The information below outlines our approach to the curriculum.  Additional information on the curriculum can be requested from Mr Kay - Deputy Headteacher through the school enquiries email. 

 ‘…they will be the hearers of many things and will have learned nothing.’

At St George’s, in order for all pupils to achieve academic excellence, we deliver a knowledge-rich curriculum where teachers are the experts whose role it is to convey their knowledge and expertise to pupils. We believe that all pupils are entitled to learn about ‘The best which has been thought and said’ (Matthew Arnold). Our plans are inspired by some remarkable schools that have already embarked upon this project.

 

At St George’s our results for all pupils including disadvantaged continue to improve.  A knowledge curriculum can be a powerful force in combating educational inequality.

 

One of our ambitions at St George’s is to place knowledge at the heart of education. We believe, as Francis Bacon did in 1597, that knowledge is power: it empowers all children to achieve, choose their future and decide what legacy they’d like to leave.

 

We believe that broad cultural and historical knowledge improves all pupils’ academic achievement, especially poorer pupils. Even the very weakest pupils can study the greatest books ever written, such as Frankenstein, Oliver Twist and Animal Farm. All pupils deserve the chance to see Shakespearean theatre, fine art and classical music as accessible to them, not alien to them: access which richer pupils take for granted. Knowing about democracy, its origins, evolution and discontents empowers pupils to make their own minds up as citizens in politics, referenda and elections.

 

We believe that powerful mathematical and scientific knowledge empowers pupils to choose among the most competitive and selective vocations, such as (to name just a few) medicine, finance, engineering, technology and law, as well as to appreciate how the world works, in all its wonder.

Science backs these beliefs. Over a century of research into memory, learning and the mind has produced conclusions that are not scientifically challengeable:

 

Our logic is as follows:

  • The more knowledge you remember, the more curious you become.
  • The more knowledge you remember, the more intelligent you become.
  • The more knowledge you remember, the more you achieve academically.
  • The more knowledge you remember, the more choices you have for your future.

That is why we place the liberating force of knowledge at the heart of our school. Only a cohesive, cumulative, carefully sequenced knowledge curriculum will close the 10,000 word vocabulary gap between the poorest and wealthier pupils aged 11, narrow the 28% gap in GCSE attainment between poorest and wealthier pupils aged 16, and reduce the 80% gap between poorest and private school pupils attending University aged 18.

The reason we want all pupils to have secure subject knowledge is because we think it is the best route to social justice.

 

DEVELOPING OUR KNOWELDGE RICH MASTERY CURRICULUM

 

We have developed our Knowledge-rich curriculum, designed to develop memory and a pupil's ability to recall information. Intelligence is malleable, in other words, pupils who put in more effort, who practise, who learn and memorise more ideas and knowledge are able to develop greater expertise and thereby become more intelligent than those who do not.

 

Individual facts are of little use, however, if you acquire more factual knowledge, you are able to build a mosaic of information that is a prerequisite for deep understanding. In essence, the more you know, the more you are able to learn and understand. Knowledge is like Velcro, the more you have, the more that sticks. 

 

At St George’s we ensure that all pupils gain a mastery of knowledge by developing their memory skills.  Our knowledge of Cognitive Science is continuously developing.

 

A question which is commonly heard in school staffrooms across the country is: ‘Why don’t our pupils remember what they’ve been taught?  How come when it comes to the exam, they seem to forget so much?’  We also wonder why our pupils don’t use and apply the basic rules of spelling and grammar we have taught them – especially when they are writing in subjects other than English.  We have considered two models of memory and the mind, the first from Daniel Willingham and the second from Robert Bjork’s work on learning and forgetting.

 

Memory, revision and retention is vital for the new qualifications our pupils will take in the future.

 

The new specification GCSEs have less coursework, and more emphasis on terminal examinations, we will need to ensure that pupils are able to master, learn and remember the knowledge and skills needed for their GCSE examinations. Strategies for this are embedded into Key Stage 3 through the curriculum and Rosenshine. Pupils are taught how to learn and retain knowledge over a longer period of time.

