Thornham St James’ Curriculum Rationale 

We want our children to be running through our gate and knocking at our doors, desperate to get into school because they can't wait to learn! Our curriculum is an important part of what makes the children do this! 

Powerful knowledge enables our children to think the unthinkable and that not yet thought. At Thornham St James CE Primary, we value a knowledge-rich curriculum underpinned within a carefully planned and sequenced framework to enable cumulative knowledge and effective learning.  

The shifting demographic of Thornham has required our curriculum to move with it; it is rooted in a strong belief of equality for all pupils therefore the approach is successfully designed to be ambitious whilst also ensuring pupils with SEND and those who are disadvantaged apply what they know and can do so with increasing fluency, thereby gaining confidence in learning.  

Our curriculum ensures excellent coverage of the National Curriculum (Years 1-6) and the Foundation Stage Early Years Curriculum (Reception Children) and includes other aspects, beyond the requirements of the national curriculum, for example, aspects of our Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship curriculum.  We have fully embraced the higher expectations set out in both curricula and have set out a sound progression of learning in all subjects with clear endpoints of learning for key stages and year groups.  This enables clarity of assessment for learning and determines a framework for leaders to measure curriculum performance. Our curriculum is broad and balanced and offers a wide range of curricular activities involving visits out of school and visitors to school to enhance learning and extend pupils’ cultural capital. 

Our Curriculum Intent 

Our curriculum at Thornham St James is primarily focused upon ensuring that pupils are supported and challenged to gain knowledge, skills and attributes to ensure that they are ready for their next stage of education. Ultimately, we recognise that we preparing our pupils for lifelong learning and effective contribution to the diverse society in which we live. We build British values into our Curriculum and as a church school, we thread Christian values through the web of our curriculum to ensure a moral and principled focus for our pupils.  

The Thornham St James curriculum follows the programmes of study for each year group and provides the right balance between using either History or Geography as the main drivers whilst also making links with subjects such as DT, Art, Music - but only where they naturally occur; opportunity for a more discreet/subject specific approach is taken when necessary and always ensuring all subjects get a fair representation across the curriculum. The history, geography and science curriculums use a key enquiry question as their starting points which evokes greater learner involvement in their work. Research always underpins the curriculum planning stage to ensure that this informs curriculum provision. Short and long-term memory capacity as well as cognition overload are also strongly acknowledged.  

 At Thornham St James we STRIVE for Success! 

The purpose of our curriculum is to: 

  • Produce Self-motivated learners who are resilient to failure  
  • Develop critical Thinkers who can problem solve and innovate 
  • Promote Respectful and responsible contributors to society 
  • Inspire Independent learners who relish challenge
  • Create Valued Collaborators who can communicate effectively
  • Encourage Emotionally intelligent, empathetic individuals 

In developing our school curriculum, we acknowledged the uniqueness of our school within the context of its largely mono culture demographic and our celebrated religious status. We want children to be aware and proud of their local area and the richness of its history so wherever possible local links are made. Of equal importance is the need to provide opportunity to broaden their cultural knowledge base thereby also increasing their empathy for others. 

With the socio-economic climate of our school in mind, we seek to ensure our children see the importance of building resilience and develop into self-motivated, life-long learners with the ambition to be whatever they dream to be. However, we also acknowledge the increasing number of pupils who are disadvantaged in terms of life experiences and the growing need to ensure school is filled with memorable opportunities both within and outside the classroom. 

At Thornham we are proud of the breadth of our pupil’s reading and their love of it. We believe reading is the master skill that unlocks academic potential across the whole curriculum. Our intention is to harness the power of the wealth of vocabulary our children encounter when reading and use it to ignite their writing and to give colour and confidence to their oral communication. To produce effective communicators there is a focus on collaboration and debate but also on the importance of listening and respecting the views of others. 

Our Curriculum Implementation 

Our curriculum has been carefully built and the learning opportunities and assessment end points for each year group crafted to ensure progression and repetition in terms of embedding key learning, knowledge and skills.  

When providing the curriculum to our pupils we ensure that there is clarity of:  

  • Content - the National Curriculum 
  • Pedagogy – Rosenshine’s Principles 
  • Approach – process learning 
  • Depth of learning – stages of learning  
  • Assessment – end points and progression maps. 

The application of these principles ensures the consistency of the teaching and learning experiences for all our pupils across all key stages. It also allows for a shared language base and provides a means for school staff to carry out common discourse when evaluating learning. 

We have developed year group specific long-term curriculum maps, which identify when the different subjects will be taught across the academic year. Whilst subjects can be taught discreetly, staff do try to make meaningful links across subjects to deepen children’s learning. 

At Thornham St James we believe that learning is defined as an alteration in long-term memory. If nothing has altered in long-term memory, nothing has been learned. We recognise that new learning is fragile and usually forgotten unless explicit steps are taken over time to revisit and refresh it, varying contexts to give new meaning, making connections explicit as we teach. Progress means knowing more and remembering more. 

Knowledge is generative and as such teachers routinely identify and communicate the knowledge that must be retained in order for children to move onto the next year group / stage of learning. As outlined by the Education Endowment Foundation, assessing such knowledge too close to the point of teaching can sometimes be misleading, Therefore, in subjects such as history, geography and science we build in low-stake Sticky Knowledge Quizzes with content from the previous half terms. At the start of lessons, teachers also plan different ways to revisit learning from previous weeks, terms or even years.   

By identifying, explicitly communicating, discussing and revisiting key vocabulary in lessons we are acknowledging the need to extend children’s repertoire of words and the well-documented crucial relationship between vocabulary size and academic success. 

Misconceptions are addressed where possible at the point of learning – direct feedback by the teacher to the pupil ensures that misconceptions are addressed to enable the learner to redirect their thoughts thereby clarifying any misunderstandings. 

Teachers have excellent knowledge of the subjects they teach and this is supported through sequential planning, which builds on pupils’ prior learning. Subject leaders provide any additional support required in relation to their subject specialism. 

Our Curriculum Impact 

We know when our curriculum provision has been successful because this will lead to excellent outcomes by all of our pupils including disadvantaged pupils and those with SEND. This will equally assure that pupils are ready for their next stage of learning. 

Assessments are made for all pupils three times a year although ongoing formative assessment supports learners throughout their teaching and learning cycle. Endpoints are instrumental in knowing whether pupils have been successful. We aim for our pupils to recall learning with fluidity and automaticity when this is required such as multiplication tables and phonics. 

We use both formative and summative assessment information every day, in every lesson. Staff use this information to inform their short-term planning and short-term interventions. This helps us provide the best possible support for all of our pupils, including the more able.  

Assessment information is analysed by Subject Leads, the Head and Deputy Headteacher.  Pupil progress reviews are conducted termly. This process provides the SLT and Governors with an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in our school. Other monitoring includes: book scrutiny, lesson observations and/or learning walks, pupil/parent and/or staff voice. 

All of this information is gathered and reviewed. It is used to inform further curriculum developments and provision is adapted accordingly. 

Where the reading curriculum has been successful pupils will read for pleasure engaging in a wide range of reading material. They will have a high level of fluency, comprehension and evaluative reading ability. 

When measuring curriculum performance, we also revisit the aims of the curriculum as a further reference for success measures: The purpose of our curriculum is to: 

  • Produce Self-motivated learners who are resilient to failure  
  • Develop critical Thinkers who can problem solve and innovate 
  • Promote Respectful and responsible contributors to society 
  • Inspire Independent learners who relish challenge 
  • Create Valued collaborators who can communicate effectively 
  • Encourage Emotionally intelligent, empathetic individuals 

We STRIVE for Success!