Milldown CE Academy
Vision and Leadership
How we live out this in our school – a celebration of excellence
Milldown reviewed its curriculum and culture to ensure that it was the key driver and vehicle that allows all children to live out and achieve the school's vision ‘Inspire, Believe, Achieve’ and be the way the truth and the life – allowing them to make a positive difference to the world and not just join it.
Our bespoke curriculum, delivered as part of teaching and as a fundamental aspect of collective worship, is focused around 6 key themes:
- Mind, Body and Soul
- Community and Culture
- Power, Peace and Conflict
- The Natural World
- Unite our World
- Hopes and Aspiration
These 6 themes have been designed to disrupt the status quo and challenge children to drive society towards equality. We seek to tap into the funds of knowledge and rich repositories found in our households and the local, national and global community (Gonzales et al. 2005). Our curriculum content and these themes will ensure we give children the powerful knowledge needed for them to change the world and not just join it. Living out our vision, ‘powerful knowledge’ is abstract or rarefied: Inspire, Believe, Achieve .
This is not easily picked up by children and requires expert teaching. Our curriculum design supports teachers' delivery of this ambitious and empowering knowledge.
In addition, woven throughout our curriculum and approach to teaching and learning, are our 6Cs: Christian Values (love, peace, joy, kindness, self-control, patience); Collaboration; Communication; Community; Creativity; Critical Thinking. Our curriculum seeks to build on the richness of our local and global communities, taking it deeper and wider so that our children can achieve heights that not even we (with all our ambitions) think is possible.
How we achieved this
We carried out research to ensure that we fully understood what was needed for us to facilitate all children achieving our vision. What is our context? How does this context impact on our ability to achieve our vision? What skills and subject knowledge is needed? When and how will this be taught / experienced? What barriers are there to children achieving our vision – school barriers/context barriers? How can these be overcome / removed?
We also consulted with other schools who were already on this journey to understand their journey and learn from them. We consulted with parents to ascertain what they wanted for their children and how the school can support this. We consulted with staff to ascertain what they felt was important for children to know to be as best prepared as possible for the next stage of their education.
After consultation, our whole curriculum was remapped to ensure the themes drive our curriculum, our learning and all aspects of school culture. We mapped out a progression of these themes from EYFS through to Year 6 to give staff clarity of expectation. Considerable thought was given to what the teaching would look like, what the learning would be, what the children would do and how we would be able to assess the impact.
We also had to plan in opportunities that would allow the children the opportunity to make a difference. Again these were mapped out and included opportunities in the school day, within the school curriculum, within the school community and beyond. School documentation such as planning documentation were revised to include a focus on the theme so that staff were deliberately planning and teaching the theme with the sequence of learning.
Senior leaders reviewed the progression of these themes and planned teaching to ensure that learning of such abstract concepts was understood. We sought to link the themes with our curriculum concepts so that this complex learning could be understood and retained more successfully.
The difference that it makes
Our curriculum and vision are tightly linked with the school's Christian vision and values, driving the direction of our curriculum and shaping the learning and experiences of the children. Children are more aware of their uniqueness and individuality, the importance of their learning (skills and knowledge) and the significance they can make to the wider world. Their aspirations are focused, achievable and are centred on the impact that they can have – how they can make a difference to the wider community and world. The children are passionate and confident about the difference they can make.
“The Natural World [theme] has related to forest school and how to uilise and look after resources around us.” Y5 pupil
“Community and Culture has helped us think about others and the importance of; Mind, Body, Soul has helped our wellbeing and Power, Peace and Conflict is all about how we can get along and understand and be nice to each other. Our Christian Values also help us with those because they are all about love and peace and joy and kindness and self-control.” Y5 pupil
“They [curriculum themes and values] show us how to act in school like if you’re not getting along with friends it has helped me to say the right things and know what to do and when I’m playing online with my friends at home to make sure we work as a team and understand each other.” Y6 pupil
“The themes all link to everything we’re doing like collective worship, our class stories, our lessons too. It inspires you to do things out of school like joining community groups and clubs to make a difference to your life and other people’s.” Y6 pupil