Our Curriculum Offer

Basic Principles

Learning is a change to long-term memory; it is a collection of things – a schema which allows strong semantic understanding, which ‘sticks’ and is remembered.

2. Our aims are to ensure that our children experience a wide breadth of study and have, by the end of each key stage, long-term memory of an ambitious body of procedural and semantic knowledge. It is our moral purpose to provide an ambitious curriculum which enables all our children to lead happy, healthy and safe lives. Our curriculum focuses on preparing our children for the 21st century, as life, long learners. We aim to invoke a passion for lifelong learning, so they aspire to achieve in adult life.

Our Curriculum Intent Model, based on Educational Research and Pedagogy

3. Curriculum drivers shape our curriculum breadth. They are derived from an exploration of our children’s backgrounds, within our locality, underpinned by our beliefs about high quality education and our values, rooted in the Mission of the Church. They are used to ensure we give our students appropriate and ambitious curriculum opportunities, appropriate to them. The fundamental principles of education within our school, are:

– Growth: Pupils aspire to be the best and grow to achieve their dreams.
– Diversity: Our pupils recognise the diverse world in which we live, in turn broadening their horizons.
– The Arts: We are passionate about a broad, cultural education for our pupils.
– Sport: We believe competition and sportsmanship develop confidence.

4. Cultural capital gives our children the vital background knowledge required to be informed and thoughtful members of our community, who understand and believe in British Values. We want to prepare our learners for life in modern Britain, by equipping them to be responsible, respectful, active citizens who contribute positively to society. We actively promote British Values and recognise other faiths, and heritages, within our diverse society; this is not something new for St Joseph’s – the values are integral to our long-standing inclusive ethos. It is how we have, and always will, act and think; it’s at the centre of our school life.

5. Curriculum breadth is shaped by our curriculum drivers, cultural capital, subject topics and our ambition for our children to study the best of what has been thought and said by many generations of academics and scholars.

6. Our curriculum distinguishes between subject topics and ‘threshold concepts’. Subject topics are the specific aspects of subjects that are studied.

7. Threshold concepts tie together the subject topics into meaningful schema. The same concepts are explored in a wide breadth of topics. Through this ‘forwards-and-backwards engineering’ of the curriculum, our children return to the same concepts over and over and gradually build understanding of them.

8. For each of the threshold concepts three Milestones, each of which includes the procedural and semantic knowledge students need to understand the threshold concepts, provides a progression model.

9. Knowledge categories in each subject give the children a way of expressing their understanding of the threshold concepts.

10. Knowledge webs help our children to relate each topic to previously studied topics and to form strong, meaningful schema.

11. Cognitive science tell us that working memory is limited and that cognitive load is too high if the children are rushed through content. This limits the acquisition of long-term memory. Cognitive science also tells us that in order for students to become creative thinkers, or have a greater depth of understanding they must first master the basics, which takes time.

12. Within each Milestone, the children gradually progress in their procedural fluency and semantic strength through three cognitive domains: basic, advancing and deep. The goal for students is to display sustained mastery at the ‘advancing’ stage of understanding by the end of each milestone and for the most able to have a greater depth of understanding at the ‘deep’ stage. The time-scale for sustained mastery or greater depth is therefore two years of study.

13. However, our curriculum model caters for all our children, including those with Special, Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND), are disadvantaged, have English as an additional language (EAL) etc. We have high and equal expectations, for any child, providing an ambitious curriculum, which is studied by all! We strive to meet the needs of all children so they are able to lead successful lives, beyond the next stage of their education.

14. As part of our progression model, we use a different pedagogical style in each of the cognitive domains of basic, advancing and deep. This is based on the research of Sweller, Kirschner and Rosenshine who argue to direct instruction in the early stages of learning and discovery based approaches later. We use direct instruction in the basic domain and problem based discovery in the deep domain. This is called the reversal effect.

15. Also, as part of our progression model we use POP tasks (Proof of Progress) which shows our curriculum expectations in each cognitive domain.

Implementing the Curriculum:

16. Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:

Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.
– Interleaving helps pupils to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention.
– Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.

17. In addition to the three principles, we also understand that learning is invisible in the short-term and that sustained mastery takes time.

18. Our content is subject specific. We make intra-curricular links to strengthen schema.

19. 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 learned content.

20. First-hand experiences are used to enhance the learning and development of each child, stimulating purposeful, memorable events to engage and scaffold our children’s procedural knowledge and where applicable, create a connected curriculum. These educational visits and experiences take place within our local area, regionally, as well as nationally. We believe this enables the children to gain an awareness of the country in which they live, thus enabling them to prepare for life in modern Britain.


21. Because learning is a change to long-term memory, it is impossible to see impact in the short term.

22. We do, however, use probabilistic assessment based on deliberate practice. This means that we look at the practices taking place to determine whether they are appropriate, related to our goals and likely to produce results in the long-run.

23. We use comparative judgement in two ways: in the tasks we set (POP Tasks, see point 12) and in comparing a child’s work over time.

24. We use a range of monitoring strategies to see if the pedagogical style matches our depth expectations (see point 11)


Please note: The following information is taken directly from Chris Quigley Documentation.

Chris Quigley – The Essentials Curriculum

The ‘Essentials’ is a simple to use Primary Curriculum, which helps schools to plan for progress, as well as assist the assessing and recording of progress.

It includes all National Curriculum subjects and exceeds the requirements of the National Curriculum. It includes all subjects, which are treated equally; the Arts are just as important as English. Furthermore, it caters for all abilities and includes support and challenge materials.

Aspects of this Curriculum Statement is © Chris Quigley Education


Also click here to read our Academy Trust Curriculum Statement