape our curriculum breadth. They are derived from an exploration of the backgrounds of our students, our beliefs about high-quality education and our values. They are used to ensure we give our students appropriate and ambitious curriculum opportunities.
- Cultural capital gives our students the vital background knowledge required to be informed and thoughtful members of our community who understand and believe in British values.
- Curriculum breadth is shaped by our curriculum drivers, cultural capital, subject topics and our ambition for students to study the best of what has been thought and said by many generations of academics and scholars.
- Our curriculum distinguishes between subject topics and threshold concepts. Subject topics are the specific aspects of subjects that are studied.
- Threshold concepts tie together the subject topics into meaningful schema. The same concepts are explored in a wide breadth of topics. Through this ‘forwards-and-backwards engineering’ of the curriculum, students return to the same concepts over and over, and gradually build understanding of them.
- For each of the threshold concepts, three milestones (each of which includes the procedural and semantic knowledge students need to understand the threshold concepts) provide a progression model.
- Knowledge categories in each subject give students a way of expressing their understanding of the threshold concepts.
- Knowledge webs help students to relate each topic to previously studied topics and to form strong, meaningful schema.
- Cognitive science tells us that working memory is limited and that cognitive load is too high if students are rushed through content. This limits the acquisition of long-term memory. Cognitive science also tells us that in order for students to become creative thinkers, or have a greater depth of understanding, they must first master the basics, which takes time.
- Within each milestone, students gradually progress in their procedural fluency and semantic strength through three cognitive domains: basic, advancing and deep. The goal for students is to display sustained mastery at the advancing stage of understanding by the end of each milestone and for the most able to have a greater depth of understanding at the deep stage. The timescale for sustained mastery or greater depth is, therefore, two years of study.
- As part of our progression model we use a different pedagogical style in each of the cognitive domains of basic, advancing and deep. This is based on the research of Sweller, Kirschner and Rosenshine who argue for direct instruction in the early stages of learning and discovery-based approaches later. We use direct instruction in the basic domain and problem-based discovery in the deep domain. This is called the reversal effect.
- Also, as part of our progression model, we use POP tasks (Proof of Progress) which show our curriculum expectations in each cognitive domain.
Our coherently planned academic curriculum, underpinned by our curriculum drivers and our academic curriculum, sets out:
- a clear list of the breadth of topics that will be covered;
- the ‘threshold concepts’ pupils should understand;
- criteria for progression within the threshold concepts;
- criteria for depth of understanding.
The diagram below shows the model of our curriculum structure:
The curriculum breadth for each year group ensures each teacher has clarity as to what to cover. As well as providing the key knowledge within subjects it also provides for pupils’ growing cultural capital.
Phase one (Years 1, 3 and 5) in a milestone is the knowledge building phase that provides the fundamental foundations for later application. Learning at this stage must not be rushed and will involve a high degree of repetition so that knowledge enters pupil’ long-term memory. More Able pupils may begin developing an advancing understanding of a milestone in phase one.
- Basic (B) – ‘Acquiring’ skills: name, describe, follow instructions, complete tasks, recall information, ask basic questions, use, match, report, measure, list, illustrate, label, recognise, tell, repeat, arrange, define, memorise.
- Advancing (A) – ‘Practising’ skills: apply skills to solve problem, explain methods, classify, infer, categorise, identify patterns, organise, modify, predict, interpret, summarise, make observations, estimate, compare.
- Deep (D) – ‘Deepening understanding’ of the skills: solve non-routine problems, appraise, explain concepts, hypothesise, investigate, cite evidence, design, create, prove.
Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:
- Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.
- Interleaving helps students to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention
- Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
In addition to the three principles, we also understand that learning is invisible in the short term and that sustained mastery takes time. Our content is subject specific. We make intra-curricular links to strengthen schema.
The impact of our curriculum is that by the end of each milestone, the vast majority of pupils have sustained mastery of the content, that is, they remember it all and are fluent in it; some pupils have a greater depth of understanding. Pupils’ have developed a connected understanding of our curriculum content.
Through the explicit teaching, both the teachers and the pupils assess their learning continuously throughout the lesson. At the end of the unit, pupils reflect on their knowledge and understanding by looking back at the big question for the term. Our assessment systems enable teachers to make informed judgements about the depth of their learning and the progress they have made over time.