Wider Curriculum Rationale- Teaching in Blocks
‘It is important that schools consider how children learn, how they develop knowledge and skills, and how they can be supported to lay firm foundations for later learning. Teaching approaches that ensure long-term retention of knowledge, fluency in key skills, and confident use of metacognitive strategies are crucial. These are fundamental to learning and are the ‘bread and butter’ of effective teaching.’- Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).
We initially trialled the teaching of Art & Design and Design Technology as a one week block at the end of a half term period. The feedback from both staff and pupils of this format was positive and the learning produced across the school was to a higher standard than when taught as stand alone lessons with pupils engagement and retention of information being more effective. Based on this we are trialling the implementation of teaching all other foundation subjects and Science in blocks with the exception of PSHE which will remain on the weekly timetable, as it is part of the whole school intent, along with PE, French and Music which are taught by specialist practitioners as part of PPA time.
There are a number of reasons why we have decided to explore this method of curriculum implementation on a wider scale; these are outlined below:
1. Opportunities for metacognition – by moving to this ‘immersive’ learning strategy we believe that this will give pupils the sufficient time and exposure to use and apply new knowledge, skills and understanding. The aim is to ensure that pupils can rehearse and embed. This allows learning opportunities in close succession to embed learning into the long-term memory. To ensure that we continue to rehearse and embed there are recap and evaluate opportunities built in across the term and year. Cross- curricular links are also strategically mapped to allow for re-visiting and transferring knowledge over time.
’Effective metacognitive strategies get learners to think about their own learning more explicitly; usually by teaching them to set goals, and monitor and evaluate their own academic progress…self- regulated learning is the interaction of cognitive and metacognitive processes as well as motivation.” (EEF)
2. Immersive experiences and engagement in a topic – by providing pupils with learning focus, which where possible also interrelates to another curriculum area, we believe we will provide pupils with the opportunity to be fully engaged in that subject and further embed their understanding of the learning (cross-curricular links). Cultural Capital will also be enhanced and trips and workshops relating to the topic will be able to be planned at the start or end of the week/fortnight of learning.
3. Resourcing – The new curriculum overview will ensure that resources are planned to allow pupils to have hands on, interactive learning opportunities as the timetable will allow for resources to be available more readily. Middle Leaders will audit and organise resources to allow for cost efficient use of school resources.
4. Monitoring – Middle leaders are responsible for monitoring the delivery and impact of their subject area. By mapping out the curriculum with focused weeks the subject lead will be able to support planning, undertake observations and monitor recorded learning for a specific year group within that planned subjects week.
5. Planning and resourcing – blocking planning together for foundation subjects in PPA sessions will ensure that all teachers are able to input and spend more time resourcing and thinking about specific learning for their own class pupils. This will also support teacher workload regarding planning and will mean that there is absolute collaboration and equality of provision across each year group for the pupils. By planning in this way it will enable those who have stronger subject knowledge on a given subject to share it effectively at the planning stages with their colleagues.
Overall, through our teaching of Science and the majority of our Foundation Subjects in blocks, we feel that the pupils will receive a more focused and immersive learning experience, one which enables their knowledge to become more deeply embedded as part of our Knowledge Engaged Curriculum supported by the metacognitive: Thinking school approaches we are beginning to foster. The impact of this new curriculum format will be closely monitored by SLT and middle leaders throughout the Autumn term and pupil voice data will also be obtained.
- If pupils are absent for a significant block of learning from a subject then a home learning pack will be sent home. These pupils will re-visit missed skills and knowledge as the curriculum units are planned across phase so will be covered across a number of units across a key stage.