Our curriculum is what characterises life at St. Helen's. The school's curriculum is everything the children experience in and around school both planned and incidental - 'taught and caught'. Our curriculum is driven by our vision LOVE - LEARN - SERVE which focuses on ensuring that children learn to love, love to learn and aspire to serve. Our vision, values and curriculum are inextricably linked and are inspired by the Church of England Vision for Education and underpinned by Hebrews 10:24 ‘Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.’

In order to put children’s well-being at the heart of our curriculum planning following the partial closure during the coronavirus lockdown, we have drawn from the principles of the RecoveryCurriculum a think piece by Barry Carpenter, CBE, Professor of Mental Health in Education and Matthew Carpenter, Principal of Baxter College.

We recognise that all children will have had different experiences during this time, however the common thread running through everyone's experience is loss. Loss of:

  • Routine
  • Structure
  • Friendship
  • Opportunity
  • Freedom

 

We cannot assume that all children will have been negatively affected by their experiences at this time. Everyone has a different level of resilience. However, we must recognise that these losses can trigger anxiety. An anxious child will not be in a place to learn effectively, so with this in mind, we will use the principles of the Recovery Curriculum to guide our approach to the curriculum in September in order to help children come back into school life, while acknowledging their experiences and helping them to feel safe, happy and engaged in their learning. The Recovery Curriculum is built on the ‘Five Levers’, as a systematic, relationships-based approach to reigniting the flame of learning in each child. The five levers are:

  • Lever 1: Relationships – we can’t expect our students to return joyfully - they may, but we cannot expect it. Many of the relationships that were thriving may need to be restored. We need to plan for this to happen, not assume that it will. 
  • Lever 2: Community – we must recognise that curriculum has been based in the community for a long period of time. We need to listen to what has happened in this time and engage children in the transitioning of learning back into school.
  • Lever 3: Transparent Curriculum – all of our students will feel like they have lost time in learning and we must show them how we are addressing these gaps to heal this sense of loss.
  • Lever 4: Metacognition – in different environments, students will have been learning in different ways. It is vital that we make the skills for learning in a school environment explicit to our students to re-skill and rebuild their confidence as learners.
  • Lever 5: Space – to be, to rediscover self, and to find their place again. We will work at pace to make sure this group of learners are not disadvantaged, providing opportunity and exploration alongside our expectations.

 

For the Autumn term at least, we have adapted our ‘Courageous Curriculum’ to a ‘Kindness Curriculum’. This is not to say that our Courageous Curriculum is not kind, or that our Kindness Curriculum is lacking in courage. This adaptation is purely intended to highlight that our focus will be on creativity, compassion and care when we welcome all children back to school in September.

Our curriculum INTENT is: 

  • To prioritise the physical, mental and emotional well-being of children, recognising that good health and well-being is fundamental to ensuring that children can engage effectively in their learning.
  • To maximise opportunities for communication and dialogue with children and families and continue to build relationships and resilience.
  • To factor opportunities to be physically active, to enjoy and learn about their natural environment, and to relax into learning.
  • To ensure access to high quality learning activities in line with the curriculum to reflect local circumstances.
  • To focus on learning in English, Maths, PE, PSHE, RE and Science with increasing learning experiences across a wider range of curriculum areas using cross curricular themes as the context and content for core learning.
  • To focus on promoting and developing skills that will increase children’s abilities to learn remotely and identifying opportunities to develop future skills that will help equip them for the uncertainties of the future.
  • To support children through a variety of approaches to demonstrate their learning, skills, knowledge and understanding across the curriculum, e.g. through discussions, writing, reflection, observation and practical activities. Evidence should be collected in a sensitive way that does not include potentially stressful approaches to assessment. Formal tests may not be the most appropriate approach to assessment during the early recovery phase.
  • To recognise that children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds may have faced multiple barriers to learning over the period of the school closures. Applying the principle of equity, consider how to provide additional and appropriate support where it is most needed in order to maximise engagement with learning.
  • To regularly review and adapt this curriculum rationale during the recovery phase to ensure the curriculum continues to meet children's needs.

 

Our curriculum IMPLEMENTATION will be focused on:

 

Supporting children's mental health and well-being through:

  • Daily PSHE/circle time/mindfulness
  • Daily DPA in addition to weekly PE and Outdoor Learning
  • Purposeful breaks between focused academic teaching sessions 
  • Continuing to develop children’s ICT confidence and skills so they are better able to cope in the event of a further lockdown

 

Supporting children’s academic progress through:

  • Considerately assessing children’s current knowledge in core subjects
  • Meeting children where they are, including taking a step back if necessary
  • Consolidating existing knowledge before moving on to new learning
  • Supporting children in lessons rather than intervention outside of lessons
  • Shorter more focused teaching sessions with regular breaks
  • Pre-teaching where necessary

 

The curriculum IMPACT will be:

  • Children will identify as excellent learners and have confidence in their ability to make good progress
  • Children will not feel part of the negative media narrative of the ‘lost generation’
  • Children will not be treated as if they have ‘gaps’ to fill
  • Children will receive high quality teaching and as a result will carry out high quality learning
  • Children will receive broad and balanced learning opportunities
  • Teachers and support staff will be supported through high quality resources to provide the best possible care and teaching for children
  • Children will make at least good progress from their starting points

 

Our 'Courageous Curriculum' will return in the Spring term

This focuses on empowering learners by developing 'courageous advocacy' across the curriculum. We aim for children to develop character virtues such as wisdom, courage and compassion so they become aware and responsible people who aspire to serve and use their learning to make a positive difference in the world as exemplified in 1 Peter 4:10 ‘Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.’

