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Curriculum and Learning
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Curriculum Vision

Our Curriculum 

We believe that our core purpose as a school is not only to help your children succeed academically but also to teach them about the wider world and their role in the future. We want children to learn today the knowledge and skills required to be able to transform tomorrow. Therefore, at Portway, we have one simple statement that encapsulates our vision: Learning today, transforming tomorrow. 

We have constructed a curriculum that is ambitious and designed to give all pupils the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.

How is our curriculum designed?

Our curriculum is designed to help pupils form subject-specific mental models within their long-term memories.  Mental Model theory states that all knowledge is organised into units. A mental model is, therefore, a conceptual system for understanding knowledge.  Each mental model is a way of organising a subject's substantive and disciplinary knowledge in a meaningful way; it is an appreciation of how facts are connected and the ways in which they are connected.  It is distinct from information, which is just isolated facts that have no organisational basis or links. Big Ideas help form the basis of the mental model. Big Ideas are key concepts that underpin the subject. 

Each Big Idea has knowledge strands which help to strengthen the mental model. Learning knowledge in each of the strands allows pupils to express and demonstrate their understanding of the Big Idea. These Big Ideas and knowledge strands are returned to over and over again in different contexts so the pupils gradually build an understanding of them. 

Curriculum Knowledge Maps

Subject leads have created Knowledge Maps outlining the subantative and disciplinary knowledge pupils will be taught in each knowledge category and when this knowledge will be taught. Knowledge Maps support teachers to maximise opportunities to make links across topics and subjects, helping to deepen an understanding of the Big Ideas.

Each subject’s curriculum planning documents help pupils meet the milestones by providing:

  • clearly defined topics to study which ensure curriculum breadth
  • the knowledge (both subantative and disciplinary) needed to build a mental model
  • the vocabulary needed to articulate an understanding of the subject 

How is our curriculum delivered?

We know that learning is most effective with spaced repetition, which is why throughout the year, children study numerous topics for each subject, allowing the Big Ideas to be revisited over and over again. We ensure previously taught knowledge is retrieved regularly, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.  Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides retrieval practice for previously taught learning content.

How do we support teaching staff to deliver the curriculum?

Each Subject Lead is an experienced practitioner and, with the support of the Curriculum Lead, is responsible for devising subject mental models, Subject Knowledge Maps, and subject planning documents. Professional Development  is provided through curriculum planning meetings between subject leads and teachers to help to build subject knowledge and to adapt subject topic planning suitably for each cohort. As a result, the curriculum can be successfully modified, designed or developed to be ambitious and meet the needs of pupils with SEND. The teaching of subjects is monitored and feedback from lesson observations, learning walks and work scrutinies etc as well as pupil voice feedback informs future planning refinements and developments – under the guidance of the Curriculum Lead. This ensures coherence and cohesion.

Does the curriculum remain as broad as possible for as long as possible?

The full curriculum is taught throughout the school. Subjects have been carefully timetabled to ensure coverage and progression. Each year group has a simple, standardised class timetable to maximise the use of learning time so that: 

  • Big Ideas/knowledge strands are revisited over and over again, in a range of different contexts
  • All subjects have quality space in the timetable
  • Opportunities for deep learning are maximised
  • Teachers and pupils can become immersed in specific topics and the learning journey does not become disjointed and fragmented
  • Workload is manageable and teachers have the time and space to focus on the topic 
  • Subject leads can support with planning and teaching and monitor the impact of the curriculum more effectively
  • Cognitive load on pupils is balanced and opportunities for transference of learning into long term memory are increased


How does your curriculum reflect the culture and climate of your school?

The school offers a bespoke curriculum, designed carefully with our children in mind and also with our vision of what education should be. In creating and developing our offer, we considered:

  • Cultural bias- maximising opportunities for raising cultural self-esteem both in the subject planning and also in the wider environment, images, assemblies, Planning actively promotes BAME role models and challenges European bias where possible. British values are woven through pastoral care and SMSC as well as the academic curriculum
  • Social and moral rights and responsibilities are taught in context through the academic curriculum as well as through assemblies, Votes for my School and the pastoral offer
  • Rich experiences – trips, forest school, visitors, work week to not only support particular curriculum topics but also to provide wide life experiences to all and to support social mobility
  • Strong SEND provision – bespoke curriculum within curriculum for pupils with complex additional needs
  • Strong well-being offer to support children to  manage and to develop their social and emotional literacy using a simple whole school approach - Zones of Regulation

How do you use research to support teaching?

Content Coming soon...

How do leaders know if pupils ‘learn the curriculum’ and how do they track achievements?

Content Coming soon...



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