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Curriculum design statement: intent, implementation, impact

Our curriculum is designed for sustained mastery. It is inspired by the work of Chris Quigley.

Alongside academic excellence, at Basildon we want our children to grow to be happy, resilient kind people. As a small school we are proud to be able to provide a nurturing environment where every child’s individuality is celebrated and developed. Our excellent PSHE curriculum teaches children how to understand their feelings and emotions. As a church school, spiritual development is central to our ethos. We encourage children to explore their own beliefs as well as understanding and celebrating the beliefs of others. Behaviour across the school is excellent, we teach our children to be intrinsically motivated rather than relying on a reward system. We believe that children should take ownership of their learning, through teaching our Thinking Skills curriculum, our students learn how they can achieve more and be successful.

The breadth of our curriculum is designed with three goals in mind:

  1. To give pupils appropriate experiences to develop as confident, responsible citizens;

  2. To provide a rich ‘cultural capital’;

  3. To provide a coherent, structured, academic curriculum that leads to sustained mastery for all and a greater depth of understanding for those who are capable.


1. Appropriate experiences

We have developed a curriculum driver that shapes our curriculum, brings about the aims and values of our school, and responds to the particular needs of our community:

Diversity – which helps pupils to develop an understanding of the world and its people, to recognise and celebrate similarities and differences.


2. Cultural capital

Cultural capital is the background knowledge of the world pupils need to infer meaning from what they read. It includes vocabulary which, in turn and alongside our oracy approach, helps pupils to express themselves in a confident, mature way.


3. A coherently planned academic curriculum underpinned by the curriculum driver, our academic curriculum sets out:

a) a clear list of the breadth of topics that will be covered;

b) the ‘threshold concepts’ pupils should understand;

c) criteria for progression within the threshold concepts;

d) criteria for depth of understanding.

The diagram below shows the model of our curriculum structure:


a. The curriculum breadth for each year group ensures each teacher has clarity as to what to cover. As well as providing the key knowledge within subjects it also provides for pupils’ growing cultural capital.

b. Threshold concepts are the key disciplinary aspects of each subject, the essence of the subject. They are chosen to build conceptual understanding within subjects and are repeated many times in each topic.

c. Milestones define the standards for the threshold concepts. They identify progression in the threshold concepts.

d. Depth: we expect pupils in year 1 of the milestone to develop a Basic (B) understanding of the concepts (the fundamental foundations) and an Advancing (A) or Deep (D) understanding in year 2 of the milestone. Phase one (Years 1, 3 and 5) in a milestone is the knowledge building phase that provides the fundamental foundations for later application. Learning at this stage must not be rushed and will involve a high degree of repetition so that knowledge enters pupil’ long-term memory.

Basic (B) – ‘Acquiring’ skills: name, describe, follow instructions, complete tasks, recall information, ask basic questions, use, match, report, measure, list, illustrate, label, recognise, tell, repeat, arrange, define, memorise.

Advancing (A) – ‘Practising’ skills: apply skills to solve problem, explain methods, classify, infer, categorise, identify patterns, organise, modify, predict, interpret, summarise, make observations, estimate, compare.

Deep (D) – ‘Deepening understanding’ of the skills: solve non-routine problems, appraise, explain concepts, hypothesise, investigate, cite evidence, design, create, prove.

Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:

  1. Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.

  2. Interleaving (deliberate leaving and coming back to through beginning with exposure then keep returning to explore further) helps pupils to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention.

  3. Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.


In addition to the three principles we also understand that learning is invisible in the short term and sustained mastery takes time.

Some of our content is subject specific, whilst other content is combined in a cross-curricular approach. Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides retrieval practice for previously learned content.

The impact of our curriculum is that by the end of each milestone, the vast majority of pupils have sustained mastery of the content, that is, they remember it all and are fluent in it; Some pupils have a greater depth of understanding. Pupils’ have developed a connected understanding of our curriculum content. We track carefully to ensure pupils are on track to reach the expectations of our curriculum.

To learn more, please click on the button below.

The school’s curriculum driver of diversity underpins the entire curriculum. Teachers actively seek opportunities to promote and celebrate diversity across the curriculum where ever appropriate for example mapping artists taught across the school to ensure that they represent a broad spectrum of cultures.

For information, please refer to the individual subject pages.

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