We teach a creative curriculum which has a carefully planned, thematic approach to teaching and learning designed to support our pupils’ natural curiosity and stimulate their creativity. We believe that our pupils will learn best when they are challenged, when they enjoy experiences and they have the time to reflect, consolidate and transfer their learning. If we provide the right conditions for the children they will be responsive, thoughtful and creative. These give them the very best context for ‘deep’ learning so they can gain knowledge, skills and understanding which will be long lasting and provide a solid platform for further learning. Learning at Rodmarton takes place against a back drop of preparing for life in modern Britain, respecting the values of democracy fundamental to our country and for the liberty and tolerance of each citizen.
Central to our approach to teaching and learning is the pupil and her/his response to the curriculum. The pupils and adults work with each other and the teacher looks to the class for the direction of learning within the topic. In partnership they will look at the resources around them, in the wider community and at large to explore a topic in English, mathematics or another subject. Often, whilst studying one subject the teacher might be able to exploit an opportunity to apply learning from another area of the curriculum. The pupils will gain knowledge, skills and understanding and use these in another area to, for example, solve a problem or challenge. This enables the pupils to become resilient, to ‘join up the dots’ in their learning and enjoy a sense of responsibility and autonomy as a learner. Learning experiences are created in such a way as to provide opportunities to discuss our traditional values such as honesty, respect, trust and tolerance.
What might this look like?
This does not all happen by accident! Teachers are required to ensure pupils gain the knowledge, skills and understanding outlined in the National Curriculum. The extent to which pupils are
successful in these is then reported to parents, governors and outside agencies. So the programme of study and the approach to how this might be covered is carefully planned. However, there will be opportunities for the pupils to lead the study down a particular path of enquiry whilst still covering the essential curriculum.
What we try to create is a memorable starting point that will catch the attention of as many pupils as possible at the beginning of a theme or topic. If we are excited and energised by the launch of something new, the enthusiasm will be infectious and the pupils will quickly spark into action with questions, ideas, suggestions and theories. Those who don’t get it immediately soon catch on and join in. It’s dynamic and unpredictable but the teacher will still have an eye on the ‘coverage’ of the curriculum. The teacher might create a scene such as a crashed space ship, turned their classroom into an Anderson Shelter or became a character from history; anything to stimulate a rich and creative response. The pupils relish the ‘wow’ moments and become absorbed into the experience. Their writing, calculations and experiments push boundaries, take risks and promote accelerated progress.
We start with an imaginative idea, usually linked to history, geography or science. Although this subject might be the main focus, all subjects can be covered. Embedded in the programme of learning is a strong teaching and learning foundation which ensures depth and breadth in the study and underpins high expectations. All aspects of the topic will reflect our traditional values whilst promoting resourceful, resilient and responsive learning within the context of preparing children to live successfully in modern Britain. Pupils will be involved in self-evaluating and make connections in their learning. Pupils will understand what they’re learning and why. They will be able to assess their own progress and help direct their next steps. We provide materials, resources and opportunities and then the pupils solve problems, respond and present their ideas and solutions.
How does it end?
As with all things, the topic is time limited. Usually, it will last a few weeks, maybe a term. However, it will have a definite and purposeful end. There may be conclusions but this is not essential. There will be learning, progress and achievement to celebrate. There may be drama, art or music to present the new learning or an assembly with parents. Children will be able to look back at the starting point and be amazed at where they have arrived in terms of their learning journey. There will be evidence of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning along the way. The ending will be memorable in a different way from the launch point. Nevertheless, we will ensure it reinforces the progress made and the enjoyment of the learning.
Our approach to delivering the creative curriculum reflects some of the principles written about in “Lifting the Lid”, a landmark report from the National College of School Leadership where they define educational creativity in the following terms:
• Connecting: seeing relationships and combining in new ways
• Risking: having the self-confidence and freedom to fail and keep trying
• Envisaging: being original and imaginative about what might be
• Analysing: asking critical and challenging questions
• Thinking: taking time for reflection and soft thinking
• Interacting: sharing ideas and collaborating
• Varying: testing options and trying different ways
• Elaborating: exploring, fiddling, doing the unnecessary