Our Curriculum

Firs Curriculum Design Statement

Firs Primary School is committed to ensuring all children are able to access a knowldge-rich, 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, ensuring equity, learner empowerment and encouraging social mobility.  An essential element of our knowledge rich curriculum is the development of a broad and rich vocabulary, and the ambitious and explicit teaching of this.  A renewed focus on speech and language is a key driver of the revised curriculum and this is supported by the Voice21 scheme to develop oracy in the classroom.


At Firs Primary School we ensure our curriculum is not only tailored to our pupils’ interests and needs but also ensures they are Ready for Learning and Ready for Life in the wider world. We believe in subject based lessons where pupils can articulate and have a passion for subject based learning.

We have recently reviewed our post pandemic curriculum to ensure that our provision is carefully sequenced, knowledge-rich which aims to inspire pupils and promote excellent outcomes for all children.  

A knowledge-rich curriculum at Firs Primary School:

  • We place powerful knowledge at the heart of the curriculum.
  • We carefully chose the content.
  • We organise the curriculum in a coherent way, ensuring it builds from year to year.
  • We ensure it is cumulative, constructing firm foundations from which children can build conceptual understanding and skills over time.
  • We ensure it is inclusive and an entitlement for every child, regardless of background.
  • We deliver a coherent and ensures that teaching does not jump from topic to topic, but enables children to develop knowledge and a love of learning


We continually work with our teachers and WHMAT leaders to develop our curriculum offer and share the vision for our knowledge rich curriculum; this is embedded deeply through effective training and professional development opportunities focused on subject knowledge and pedagogy.  Our Senior Leaders work hard to highlight the development areas of the curriculum with staff and this focuses on; what we do well and what we could do even better.  High quality CPD, to support and develop teacher subject knowledge and pedagogy, ensures planning and resources equips our teachers to deliver a high quality curriculum.

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 – French.


The aims of our powerful rich knowledge curriculum for our children:

  • To be knowledgeable about content and the world around them.
  • To transform their minds so that they are able to make reasonable and informed judgements.
  • To ensure they can engage fruitfully in conversation and debate.
  • To develop confidence that comes from possessing a store of essential knowledge and the skills.
  • To have a sub-set of knowledge and the accompanying vocabulary that will maximise their chances of leading rich and fulfilling lives.
  • Ensure children are ready for the next stage of their development – Ready For Learning and Ready For Life.

Young et al (2017) identifies a Future 3 powerful knowledge curriculum, which is forever open to change through debates, research and expert leaders.  At Firs we ensure we know and understand ourselves well, to ensure we develop powerful knowledge children to act or think in a different way – we review our curriculum offer continuously.  We use Data Driven Instruction to ensure school leaders and teachers analyse, review and evolve the delivery of the curriculum based on identified gaps in learning.  To deliver a powerful knowledge curriculum, and develop the powerful knowers and knowing, we ensure a planned curriculum and planned assessment approach drives this vision.

A Planned Curriculum Approach

A curriculum exists to change the pupil, to give the pupil new power driving social justice reforms.

  • Knowledge being the philosophy – the more our children know the more powerful they will become. Teachers plan to develop knowledge and ensure children know more about the world around them.  Through effective pedagogy teachers ensure children build schema and are able to embed knowledge deeply.
  • Range of Knowledge forms – at Firs children receive a blended experience to develop understanding and learning; we develop learners in different ways. Stimulating classroom delivery, school visits, Firs Fabulous Experiences, after-school clubs, planned development of oracy and a curriculum underpinned by reading develop rounded children and Cultural Capital at Firs. 
  • Knowledge in detail – exactly children should know allows our children to build and develop schema quicker. The use of direct instruction and a teacher’s ability to go deeper over a shorter period of time develops knowledge of children.
  • Sequence, map and plan for knowledge – ensuring knowledge is built on solid foundations and becomes progressive over time is a key driver of the curriculum at Firs. Planning between Key Stages and Phases ensures work is progressive over time and deepens knowledge. 
  • Knowledge to be remembered and revisited – building storage strength and retrieval strength embeds learning in the long term memory. The planning of the curriculum works alongside the planned assessment approach, to ensure learning is regularly returned to and recalled to develop schema.

A Planned Assessment Approach:

Effective planned assessment allows us to check on the progress of OUR curriculum.

  • Generating study resources – at Firs planned resources ensure assessment is planned for; knowledge organisers, reading material and structured notes are examples of the activities teachers use.
  • Planning for Spaced Practice – revisiting learning over a period of time deepens learning and understanding. Assessment planning ensures children have time to pause and look back and reflect; providing children with the opportunity to build schema. 
  • Delivering explicit Retrieval Practice activities – delivering explicit activities daily, weekly, fortnightly, half termly and termly ensures children can embed learning. Making connections with other subjects through the use of brain quizzes, flashcards and knowledge organisers further allows children to develop recall and retention.
  • Exploring gaps and errors – teachers at Firs use assessment to identify common gaps in learning and ensure children are able to ‘KEEP UP’ and ‘KEEP AHEAD’ through effective support and interventions.
  • Pupil Progress Meetings – these meetings allow for effective dialogue between Senior Leaders and the class teacher. The meetings focus on four key drivers to ensure we deliver a powerful knowledge curriculum.  The four key drivers of Pupil Progress Meetings:

– Data Driven Instruction; what is the data telling us, what gaps need to be addressed?

