Curriculum Policy and Long Term Plan
Quality of Education
"Pupils are taught a highly stimulating curriculum which is both broad and balanced. They have many and varied opportunities to study and hone their skills.
The learning environment in lessons enables pupils to thrive and develop into self-assured, confident individuals. They take huge pride in their work and are keen to show their successes both inside and outside of school" (OUTSTANDING OFSTED October 2016)
“School farm – a beacon for the rest of the country”, Jimmy Doherty June ‘21
Birchwood awarded third consecutive Quality Mark with Distinction from the AfPE July ‘22
7th Green Flag awarded to Birchwood in lieu of its continuing Eco credentials ‘21
EHT and HOS invited to no 10 Downing Street to share Birchwood’s curriculum success with Health, Sport and Education ministers.
Intent - What do we want children to learn?
Quite simply, it is our intention that every pupil, irrelevant of needs, develops such a passion for learning that they seek out and embrace amazing opportunities to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding in school, at home and in the wider environment. We want all our pupils to experience a wide and varied curriculum, which leaves them excitedly seeking further opportunities to continue their learning journey. Ambitious curriculum goals ensure exemplary pupil achievement.
Implementation - How are we going to achieve our intent?
Implementation is about how the shared curriculum intent is disseminated by Leaders and how it is taught. For example, through all Subject Leaders and staff specialists at Birchwood ensuring the whole school curriculum is founded upon expert sequencing of knowledge, skills, concepts and understanding in every subject. All National Curriculum (NC) statutory requirements form the skeleton of the documents and Birchwood practice, (eg – Birchwood Bolts) puts flesh on the bones.
For example, in KS2 the History NC states that all pupils nationally must complete a local history study. The NC then suggests non – statutory guidance for how schools might meet these statutory requirements. Instead of using the generic non – statutory guidance, Birchwood Y5 pupils use the local context of Mr Crisp’s Horse of Ufford, linked to our Suffolk history and heritage of the Suffolk Punch Horse. They then learn about the chronology and uses of the breed amongst many other things and the culmination ends with them at Suffolk Food Hall on Suffolk Day, presenting their own rare Heritage Suffolk breed chickens (Ixworth and the Suffolk Chequer) as well as proudly presenting their own adopted Suffolk Punch Filly – Samford Emerald. Obviously, this unit of work is bespoke to Birchwood Primary and illustrates the skill of practitioners in sequencing of the curriculum. From Reception to Y5, pupils are taught history enquiry skills and through other history and geography elements (eg – River Deben / River Orwell / Sutton Hoo – Anglo Saxons….) become increasingly familiar with the local area they live in before they apply these skills further linked to the Suffolk Punch. This demonstrates careful sequencing of learning by curriculum leads.
Each of our expert subject leaders have created a progression of skills document that sequences key knowledge, skills and vocabulary from Reception to Year 6, how it should be assessed, the associated subject specific terminology and the schemata that interweaves the skill and demands application across different subject areas. Birchwood is in a partnership with Holbrook Primary School and curriculum leads from both schools meet at least termly to support each other’s work in this sequencing of the curriculum. Subject leads have additional release time at Birchwood to carry out their important work in this area. Subject Governors meet termly to review each subject area and the school’s quality of education as a whole.
Most importantly, we have tailored our curriculum design in line with the skill set of our staff, parents, volunteers and local physical environments and businesses. Obviously Birchwood Bolts (Forest School / Plot to Plate / Pupil Voice / Sporting Success) are areas which Birchwood excel and these areas appear prominently in our personalised progression of skills documents for each and every statutory subject and also our extended curriculum (e.g. Forest School skills).
Effectiveness of our implementation is gleaned by staff and Governors at all levels performing termly activities such as Pupil Perception, Staff Perception, Subject Leader Perception, curriculum reviews, Learning Walks, Work Sampling and Planning Scrutiny. This important evaluative work informs us of the impact of our curriculum and evolves our curriculum design further still. Our curriculum is ever evolving. Never standing still.
Impact - What will it look like when we have achieved our intent?
There are literally hundreds of ways we can demonstrate the excellent impact our curriculum design has on our pupils. In a nutshell, here are 2 examples:
1 -the impact of our Y6 micro business with the Birchwood Poultry Flock – Our Y6 chicken monitors were so inspired by the Y6 project, that for their Birthday’s and Christmas’, they wanted their own rare Suffolk Chicken breeds and now both Y7 children, proudly own their own flocks. Birchwood is one of only 2 school DEFRA approved egg production units in the UK! The children record daily egg production, label and market the eggs, produce weekly spreadsheets on profit v outgoings, order food and materials and care for the flock. This gives them first hand business ‘life experience,’ before transferring to Secondary school.
2 – 2019 Birchwood results for pupils compared to their peers nationally are simply the best since the school opened in 1990 and are well above all 2019 national outcomes. For example, Birchwood Y6 reading at expected = 100%, the national figure was 73%. Y1 Phonics Screening Test = 97% pass / nationally the 2019 outcome is 85%. These are just 2 examples. All outcomes for all pupils are above the national average. 2022 Birchwood results – following two years of no testing due to Covid 19 restrictions, our 2022 SATs results for KS1 and KS2 are once again significantly above all national levels.