KS1 & KS2 Knowledge Curriculum
The St Thomas' Curriculum
Through collaboration with our school community, we devised our curriculum intent statement. This statement underpins our curriculum and encompasses everything we aspire to achieve by the time our pupils leave us at St Thomas'.
Through our rich and balanced academic curriculum, we aim to broaden horizons and open doors to all that life has to offer, allowing our children to experience life in all its fullness.
With a rigorous and progressive knowledge-based curriculum, our pupils will leave St Thomas’ with the extensive knowledge and thinking skills needed to enable them to lead fulfilling lives with the highest of aspirations. Our ethos of excellence permeates our whole curriculum, inspiring our pupils to be the very best version of themselves.
Reading and vocabulary are at the heart of our curriculum, enabling our pupils with the keys needed to unlock their future successes.
We believe that a rich, academic curriculum and a wealth of life experiences go hand in hand. Therefore, through our curriculum, we will open our pupils’ eyes to the world around them by offering valuable and inspirational opportunities. We want our pupils to experience life outside of their own locality and to understand the diversity of the world in which we live: opening their eyes to the endless possibilities of the lives that lay ahead of them.
Our core Christian Values underpin our whole curriculum, allowing our children to develop the moral compass required to make positive choices in life.
A Knowledge Curriculum
Our school has introduced an innovative new curriculum based on the Core Knowledge Sequence, developed by ED Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Foundation
What Is a knowledge curriculum?
It is a carefully sequenced, knowledge-rich curriculum which aims to inspire pupils and promote excellent outcomes for all. The curriculum content has been carefully chosen by subject experts and is organised in a coherent way, ensuring children can build on their knowledge from year to year. In this way, the knowledge in the curriculum is cumulative, constructing firm foundations from which children can progress and develop deeper conceptual understanding and subject-specific skills over time. Curriculum coherence ensures that teaching does not jump from topic to topic, but enables children to develop knowledge over time, as well as a love of subjects. Subject content is crucial to this approach- the rich content of the curriculum inspires children and plants the seeds for a lifetime of learning. Our Core Knowledge Curriculum at our school prepares our pupils for moving on to our secondary school and for leading their lives as citizens in modern Britain.
What does the knowledge curriculum look like at St Thomas?
Our children will be immersed in rich knowledge from the onset of their history, geography and art lessons, with a focus on vocabulary. Every lesson will begin with retrieval of previous knowledge to ensure that children remember what has been previously taught, as what has not been remembered, has not been learned. In every lesson, children will build upon their knowledge from previous lessons and even previous year groups! Children will gain rich and challenging knowledge throughout the lesson with opportunities to work independently and apply their understanding, often making their own links across the curriculum. Every history, geography and art lesson follows the same structure so our children are used to the routines and expectations of every lesson.
Our knowledge lesson structure:
Children will take part in a short, independent task where they will be required to retrieve previously gained knowledge. The children may have acquired this knowledge in a previous lesson, unit of work or even a previous year group. This task is designed to strengthen our pupils memories of key knowledge, enabling them to permanently remember and make progress across the curriculum.
Children will be introduced to key vocabulary (STAR words) at the beginning of the lesson. Children will be challenged to learn the meaning of these words and apply them correctly during the lesson. Teachers will provide children with actions to match each of these words, to support the children in remembering them.
The teacher will share the core knowledge for the lesson with the children. This is an opportunity for children to listen to and understand the new information.
Children will work with a partner to complete a short task or discuss new information. This could be anything from locating a country in an atlas to debating a point of view. Children will be expected to apply their understanding of the new information taught (they may even use the STAR words!).
The children will now work independently on a task. This is often a written task which will require the children to apply everything they have learned. The children may also demonstrate newly acquired skills in this part of the lesson.
In every lesson, our children will read. The reading can be incorporated into any aspect of the lesson. Children will read a range of texts, from online blogs to information texts! We believe reading is the key to all learning, so have therefore made reading a priority in every lesson.
Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) and Key stage 2 (Years 3 to 6)
In Key Stages 1 and 2, we teach daily English, Mathematics and Reading lessons. In addition to these core elements of the curriculum, we use our Core Knowledge Curriculum specifically to teach Geography, History and Visual Arts. You can find out more about the content of each of these areas, in each year group page (click here). Our pupils take enormous pride in their learning and in the presentation of their work; this is supported by daily Handwriting lessons. Lessons start promptly at 9.00am and finish at 3.30pm (Reception 3.20pm, Year 1 and Year 2 3.25pm).
This is the first year of school for primary pupils and it is also known as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). At our school, the curriculum for Reception pupils is based on the DfE statutory framework for the EYFS framework which comprises of seven key learning areas. The Prime Areas of learning are Communication and Language, Physical Development, and Personal, Social and Emotional Development. There are also four Specific Areas, which are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and Expressive Arts and Design. In addition to this framework, we prepare our pupils for the Core Knowledge Curriculum by introducing a variety of important knowledge-based topics in Reception. This means that our Reception pupils learn about notable events, people and places. We have the highest aspirations for all our pupils and the children rise to this challenge.
