The Intent of our School Curriculum
At Billingborough, we have always believed in taking a holistic view of every child. As the nature of schools' curricula came under the spotlight in recent years, we conducted some research ourselves. We sought an educational philosophy which matched our own and we talked with our children in a "Big Conversation" about how they wanted their curriculum structured; we found this in the work of Johaan Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827) an early pioneer of educating the whole child - their head, heart and hands.
As a result, the ethos of our curriculum takes account of these three aspects of learning. We want our pupils to leave us at the end of Year 6:
“Knowing how to think, feel, and act…”
We believe Knowing,' or the act of knowing, which is called 'knowledge,' is defined as the expertise and skill acquired by a child through their experiences and education. It includes facts and information about certain things of which they are certain about.
(Our training material and reading documents are at the base of this page for information.)
Our Head, Hand and Heart Model is comprised of:
Knowing how to think:
Knowing how to act:
A knowledge "Concept"
"Head Knowledge", or "Declarative Knowledge", is the explicit knowledge we teach at Billingborough School which, once "learnt", children come to definitely know or "declare". Declarative knowledge is thought of as ‘knowledge about’ or the answers to the what, where, when, or who types of questions. Since we began this work on our curriculum, we have seen more clearly that all the subjects we teach are driven by key knowledge concepts - these are required to give the knowledge coherence, to join it up and prevent it becoming just a jumble of unrelated facts. In most cases, they apply to the subject for all children, regardless of age. However, they do not exist in isolation in each year group, they develop in terms of complexity as pupils mature. For example:
In maths the concept of "Number" exists from learning the "Threeness of 3" in Nursery, to working with numbers with several decimal places in Year 5.
In history we may study a range of subject matter but the ability to understand the relevance of the time and place of these events requires an understanding of the concept of "Chronology". From the idea of past and present in Reception, to an understanding of BC - AD in key stage 2.
In science we are very familiar with the concepts of "Biology", "Chemistry" and "Physics".
To begin to read, children need a secure understanding of the concept of "Phonics", which they continue to apply in terms of decoding unfamiliar words up to, and into, adulthood.
In the same way as our academic curriculum is built of concepts, so is our emotional literacy. Here, learning takes place around the development of concepts linked to a child's character. Character embodies values such as: "Empathy", "Resilience","Respect" and "Tolerance".
Children need in the first place "Head Knowledge", or "Declarative Knowledge", that is the explicit knowledge which they can definitely state. For example "That is a bike", "They are swimming". "Hand Knowledge" or "Procedural" or "Implicit Knowledge" is the type of knowledge exercised in the performance of a task. It’s basically “How” you know to do something. It's a type of knowledge that is hard to explain as it is subconsciously stored in your mind. ‘Muscle memory’: consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition, which has been used synonymously with motor learning, like learning to ride your bike, is another phrase used to describe implicit knowledge.
Different types of knowledge can be more or less effective, given the scenario in which they’re used. For example, a child may score 100% in a theory test linked to Bikeability with map reading or lifesaving techniques in water, yet still not be able to actually ride their bicycle or swim. In this case, their declarative knowledge of cycling following a route or lifesaving is almost useless, as they can’t actually put it into practice until they have an understanding of the procedural knowledge involved in riding the bike or swimming itself.
We need some "Head knowledge" to prompt "Hand knowledge", that in turn generates more "Head knowledge". So if the head is academic, and the hand skills, you cannot have skills in isolation; nor will a child succeed with "Head knowledge" alone. In the middle of this is the "Heart knowledge" - where (with a growth mindset) the knowledge of resilience, empathy, tolerance; that is the desire to succeed, keeps the child going.
For subjects such as writing and reading, there needs to be a channel, a "Conduit", through which the learning takes place - this will join the concepts together.
Reading Concept :Genre - sub concept Diaries
Writing Concept: Construction - sub concept; writing in the first person
Writing Concept: Creativity - sub concept Diaries
History Concept: Sources of Evidence - sub concept; eye witness accounts and artefacts
History Concept: Warfare
History Concept: Social Change
Geography Concept: Space, Place and Scale - sub concept; Europe in the 20th century
Knowledge Conduit = Anne Frank's Diary
Whilst teachers assume the mantle of the everyday expert in class, we also seek and enlist the support of knowledgeable expertise from our local and wider community. This may be accessed at school by visiting specialists; like Sunita Patel, who supports us with our leaning about Hinduism. Off site we have visited Peterborough Mosque to meet their community leader then compared the experience to visiting the city's cathedral. We seek authorities in particular settings, such as the Lincolnshire Aviation Trust Educational Team at "The International Bomber Command Centre" in Lincoln. In some cases the visits can be truly immersive, for example, we are members of the National Trust and when visiting "The Work House" at Southwell, the children realistically role-play Victorian paupers, right down to donning replica costumes and being reprimanded by The Master and Matron.
Expert involvement gives greater access to specialised knowledge, often in environments which act as knowledge- enriching experiences themselves. Accessing such also counts towards all our children being able to experience culturally-enriching opportunities, not just those who may do so as a family outside school.
Because the input of these experts is planned as part of the curriculum, part of the concept being delivered, they are not simply "WOW" moments. Whilst they may on the day be an episodic experience, the range of stimuli they offer, and the attention they attract, moves the event to the child's short-term memory. This is then taken back to class, revisited, revised and remembered with the aim of moving it to the long-term memory. Thus leaning has taken place and knowledge gained.
"Statements of Curriculum Intent" for each curriculum area, which include their respective "Concepts", can be read on the individual subject pages.
Click here for more information.