At Monkwick Infant and Nursery school we believe that learning is a change in the working memory.
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.
Our curriculum drivers shape our curriculum breadth. They are derived from an exploration of the backgrounds of our children, our beliefs about high-quality education and our values. They are used to ensure that we give our children appropriate and ambitious curriculum opportunities.
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.
Curriculum breadth is shaped by our drivers, cultural capital, subject topics and our ambition for our children to study the best of what is thought and said.
Our curriculum distinguishes between subject topics and ‘threshold concepts’. Subject topics are the specific aspects of subjects that are studied. The threshold concepts tie together the subject into meaningful schema. The same concepts are explored in a wide breadth of topics. Through this ‘forwards and backwards engineering’ of the curriculum allows our children to return to the same concepts over and over again and gradually build an understanding of them.
Knowledge webs help students to relate each topic to previously studied topics and to form strong, meaningful schema. We know that working memory is limited and that cognition load is too high if children are rushed through content. This limits the acquisition of long term memory. Cognitive science also tells us that in order for children to become creative thinkers, or to have a greater depth of understanding that they must first master the basics, which takes time.
Over Key stage 1 children gradually progress in their procedural fluency and semantic strength through three cognitive domains: basic, advancing and deep. The aim is that by the end of KS1 our children can display sustained mastery at the end of the ‘advancing’ stage of understanding of milestone one and for our most able children to have a greater depth of understanding ‘deep’ stage.
As part of our progression model we use a different pedagogical style in each of the cognitive domains of basic, advancing and deep. Children will secure knowledge, facts and concepts and then build to have the ability to apply, analyse and then evaluate and prove.
Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognition science, three main principles underpin it:
- Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.
- Interleaving helps our children to discriminate between topics and aids long term retention.
- Retrieval of previous learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
In addition to the three principles we also understand that learning is invisible in the short term memory and that sustained mastery takes time.
Our content is subject specific. We make intra curriculum links to strengthen schema wherever possible.
Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides the retrieval practice for previously learned content.
Because learning is a change in the long term memory it is impossible to see impact in the short term. 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. We use comparative judgement in two ways: in the end outcomes of a unit of work and in comparing a child’s work over time.
We use lesson observations to see if the pedagogical style matches our depth expectations and pupil voice to quality assure what the children have been taught.