At Dowson Primary Academy we believe in a holistic approach to children’s development and design our curriculum to reflect this and to embody our vision:
Today’s generation makes a positive difference to tomorrow’s world.
Our curriculum is rich and bespoke to our school; it is values led and skills based and is designed to serve the mission statement:
To prepare children with the skills, values and attributes needed to succeed and achieve in an unknown future.
Whilst we recognise and adhere to The National Curriculum content throughout school in Years 1 - 6 (see whole school curriculum map), particularly for the Core Subjects of English, Mathematics and Science, we also design all learning opportunities around the 4 ‘Key Drivers’ which were developed by Staff and Governors. The Key Drivers outline the 4 broad elements that we feel develop the ‘whole child’ and are in keeping with our Vision and Values, ensuring we equip children with the skills, traits and attributes needed for life in modern Britain and ultimately improve their future life chances.
The 4 Key Drivers are summarised as:
Learners for Life
A life-long love of learning is the key to learning and achievement success for children in education and indeed life! Through this driver, we develop positive attitudes to learning, the motivation and desire to learn, aspirations for the future, an understanding of HOW to learn and, importantly, the traits and attributes needed to be a successful learner such as independence, critical thinking skills, risk taking, self-challenge, perseverance, determination, no fear of failure, resilience and adaptability. We grow children’s understanding that struggle is good, mistakes help us to learn and that if they believe they can do something, they are more likely to succeed than if they believe they can’t. Children with all these skills are well-prepared for future autonomy and will be well placed to follow their dreams!
Basic Skills for Life
A good standard and competence in the basic skills of Reading, Writing and Mathematics is the number one ingredient for improved life chances and a successful future in adulthood for the children we teach. Therefore, the linked learning aspect of our curriculum affords children regular chances to practice, rehearse and apply their basic skills across a wide range of subjects and therefore develop the understanding of how important and useful these skills
are in so many different contexts – including ‘real-life’. This driver works to ensure children develop:
- Reading, Writing and Maths competence to at least the National Standard.
- Use and understanding of money to ensure future economic well-being, ability to manage finance, banking and hold debt awareness.
- Communication skills (both speaking and listening), ability to give and receive opinions, present an argument / express their views.
- ICT literacy
- Problem solving / decision making skills
- Other curricular skills such as: scientific working, understanding variables; historical skills - using sources of information, understanding bias; geographical skills – use of maps, aerial pictures etc.
- Presentation of work and ourselves: take pride in their work and its presentation, developing a cursive, legible style of handwriting, taking care of books, equipment etc; present themselves smartly in correct uniform and adhere to rules; be punctual and ready to learn.
Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural (SMSC)
Children’s social skills, moral and ethical code, spiritual understanding of themselves and a clear sense of belonging to their cultural heritage and the society and community in which they live make up the essence of themselves as human beings. Their presence, behaviour and conduct in society will depend on and be influenced by these skills, inner beliefs and understanding. This driver is essentially concerned with educating children to have all the skills and attributes to be a good citizen. It focuses on developing morals and empathy, accepting diversities and being tolerant and having an awareness of other cultures and religions as well as a strong sense of fundamental British values. Children are taught to work collaboratively and independently, co-operate and adapt to different social situations, resolve conflict and respect, support and care for each other. On a personal level they are taught to ensure their own happiness, safety and how to be healthy in body and mind as well as knowing how to get help when needed. They learn to be creative and express themselves in different ways, have an appreciation of art and music forms and find awe and wonder in the world around them.
My Place and Part in the World
Alongside SMSC education, children’s sense of self and purpose can be strengthened through learning and knowledge about the wider world around them, where they are in the world and what different places might be like in comparison to what they are used to / know. It is important that on a basic level children know where they come from, their personal information and about any heritage they have that may stretch beyond the local community. They must begin to understand global issues and their impact on the Earth and the people living worldwide. By exposure to world news and actions and developing their understanding of implications of their own actions on the current state and future state of the planet, they become effective global citizens and can make informed choices regarding their actions and lifestyles as they mature. Within this driver we include the importance of children understanding where things such as clothes and food come from, what is happening/are the issues in their own community as well as globally and an understanding of democracy and how our country is governed/run.
During planning for a theme or topic, teachers consider how the 4 Key Drivers can be addressed and developed, particularly supporting the application of English and Maths basic skills which are known as ‘linked learning’ and allow for children’s deepening of knowledge and skill.