This is a central part of every pupil’s life at our school and is at the heart of our curriculum; every child in our school is a reader and so are their teachers. From Reception we teach our pupils to read through the use of the Letters and Sounds (supplemented with Jolly Phonics) phonics programme, which you can find out more about here. Our pupils in Reception and Year 1 receive daily dedicated phonics instruction, which is usually around 30 minutes. When pupils complete our phonics programme, they move on to a focused spelling programme that will further enhance their reading ability.
All year groups in our school have a daily Whole Class Guided Reading lesson. Throughout the week, pupils develop different reading skills which we refer to as VIPERS (Vocabulary, Infer, Predict, Explain, Retrieve and Summarise) and they also read with their class teacher and/or teaching assistant. All pupils take home reading books each week (which are matched to their individual reading ability), which we ask them to read to their parents or carers. It is our expectation that pupils aim to read daily at home and should read at least five times a week. We use a reading incentive in school to encourage frequent reading.
As well as developing confident readers, we also want our children to cultivate a love of reading. We use a programme of study called 'The Power of Reading' which uses high quality literature at the heart of all our English lessons.
We are fortunate to have a number of volunteers who read with our pupils, one to one. All our volunteers receive DBS clearnace before they can work with our pupils.
The school hosts regular Reading Mornings (every half term), where parents and carers come into school to read books in class with their child and their child’s friends.
Through PTA funding, we have a beautiful whole school library called 'The Deep Dark Woods'. Children can access the library throughout the week, during lunchtimes, and borrow books to take home.
We have a passion for high standards in Mathematics and believe that all pupils can become excellent mathematicians. Mathematics is taught daily throughout our school. We have adopted the Singapore Maths approach to mathematical development and our teachers are trained to a high standard to deliver this approach. Singapore Maths is a teaching method that encourages pupils to master mathematical concepts in greater detail and it does this by using a three-step learning process. The three steps are: concrete, pictorial, and abstract. In the concrete step, pupils engage in hands-on learning experiences using concrete objects such as cubes and place value apparatus. This is followed by looking at, or creating pictorial representations of mathematical concepts; children will then 'journal' (record) their ideas. Pupils will then move on to solve mathematical problems in an abstract way, by using numbers and symbols; this is recorded in a textbook. These three steps are included in every lesson we teach and we believe that this contextualised learning is the key to a deeper mathematical understanding for our pupils.
Method and process are equally as important as the answer. We ensure that our pupils have a bank of strategies and the mental fluency to confidently solve mathematical problems in a range of contexts. We encourage our pupils to explain their methods, talk to each other about how they solved a problem and find relationships and patterns in their processes and solutions. Mathematical vocabulary is at the heart of each of our lessons; ensuring pupils understand and use the correct terminology in order to communicate confidently in a shared mathematical language. Pupils also work in mixed-ability groups, giving every pupil the opportunity to challenge themselves and extend their own thinking. A strong relationship between conceptual understanding and procedural fluency are key for pupils to truly gain ‘mastery’. In order to extend, we believe in deepening thinking within the area of study, rather than accelerating onto the next topic. To deepen knowledge and understanding, we ask questions such as: How did you get that answer? Can you prove it to me? What strategy did you use? Is there another way? Can you show me?
It is the expectation that children are able to confidently recall all the multiplication facts up to 12 x 12 by the end of Year 4. Children learn strategies for multiplication throughout their mathematics lessons. We also use Time Table Rock Stars, an online resource (available to use at home), which encourages children to practise their knowledge and improve their speed and accuracy.
We believe that Mathematics is an essential tool for life. We strive to develop great mathematicians, who use their fluency, reasoning and problem solving skills with confidence, throughout their school career and into their adult life.
Extra-curricular Activities and Educational Visits
We offer a range of additional activities to support our curriculum and we have a planned sequence of educational visits and experience from Reception to Year 6 which included standing in a river, climbing a mountain and visiting museums and galleries. We believe that making the extra effort to provide a range of experiences will stimulate pupils’ interest, knowledge and passion in the subjects we are teaching them. We offer a variety of after school clubs, from 3.30pm to 4.30pm, which are delivered by our staff. These clubs change each term and include choir, sports, arts & crafts and reading. There are opportunities to attend these clubs free of charge. External providers (including NRG) also offer classes in football and fencing and these have a charge. We have our own After School and Breakfast Club facilities (called NRG Club), please click here for more information. Among the many other activities, extra reading is encouraged during the after school club. These sessions are provided free of charge for children who receive pupil premium funding.