Langley Mill Academy Curriculum
A contextualised, coherent, knowledge-rich curriculum with reading and values at its heart
At Langley Mill Academy, our curriculum is underpinned by current research and has been specifically built on the essential base-knowledge from the National Curriculum, to ensure the needs and interests of all our children are addressed and identified barriers of learning from within our community are met. An ambitious, aspirational curriculum will open doors for the future success of all of our children to fulfil their potential through purposeful and rich learning that broadens their perspective on life. For any further information on the curriculum please contact the school here.
Vocabulary Rich: Vocabulary plays a fundamental role in communication and the reading process: it is critical to reading comprehension. We know that our pupils require a curriculum that provides explicit instruction in vocabulary, to support their verbal and written communication allowing all students to access technical language in wider curriculum subjects and facilitate their comprehension of increasingly complex texts. We have designed our curriculum to ensure that vocabulary is taught & learnt as essential knowledge by ensuring the following:
- Each enquiry is driven by a high-quality text, read to the pupils as a class novel. The books are selected to reinforce our school values or to give knowledge and purpose to the enquiry and provide stimulus for linked English teaching and outcomes.
- Daily 'Themed reading' lessons provide linked reading themes, to pre-teach and embed vocabulary within and across texts, as well as embedding and expanding knowledge in other curriculum areas.
- Explicit teaching of new vocabulary as 'sticky knowledge' that is required to answer a 'sticky knowledge question' which allows us to infuse rich and sophisticated vocabulary from Year Three to Year Six into all areas of the curriculum.
- Using the classroom environment to showcase key vocabulary on enquiry 'working walls' which display and share work that pupils have produced. We dual code vocabulary with images and its sign in British Sign Language. This helps us to infuse rich and sophisticated vocabulary from Year Three to Year Six into all areas of the curriculum.
- 'Knowledge Organisers' are used as working documents throughout the enquiry theme. They include the ten sticky knowledge questions, vocabulary for driver and enhancer subjects, which pupils must define, and a selection of supporting visuals.
- Reading is interweaved into all aspects of the enquiry to encourage reading and language development and promote reading for pleasure, with '100 books' to read in each year group identified.
Experiential: We ensure that all children gain a wealth of experience beyond the learning in the classroom. We want our wider curriculum to inspire children to want to learn more, to provoke curiosity and to create experiences that are memorable. It is the experiential knowledge that we must foremost consider when planning our units of work and lessons so that we provide pupils with real experiences to blend with their knowledge. It also enables our pupils with Special Educational Needs & disabilities full access to our curriculum: we know that every lesson within subject disciplines must not be based around PowerPoint presentations and written outcomes.
Aspirational to empower: We design our lessons so that pupils can achieve success and move toward deeper understanding, and teachers plan for these opportunities. An authentic outcome, including being able to answer the 'big question' at the end of each enquiry, encourages children to take pride in their learning & success. Current affairs, British Values and spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC) are taught throughout our curriculum and the academic year; every term pupils will be read one 'values based' class novel. As a result of this, our children recognise the impact that 'living our values' has: they develop understanding of the world and know that they are empowered to play a part in changing it for the better.
Meaningful: Our learning at Langley Mill Academy is purposeful and children know that what they learn will have an impact. Our curriculum reinforces our school values and British Values. Pupils learn how these values have become embedded in our way of life. Termly 'Learning Looks' with parents encourage the sharing of learning to all stakeholders and the pupils recognise that their learning matters. The knowledge and skills taught have a clear progression through the use of our progression planning documents ensuring that the learning builds upon what has been previously taught, allowing children to embed knowledge by creating schemas and transferring their ‘sticky’ knowledge to their long-term memory.
We recognise that knowledge matters: the more children know, the more they can learn. We have thought carefully about designing a knowledge-rich curriculum and the types of knowledge that our curriculum must deliver:
- Substantive knowledge: The key facts that we want our children to know and recall – we call this 'sticky knowledge' because it is the acquired knowledge our children will always remember and build upon.
