At Cumberland we have high expectations of our children and want to give them the very best start to their education. We believe that children learn best when they are interested and engaged, so we have developed an integrated curriculum that we consider motivates, encourages and inspires all our children to enjoy and develop a love of learning. We want our children to develop the knowledge and skills they need to become confident learners, who challenge themselves to achieve the very best they can, by always looking to improve and not giving up even when they find something difficult.
The Early Years (Year R) and National Curriculum (Year 1 and 2) require us to teach a range of subjects and by careful planning we ensure that we fulfil all our statutory duties through our topic approach. Topics can vary in length from two to six weeks. At the start of each topic there is a ‘hook’ that introduces the topic for example, a ransom note from the Potato Robber, explaining what the children need to do to get Mr. Potato Head’s features back. Through this approach we have found that we can capture and develop the children’s interest, motivation and imagination, hooking them into the topic and learning from the outset. The topic builds to an outcome, in this case a ‘Spud-U-Like Café’, where members of the children’s family come in to test and vote on the new potato fillings. Home learning is also linked to the topic and encourages children and their families to work together on a project at home. For example, a poster advertising the Family Circus.
In Year R each topic has a lead area for example Mini-beasts focuses on the area of learning ‘The World’ and then link in other relevant areas i.e. Expressive Arts and Design looking at Eric Carle illustrations.
In Year 1 and 2 each topic has a lead subject and generally covers two others. There are also two ‘applying’ subjects and a focus on two of our Learning Values. e.g. in the Titanic topic the lead subjects are Computing, History, English with the children applying what they have previously learned in Science and Geography. This enables our children not only to learn new knowledge, skills and concepts, but also to extend, consolidate and apply what they have previously learned in a new context. The focus Learning Values in the Titanic topic are Thinking and Perseverance.
Where possible, during our topics we will have an enriched element either through a visit or a visitor, as these enhance and extend learning. These are always very popular with the children, giving them experiences that they might not otherwise have and which are always mentioned during the Year 2 Leavers’ Assembly. During the memories section of the performance, which the children write they always recall visits and visitors, for example when they went to Portchester Castle and when the Circus Day in school.
To ensure coverage of statutory requirements some areas, for example phonics, mathematics and P.E., have to be taught independently from the topics, but the children are then given opportunities to apply what they have learned within the topics.
We have developed this approach over several years and the impact has been wonderful to see. Behaviour has improved and we seen children taking their learning into their play. For example acting out the Titanic disaster in the playground and using the laptops in Reward time to find out more about the topic they are learning about. Parents have also commented how much the children the children enjoy the topics and they are impressed with their child’s new knowledge. Walking to school took extra time for one Year 1 family as the children used their new knowledge to find the deciduous trees, to collect leaves and identify the type of trees the saw.
To find more information about our topics go to the individual year group links by clicking on the School Life tab and then Year Groups. Please note that at the end of each school year we remove the previous year’s topics and add new ones as the year progresses so that surprise of the ‘hook’ is not taken away from the new year group.
We wholeheartedly believe that school and learning should be enjoyable. If the children are engaged in what they are learning, they will want to come to school, they will achieve, have high self- esteem and be able to celebrate their successes and those of their peers. Through our rich and integrated curriculum, Learning Values and ethos we are achieving our philosophy and vision for the School and its pupils. Which is to be a safe, happy and nurturing environment, inspiring our children to develop their skills, confidence and enjoyment of life and learning through our School’s ethos and learning values