High expectations for all learners – a Mastery Approach to the Curriculum
The Hearts Academy Trust is developing a Mastery approach to the curriculum consistent with the New National Curriculum. We have very high aspirations for all our children in Hearts schools and we employ the Mastery approach to help children to become fluent and confident in the skills and knowledge they need.
We believe that all children are capable of making good progress in learning and we reinforce a “can do” attitude and approach to learning . The expectation is that the large majority of pupils progress through the curriculum content at the same pace. Depth of understanding is prioritised, alongside high expectations of every child.
However, decisions about when to progress will always be based on the security of pupils’ understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage. Teaching is underpinned by methodical curriculum design and supported by carefully crafted lessons and resources.
Some children will grasp a skill or concept particularly rapidly and teachers ensure that there is always challenge for these children to engage them and ensure that they are making good progress. The challenge will not usually be to accelerate them through new content but will be an activity to broaden their understanding and encourage them to think more deeply about what they have learnt or to apply the skill fluently in different contexts.
Some children may need support or different strategies to help them to keep up with the class’ learning. This can include giving different resources, additional practice to consolidate their learning or extra teaching support either during the lesson or outside the lesson.
In most lessons in Hearts schools, all children will access the initial teaching together with teachers targeting questions to check and move on each child’s understanding. Teachers use precise questioning in class to test conceptual and procedural knowledge, and assess pupils regularly to identify those requiring intervention so that all pupils keep up.
We have developed an assessment system that enables us to track what children can do and what their next steps are in the most important things in each subject. Teachers continually adapt teaching of the whole class and additional support for individuals to meet needs identified in these assessments.
The curriculum is based on exciting subjects, visits and expert visitors with a theme of questioning and thinking running through all learning. The full range of primary subjects is taught but it includes Spanish, global education, formal general knowledge lessons which develop vocabulary, and knowledge of key themes in the humanities as well as specific topics which prepare vocabulary for new topics.
The school runs a House system which encourages community loyalty, improved circles of friendship and responsibility. House events include sports, quizzes and a house point system which is celebrated weekly. This sense of community develops pride, respect and care. The curriculum is based on the key mission statement of Happiness, building self-esteem and confidence, achievement being celebrated across a range of curriculum areas, respect and responsibility, truth in relationships and behaviour, and spirituality and service encouraging a reflective attitude to everything, including our mistakes and errors as well as an innate desire to serve the community and those around us. This expectation of self-reliance and high achievement across a range of areas and not simply basic skills supports the development of high self confidence in all pupils and thus a relentless approach to improvement by all.
Early Reading Research (or ERR) is used as the structure for teaching Phonics in both Reception and Year 1. Children are taught to read and spell through 3 daily sessions of 15 minutes. Children learn to read high frequency words through regular practice. They learn to understand that letters and letter combinations represent sounds in words (grapheme- phoneme- correspondences or GPCs). In ERR sessions they practise quick recognition of these GPCs. The sessions also give children consistent support and practice in skills of blending these sounds to read and segmenting words into sounds to help with spelling and writing. Within each session, children practise and apply these skills in games, reading texts or writing words or sentences. Children are taught on a group basis through a strategy known as “my turn” (where teachers model how to read), “let’s do it together” (where teachers and children read together) and “your turn” (where children read on their own). Children who are not secure in applying their phonic knowledge at the end of Year 2 will continue to have regular Phonics sessions throughout Year 2.
Personal reading encourages the children to develop their reading ability using the school’s structured reading scheme which includes books from different reading schemes so that children see a range book formats. The children are encouraged to read at home to an adult as one of their homework tasks and may also read at school. In both key stages the children have a Reading Record which records their progress and next steps. Children also have the opportunity to borrow books from the school library. This is a free choice which encourages reading for pleasure and pupils to carry out additional research to support their classwork or homework.
In EYFS and Year 1, whole class reading is included in English lessons, Topic lessons and in class story sessions. Reading skills are taught explicitly in ERR sessions (see below) and in individual reading sessions. In Year 2, Reading lessons further develop decoding skills along with more formal skills in comprehension.
In KS2, the four reading sessions are split into two types: shared reading and reading comprehension. During shared reading the children will follow a ‘close reading’ format of whole class exposure of a high quality text. During this session, the teacher will use pictures, drama and known synonyms to decipher the language in the text together. Additionally, reading with expression, the use of phonics to decode and fluency are taught and practiced in these sessions.During the reading comprehension sessions, the children are taught how to answer questions based on the text they have been looking at.
The Trust employs three Directors of Learning who oversee the curriculum. For further information about the curriculum the Directors of Learning can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. To see the curriculum and topics for all classes please go the each class page and open the topic web.