For many years, we have had a commitment to a topic based approach to learning, making cross-curricular links, for example between history, geography, art and literacy and working around a broad termly theme such as ‘Explorers’, ‘World War 2’ or ‘A Victorian Childhood’. This is because we have a strong commitment to creativity, and aim to make the children’s learning vivid, real, engaging and exciting and to provide challenges that encourage their development in all areas. Our children tell us year after year that this is how they love learning!
It is important to us that children embrace cultural capital and learning and remembering facts. Thus within our topics, the range and depth of what the children find out about is impressive and challenging. We create knowledge organizers – coined an ‘EP Collectable’, examples below – for each term’s topic which capture the key knowledge and vocabulary that will be covered. There are copies in class and copies are sent home. They are used as a reference and throughout the term are used for low stakes quizzes to assess progress.
Teachers spend many hours creating these unique topics that last across the whole term, skilfully making links and ensuring that answers to questions raised by the children are covered. To ensure breadth and balance, one term the topic is geography led, another is history led and the final topic is science led.
We see learning as an adventure and one in which the whole community participates! Each topic is supported by at least three out of school visits – ably supported by parents – per term/topic to bring learning to life. In addition we enlist the support of storytellers, artists, engineers and other specialists in school. Where appropriate children share their learning with parents through drama e.g. Macbeth in Year 5 whilst studying Shakespeare or a puppet show of Pinocchio whilst studying Toys in Year 1. Work generated covers the classroom walls and creates a beautiful and rich learning environment which changes each term.
Although we work from a set curriculum framework which means that broadly the same topics are covered (and hotly anticipated by the children!) each year, we always make time for special local events, exhibitions and opportunities. most recently for example, the whole school studied Frida Kahlo (linking to the exhibition at the V and A) and we had a science week to launch our fantastic new science lab.
We offer a broad, rich curriculum and are clear that ‘knowing things’ in depth matters. We want to create children who are interesting and interested! To summarise the knowledge and key vocabulary that underpins our topic work and trips, our teachers in Years 1-6 have created termly ‘EP Collectables’ which will come home a few weeks into the topic. Over the course of a year, our termly topics’ core subject area shifts between history, geography and science.