At William Murdoch Primary School, we are passionate about providing all of our pupils with a broad and balanced ‘knowledge-rich’ curriculum, which gives them access to the very best of what has been thought and said. We have a strong focus on providing pupils with the knowledge they need to be able to analyse the world around them and contribute meaningfully to society and therefore ultimately succeed in life. Indeed our school motto is ‘Scientia Mentem Luminat’ which translates as ‘Knowledge Lights Up the Mind’. Using the National Curriculum as a guide, each subject is carefully planned so that learning is coherent and progressive, meaning that pupils are always building on what they have previously been taught. Subjects are taught discreetly, which allows pupils to develop a strong sense of what it means to be a specialist in each academic discipline. For example, in History lessons pupils will regularly think critically, analysing and interpreting sources of evidence in order to develop those key skills which the very best historians need.
We have designed a curriculum which provides strong but appropriate challenge for all and pupils are required to work hard, think hard and do their very best to succeed. Learning can be said to have taken place if there has been an alteration in the long-term memory and one of the core principles of our curriculum is to facilitate that. Therefore we give pupils regular opportunities to recall what they have been taught through retrieval practice, whereby pupils engage in low-stakes testing and other such activities in order to stretch their memory, which in turn strengthens the learning.
Reading is central to academic success and vocabulary acquisition and retention is vital in developing fluent readers who can understand a wide range of texts. We therefore have a strong focus on building our pupils’ vocabulary by discussing and reinforcing key words in every lesson across the curriculum. Additionally, pupils are exposed to our ‘vocabulary of the week’ which they are encouraged to use both in lessons and in conversations with staff and peers. In order to further enhance our pupils’ vocabulary, we have introduced Latin as our Modern Foreign Language offer. Many of the words we use today, including technical vocabulary, have their roots in the Latin language and our programme ‘Maximum Classics’ gives pupils the opportunity to study and explore etymology in depth. Furthermore, as Latin is the root of the Romance languages, including French and Spanish, it will give our pupils a strong grounding for when they study such languages at secondary school.
Our Maths curriculum is structured using Power Maths, a DfE approved mastery programme, which is directly aligned to the well-respected White Rose Maths schemes of learning. The mastery approach to the teaching of Maths is now commonplace in British schools and is based on how the subject is taught in East Asia where Maths outcomes are amongst the highest in the world. The school has invested heavily in the approach since 2018 and it is having a positive impact on our pupils’ attainment and progress in the subject. The scheme uses the Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract (CPA) approach which develops both pupils’ procedural fluency and conceptual understanding. There is a strong focus on spending significant time developing in pupils a deep knowledge of key mathematical principles. Each Maths lesson begins with a ‘Can you still?’ activity where pupils solve four calculations based on an area of Maths they have studied previously- this retrieval practice helps to embed that prior learning. An arithmetic lesson has also been timetabled for each class in which pupils have the opportunity to practice their basic calculation skills.
The English curriculum at William Murdoch Primary School is based on high-quality, challenging works of fiction. Over the course of a half-term, pupils will read a novel or a selection of poetry and discuss the plot, characters, settings and vocabulary they encounter with writing opportunities then drawn from that reading and those discussions. Further to this, two additional reading lessons are timetabled each week in which pupils study non-fiction texts and extracts, including background reading around their humanities topic. To supplement the resources we have in school for these lessons, we have a subscription to First News which allows pupils to read and debate the latest current affairs issues as a whole class. Pupils are also given the opportunity to produce pieces of non-fiction writing throughout the wider curriculum, including report writing in Science and essay writing in History.
If parents would like to find out more about the curriculum for their child’s year group then further information can be sought from the Curriculum Map, which can be found in the ‘Key Information’ section of the website, and at their child’s Welcome Meeting which takes place at the beginning of the academic year or through the termly newsletter.