Curriculum  

Curriculum Intent

Work hard, dream big and never give up!

Overview:

What do you want to be when you grow up? Here at Mill Hill Academy, that is the question we ask our children. 

We provide a broad, balanced ‘Dream Big’ curriculum that offers a wide range of exciting experiences and challenging activities for all our children. The aim for our curriculum is to lay a firm foundation for their future endeavors and inspire them to be the best they can possibly be!

We use our curriculum as our narrative. We do this because:

  1. Every bit of Knowledge is important

When we structure the information we wish to present under a broader narrative structure, each piece of knowledge becomes important. Without each bit, the story won’t make sense.  Some bits might not be needed and there might even be a ‘skeleton’ amount of information that can be learned which will still be useful to students. However, without learning every bit of knowledge in a meaningful way, the richness of the subject being studied won’t be appreciated as fully.

Curriculum as narrative is just like this: each piece of knowledge builds on the next and takes on deeper meanings and understandings as time goes by and the story is more fully understood.

  1. Every bit of knowledge is seen in relationship

 Each bit of knowledge is connected to another. A curriculum as narrative approach does all of this and more. It covers, meets objectives and memorises more fully than either of these approaches ever could. It sees every bit of knowledge that is covered as connected to another bit.

Our driver of our narrative is History, which we teach chronologically in order to enable children to recall the story in their minds. Every term has a different focus – British History, Ancient and Local. Eventually, all of these bits of knowledge connect up to form a cohesive, interconnected web of information ready for recall.

Our ‘Dream Big’ curriculum is designed to enable children to reach their full potential by developing a love of learning and a desire to succeed. We provide a creative and stimulating environment and an atmosphere of mutual respect. This enables the children to develop interpersonal skills, build resilience and become creative, critical thinkers.

Our immersive approach to learning includes all the National Curriculum objectives and much more! We ensure that our children are able to see links in their learning and do not see subjects as stand-alone. Our planning ensures that there is clear progression across all years and learning is sequenced though our progression ladders. Our curriculum ensures that our children know and remember more!

Each topic has a Knowledge Organiser, so our children are aware of the Key Vocabulary, Questions to encourage deeper level thinking and Key information for the Subject e.g. Timelines. Our “Dream Big Curriculum” brings all subject disciplines together. This encourages our children to link their learning and apply their skills in all areas.

Our Curriculum Drivers are Science, History and Geography and we enhance these with Art, DT and Music.

All of our topics start with a ‘BIG’ Enquiry Question and sequence together to an end point where the children showcase their learning for that topic. This happens Termly in our Showcase Assembly. Please see our Curriculum overview document for more detail on the topics.

Please see our curriculum overview document for more detail on the topics.

Skills

Our ‘Dream Big’ curriculum is a creative skills based curriculum that broadens our children’s minds and deepens their knowledge in all subjects.  

In order to engage our learners and make them lifelong learners, creativity is key. Our learning needs to have a purpose. We want all lessons to be relevant, inspiring and most of all challenging to unleash their inquisitive minds.

Maths

Maths is everywhere and our aim at Mill Hill Primary Academy is to encourage every child to love Maths! We want our children to be able to go into the outside world and confidently use Maths wherever they go. Through the curriculum, the children will learn the key skills so that they all leave with the opportunity to become mathematicians, engineers, teachers, shop assistants or even, future “Countdown” presenters! As adults, we understand the importance of Maths, and we want children to see this too. Maths isn’t just one subject at Mill Hill but, a part of all our learning. We want our children to use their Maths skills in other subjects for example from data handling in Science, to calculating the amount of years the Romans inhabited Britain in History.

We want all of our children to learn, understand, apply, reason, master and conquer Maths and build the skills they need to solve Mathematical problems. Through the use of concrete materials, pictorial representations and abstract methods, children will be able to fully understand number and how to calculate the four operations by the end of Year 6. We believe that Times Tables are key to Maths development and therefore put great importance on all children learning these during the school day. We also encourage children to continue practising them at home. By working together with our children and parents/carers we can develop their mathematical understanding and support them in loving Maths.

