Our Curriculum

Firs Curriculum Design Statement

Firs Primary School is committed to ensuring all children are able to access a broad and balanced curriculum with teaching and learning being at the heart of the delivery of the curriculum. It aims to be bold, free thinking and rigorous; underpinned by a commitment to the school values and aims ensuring equity and learner empowerment and encouraging social mobility. We aim to be:

  • Ambitious: everyone is encouraged and enabled to achieve and attain highly.
  • Innovative: the learning community benefits from belonging to a research and teacher education community.
  • Inclusive: everyone is welcome and everyone included.

Within the expectations defined by the National Curriculum Firs Primary School has recently reviewed and developed the school curriculum.  In designing our curriculum we asked a number of questions:

  • What aimsvalues and principles should our curriculum pursue and embed?
  • What are the implications of recent research on children’s development and learning and on what they should be taught?
  • What are children’s ‘lived experiences’.  What are the challenges of a politically, socially, environmentally and technologically uncertain world? 
  • How do we ensure we are providing children with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life? 
  • How can a curriculum nurture children’s childhoods as well as prepare them for an adult future and to become positive contributors to society?

What is a school curriculum?

A curriculum could be considered as the body of knowledge that is to be advanced through learning and teaching that is planned and guided.  

Kelly (2004)

Ofsted research on the school curriculum
Our working definition of curriculum is that it is a framework for setting out the aims of a programme of education, including the knowledge and skills to be gained at each stage (intent); for translating that framework over time into a structure and narrative, within an institutional context (implementation); and for evaluating what knowledge and understanding students have gained against expectations (impact). The curriculum lies at the heart of education. It determines what learners will know and be able to go on to do by the time they have finished that stage of their education.

Ofsted overview of research paper (2019)


All children are taught through the National Curriculum subjects, these are:

  • Literacy
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Information Communication Technology
  • RE
  • Art and Design
  • History
  • Geography
  • Music
  • Design Technology
  • Physical Education
  • Modern Foreign Language

**Please refer to the Learning section of the school website to further understand the whole school approach to delivering core subjects**

Firs Primary School Curriculum

The Core of our Curriculum

At Firs primary school we respect the rights of all children to make a positive future contribution to society by prioritising teaching and learning.

At the core of our curriculum is the hope to nurture and develop compassionate citizens who want to make a positive contribution to their local community and society.  The curriculum passionately advocates to inspire a relentless optimism for and about children.

Firs 5 Keys to Success (Emotional Well-being)

In order to develop compassionate citizens for now and the future, we realise that the ways in which we engage with children informally and formally throughout their time is essential to develop children holistically.

We ensure the school 5 Keys to Emotional Well-being; Emotional Resilience, Planning For Success, Knowledge of Life and its Rules, Respecting Difference and People Skills are key drivers that underpin the school curriculum.

Firs Primary School provide a creative curriculum based around the  Cornerstones Curriculum, a nationally recognised approach for delivering outstanding learning opportunities for children.

Cornerstones Curriculum.

The Cornerstones Curriculum is a creative approach to learning that is mapped to the Primary National Curriculum to ensure comprehensive coverage of national expectations. Our curriculum will be delivered through a range of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which will provide a rich menu of exciting and motivating learning activities that make creative links between all aspects of our children’s learning.

We believe children learn better when they are encouraged to use their imagination and apply their learning to engaging contexts. Our curriculum will provide lots of learning challenges throughout the academic year that will require children to solve problems, apply themselves creatively and express their knowledge and understanding effectively across the curriculum.

Cornerstones provides a rigorous essential skills framework that outlines the end of year expectations in all subjects. These essential skills are tied to activities and are Age Related to ensure that staff can track children’s progress and identify their individual learning needs.

How it Works.

•Children will progress through four stages of learning in each ILP – Engage, Develop, Innovate and Express.  Please see below for more information.