The core subjects of English and Mathematics are taught daily in each of the year groups.
In Early Years Foundation Stage and Lower School, children are taught English (reading and writing) through the synthetic phonics programme Read Write Inc. until they complete the programme and return to accessing English lessons. We aim for the majority of children to complete the programme by the end of Year 1. However, children who still need this method of teaching for their reading and writing remain on the programme for as long as necessary. English units of work are planned around a high quality key text, taken from The CLPE Power of Reading text lists at least 3 times a year. All children in school are taught reading comprehension as part of their English lessons linked to this key text and sometimes through a discreet guided reading session as a group or whole class in addition to their English teaching. At least once a half term, children complete an independent piece of extended writing in their writing portfolio to demonstrate their application of learned skills.
Dowson does not follow a prescribed scheme for Mathematics. We have progression documents for each of the four rules of number and specific areas of Mathematical learning such as understanding of fractions. These documents reflect the new National Curriculum and guide teachers in their planning for the stage of development children are at in order to ensure secure knowledge and understanding. Coverage of the curriculum is ensured through planning support documents produced by school Maths Leaders.
Wider Curriculum Subjects
The rest of the National Curriculum subjects are all taught as discreet subjects but often linked by a topic or theme which ties them together in a cross curricular approach. However, the subjects are always specified so that the children understand which subjects their basic skill development is linked to as well as their subject knowledge and skill development in that subject. Objectives are introduced in a way which makes this clear to children; for example: As Historians we are learning to…
The foreign language chosen for Dowson Curriculum is Spanish and this is taught in Years 4-6 only by a subject specialist teacher from an external provider. Children in Years 1-3 are exposed to some basics of various languages such as various greetings for the register.
We follow the Locally Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education.
Dowson also provides subject specialist teaching of some subject areas through: employment of a full time sports coach; buying into the Tameside Music Service for curriculum coverage and instrument instruction (samba drums and ukulele); Art and Design Technology with an artist in residence - Pink Aardvark Company. Food Technology is delivered from Years 1-6 as part of the Design Technology curriculum and as well as linking to themes and topics, develops children’s understanding of healthy eating choices and where food comes from.
Also part of the curriculum provision for Dowson children is the regular opportunity for circle time with our Pastoral Manager or Inclusion Co-ordinator to strengthen their SMSC development and address any issues which may be causing barriers to learning. They also develop collaborative and social skills through Forest School provision and have opportunities to take part in gardening activities.
School’s work in the development of the wider and broad and balanced curriculum is recognised through such awards as:
- Arts Mark Gold Award
- Eco Green Flag Award
- An RHS partner school
- Green Tree School – Gold Award
- Sports Mark Bronze
- Healthy Schools Award
In addition to the National Curriculum and the 4 Key Drivers, we have ‘The Dowson Promise’ – a document which outlines the additional experiences and opportunities that we feel should be afforded to children during the course of the primary school years. These are such things as: visit a theatre production; take part in some community or charity work; grow their own vegetables; take part in some kind of enterprise and communicate with a child somewhere else in the world, someone famous or someone who has overcome a difficulty to become successful (see ‘The Dowson Promise’ for the full list). We feel strongly that exposure to and participation in these practices contribute to ‘the well-rounded whole child’ approach we take to education. These opportunities and experiences complement the rest of the curriculum we provide and are a strong part of our provision.
Themes and Topics
Each year, we have a whole school ‘over-arching’ theme which is a broad thread that runs through the year and is addressed in assemblies, whole school events such as exhibitions and through some links to class themes and topics. This is chosen by Senior Leaders each year and is usually in response to something that they feel needs a focus to support school’s vision and values or improvement and development arising from evaluation. Examples of themes have been: ‘We All Love Learning’, ‘Beautiful World, Beautiful Work’, ‘We Can Change the World’ and ‘Great Britain, Great Manchester, Great Me!’
Although teachers are expected to meet the demands of the National Curriculum, including knowledge content and skills, Dowson still considers our curriculum to have ‘space’ for taking opportunities, addressing current affairs or world events, meeting identified needs or engaging the interests of particular classes within its approach.
N.B. This statement should be considered alongside the detailed information which can be found in other documentation: Subject policies and constructs, Teaching and Learning statement, Read Write Inc. statement, Mathematics Progression documents, the Key Driver Progressions and The Dowson Promise.
If you would like any further information about the Dowson Curriculum please contact school on 0161 366 0177