English

At Mill Hill, English is at the heart of our curriculum; it is the foundation on which every subject is built. We aim to deliver an English Curriculum that is immersive, inspiring and creative. By doing this we encourage a love of language in the spoken and written form, which fosters a thirst to learn more.

We believe that reading is the key to unlock the world and promote this rigorously throughout the day, in classrooms, around our Academy and with parents and carers. Opportunities are provided daily to practice and celebrate reading either individually, in groups or as a whole class. Reading at our Academy is always an enjoyable experience for our children. We have creative, cross – curricular approach with an emphasis on comprehension, understanding and the ability to infer hidden meaning in a wide range of texts.

The Reading Journey begins in the Foundation Stage, where a multitude of learning activities are available for children to experience books and phonics, igniting a passion for reading at an early age. As the children’s journey continues into KS1, the teaching of phonics continues and there is a greater expectation that this knowledge will then be applied to their written work. Moving into KS2, the Accelerated Reader programme is introduced to support reading through technology. In KS1 and KS2 children focus on a text in-depth and are immersed through reading, drama, comprehension and writing for a purpose.

Science

At Mill Hill, we believe Science is a core part of any child’s learning journey. Science holds the key to unlocking a lifelong curiosity and wonderment about the world around us. We aim to provide children with an enquiry-based curriculum that covers a wide range of topics. A pupil’s science journey begins in Nursery whereby children have the opportunity to explore a range of topics through a play-based approach. This ignites children’s scientific discovery and allows them to begin to question and investigate their ideas. This inquisitiveness continues within Reception and Year 1 as children begin to apply theoretical knowledge to their discoveries. The practical nature of Science runs as a continuous theme throughout both Key Stages and encourages children to form, investigate and draw conclusions for their own scientific questions. 

Through effective Science teaching, we aim to develop pupils’ problem-solving skills, resilience and tenacity. We believe that Science provides the perfect opportunity to develop these skills and to truly understand what it means to learn and discover through a trial and error approach. Across the school, clear links are made to Science in the real world and how famous Scientists have often persevered to discover, investigate and draw conclusions about a great many subjects. This highlights the learning journey in its purest form and we aim to share this with pupils in order to support their own learning journey. As a continuation of this we aim to incorporate ‘Science Capital’ links through all of our Science teaching which allows children to understand how Science links to the real world and begin to form an understanding of the range of careers that involve Science. This allows us to implement our aspirational Science curriculum, whereby we encourage children to believe that with hard work and determination they can become anything that they wish.

Technologies

At Mill Hill, we want to prepare children for the digital advancing world in which they live in. We aim to use technology to enhance the curriculum where possible, allowing them to see the transference of curriculum skills into a technological application. Children will become more fluent with an ability to use a range of devices and programmes enabling them to access and advance through our immersive curriculum whilst providing life skills.

Humanities

We aim to provide an exciting and thought provoking Humanities curriculum. Humanities consists of History and Geography.  We aim to WOW, engage and encourage children to ask questions and lead their own learning. The curriculum will inform children of past historical events and significant people, which will allow them to understand how people have changed our world and ensure geographical and environmental understanding. Teaching is stimulating, personal and provides the children with life skills such as empathy, independence and questioning skills. Children will have access to a multitude of activities such as, using and exploring artefacts, fieldwork and hands on experience in careers linked to humanities. We aim to stimulate, immerse and give children ‘BIG Dreams’ for their adult life.

The Arts

In art, we want to develop and extend the pupils’ visual curiosity, creativity, enquiry and aesthetic sensitivity to both the natural and synthetic world. We enable the children to respond and enjoy expressing their ideas, feelings and imagination using visual media and practical manipulative skills.

