As an academy we are able to take the children beyond the constraints of National Curriculum.
Our curriculum is perhaps best described as ‘National Curriculum plus’. We recognise the rigour that the National Curriculum provides and have used this a framework to ensure that our coverage is appropriately ambitious and has a suitably broad scope. Details of specific content can be found in the various subject areas listed on this page. Look below to find out more about the principles that underpin our curriculum.
Units of work that make up our curriculum are content and vocabulary rich so that pupils develop powerful knowledge of cultural significance and understand important threshold concepts. Knowledge is coherently sequenced and mapped so that children build on what they already know and make meaningful connections. In some cases, units are dovetailed together so that the component knowledge in each is complemented and strengthened. Teachers use ‘knowledge organisers’ to summarise key learning and share these with pupils. We also employ a range of formative assessment strategies such as mini-quizzes and summarising exercises to check understanding and review the impact of our teaching. For some subjects such as phonics, reading, writing and mathematics, we carry out termly summative tests which we use to track progress and identify children who are at risk of slipping behind.
The use of evidence has been important in deciding both what to include in our curriculum and how it is intended to be implemented. Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and is always a priority. This starts in Reception where we use a consistent and systematic approach based on synthetic phonics. Books are well-matched to ensure children quickly become fluent and the school employs a range of strategies to foster a positive reading culture that continues until children leave. For mathematics, we use a ‘mastery' based approach that builds sequentially on deep understanding and develops fluency as the children move through the year groups. Our calculation policy has been carefully constructed based on the best practices seen around the world including places such as Singapore. We are also part of a long-running project with local Maths Hub. To ensure best practice in other subjects, we draw upon the subject-associations and experts from across the Trust. Our pedagogy is greatly influenced by Rosenshine’s Principles, Ron Berger’s Ethics of Excellence and Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset.
It is our intention to help our pupils to become respectful and compassionate citizens who show an awareness of other people’s needs and cultures. Our curriculum has been deliberately designed to be diverse. We ensure that there is appropriate representation of different races, cultures and that this is embedded in our curriculum rather than simple being a tokenistic bolt on. For example, in Year 5 and 6 we have a unit on the People’s of America which explores the history of immigration and transatlantic slavery and in KS1 we learn about Rosa Parks. Our books are carefully chosen to increase representation of both race and disability for example learn about the Windrush generation through Floella Benjamin’s novel Coming to England. We also explore concepts such as fair trade, globalisation and environmentalism in geography and science.
Our teaching staff employ a broad repertoire of teaching approaches such as drama, debate, fieldwork, experimentation and modelling to make school interesting and to take account of children’s differing needs. We prefer to employ strategies that ensure children ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’, although, if necessary, we have a lot of expertise in supporting children with a wide range of both physical and cognitive needs. We have a specialised sensory room for children to retreat to and employ the support of a play-based therapist. We are proud to be an inclusive school and enjoy the challenge of helping all children, whatever their starting point reach their full potential.
Our curriculum is designed to take account of our local context. This is achieved in several ways; firstly to take advantage of local resources e.g. the Suffolk coastline and our fantastic castles, secondly; to ensure children are aware of areas of specific cultural interest locally e.g. Sutton Hoo when learning about the Anglo-Saxons and thirdly to address areas of cultural deficit-for example mid-Suffolk is not particularly diverse and the rural nature and long distances to cities means that many children to do not have ready access to high culture such as museums, galleries, concerts and the theatre.
In addition to our high academic expectations, our school is committed to develop the whole child. We would like all our children to become confident, well–rounded and socially successful individuals. In order to achieve this, we often need to go beyond the curriculum to provide opportunities and experiences that develop children more widely. Some of our recent examples of this include the following:
- Everyone in our school learns to play a tuned music instrument. In Years 3 and 4 this is the ukulele and in Years 5 and 6 this will a brass instrument such as a cornet or French horn.
- Our children have performed in prestigious music events such as Snape Maltings
- We are part of the Archie Project which involves our children writing to, visiting and performing at the local care home to support the residents there.
- Every year we have an artist in residence who leads a whole school art project. We have regular art events such as creating a Festival of Light in the village when no nativity was possible due to Covid.
- Each year the children play a major part in writing the school play themselves resulting in some highly original productions with high levels of participation.
- We visit other UK cities such as London and Birmingham.
- We have an annual literary festival involving a book mastermind and visits from authors.
- Our school has a commitment to poetry. We won the Suffolk Young Poets competition several times and now set our sights on the national Poetry By Heart event. Last year we had a national finalist who performed at the Globe Theatre in London.
- We have a biennial ‘World of Work’ week in which people from a range of occupations visit the school to tell children about their careers. We also have range of career related trips and events this during this week.
- Our new PSHE curriculum in current and recognised the complexity of the modern world. Though this, stereotypes and misconceptions are challenged and children learn how they can make positive contributions to modern society.
- All children are Occold are democratically involved in decision-making though our regular school moots. Pupils set the agenda, chair the meeting and record the minutes. Our children have also visited the local courts and worked with practicing judges in a mock trial.
- Our children attend an annual week long residential where they take part in a range of character-building challenges.
- We show children what university life is like by regular visits to the UEA in Norwich.
- We visit the pantomime annually.
- We also like to make good use of proximity to the countryside to encourage children to explore the outdoors. At Occold we run a Forest School programme that all children are involved in. The aim is for all pupils to have regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or other natural environments with trees.
We encourage family members with skills and interests in particular curriculum areas to join us in the classroom to share their expertise.