- Disciplinary knowledge: The knowledge of how we know and the methods that are used to establish substantive facts.
- Procedural knowledge: The things we want our pupils to be able to do – we can refer to these as skills or the ability to perform.
- Experiential knowledge: The knowledge that can only be gained through first-hand experience – we consider this to be experiences such as feeling the repelling force of magnets, the momentum of a basketball or the sensation of power when observing a working water wheel. We recognise that children cannot gain this knowledge through classroom based learning only. Therefore, we have carefully mapped experiences and visits to support our wider curriculum.
Key Knowledge: Ensuring progression
We know that our children need a curriculum that embeds knowledge to be remembered – not merely encountered – and that feeding previous topics into current topics, supported by practice and retrieval strategies, is essential to our pupils accumulating substantive knowledge over time. We have designed our curriculum so pupils can make meaningful links across the knowledge they learn in subjects. We have considered the disciplinary knowledge of the subjects we teach and what it means to work as a designer or a historian.
Curriculum Overview: Discrete subjects & learning through questions
We recognise that tenuous links between subjects can undermine the integrity of disciplines; therefore we have chosen to teach all subjects discretely, whilst also recognising opportunities for meaningful connections, for example in the development of British Values when studying Ancient Greece:
We have planned and mapped sequences of lessons from our Key Knowledge Progression Documents (KKPD) which ensure knowledge to be learnt is sequenced and progressive throughout Years 3 -6. All subjects ae discretely taught ad timetabled weekly, except for History & Geography which are taught through an enquiry approach.
Our enquiry-question based strategy, which requires pupils to embed knowledge to answer questions, takes children on a journey of memorable and meaningful learning culminating in authentic outcomes - which leave a legacy. We have designed an enquiry question, within themes for each term, that introduces pupils to their history & geography enquiries.
Every week, within a term, will have a 'sticky knowledge' question that all pupils will learn to answer. Teacher's medium term planning, detailing the ten questions, will use our Key Knowledge Progression Documents to build knowledge across a topic and relate back to prior learning in order to form a fully cohesive unit of learning, which will be assessed through the ten sticky knowledge questions. Tier 3 vocabulary will be taught, acquired & then required to answer the sticky knowledge question.
We display the ten questions in every classroom and add work and comments as pupils move through the sequence of learning. We quiz our pupils on these questions during the term, checking at the mid-point that pupils have acquired and retained knowledge from the first five weeks. This allows teachers to assess for learning, and adapt teaching if required.
We base our enquiry questions around three themes (one per term) every year, throughout Key Stage 2:
Autumn- We want our children to learn about the world that they have come from and how British Values shape us and have been shaped by our history.
Spring - We want our children to learn about the world around them, how the world affects humans and how humans affect the world.
Summer - We want our children to learn about changes through history, around the world and their local community which today influences their lives.
A curriculum with reading at its heart
We recognise that fluency in the core subjects, with a carefully designed reading curriculum at the heart, enables all pupils to become confident, competent readers. We have considered carefully how we structure and teach our lessons, enabling all children to acquire vocabulary, through rich, diverse experiences and reading experiences which fire imaginations. Teachers plan linked, themed reading which both develops pupils’ fluency in reading and their knowledge of a subject: the two are mutually reinforcing.
English, as a subject, will be taught discretely. However we recognise and plan for meaningful links so that pupils' reading and writing opportunities may also link to their curriculum enquiry theme. We have identified up to two supporting class novels per term to support the wider-curriculum and enquiry questions. Additional, daily, themed reading lessons, can also support the wider-curriculum, and teachers identify these opportunities in their medium term planning. We have also ensured that our '100 books' to read in each year group contain wider-curriculum supporting novels and non-fiction materials.