During the Engage stage children will:

• have memorable first-hand experiences – for example going on a visit outside the classroom or inviting a specialist visitor into the classroom

• have WOW experiences – Investigate and Discover

• be introduced in exciting ways to the new topic or theme

• begin initial research and set enquiry questions

• have lots of opportunity to make observations

• develop spoken language skills

• take part in sensory activities

• have a great deal of fun, allowing them to fully ‘engage’ with their new topic

During the Develop stage children will:

• dig much deeper to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding of a topic across the curriculum

• practice their newfound skills

• compose, make, do, build, investigate, explore, write for different purposes, read across the curriculum

• research their own questions and those posed by others

• follow new pathways of enquiry based on their own interests

• complete homework activities that support their learning in school

During the Innovate stage children will:

• apply previous skills, knowledge and understanding in real life contexts

• be challenged with real or imagined problems and situations to solve using knowledge and skills from the earlier stages

• be inspired with imaginative and creative opportunities

• have time to re-visit skills, knowledge and understanding not grasped during the develop stage

• have the opportunity to take on different roles

During the Express stage children will:

• become the performers, the experts, the informers

• share their achievements with others in many different ways…….parents, class mates and the community

• evaluate finished products/processes

• tie learning back to the beginning

• celebrate

Curriculum Key Drivers – developing knowledge and cultural capital.

Academic Success – we expect all children to achieve their personal expected targets through the curriculum we deliver.  The curriculum will both support and stretch children of all different abilities.

Experiences –  through educational visits, external visitors and the use of Now Press Play software the school will bring the curriculum experience alive for our children.

Social mobility – the school will ensure that the breadth of experiences are suitable enough to promote social mobility and raise aspirations.

SMSC and BV – through the school curriculum children will engage in ways that are suitable for their age and context.  For example in some subjects there are opportunities to think about traditions from different cultures and religions.  Extra-curricular activities, pupil voice, questionnaires and the school council are other ways that children will have their voices heard and for them to learn about democracy.

Personal Development – the school curriculum is designed to help pupils gain the skills knowledge and understanding they need to lead, healthy, independent lives and to become informed, active and responsible citizens.

Wider Community – Engaging parents and the wider community is a priority of the school curriculum.  We seek to improve educational outcomes for children, in particular; involving parents and families in the life of the school will have a positive impact on our children’s educational outcomes and futures.

Physical and Mental wellbeing – Research evidence suggests that education and health are closely linked.  Promoting the health and wellbeing of our children has the potential to improve their educational outcomes and their health and wellbeing outcomes.

Firs Curriculum Planning 

Firs Assembly Rota – weekly focus

If you wish to find out more regarding the school curriculum please contact Miss Sinead Redmond – AHT.


Teaching and Learning at Firs Primary School

Developing and investing in reflective practitioners to deliver excellence in the classroom.

At Firs Primary School we believe that effective classroom practice is an art form utilising key techniques to enhance and deliver outstanding lessons. Teachers at Firs Primary School will require different tools and techniques to ensure children enjoy their learning, understand what they are learning about and ultimately make expected or better progress. 

The job of leaders at Firs Primary School is to further develop these teaching techniques; provide guidance on new and effective strategies and further guide a teacher on how to use these techniques and strategies more effectively in the classroom – ultimately improving the culture and climate for learning within the classroom and the school. 

As a Rights Respecting School, the right to learning is central to our core purpose and vision.


Firs Foundations of effective teaching practice.

The school uses a research based evidence approach to ensure all teaching CPD and new techniques are evidence based and driven by a what works model. Using the book Teach Like A Champion (D.Lemov) and other evidence based theory (Rosenshine – Principles of Instruction) Firs Primary School have adopted and adapted four clear foundations to further develop and build on teaching and learning practice.


Foundation 1 – Checking For Understanding (CFU)

At Firs Primary School we will embed a common language of ‘they learnt it’ rather than ‘I taught it’ and ‘I am learning …’ rather than ‘I am doing…’ to prioritise learning.  We encourage staff not to assume understanding but confirm it (assure don’t assume).

There are two ways in which staff at Firs will develop CFU at Firs Primary School.

Firstly, information gathering – using summative and formative methods of assessment to gather data and inform teaching practice; allowing the teacher to be responsive to the needs of a class, individual child or group of children.