 

WHAT MAKES OURS A KNOWLEDGE RICH MASTERY CURRICULUM?

 

  • Our mastery curriculum can be contrasted with other approaches, such as a spiral curriculum which requires pupils to move through the curriculum at a pre-determined pace, often changing units after four weeks or half a term because it is time to move on, rather than because the pupils have understood the content contained within the module.
  • Our mastery curriculum breaks the key knowledge relating to each subject area into units with clearly specified objectives which are pursued until they are achieved. Learners work through each block of content planned in the curriculum booklets in a series of sequential steps. Pupils must demonstrate a high level of success on quizzes, recorded on doddle. Typically, about 80% of pupils are expected to have mastered the threshold concepts before progressing to new content. Retention of this knowledge is then assessed in future testing and gaps which emerge are addressed.
  • When using our knowledge rich mastery curriculum, teachers seek to avoid unnecessary repetition across years by regularly assessing knowledge and skills. Those pupils who do not reach the required level are provided with additional tuition in morning meetings and afternoon intervention or homework so that they can reach the expected level. Pupils who arrive at a school with more advanced levels of knowledge or who acquire the knowledge covered within a unit more rapidly are required to apply the relevant knowledge in more challenging tasks which demand higher order thinking skills or work on similar tasks using a broader range of knowledge.
  • Our knowledge rich mastery curriculum has recently been implemented throughout the Academy drawing upon the principles below, and on the continued developments in our understanding of cognitive science and its implications for classroom practice.
  1. 1. We clearly define the threshold concepts and learning objectives first in our curriculum planning. We map out learning in our curriculum booklets and schemes of learning so it is clear to pupils what they need to learn.
  2. 2.  We use data effectively to plan correctives and ensure all pupils achieve a level of excellence.
  3. 3. We follow a cycle of teaching and assessment where learning is class paced rather than unit paced.
  4. 4. We set high levels of challenge and the use clear explanations, modelling, question and feedback effectively to support pupils supported using Rosenshine’s principles of instruction.
  5. 5. Westart with the belief that all pupils can learn all of the important knowledge for each of the subjects to a level of excellence regardless of  starting point.
  6.  
  7. CURRICULUM DESIGN

 

Well-defined threshold concepts

 

Threshold concepts are built into the curriculum to define potentially powerful transformative points in the pupil’s learning experience. They are the ‘jewels in the curriculum’ because they identify key areas that need mastery. It plays a diagnostic role in alerting teachers to areas of the curriculum where pupils are likely to encounter troublesome knowledge and experience conceptual difficulty”.

Knowledge based

The curriculum has firm foundations and builds on what pupils already know.  Teachers have a high level of subject knowledge.  Recent research has shown that knowledge frees up the capability for thinking, the brain works at different speeds depending on if we are relying on working memory (new learning) this highlights the importance of knowledge.

We learn new things by linking them up.  The way in which the brain stores new information, and makes inferences and discoveries, is by connecting to existing stored knowledge. It is difficult to apply skills without knowledge, because you cannot evaluate something you do not know anything about. You also cannot come up with new ideas without jumping off existing ones.  Our curriculum is knowledge based and is designed to build on prior knowledge over time. We need to learn skills before we can apply them to the knowledge.

Class paced

Learning is planned that ensure that pupils are working at the required pace for them to learn effectively and participate fully in the lesson.  Teachers use curriculum booklets to continually model through explicit instruction and practice.

Misconceptions

We debunk misconceptions with individuals and as a whole group.  Once diagnosis has been gained through questioning, quizzing, marking and formal testing, teachers skilfully plan to address the gaps in knowledge as a whole class or as individual. Planning is adjusted to re-teach content that has not been mastered.  Prep work can be helpful in ensuring that pupils practice applying knowledge and skills.  Individual or group intervention sessions are organised to support pupils with particular gaps in knowledge. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Principles of Instruction

At St George’s the delivery of knowledge rich mastery curriculum is supported by Rosenshine’s 10 Principles of Instruction that have are used across all departments alongside our philosophy on curriculum booklets and visualizers.  More on the principles of instruction can be found at https://teacherhead.com//?s=rosenshine

 
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