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Curriculum Overview

Our Curriculum

Firs Curriculum Design Statement

Firs Primary School is committed to ensuring all children are able to access a knowledge-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. 

Four key elements underpin our post-pandemic curriculum design:

1. Scope - we ensure complete National Curriculum coverage in all subjects.

2. Coherence - we ensure common threads run through all subjects.

3. Sequence - we ensure knowledge and skills are progressive and built on solid foundations of understanding.

4. Academic rigour - we ensure the right level of challenge for ALL children deeply develops specific subject knowledge.   

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, Subject Leaders 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.  Firs Foundation of Effective Practice ensures we have a whole school approach to delivering our curriculum vision.  The Foundations provide staff with a Teaching and Learning model to ensure we deliver lessons based on research evidence and cognitive science.  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:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Information Communication Technology
  • PSHE
  • RE
  • Art and Design
  • History
  • Geography
  • Music
  • Design Technology
  • Physical Education
  • Modern Foreign Language – French.

Subject Leaders follow an evidence based approach during the Implementation stage.  Please follow this link to access the EEF guidance report all Subject Leaders use to effectively implement their subject curriculum: 


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 – Subject Leaders review the 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.  

Through our Subject Leaders at Firs we ensure:  

  • we deliver substantive knowledge that opens the most doors for ALL children.
  • we develop children’s knowledge to understand and interpret the world.
  • we grow children into becoming good citizenscultural capital.
  • our Subject Leaders create subject communities to continually evolve subject understanding and purpose.
  • we build on solid foundations of knowledge – progression over a period of time.
  • there is an emphasis on sequencing when planning our curriculum. Our curriculum is designed to help pupils remember what they have been taught.
  • planning of spaced learning and retrieval practice delivers a knowledge rich curriculum – Firs Foundations of Effective Practice.
  • we attend carefully to pupils’ learning: ensuring they develop their knowledge of themselves as learners, of strategies, and of tasks.
  • Subject Leaders subject curriculums are well-sequenced and are underpinned by an understanding of how children learn – cognitive science and pedagogy (Firs Foundations of Effective Practice).  
  • Subject Leaders ensure a planned curriculum approach and planned assessment approach is completely  aligned

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. At Firs Primary School, we use the Cornerstones curriculum which includes Knowledge Rich Projects and Imaginative Learning Projects.

The subject aspects are linked and developed throughout the projects, and build in complexity over time. The Knowledge Rich Projects make links across themes and topics, building children’s contextual knowledge across year groups. For example, children first explore the concepts of hierarchy and power in Magnificent Monarchs in Year 2. Then, in KS2, children study how hierarchy and power develop and change from the earliest times in Britain and the wider world, through to the world wars of the 20th century.

Lessons in the Knowledge Rich Projects are ambitious and offer a level of challenge. They are carefully planned in sequence to allow children to develop, use, retrieve and build on prior knowledge. Each project includes
planned opportunities for children to apply learned skills and knowledge, such as; low stakes quizzes, end of project tests and challenging innovation tasks.

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.

The projects follow the four stage learning pedagogy of Engage, Develop, Innovate and Express. They include an alternative, school-based Firs Memorable Experience and an introductory knowledge lesson to equip children
with the information they need prior to studying a new topic in depth. The lessons in the projects detail the key aspects of the National Curriculum and the granular knowledge and skills that children need to learn.

How it Works.

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

SMSC/BV development.

  • Spiritual – Children will explore beliefs, experiences and faiths, feelings and values. Children will enjoy learning about themselves and others, using their imagination and creativity to reflect on experiences.
  • Moral – Children will recognise right and wrong and respect the law. Children will understand what is meant by consequences and they will investigate moral and ethical issues.
  • Social – Children will use a range of social skills to participate in the local community and beyond. They will learn to appreciate diverse viewpoints and understand how to resolve conflict.
  • Cultural – Children will appreciate cultural influences and understand the role of Britain’s parliamentary system. Children will participate in culture opportunities and understand, accept and resect diversity.
  • Democracy – Children will understand what it is like to be part of a system where everyone plays an equal part.
  • Rule of law – Children will learn that all people, and institutions, are accountable for their actions and behaviour.
  • Individual liberty – Children will be free to express their views and ideas. The school is currently a Rights Respecting silver badge school.
  • Tolerance and respect – Children will learn to respect and tolerate others opinions and behaviours.

Emotional Wellbeing.

To develop Emotional Wellbeing children will:

  • Develop self-esteem and confidence in their abilities.
  • Learn in a stimulating and supportive environment.
  • Learn how to respect themselves and others.
  • Follow their interests and be themselves.
  • Reflect and think mindfully about their learning.
  • Work in a range of groups and settings.
  • Build respectful relationships.

Pupil Voice.

Our curriculum will provide children with the opportunity to:

  • Make a positive contribution to the school and local community.
  • Explore ways of becoming an active citizen.
  • Take part in age appropriate conversations and discussions.
  • Take part in democratic activities across the curriculum.
  • Express their own opinions on a range of different topics and issues.

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 Hartshorn - DHT.