THE FEDERATION OF BOSKENWYN AND GERMOE SCHOOLS AND NYSGERRIG KINDERGARTEN
Our 21st Century learners require a fit for purpose curriculum which equips them with the knowledge, skills and understanding required to engage in and be a crucial part of the ever-changing world around them. We have been lucky enough to secure funding from the European Commission under the Erasmus+ scheme to research and observe a variety of teaching and learning approaches in countries which are highly placed in the PISA league tables (such as Finland, and Estonia) and countries which have an alternative curriculum unique to them (such as Reggio Emilia in Italy, Hjalli in Iceland and International Baccalaureate in IBO Schools in Denmark, Norway and Slovenia). Our curriculum is tailor-made by staff, governors, parents and children to fit the very best of the models we have researched, into the National Curriculum 2014 to make it an exciting and unique, tailor-made to fit its’ purpose, inquiry based curriculum offering transferable skills for future learning and employment.
We pride ourselves in giving our children the opportunity to develop “a love of learning for life” through our unique, tailor-made, inquiry based curriculum. Our rich indoor and outdoor learning environment encourages children to engage in authentic learning and employ subject knowledge to solve real life problems. Through solid concepts, leading to lines of inquiry and followed by research, projects, activities and visits, our learners acquire skills for life such as problem solving, decision making, critical thinking and reasoning, all of which are transferable for future learning and employment. Our aim is for our children to become independent thinkers and learners who construct and organise knowledge, engage in research, inquiry and analysis in order to communicate effectively and become internationally minded, global citizens.
Providing a curriculum rich in Inquiry based learning allows our children to nurture their talents and passions and take control of their learning. They are driven by both their own curiosity and hunger for learning and their teacher’s ability to provoke their interest by using stimulating resources and artefacts. We intend for our learners to be:
Appreciate their own and others’ cultures, history, values and traditions and be willing to grow from their experiences.
Approach cross-curricular tasks by thinking logically, creatively and critically and able to adapt thinking as they learn through reflection. Make reasoned and ethical decisions as a result.
Learn independently and with others, nurturing curiosity and developing skills for inquiry and research. Foster enthusiasm and sustaining a love of learning throughout life.
Have empathy and show compassion and respect. Make a positive difference in the lives of others and in the world around them.
Communicate ideas confidently and creatively in different ways for different purposes (confident, responsive, respectful) listen carefully to different perspectives.
Approach uncertainty with forethought and determination, exploring new ideas and innovative strategies. Be resourceful and resilient in the face of challenges and change.
Explore knowledge across a range of disciplines. Engage with local and global issues and ideas.
Recognise the interdependence with other people and the world we live in. Understand the importance of balancing our lives – intellectual, physical and emotional – to achieve well being.
Have thoughtful consideration of the world and our own ideas and experiences. Understand our strengths and weaknesses to support our learning and personal development.
Act with integrity and honesty, having a strong sense of fairness and justice. Respect rights and take responsibility for our actions and their consequences.
Through mixed age classes of mainly 2 year groups, our pupils access the National Curriculum 2014. We have a two year rolling programme which is divided into 6 terms, created as a team by our subject leaders to ensure progression in all subjects from year one to year six. Children in reception comply with Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (see separate policy) and follow the same principles. Each term is headed with contrasting concepts (eg systems and survival) and a big idea (eg. We need systems for survival). Whole class discussions take place regarding what pupils know already and what they wonder. From this, children construct their lines of inquiry according to their interests and begin their research. Each line of inquiry has a cycle which is covered over approximately 2 weeks. Pupils have opportunity to transfer key knowledge to long term memory through presenting their work at the end of the inquiry cycle. The cycle of inquiry, after being introduced to the big idea, is as follows:
Introduce the THE BIG IDEA (topic title) - Frame the inquiry; make links to curriculum, identify skills required, link concepts to lines of inquiry
- TUNING IN - Generating lines of inquiry - What I know, what I wonder- gather thoughts, generate questions, make connections, provoke learning with tools and resources
- FINDING OUT gathering information, developing research skills, sharing thinking, organising findings,
- SORTING OUT - comprehending, answering questions, revisiting thinking, communicating with others, linking patterns and connections to real life contexts
- REFLECTING AND ACTING Discuss journey so far, pursue further interests, work on presenting findings, refine key facts, present to class new knowledge, skills and understanding
- EVALUATING - apply learning to other contexts, link learning to concepts, reflect on learning journey, assess skills and understanding (peer assessment and teacher assessment)
Inquiry based learning is typical of all our core and foundation subjects along with knowledge and skills led lessons where necessary or preferred. English and Maths lessons have their own dedicated daily time (1 hour) and are heavily knowledge and skills based with inquiry built in to activities and linked to real life contexts (see A Journey into Maths/English).
