Fundamental principles of teaching and learning at Southville Primary School
Our ambitious curriculum aims to excite and engage all children in their learning as well enabling them to make excellent progress in their academic and personal development. The following principles underpin teaching and learning at our school:
- Provides challenge at all levels
- Is accessible to all children
- Is current, relevant and inspiring, promoting a sense of ‘wow!’
- Engages children in knowing about people, places, ideas and their history and how all these have contributed to the way the world is now
- Prepares children for being responsible local and global citizens
- Teaches children about their rights and responsibilities
- Promotes a sense of wellbeing and teaches children to recognise, name and communicate their feelings
- Gives children the chance to develop informed opinions and communicate them to others
- Develops fluent readers who are able to access the breadth of the curriculum and benefit from rich reading capital
- Provides a clear progression model, supporting the layering of new knowledge and skills on secure foundations
- Enriches learning through varied resources and experiences
- Develops creativity both in practice and in thought
We provide a broad and balanced curriculum for all pupils, in line with the requirements of the National Curriculum. The breadth of the curriculum allows children to master knowledge and skills, in all subjects, both core and foundation.
Click on the topics to see the essential learning and National Curriculum links. Some areas of learning remain discrete due to the nature of their content.
At Southville, we learn many subjects under one umbrella; we call this ‘Immersive Learning’ as the children are fully immersed in a particular topic or theme for a term and become experts in that area of the curriculum. Our immersive curriculum combines writing, history, geography, art, design & technology and science, plus other subjects such as mathematics and physical education where appropriate.
Children explore the subject matter of their topic in depth and are encouraged to make connections and links between different areas of learning, deepening their understanding. Key knowledge is repeated and reinforced in different contexts. The aim is to develop rich, connected schemas to help develop and embed this knowledge. Children link new information to existing knowledge, with the aim to make it easier to move it from working memory to long term memory and make retrieval much more efficient.
Our ‘Immersive Learning’ curriculum carefully intertwines knowledge and understanding in foundation subjects with the skills children need to write to a high standard and communicate what they have learned. The key benefits of this approach, and the reasons for our decision to implement this curriculum, are:
- The children learn key pieces of knowledge before applying this understanding to their writing; the children therefore always have lots of content for and in their written pieces; writing becomes a purposeful tool used to communicate an idea, opinion or concept
- Foundation subjects are given the same status and value as core subjects, which creates a culture of focus and pride across the whole curriculum
- There is a clear progression of skills in foundation subjects within and across year groups, ensuring breadth and depth is built into daily lessons
- Vocabulary is learned in context and applied across the curriculum, including in reading and writing
- Being surrounded by vocabulary, visuals and prompts, as well as revisiting key linked concepts, supports children with additional needs and those who speak English as an additional language
- Links between and across subjects are made explicit and allow children to build knowledge and understanding over time as well as make links with their own lives and experiences.
Each ‘Immersive Learning’ unit lasts for one term. In any given unit, the children study two or three key driver subjects, one of which is always English. While the topic focus is the same, each subject is valued as its own discipline and is taught discretely so that both the knowledge and skills of the subject can be explicitly learnt and built upon. Meaningful links are made across different subjects to strengthen children's understanding.
Other subjects may be fed in, depending on the focus of the learning. For example, when studying Antarctica, year 3 focus heavily on geography and science, but elements of history are fed in when studying the exploration of Shackleton and his team. During each block, teachers use the timetable flexibly to provide children with the background knowledge plus the writing skills they will need to successfully create final outcomes, whether these are written or produced. The structure of a term looks like this:
Each class has a ‘Hook Day’ early on in the topic to get the children immersed and engaged from the outset. The majority of the term is then a process of learning knowledge and skills within context. This culminates in an outcome which incorporates and applies lots of the subject specific knowledge and learning that has happened throughout the topic. This always includes a writing outcome. For example, once Year 5 have learned about the Olympics in Ancient Greece, including participating in their own mini Olympics, they write a sports report of one of the events.
Reading is incorporated into all subjects. Each class has a set of ‘topic books’ that link to that particular unit of work. These serve two purposes: 1) as trustworthy and reliable sources of research 2) as models of quality writing in particular genres.
Across each year group, there is a balance of key drivers, to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum for all. Over the six terms, there are:
- 3 humanities driven topics (either 2 history + 1 geography or vice versa)
- 1 science driven topic (whichever part of the National Curriculum for science is best studied discreetly)
- 1 art driven topic (an art movement/period/person including art history, architecture, photography, sculpture, crafts)
- 1 global citizenship topic (based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals)
At key points in each phase, the children learn about local history and geography, making the curriculum relevant and personalised to our area of Bristol. For example, year 1 study Pesky Pirates, with a focus on ships and characters from our city; year 6 study Bristol Street Art, focusing on the graffiti and street art culture of the local area. Whenever possible, year groups plan enrichment opportunities to support this, such as a year 1 pirate trip through Bristol harbour on The Matthew, a reconstruction of a 15th-century ship.
We aim to support our children in becoming positive citizens of the future and to understand their personal roles and responsibilities as members of the local, national and global communities. To this end, each year group studies one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, using each goal as the launch pad for a topic. The six UN goals we have chosen are: Life Below Water; Zero Hunger; Good Health & Wellbeing; Clean Water & Sanitation; Climate Action; Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions.
There are some stand-alone units of work to ensure full coverage of the National Curriculum and some subjects which are not incorporated into this immersive curriculum approach.
Coverage and Progression
The curriculum for each subject is carefully planned, resourced and taught ensuring high levels of challenge and expectations for all learners.
There is full coverage of the National Curriculum in all areas. Teachers create a learning overview for each topic which can be found on the curriculum map above or by visiting year group pages on the school website (click here to see an example). It outlines key learning and vocabulary as well as which National Curriculum objectives are being covered for the subjects that are being taught that term. The overviews have been cross-referenced with the National Curriculum in each subject area to ensure there is full coverage across the course of the year, phase and school. Subject leaders support staff to ensure there is clear, coherent sequencing of this content.
Each subject area has its own discrete progression document, detailing how skills are built up and connected over the years. Teachers and subject leaders use these documents to ensure there is appropriate challenge and progression in medium term plans. They also help teachers to prioritise objectives when planning and ensure lessons are based around key subject specific concepts. They can be found in the subject area of the website.
We measure the impact of the curriculum against various outcomes through:
- Triangulating teacher assessments, outcomes in books and summative assessment scores.
- Internal audits and learning walks carried out by senior and middle leaders and governors: sampling children’s learning across subjects, collating pupil voice, book conferencing and surveys.
- Reporting to governors regularly.
- Professional development meetings with all staff.
- Local Authority standards meetings.
- External reviews, including the Local Authority.
- Comparative reviews and external moderation
For more information about our curriculum, please contact the school office.