A Philosophy of the Curriculum
at Nonington Church of England Primary School
Led by the Governors’ Vision for the school, the curriculum changes are directly linked to the aims and objectives set out below:
Nonington is a church school, and, as such, our motivation is based in the Christian values of Faith, Hope and Love.
- Faith in the power of education to nurture our human, God-given, potential.
- Hope that we can have a positive impact of the lives of those around us; that we can achieve our goals and learn from our mistakes.
- Love for all people, whoever they are and whatever their needs; sharing and caring for everyone.
- To take advantage of the flexible nature of a small school and ensure that children benefit from personalised learning programmes that result in all pupils making excellent progress relative to their starting point.
- To provide a vibrant, challenging and enjoyable curriculum that gives children a wide range of stimulating learning experiences both within the classrooms and within “real” situations in different environments.
As a school, we are committed to developing children’s skills as the best foundation on which to build a life of learning and success. We are, however, aware of the potential pitfalls of a skills-based curriculum:
“No-one learns anything by first mastering skills. Children learn in meaningful contexts – by trial and error, and furthermore this learning must be intrinsically rewarding.” Margaret Donaldson, “Children’s Minds”.
To address this, we have designed a curriculum that is skills-based, but where the learning takes place in meaningful contexts and is made stimulating and engaging for all children.
There are 10 key factors to encourage learning that are intrinsic to our learning and teaching:
- All learning takes place in the context of relationship – between teacher and learner, between learners and between the learner and that which is being learnt. Learning takes place as part of a process of inter-action and inter-relation.1
- Children are matched so that investigation and learning can take place that is directly linked to skills that are appropriate to each child. Objectives reflect the needs and strengths of individuals, not the ‘mean’ level of the class or group.2
- Children have opportunities to learn in a range of contexts: adult directed, adult led, adult supported, and self led and supported. This creates both independence and inter-dependence, developing social skills as well as academic ones.
- Learning experiences for each individual and group are designed to capture the interest of those specific learners.3
- Learners are given opportunities to select subject matter to support their acquisition of skills.4
- Learners are able to extend their learning in a range of ways – through projects, special studies, group collaborations and presentations.5
- Learners have ownership of their own progress and development through the use of personal folders where they can self-assess and track their learning.
- The curriculum is designed “in terms of activity and experience rather than knowledge to be acquired and facts to be stored.”6
- Children have the opportunity to learn inside and outside the classroom, using the school and local environment to the full.
- Every learner has a clear responsibility for the quality of his or her learning, just as adults have responsibility for the quality of teaching and support. This contract is an essential element of the collaborative journey that is education.
- Relationship is the basis of all that we do in this Christian foundation. The equality of all learners, adult and child, is essential to ensure a fully collaborative working environment.
- We start from where the children are, because that is where they will start.
- For example: teachers design opportunities to develop the learning styles of learners, both consolidating preferred learning styles, and encouraging the growing of new learning styles.
- For example: a child with a particular interest in castles will be more likely to develop historical skills if he or she is given the opportunity to start the learning process by looking at castles.
- Examples of this include PowerPoint presentations on a hobby or pet; projects on a famous person; group work in and out of the classroom, particularly those concerned with the environment.
- Quotation from the Hadow Primary School Report, 1931.