– Intervention; how is this being delivered, is this evidence based, how do we measure impact?

– Curriculum / Organisation; reviewing the sequencing of the curriculum and timetable adjustments to support identified gaps in learning.

– Pedagogy; reviewing teaching and learning delivery.  How are our teachers continuing to develop schema through recall and retention strategies?


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

Cultural Capital Development at Firs

At Firs we identify Cultural Capital development as essential knowledge children will need to be become good citizens.  We plan this development around the knowledge of our children and families – we get to know and understand their lived experience especially new to country children.  Through this development we prepare children for transition and having the right set of skills to better their life chances.  Through our planned approach we ensure we provide opportunities for children to become more rounded and better citizens.  We base our planning around the work of Bourdieu (86) and Peterson (92) and focus on seven key development areas:

  • Access to challenging resources and experiences to develop understanding (Objective).
  • Language and oracy development is a priority of the Curriculum; VOICE21 and promoting the love of reading are key drivers. (Embodied).
  • Aspirations and achievements; we encourage all children to aim high and be aspirational. We achieve this by promoting achievements daily in class and during good work weekly assemblies (Institutionalised).
  • We focus on developing specific sellable skills and transferrable skills to ensure children are able to access their next transition stage – not just academically (Technical).
  • Through the planned curriculum, PSHE and assemblies we ensure children develop empathy and sympathy skills. The Circle Of Friends group ensures children develop these skills first hand (Emotional).
  • Firs is a place where everyone belongs. We ensure children develop an understanding of belonging and how it feels to belong.  Class achievements for attendance and other achievements are promoted weekly.  The House system allows children to develop a sense of belonging, and connecting, to different children in different year groups (National).
  • Cultural development understanding is driven daily at the school. Effective RE lessons, the wider curriculum (assemblies) and celebration events ensure we expose children to a range of different cultures (Subcultural).


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. 


  • Improve the quality of Teaching and Learning at Firs to ensure we can effectively deliver and embed our curriculum vision.
  • Provide high quality CPD to develop the skills and knowledge of our teachers; providing a consistent approach to staff development.
  • To ensure staff have access to resources deeply rooted in an evidence based research approach.
  • To use an instructional coaching model to avoid teachers ‘wasting their time’ in trying to reinvent the wheel.


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 prioritses continuous professional development for all teachers.  To support and develop staff we are committed to the WHMAT career pledge and ensure Professional Growth targets are effective and purposeful.

Firs coaching structure.

See it – identify the gap in practice.

Name it – name the change in practice.

Do it – study and practise over and over.

To support this structure:

1. Pre reading material on identified practice. When teachers read up on content, prior to trialling this in the classroom, they will make stronger connections and strengthen the learning. The WALKTHRUs PDF documents and video links will further support staff to understand the research.

2.Coach support and reflection. Teachers will have the opportunity to share their initial research with their designated coach – to reflect and then develop next steps. Teachers will work through the PDF resources and video links to identify how they will adapt the five steps approach into the classroom.


Attempt: run through the approach within the classroom.

Develop: add any additional details or changes to improve this practice.

Adapt: spend longer on key steps and do not worry if it doesn’t always work.

Practise: put the adapted practice into the classroom again.  If this is going to be embedded in the classroom teachers will need to review and evaluate the success and ultimately the impact on improved learning.

Test: the designated coach will review and reflect with the teacher.   


Firs coaching focus:

The coaching focus at Firs will cover a range of activities teachers need to develop their pedagogy.  This is not an exhaustive or definitive list, however, all areas will be supported by evidence based research to support a teacher to develop key areas:

  1. Behaviour and Relationships.
  2. Curriculum Planning.
  3. Explaining and Modelling.
  4. Questioning and Feedback.
  5. Retrieval Practice – building schema.


Providing time and space:

All staff will be provided with additional time to research, develop, practise and review.  The development points will never be more than two points during a Half Term period to ensure staff are not overwhelmed.  All staff will be provided with a designated coach to support them further and allow for reflection and professional dialogue. 


Providing networking opportunities:

All staff will be provided with the opportunity to work with other teachers within the school to share and develop practice.  Staff at Firs have the opportunity to work with WHMAT Leaders for Teaching and Learning, alongside other teachers within the WHMAT Academies.


Teaching and Learning Guidance document 2019.

Firs Primary Teaching and Learning poster.