Secondly, effectively using assessment information and developing a culture of learning from our mistakes.

The schools marking and feedback policy fully supports live marking in the classroom to further encourage a teacher to scan rather than watch their classroom; picking up on misconceptions and redirecting learning as required.


Foundation 2 – Academic Ethos

At Firs Primary School we encourage staff to create and deliver lessons to achieve the maximum level of academic rigour.  We aim to create an ethos in which children are challenged to  think, perform, and grow to a level that they were not at previously.

This involves teachers setting high expectations, planning for success, creating a lesson structure and ensuring pace (time on task) is a key driver.

Staff at Firs Primary School are expected to create environments in which the maximal level of academic rigour is expected, practiced and valued by all children.


Foundation 3 – Teaching and Learning Ratios; thinking and participation (80:20)

Teachers at Firs are encouraged to ensure children complete as much of the cognitive thinking as they can through; questioning, writing and discussion. Teaching and Learning ratios will be broken down into two different ways of delivery.  Thinking Ratio (how rigorous is the work?) and Participation Ratio (how many children are actively engaged and participating?) are two important factors teachers at Firs will seek to master to ensure academic rigour within the classroom.

Children cannot achieve academic rigour unless they learn lots of content knowledge themselves.

Thinking Ratio will refer to the level of engagement, depth and quality of learning taking place in our classrooms.

Participation Ratio refers to learners being actively engaged in their learning and not merely passengers in a lesson. Time on task is a driving factor in achieving academic rigour in our classrooms and ensuring children are thinking and participating at a maximal level.


Foundation 4 – A Culture and Climate for Learning

Developing a positive learning culture and climate in the classroom will only improve academic outcomes and achievement at Firs Primary School. There are two main drivers in establishing a positive learning climate and culture at Firs.  Firstly; the main purpose of the classroom is to promote academic learning. Secondly; the culture and expectations are positive, engaging, joyful, caring and productive.

Five clear principles to ensure a positive climate and culture for learning:

  • Discipline– the process of teaching children the right and successful ways to do things.  Children at Firs Primary are expected to follow the school charter and be Ready, Respectful and Safe at all times.
  • Management- effective classrooms require effective management systems. Teachers at Firs primary are encouraged to reinforce expectations to further embed positive attitudes to learning.
  • Control– strong control in the classroom at Firs relates to the power of affective/effective language and the ability to develop strong relationships. At Firs Primary we prioritise in ensuring children feel that they belong and connect to the classroom and school.
  • Influence– at Firs Primary we want our children to believe in what they are doing during lessons. The class teacher will be responsible for influencing children to ‘believe’ and not just ‘behave’ during lessons. We expect all staff to instil a love of learning in every child.
  • Engagement– children’s minds will only be engaged during lessons in which teachers allow children to have plenty to do and plenty to get involved in. Teachers at Firs will engage children though important, interesting and challenging work.

Firs Primary Teaching and Learning Growth Model 

The WHMAT places improving and maintaining the highest quality of teaching at the very heart of providing a good education. Firs Primary School focuses on continuous professional development for all teachers. 

Recall, Relive and Reflect – process to support effectiveness of practice

At Firs Primary we first and foremost support staff by focusing on what works and what is working well inside the classroom. The school will prioritise working with staff to develop their practice and allow the school to be at the forefront of new and unique teaching and learning techniques. This will be achieved through delivering CPD using a growth model and primarily focusing on building on techniques that work within the classroom. We aim to develop reflective classroom practitioners using a three Rs approach:

  • Recall – techniques used in practice.
  • Relive – use the technique again and again.
  • Reflect – on techniques used; did they work? How could they work better? Aim to get the small things right to make a big difference.

The core focus of CPD is to always improve, to always get better and develop continuous and sustainable improvement. The quality of our teaching and learning must, and always will, remain a priority for the school and we view our teachers as our greatest asset. Therefore, our professional growth model will ensure that our teachers are able to be the very best they can be and receive quality CPD using a what works model of support.

Teaching and Learning Guidance document 2019.

Firs Primary Teaching and Learning poster.