A curriculum is never finished and that there will always be improvements to make to content choice, the sequencing of lessons and fidelity to the discipline of each subject. We are a reading school. Our core belief is that reading is the key to the door for a child in later life. Above all else, We want to ensure children are skilled readers with excellent background knowledge when they leave DCPS.
We teach most subjects as discreet subjects with an aim of preserving the unique nature of each subject and allowing children to see that nature clearly, giving them a better understanding of each. The risk, however, is children seeing subjects as disconnected silos. We therefore aim to adopt a measured approach that retains subject disciplines but makes connections where they are appropriate. These can be at the same time of year (for example studying Egyptian history and Egyptian art at the same time of year.
Substantive or Disciplinary knowledge?
We also give a great deal of thought to the difference between substantive and disciplinary knowledge. There is more to a subject than the information, facts and concepts that are taught and learned. These things are substantive knowledge. Disciplinary knowledge focuses on what it is that historians / scientists / geographers / French speakers / programmers actually do in order to preserve the discipline in each subject and make it about more than substantive knowledge . By following the national curriculum this helps us clarify the disciplinary aspect of each curriculum subject.
When making any decisions about how we implement our medium term curriculum plans we are heavily influenced by the work of Dylan Williams:
We have worked hard to establish our key concepts in each subject area. This has taken time and a lot of reading as well as making use of knowledge bases such as the historical association and leading thinkers in their respective subjects. We like to think of a key concept as 'growing' through carefully chose units of work in each year group. Thinking in this way helps us establish the mots important knowledge we ensure each pupil acquires through a specific unit of work. This diagram shows an example of a key concept in our history curriculum:
Ensuring the Curriculum has impact
If the intended curriculum is to be remembered we know we have to make knowledge and behaviours systematic across the school so that every child benefits from them, not just the lucky ones who happen to be in the right classroom. This means whilst staff are not pushed to a use a particular method of delivery we plan each unit in detail to ensure we can check the curriculum is learnt and knowledge retained. Each Unit builds on the knowledge that in prior units and provides essential opportunities for pupils to retrieve knowledge from their long term memories
This is an example lesson sequence for a Year 1 Geography block
We advocate an approach that champions simplicity, regularity and quality
This means also helps ensure we choose the best strategies for lesson design across the school .. .
Principles of Practice
Within each subject area we also identify 'Principles of Practice'. This enables us to ensure our approach in each subject area is consistent.