At Mill Hill Primary Academy, we aspire to make music an enjoyable, rich and stimulating learning experience. Children are encouraged to participate in a variety of musical experiences through which we aim to build a range of skills and understanding in musicality. We aim to nurture and develop children’s confidence to express themselves and respond to a range of music. Through singing songs and performing,

children learn about the structure and organisation of music and are taught to listen and to appreciate different genres. Children also develop descriptive language skills in music lessons when learning about how music can represent different feelings and emotions. Children are taught technical vocabulary such as volume, pitch, beat and rhythm and encourage children to discuss music using these terms.

We aim to provide a high-quality physical education curriculum which inspires all pupils to succeed and excel in competitive sport and other activities. It provides opportunities for pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and fitness. Opportunities to compete in sport and other activities build character and help to embed values such as fairness and respect.

Reading

Intent: At Mill Hill Primary Academy, we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. It is our intention to immerse pupils in the wonders of quality texts to instil a love for reading, a passion for discovery and a confidence to explore their imagination. We believe reading is key for academic success and so to ensure we have a holistic approach to the teaching of reading, we implement the following.

  • Children take part in Whole Class Guided Reading lessons, where children are exposed to a range of different texts and can demonstrate their understanding and thinking behind these.
  • Across the academy we have a wide range of reading books. All children from Nursery to Year 6 choose a reading book to take home and this reading book is changed weekly.
  • We have a selection of books/texts which are directly linked with the topics that we teach. This offers opportunities for the children to apply their reading skills across the curriculum.
  • Over the course of the week, children have DEAR time at least three times a week. This is a time to ‘Drop Everything And Read’. When we read for pleasure, pupils are able to choose the books they wish to read and enjoy, can choose to share a book with a peer, choose to read topic books related to our wider curriculum or listen to an adult in the classroom reading aloud to the children. 
  • Throughout the academy, we are developing reading zones where children can relax and escape to another world through the magic of reading.
  • Children who are not yet ‘free readers’, will work through our school reading scheme – these are levelled books which match the children’s current reading age. We expect family at home to read these books with their child daily and make comments in their child’s reading record. Children receive rewards in school for regular reading at home.
  • In Key Stage Two, children also access the Accelerated Reader programme, which helps develop their reading and understanding of texts.

By the time children leave Mill Hill they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres (including poetry), and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader.

Implementation: As part of this planning process, teachers need to plan the following: 

  • A cycle of Whole Class Guided Reading lessons, using a wide range of different texts;
  • Question stems which are used to inform questions based on the class text;
  • A list of unknown vocab which appears in the class text.

Teachers must assess children regularly using Accelerated Reader (in KS2), NTS Assessments, Collins Big Cat Reading Assessment Tool and Salford. These regular assessments inform planning and allow teachers to identify any gaps in learning.

Impact: Our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One and Two. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally. However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. We give all children the opportunity to enter the magical worlds that books open up to them. We promote reading for pleasure as part of our reading curriculum. Children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors and to review their books objectively. This enhances a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles.

Phonics

Intent: At Mill Hill we follow the synthetic phonic scheme of Letters and Sounds. Letters and Sounds is a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words. As part of this, children have daily phonics sessions either in small groups or as a whole class, where they participate in speaking, listening, reading writing and spelling activities that are matched to their developing needs. Teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge.

There are six different phases used in this scheme which the academy follows:

Phase Phonic Knowledge and Skills
One (Nursery/Reception)   Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.
Two (Nursery/Reception) up to 6 weeks Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the “simple code”, i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.
Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
Five (Throughout Year 1) Now we move on to the “complex code”. Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)  Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

Teachers also complete regular phonic assessments and plot children onto a tracking grid, which ensures children are grouped appropriately in phonics.

 Impact: Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screen at the end of Year 1. However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments.

Cultural Capital

We help our children to develop fully as individuals by encouraging them to have hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future. This is embodied in our Academy motto of “Work hard, dream big and never give up!” which encourages our young people to become the best that they can be. We prepare our children with the knowledge, understanding, attitudes and practical skills to live healthily, safe, productive and responsible lives. This is planned through our PHSE and RE schemes and through our “Dreams, Hopes and Aspirations programme”. Children and staff have their top 5 things that make them happy and proud. Each class has a “Dreams, hopes and aspirations” folder to store their work which may include pieces of writing, photos and pictures. Our weekly assemblies also cover topic areas such as our values, SMSC and British Values for example. These form our “Thought of the week” which children work on and evidence in their “Dreams, Hopes and Aspirations” folder.

