The Importance of Knowledge
We have planned our knowledge-based curriculum extremely carefully to ensure that pupils achieve broad and deep subject expertise. Through our research and development projects, we aspire to widen our pupils’ knowledge-base through developing their ability to recall and build upon previous learning. Children love knowing 'stuff'! And once they do, they can get creative!
Our curriculum is built around quality fiction, and non-fiction texts. By increasing the amount of reading throughout the day, pupils develop a wider vocabulary and deeper knowledge. Research has shown that a students’ background knowledge is the strongest factor that develops comprehension ability. By the end of year 6 pupils will have read a wide range of texts, with a wide range of structures and diverse language. Texts include: Aesop's fables; Charlie & The Chocolate Factory; Oliver Twist; The Iliad; Robinson Crusoe and many others.
We use retrieval practice (low-stakes quizzing) to test children so that they are more able to store what they have learnt in long-term memory. Our foundation subjects not only involve recapping on prior learning, including previous years, but also involve drip-feeding knowledge that children will learn in the following year. For example, in history/geography in Year 2, children will be introduced to the continents when studying Roald Amundsen. Within that topic, they will also locate Egypt and Italy, in preparation for subsequent years' topics: Ancient Egypt and The Romans.
To find out more about 'retrieval practice' and our IEE study, click here.
Quizzing for Memory
We have mixed year-group curriculum quiz competitions every term that the children (and Mr Westby) just love!
House teams will be asked 15-20 multiple-choice questions based on knowledge they have learnt:
in previous years (and sometimes it may be knowledge that they are about to learn, hence the mixed-age teams)
It's a great, fun way of getting knowledge to stick!
Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory. Our working memory can only process a certain amount. If this gets too high, then overload occurs. To reduce cognitive overload, the teaching of our curriculum ensures that redundant information is omitted, key skills are taught well and reinforced through cross curricular work and low-stakes testing, and that that we consistently revisit previous learning in order to secure it in the long term memory.
Cognitive Load Theory John Sweller, Paul Ayres, Slava Kalyuga (2011); Study of Retrieval Induced Forgetting Robert Bjork (1994) & ( 2008); The Effects of Repeated Study vs Repeated Retrieval Practice Roediger & Karpicke (2006); Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school. Anderson, Wilson, & Fielding (1998); Bringing Words to Life Isabelle Beck (2013); Reading reconsidered Doug Lemov (2016); The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads Daniel Willingham (2017)