Enquiry led learning
We work closely with the team at 'Lighting up Learning', who provide our teachers with CPD, coaching and planning sessions to implement their Curious City curriculum approach.
Our curriculum is closely linked to the National Curriculum, ensuring coverage and progression across the school. In addition to this, the curriculum is contextually relevant and it provides a framework for our children to be curious, ask questions and find solutions. Each enquiry starts with a question, children are then immersed in the learning and practise skills and develop their knowledge, before ending with a challenge and answering the question. We want our children to be engaged in their learning and we aim to always make the learning fun, relevant and with local links.
Our purpose is to connect learners as local citizens of today with the ideas, knowledge and skills they will need as the global citizens they must become. We will help them to be curious, ask probing questions and be brave in finding solutions. They will engage with the familiar and be engaged by the unusual; be immersed in language and communicate in multiple languages; know how to practise, be resilient and challenged; to be proud of their local environment and think on a global scale; work individually and add their voice to the many; to accept help, give charitably and embrace altruism; to love difference, be different and stand up for the rights of others just because it is the right thing to do. We want them to be relentlessly creative, critically curious and to live ambitiously.
Our intention is to create a culture of enquiry, curiosity and challenge that permeates both explicit and hidden curricula. The skeleton of curious and creative learning opportunities, progressively planned and matched to cognitive development, exposes learners to the wider world in carefully planned stages. The skeletons provide just enough guidance whilst enabling our teachers to inspire learners with local people, places and stories relevant to the school’s locality. The current structure also has plenty of room to respond to the ever changing world. Enquiries are shaped by our school over time. Our curriculum will be unique but not isolated: we are part of a family of curious, enquiry-led settings and collaborate regularly at learner, teacher and leader level.
We implement the enquiry-led approach in several ways. Using seven themes that help to steer and give a particular flavour to an enquiry, learners seek answers to questions posed. The seven themes help teachers ensure that a broad range of perspectives are offered during a year, and that they understand the purpose of the enquiry. This helps create a balance of experiences each and every year and ensures a breadth of experience in every year group.
Another key feature of our enquiry led learning is that, when learning, our children 'be' not 'do'. Our staff and children talk about themselves as being, for example, authors, mathematicians, geographers and engineers, rather than doing English or Maths. These 'States of Being' enable learners to focus on and/or combine powerful knowledge in different enquiries. Each knowledge-engaged state symbolises an aspect of the curriculum, helping learners to master both the know of and know how of a subject, not just remember it. For instance, we want our learners to be Scientists, not just learn about science. As a result, whilst we have enquiry skeletons, we build on these responding to the needs of learners: as they get older, we help them cross-pollinate states. We want learners to discover for themselves that they can be an Author, Scientist, Geographer and Philosopher at the same time and that some adults combine these states to become Archaeologists, for instance. We want our learners to see the interconnection between what they are learning in how this knowledge is applied.
Please see the following guide, which explains 'States of Being' in further detail:
Cognitive development aligned with enquiry-led learning
In a nutshell, enquiry-led learning provokes learners with key questions too big to answer in one go, but not so conceptually large that they cannot understand. The purpose is to guide learners through a scaffolded process, answering the big question with a piece of writing for example, performance or animation. As cognitive development, emotional literacy and language immersion underpin the Curious City approach, as well as purposeful links to mastery-led learning principles and attachment theory, we recognise children's awareness of the world develops as they mature and that this has a significant impact on their ability to learn. Our job is to help learners make sense of the world, not just expose them to it.
More than the National Curriculum
Lessons may also feel different in our setting from the norm. Think of a child’s time in school as a continuum of experiences rather than a set of lessons. Sometimes experiences are short, sharp and immersive, other times they are light-touch events over a longer period of time. This is exactly what a curious, knowledge-engaged curriculum should be. The usual Author (English) and Mathematicians (Mathematics) teaching sequences continue, enhanced by locally rich and relevant experiences through the inclusion of significant people, places and stories by weaving in faith, community and culture into enquiries. National Curriculum subject objectives from Science, History, Geography, Art & Design, Design and Technology and Music are woven throughout enquiries. Some subjects are taught discretely, such as Athletes (Physical Education), Philosophers (Religious Education and PSHE), although links are made where possible.
The impact of Curious City can be seen and heard as well as represented in outcomes. Impact can be seen through books, displays and challenges the children produce. The process of enquiry, as well as final outcomes, are represented within books. In classrooms and in corridors enquiry displays demonstrate the learning journey; States of Being characters feature in books, classroom displays and visual timetables as well as our website and newsletters. Our learners and families also talk about the approach earnestly. We know that when inspectors have visited other schools, the Curious City approach has been talked about as having a positive impact on learning; Aloeric is no different. We know that in time, it will affect our reading and writing outcomes as the contexts and purpose for being an Author, for instance, become stronger and stronger.
To find our more about our local, knowledge-engaged, globally connected, enquiry-led curriculum ask us about the deliberate action we are taking to shape our curriculum to meet the needs of our learners and community that we are proudly a part of.