Each term there is a different theme for learning - Stewardship, Social Injustice and Health & Well-being. All of our themes work towards providing service and developing courageous advocacy.

All of our themes have a theological basis and begin with BIG questions.

Stewardship - 'Caring for Our World' - lends itself to Geography and Science and is the focus of learning in the Autumn term.

Social Injustice - 'Caring for the People of Our World' - offers fabulous opportunities for historical investigation, RE and PSHE and is the learning theme in the Spring term.

Health and Well-being - 'Caring for Ourselves' - is a perfect vehicle for Science, PE and the Arts and is the focus of the Summer term.

Curriculum planning for the term begins with an elicitation activity. Teachers, through careful questioning, gauge children’s understanding, interests and views. The children’s ideas are then skilfully shaped into learning projects that weave together the school’s Curriculum Aims with content from a variety of subject areas, and take children’s learning about relevant issues from the personal to local, national and global, and beyond.

A spiritual journey

Each project will contain opportunities for spiritual development following the ‘Candle, Window, Mirror, Door’ approach. At St. Helen’s we have an agreed definition of spirituality: ‘We touch spirituality when we encounter an experience on life’s journey that causes us to reflect on the deeper things of life, its meaning, and our purpose within it, and as a consequence our lives are transformed.’

We understand that children’s spiritual learning journey moves between thinking about:

Self - being a unique person and understanding self-perception;

Others - how empathy, concern, compassion and other values and principles affect relationships;

World and Beauty - perceiving and relating to the physical and creative world through responses to nature and art;

Beyond – relating to the transcendental and understanding experiences and meaning outside the ‘everyday’.

Pupils’ spiritual development may be shown by their: 

Beliefs, religious or otherwise, which inform their perspective on life and their interest in, and respect for, different people’s feelings and values;

Sense of enjoyment and fascination in learning about themselves, others and the world around them, including the intangible;

Use of imagination and creativity in their learning;

Willingness to reflect on their experiences.

Candle 

The starting point - Reflection and elicitation: Thinking about current beliefs and practises.

   ~   What do I know? 

   ~   What do I believe?

   ~   How do I act on my beliefs? 

   ~   What is going on in the world? 

   ~   What do I feel about that? 

   ~   Does it affect me? How? Why?

Window 

Learning about - Encounter: The ‘learning about life in all its fullness’. 

Opportunities to look out at the world to learn, to gaze, to wonder and become aware of the world in new ways; to wonder about life’s ‘WOWs’ (things that are amazing) and ‘OWs’ (things that are worrying or upsetting). 

   ~   What are the issues?

   ~   Which issues matter most? Why? (Theology) 

   ~   What matters to others?

   ~   What do others do? Why? (Other Religions and World Views)

   ~   What is the world like? 

   ~   What was it like in the past? 

   ~   How has it changed? Why? 

   ~   What can we learn from that? 

   ~   Is it the same everywhere? 

   ~   How is it changing?

   ~   What is the same? Different? 

   ~   What are the causes? The effects? 

   ~   What is the future?

   ~   Who is doing something? Why? 

   ~   What is their motivation? 

Mirror 

Learning from - Reflections: The ‘learning from life’ by exploring their own insights and perspectives, and those of others. 

Opportunities for children to look inward and reflect on their experiences, to consider some of the BIG questions of life and consider some possible answers. To explore their own insights and those of others.

   ~   What do I believe? 

   ~   How do I act on my beliefs? 

   ~   Can I do anything? 

   ~   How have my beliefs changed?

   ~   What do other people feel about this? What do they do? 

   ~   What have we learned? 

   ~   How has it changed us?

   ~   How have our fundamental beliefs, views, understanding etc. changed as a result of what we have learned?

Door 

Transformation - Putting thoughts and ideas into action: The ‘ learning to live by putting into action what you believe’. (Courageous advocacy/Social action/Service).

Opportunities for children to respond, to DO something, to go through the ‘door’ of a creative expression of their own thoughts and convictions. The aim is to develop and nurture children who have the confidence to truly believe that they can make a difference in the world. To foster in them a spirit of agency and engagement with the world.

   ~   What impact will this learning have on my actions?

   ~   What can I DO now?

   ~   How will I do it? 

   ~   What difference will it make? 

   ~   How can we maximise the impact?

The National Curriculum and St. Helen's Curriculum Aims

The National Curriculum divides the curriculum of every school into two distinct parts; the School Curriculum and the National Curriculum. The document states that:

"The school curriculum comprises all learning and other experiences that each school plans for its pupils. The national curriculum forms one part of the school curriculum." (National Curriculum 2.2) 

Below is a link to an overview of the National Curriculum subjects taught throughout the school. However, these are taught within the framework of St. Helen's Curriculum (or the School Curriculum) also available via a link below.

The objectives for core subjects (English, Maths and Science) are presented in year groups whilst all other subjects are presented in Key Stages - Key Stage 1 (Year 1/2), Lower Key Stage 2 (Year 3/4) and Upper Key Stage 2 (Year 5/6). The objectives for Religious Education are outlined in the Devon & Torbay Agreed Syllabus.

The school's Curriculum Aims are the primary driver for cross-curricular planning (see below). The National Curriculum subjects are embedded uniquely within each individual project as appropriate. Each teacher will be able to explain further if required.

St. Helen's Curriculum