Think Deep: Home Learning Discovery Task
We have designed 'Knowledge Organisers' that pupils use as working documents throughout their enquiry theme. It includes the ten sticky knowledge questions, vocabulary for driver and enhancer subjects, and a selection of supporting visuals. A key component of the Knowledge Organiser is the 'Home Learning Discovery Task' which is set to the children at the mid-point of the enquiry, in week 5. This is an opportunity for pupils to pursue further learning at home from three suggested points of enquiry or tasks, in which they will be thinking deeply about a particular subject area and working creatively to produce a quality piece of homework. This work will be valued in school and displayed alongside our classroom enquiry display.
Working at Greater Depth
It can be hard to identify a greater depth pupil in history as mastery in history does not look like mastery in maths. It does not simply mean knowing more about a topic. Greater depth in history has several characteristics:
Independence & Confidence: Pupils show initiative in research but also in applying ideas that have already been covered. They can make links without teacher input and are not fazed by a puzzle or a paradox, they look for different ways to find an answer.
Application: Pupils can apply their thinking to a range of different periods across history to make links and comparisons and also to different areas of the curriculum e.g. geography, mathematics.
Authority: Pupils can evaluate and critique others’ work, showing a strong understanding of the topic in order to do so.
Command & Connect: Pupils can organise and synthesise lots of different information and bring them into a coherent shape e.g to prove a theory or to answer an enquiry question from all angles.
Revisiting: Pupils can make connections over time e.g comparing Anglo-Saxon towns studied in year 4 to Victorian towns studied in year 5.
Explanation: Pupils can explain to others as an expert, either verbally or via presenting information in written form.
As part of the curriculum we also use the Djanogly Dozen – twelve opportunities that we believe every pupil should experience whilst a pupil at Langley Mill Academy. This includes a visit to the seaside, growing our own food, star gazing, a night away from home and a visit to London. All pupils are provided with a Djanogly Dozen Passport on entry in which they can record their experiences.
The theme of values is continually built upon and developed within our curriculum. British values are planned for through our Key Knowledge Progression and our English Curriculum ensures pupils share a class novel reading book that fosters and explores our school values every term.
We have tailored the implementation of our curriculum to ensure that it meets the needs of all learners whatever their starting point may be. We recognise that some of our children have significant barriers to learning, whether they be physical, emotional, social or cognitive and we work hard to ensure that these barriers are removed or their impact lessened.
English and mathematics are taught daily. Children take part in themed reading sessions and listen to the class novel daily. Individual reading is also completed – the frequency is based on a need basis. Phonics, where needed, is taught daily via targeted interventions. Spelling is taught weekly.
Dedicated lessons in PE are taught twice a week, BSL and science once a week, RE, RSHE and computing weekly or for an extended lesson once a fortnight.
The three themes teach the skills and knowledge of the history, geography, design and technology, and the art & design curriculum. These topics have links to Values for Life in Modern Britain, outdoor learning, the Djanogly Dozen and offsite learning. They are taught throughout the term several times a week grouped by teachers either by subject, or theme where appropriate.
Theme days are marked and celebrated each term such as online safety, Show Racism the Red card, Anti-Bullying and Children in Need.
We measure the impact of our curriculum using a variety of methods to build a balanced and broad overview:
- Attainment and achievement outcomes
- Standard of learning in books evidencing pupils end points
- Pupil voice
- Destination data
- Attendance data
- Behaviour data
- Parent / Carer learning looks, voice & surveys
Our children have a broad, balanced, relevant and rich curriculum that develops their knowledge, skills and experiences to thrive as lifelong reflective learners. Our children have the strategies that they need to facilitate their own learning and achieve their full potential in the next phase of their education. They feel empowered, have high self-confidence, are able to follow areas of interest and have the skills and disposition to thrive in the challenging global environment of the 21st century.
The social and moral threads in our curriculum and our school values that run throughout our school life result in children recognising that they can make a change in communities and help others. Our children’s vocabulary significantly increases and high-quality work displays echoes progress for all learners throughout school.