Learning is the core purpose to our school and is central to everything that happens.
At Cherry Orchard, we provide a creative curriculum which will be based, from September, around the ‘Cornerstones Curriculum’. Cornerstones is a nationally recognised, creative and thematic approach to learning that is mapped to the 2014 Primary National Curriculum and to the new ELG to ensure comprehensive coverage of national expectations in order to deliver outstanding learning opportunities for all children. Through its four stages – engage, develop, innovate and express – our curriculum provides a rich menu of exciting and motivating learning that makes creative links between all aspects of children’s learning, and ensures that all children receive an education that is pitched appropriately.
We believe that children learn better when they are encouraged to use their imagination and apply their learning to engaging context. Our curriculum provides lots of learning challenges throughout the year that will require children to solve problems, apply themselves creatively and express their knowledge and understanding across the curriculum.
We are using a thematic, one-book approach which encourages cross-curricular work wherever possible. Each theme is driven by quality texts and lasts approximately half a term. Within this context, we ensure that children understand the unique contribution of individual subject areas and are able to talk about their learning using subject-specific vocabulary. To prevent the creation of tenuous links however, discrete subjects are still taught where necessary. Maths follows the White Rose Hub planning sequences; RE is taught using the agreed Worcestershire syllabus and PSHE is taught using the Jigsaw programme.
To engage and immerse children in their learning experiences, every classroom learning environment reflects the theme that the children are learning about, to try to bring learning to life. This will include relevant texts and display materials. This way, the environment helps support and deepen the learning experiences for all.
As part of the theme, all children will engage in memorable experiences to enhance their learning and further develop their knowledge and understanding. Each new theme starts with a ‘hook’ to excite the children, drawing them into their learning and engaging their curiosity. Each theme is planned to include a place to visit or a visitor invited into school or an experience led by staff.
We endeavour to ensure that children see a relevance and purpose to their learning so plan that each sequence builds towards a purposeful outcome at the end of the theme. This is an opportunity for children to showcase their learning to a wider audience, for example through as exhibition to the rest of the school or during assembly to families, or through the publication of a class text.
Quality texts are integral to our curriculum approach, as we recognise that fluency in reading enables children to have access to the full curriculum. We believe children should leave our school being able to articulate themselves clearly, and read and write confidently and effectively. A quality text (usually linked to the theme) is chosen each half term to drive the sequence of writing and other supporting texts used to ensure that children are regularly exposed to a range of narrative, non-fiction and poetry texts.
Central to everything that we do is an expectation of well-thought out and delivered quality first teaching. The curriculum is designed to ensure that learning is sequenced, building knowledge and skills over time, both within each year group and across the whole school, and also building on prior knowledge, making connections between new and previous learning. Developing these strands of learning ensures that there are many opportunities for the children to practice and apply their knowledge in a range of contexts so that they achieve deep, long-term learning and know more, remember more.
Our strategy for successful implementation of our intended curriculum is to create a culture where collaboration and professional dialogue between subject leaders delivers a curriculum that builds on prior learning, deepens knowledge and enhances skills that foster learning and achievement. We will engage in a constant cycle of review and evaluation in order to assess progression and achievement, and to keep learning fresh, current and carefully tailored to meet the needs of all children.
Alongside our academic curriculum, we ensure the whole-child is supported through events and activities planned outside of the classroom. For example: with planned-for outdoor learning in our Forest School and ponds areas; by utilising links with the wider community; taking children on residential visits in both years 4 and 6; taking part in charity days and events; by joining with other school in our trust to share experiences such as Riversfest and sporting events. A wide range of clubs and enrichment activities such as individual music lessons, sporting matches, gardening competitions, music and dance festivals, singing in the Cathedral are a regular occurrence in our school. These are a vital part of each child’s development as life-long learners and ensure that individual talents are celebrated.