Science, RE and PE are weekly and both inquiry based and skills based. All other foundation subjects, including RSE are multi-disciplinary (or cross-curricular) and linked to the Big Idea and lines of inquiry. This allows us to develop cultural capital by using a wide range of subject linked vocabulary in the classroom, outside the classroom and on visits (see A journey into Science, RE, PE, geography, history, art and design, design technology, computing, MFL, music). Children work independently or in small groups of mixed abilities and ages, allowing the higher ability to use teaching skills to reinforce their learning and allowing lower ability to learn a variety of skills and learning strategies from their peers. Children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are fully included and thrive on the flexibility that the inquiry based curriculum allows them. Children with Education Health Care plans have the support of an adult mediator and their peers.
Our “Big Ideas” are carefully selected by the team of staff and are determined mainly by the content of the National Curriculum. The Big Idea is also linked to at least 2 concepts which allows children the creativity to research their chosen area within the Big idea, this also ensures progression through the year groups. Staff will teach specific skills based lessons where needed to complete coverage of the National Curriculum.
Strategies for promoting good emotional health, wellbeing and resilience are embedded into our curriculum and also addressed explicitly during our Family Values dedicated days. We are a trauma informed school and we use a variety of bespoke packages to address and tackle areas such as anxiety, bereavement. These include a variety of external and in-house music/art/lego therapies, adventure activities, specialised programmes, “A Volcano in my tummy” etc. Growth mindset displays are non-negotiable in classroom environments to promote both academic and emotional resilience. Our nurture groups offer small group and one to one mentoring and focus on overcoming barriers to academic and emotional achievement.
Our Learner Profiles are embedded into our curriculum. We focus on 3 per term and dedicate an induction day at the beginning of each year to focus on inquiry into each of the learner profile Assemblies are linked to learner profiles and intrinsic reward around each profile. British values are incorporated and linked to learner profiles.
Our children are involved in many local initiatives such as Surfers Against Sewage, beach cleans, local village/church shows and competitions, Harvest Festivals and therefore make a positive contribution to their community. They expand their cultural capital to the wider society with their participation in Erasmus Projects at home and abroad with our European partners, they visit countries all over the world via Zoom to engage in exploration, investigation and inquiry with experts (Exploring by the seat of their pants) such as deep sea divers, paleontologists, marine biologists, which has the added bonus of raising their aspirations. Their educational visits are local, national and international and therefore allow them to communicate with others from a variety of cultural and religious backgrounds and gives them opportunities which they would not usually have access to in remote Cornish villages. Annual trips include skiing in Italy, Minack Theatre and local pantomime. All children from year 3 upwards are offered the opportunity to experience residentials, pupil premium subsidies are applied to encourage engagement of children from disadvantaged backgrounds (see Pupil Premium Policy). We have many visitors to school, including from parents to share their expertise in areas such as farming. Visitors include police, lifeguards, firefighters, local church groups and European visitors which allows our children to be appreciative of human creativity and achievement. They participate in two dramatic productions a year, taking to the centre stage in front of the proud community. Our pupils are also involved in choosing their termly topics, budgeting for and contributing to school improvements, contributing to learning consultations with their parents and their teacher and participating in local sporting events/competitions off site.
Homework is generally uploaded to our learning platform, SeeSaw. This meant that during the COVID-19 pandemic children found the transition to online learning much simpler as “Blended Learning” (integrating technology and digital media with face to face school based learning) was something they were already used to. Inquiry and projects are often continued at home and uploaded for the teacher, learning support assistants monitor, assess and offer provocations for further inquiry. The focus of homework at our schools is to reinforce learning and is also an opportunity for parental engagement and family learning.
Outdoor learning is high priority as we see our environment as the third teacher (with pupil and staff). Children engage in forest school and during regular lesson time, the outdoor environment is one of our “zones of trust” where children can choose to learn in all weathers. Our indoor environments are natural with wooden resources as we work towards becoming a plastic-free school. Interactive displays stand out and are used as a living learning resource. All of our learning environments include graphic, digital, written, spoken and physical languages.
Our children are enthusiastic and curious learners who ultimately have a love of learning and therefore behave well and display a good attitude to learning. They enjoy sharing what they have learnt in their presentations, workbooks, learning platforms, assemblies, school productions and annual reports. They make good academic progress during the time they are with us, especially in reading. They also make outstanding progress in their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development; they are confident, resourceful thinkers and researchers who are able to learn both collaboratively and independently and can communicate effectively to achieve their purpose. Through our broad and balanced, inquiry based curriculum and our unique and multi-cultural wider curriculum, they have acquired the transferable skills necessary for success in future learning and employment.
Our summative assessments, along with ongoing peer assessments and teamed with formative end point assessments ensure progression is achieved and particular needs are identified early for intervention. By working collaboratively with other schools, the effectiveness and accuracy of our assessments are quality assured.
Pupils benefit from the international professional development of their teachers and learning support assistants who have observed learning in higher achieving countries and embedded their best practice into our schools. Staff have high expectations of all learners and pupils benefit from the ambitious targets set for them and with them. Subject leaders are highly skilled and as a whole team have designed a curriculum to best suit our learners and achieve the best possible pupil outcomes.
Our children feel safe and protected and able to try new things with a ‘can do’ attitude as they feel well supported by those around them.
Written by Paula Blackburn
Updated September 2023
Next review September 2024