Commando Joe is a programme delivered to our children. This character curriculum helps to develop children’s skills, knowledge and understanding whilst building their capacity to choose intelligently between decisions that contribute to their character development and specific learning. Topics can be used to create a curriculum framework that guides the direction of learning expectations and progress as well as identifying coherent expectations for each child’s character learning journey. The RESPECT framework supports the “Whole school approach” and staff to be able to help children to develop these behaviour traits within a number of exciting topics based on amazing characters and aspects of their life stories. Significant heroes/heroines, explorers and adventurers have been identified to support children’s understanding of these essential life skills.

As part of our outdoor learning, we successfully set up a gardening club to encourage children to think about a sustainable lifestyle. They were able to grow their own fruit and vegetables and the Big Dream would be to create our very own Garden Centre in the future. Due to its success, this garden is now accessible to all year groups across the Academy and it is incorporated into the children’s learning.  Through lots of research,

We found a garden helped children in so many ways, from finding fresh ways to engage children in maths to improving behaviour and attendance.

At Mill Hill Primary Academy, we are focussed on embedding career- related learning through our “Dream Big” curriculum. We help children to understand who they could become and encourage them to develop a healthy sense of self that will enable them to reach their full potential.  We provide our children with a wide range of experiences of and exposure to education, transitions and the world of work. Our Career-related learning encompasses activities that involve employers’, raising aspirations and broadening children’s horizons. We do this by ensuring that careers are featured throughout the curriculum (through topic-based activities, discrete lessons and/or themed weeks). These are designed to motivate children, to give them self-belief and to connect learning to life.  We are one of thirty-five schools in the City to be part of the Opportunity Area’ project with Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Enterprise Partnership. The project delivery model aims to embed employer led Enterprise, Employability and Careers into school culture and curriculum with a focus on real life exposure to the world of work.  Employers and business will promote structured and sustainable relationships and deliver innovative and inspiring activities.

We offer a wide range of after school activities for our children ranging from; songbirds and choir, to art and craft activities, lots of sports clubs and even a homework club for children that do not have the technology at home to access some learning. These are hugely popular amongst the children, often full to capacity.

NB: We have SOW and progression ladders in place for all subjects and we also use a variety of Reading and Phonics programmes. In addition, we use the Rising Stars programme for PE, the Discovery SOW for RE and the Jigsaw SOW for PHSE.

School Council

Our School Council consists of one class member from Y2 – Y6.  The Head Boy and Head Girl from Y6 are also a part of the School Council.

These children are chosen by their peers in their class. Each child, who would like to become a member, has to write and deliver a short speech to their class saying why they would like to become part of the School Council.  Their peers then vote on who they think would make the most supportive and responsible School Council member. This is carried out each new academic year to give every member of the class the opportunity to become a part of the School Council.

Each month, we have a meeting to discuss any issues or ideas that they think would improve the school. These ideas are noted in the minutes and passed to Mrs Mills, Principal of our school.  If passed, we have a further meeting with an agenda to discuss the plan of action. The plan is typed up for the children, they then speak to their class about the idea. Once the task is finished, all ideas are given back to myself and I pass and discuss them with Mrs Mills.

An example of this is:

Recycling is a huge help to the environment and the Council members wanted to run a competition for all the children in the school to design a recycling poster to display around the school. This is a way to encourage everyone, in school and out of school, to recycle more. After speaking to Mrs Mills, she passed their idea and kindly offered to turn the winning poster into a banner. This will be displayed in an area for all to see.

If any other urgent issues or ideas arise at any time from Mrs Mills or any other member of staff, we get together and discuss ideas regarding the matter with an agenda. The children can also come to me at any time if they have a problem or would like talk to all the School Council members with an idea they have.

Curriculum Overview 2020-21