Following on from the updated Government directive on school closures in the Leicester and Leicestershire area, Highcliffe is now closed from Tuesday 30th June to all students except children of key workers who have registered for a place.
We believe that children learn best when they are inspired, engaged and sufficiently challenged in their work, and at Highcliffe Primary School we have devised a creative curriculum in which deep curriculum knowledge, key skills and attitudes are taught through exciting topics.
In our school, children learn by studying a creative and connected curriculum which is organised into termly topics. The deep knowledge and skills in each of the different subject areas are woven into these topics. Our children access a curriculum that develops them as individuals, challenges their mind-set and excites their imagination. We aim to create irresistible learning experiences which prepare them for their future.
We have built and shaped our curriculum around the concept of a learning tree:
The roots of our tree are formed from the learning dispositions. There are six key 'Learning Dispositions', called The 6Rs which are fundamental in our school. These are: resilience, resourcefulness, respect, reflection, reciprocity and responsibility.
These form the basis of success in all aspects of school life, they permeate our curriculum and they are vital to life-long learning.
In addition to The 6Rs, we also explicitly promote a wide range of other Learning Dispositions. As we plan, we ensure our rich and varied lesson activities allow the children to practise and consolidate dispositions such as: risk taking, perseverance, communication, cooperation, motivation, taking initiative, open mindedness, patience, self-direction, curiosity, flexibility, empathy, gratitude, organisation, imagination, courage, positivity.
These dispositions are lifelong skills which are built upon each year throughout their time at Highcliffe. They are also skills which ensure our children, and their families, can apply at home and in the local community, such as being self-directed and empathetic.
In addition to Learning Dispositions, our children also practise, develop and refine a range of skills. Some of these skills are specific to the particular subjects, others are universal key skills and support cross-curricular learning. The key skills underpin learning throughout the school and are developed and strengthened in each year group.
The overarching key skills can be applied in many different subject areas and will prove to be beneficial skills to hold later on in life such as questioning, predicting and giving reasons. Skills such as reasoning and explaining or proving and justifying are used as much in Reading and Maths as they are in History and Science. These are part of our approach to the ‘Mastery’ curriculum, where skills are developed and learned in depth, and applied in many different contexts. These skills include the following:
Analyse, Describe, Hypothesise, Sequence, Anticipate, Determine, Identify, Simplify, Apply, Discuss, Infer, Solve, Causal link, Elaborate, Interpret, Sort, Choose, Estimate, Organise, Summarise, Classify, Evaluate, Paraphrase, Support, Compare, Explore, Predict, Test, Connect, Generalise, Question, Verify, Contrast, Exemplify, Rank/order, Visualise, Decide, Give reasons, Represent, Define, Group, Respond.
Our Highcliffe curriculum is sequenced and designed to help our pupils remember what they are taught. We are clear on what we want our children to know, we prioritise “powerful knowledge” and we make this explicit in our teaching. The specifics of what we want the children to learn matter. Our children gain explicit knowledge within a topic, as well as a broad overview.
Our topics are taught to be remembered, not encountered. Children feel empowered through knowing things. Therefore, the knowledge they learn is robust and the experiences they have are rich and memorable. We achieve this through understanding the cognitive science of the working memory and the power of retrieval. We understand that for knowledge to be stored in the children’s long-term memory, we need to build on it, retrieve it and form wide and deep schemas. This is achieved in a variety of ways including knowledge organisers, low stakes testing, repeated practise and spaced retrieval.
Our topics are underpinned by ‘The Big Ideas’ which are carefully selected criteria that inform teacher judgements. They ensure our topics are not defined by headings but by details. They also carefully select the vocabulary that we want our children to be fluent at using. Our aim is to provide our children with deep curriculum knowledge where they can use subject specific vocabulary with confidence.
“Every child deserves a champion; an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.”
At Highcliffe, our curriculum develops a host of strong character traits to ensure our children become the best they can possibly be.
Through our focus on global learning we aim to create rounded and grounded citizens. Each year group learns about a different aspect of environmental impact such as plastic pollution, deforestation and climate change. Our children are challenged in their thinking, questioned on their opinions and supported in their beliefs.
Our ethos of character development along with a provision for well-being impacts on the confidence and achievement of our pupils. We are proactive at teaching the children strategies to support positive mental health such as mindfulness and recognising feelings. We want to prepare the children for an ever changing world so that they can live happy and secure lives.
Our beliefs and commitments are echoed by Prince William who has stated,
“An individual's academic success, wellbeing and mental health depends not only on traditional qualifications, but on nurturing non-academic attributes like self-confidence, discipline and determination. It is not enough that someone is good at English and Maths if they cannot withstand the pressures that life throws up.”
The 6Rs, learning dispositions, a growth mind-set, skills and deep knowledge all have a real impact on the lives and life chances of our young people. We are dedicated to preparing them for their future life, both in education and the world of work, where they can be flexible, confident, kind and thoughtful individuals who are ready to face change and challenge with resilience and courage.