At Churchside our vision and values underpin all we do and these in turn shape the way in which we plan and deliver the curriculum. We see education as a life long journey for each child that we ourselves play a large part in. Our job is to set up each child with the tools and skills for life ensuring they are well rounded individuals academically, spiritually and emotionally. With both schools being set in the heart of rural Norfolk we draw on our natural surroundings to inspire our curriculum, whilst also ensuring we provide children with chances to experience life outside of Norfolk showing them what the wider world has to offer. We believe in developing the whole child through creative, purposeful and inspiring experiences that encourage children to develop a curiosity of God’s creation.
At the heart of our curriculum is the child, as our vision poem states we want to encourage a fascination of the world around them, to experience the awe and wonder the world has to offer. We do this by working with an enquiry based approach. The essence of this approach requires more than simply answering questions or getting the right answer. It espouses investigation, exploration, search, questions, research, pursuit and study. It is enhanced by involvement with a community of learners, each learning from the other in social interaction. We as educators play an active role throughout the process by establishing a culture where ideas are respectfully challenged, tested, redefined and viewed as improvable, moving children from wondering to a position of deep understanding and further questioning (Scardamalia 2002). Underlying our approach is the sense that both educators and students share responsibility for the learning.
Churchside’s curriculum is a careful balance of creativity and ensuring high standards. We encourage children to develop academically and also their emotional intelligence through providing an environment where risk taking and question asking are encouraged and nurtured. We do this by:
- Ensuring children are involved in the planning of learning allowing student voice to be empowered. Due to this their motivation and engagement is increased as they see a ‘reason’ for the learning.
- P4C is a key part of our curriculum it develops enquiring minds, the ability to think deeply and develop their own sense of self, becoming comfortable with their own opinions.
- No plan days are enriched learning experiences that allow children to take over the class for a day. They decided on the learning and how this will take place. The adults in the class work as facilitators and empower the children to make their own discoveries.
- Drama, art and film are used as platforms to provide enriched stimulus for children’s learning.
- Floor books are used to capture children’s voices and act as learning journeys across a variety of subjects.
- Federation days, messy church, clubs, visits within our locality, Mundford Junctions and Gooderstone Gatherings help to build community across schools and villages.
- Visits and visitors are carefully planned to maximise their impact within our curriculum. These experiences help to raise aspirations as they expose children to the vast variety of life chances the world has to offer.
- The strong culture of collaboration across both schools means expertise is easily shared and staff support each other.
- The BIF (bite size improvement focus) approach to school improvement allows the whole school community and stake holders to work on improving our schools together.
- We continually focus on the improvement of core subjects but ensure that these skills are not taught in isolation but developed in all subjects to ensure they are fully embedded.
- Our curriculum builds in cyclical skills that are revisited and built on each year to ensure that any gaps in knowledge are addressed. Misconceptions are gathered at the start of each new piece of learning and the children use their enquiry to challenge their own thinking.
Our curriculum approach helps educate for knowledge creation, lifelong learning and leadership. The knowledge that the children gain through enquiry is more readily retained because it has been acquired through purposeful/meaningful experiences. It allows a deeper understanding that goes beyond memorising facts and content. It is our aim throughout the Federation that children are taught key life skills such as; grit, perseverance, growth mind-set and self-regulation.
In short we will provide children with a wealth of meaningful purposeful learning experiences that will encourage children to explore, develop, refine skills and discover hidden talents. Children in the Federation will flourish, becoming resilient, tenacious learners with a strong sense of self.