Hatcham Free School aims to deliver the very best education for all its students and to prepare them for success in life. Our curriculum is designed to provide all our students with the core knowledge and cultural capital that is the foundation of this success. We aim to maximise their cognitive development, to develop the whole person and the talents of the individual so that they thrive in a fun, stimulating and supportive environment. We are committed to developing learners who are resilient, adaptable, aspirational in their goals and well prepared to be successful citizens of the 21st century.
ED Hirsch argues that “only a well-rounded, knowledge-specific curriculum can impart needed knowledge to all children and overcome inequality of opportunity.” At HFS we believe a knowledge-rich curriculum requires careful consideration of the sequence of knowledge so that it is pedagogically coherent and reflects the specific ideas and language in each subject being taught. It emphasises knowledge to be remembered and constantly built upon, not merely encountered and fleetingly experienced. The content of our curriculum provides children with powerful knowledge and materials provide opportunities for retention, subject-appropriate application and re-use of knowledge. We teach children how to think, how to criticise, how to be active, rather than passive, recipients of information; but each of these skills are taught within the context of the rich knowledge each subject provides.
Our curriculum has been designed by the school to provide a rich learning context, relevant to the needs and interests of the children, to help them understand their place in a rapidly changing world. Many of the topics make direct links to global issues and sustainability challenges. High expectations in speech, language and communication strengthen children’s ability to learn at a deeper level, allowing them to articulate their learning; demonstrating quality thinking and application of skills and knowledge. Physical and mental wellbeing are prioritised within our curriculum allowing children opportunities to exhibit spiritual, moral, social and cultural understanding.
Clear strategic planning allows our curriculum to be dynamic and adapt to the context of the school and children’s needs. The use of carefully crafted progression models enables teachers to identify what is expected of pupils at each stage and specific learning goals for every subject. Teachers can track the key knowledge and skills in a focused way, helping them to pinpoint and plug gaps in the learning of individuals and groups as well as helping subject leaders develop their subject area. Peer coaching supports all staff to further develop curriculum pedagogy.
Our approach to teaching and learning supports our curriculum by ensuring that lessons build on prior learning and provide sufficient opportunity for guided and independent practice. We have used Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction (2012) and our own experience of what works in the classroom to develop high quality lessons. In our lessons you will typically see all students grappling with the same challenging content, with teachers providing additional scaffolding for pupils who need it. Rather than moving on to new content, our higher attainers are expected to produce work of greater depth and flair.
At HFS we believe in providing real experiences and that children learn by doing. Therefore, we provide many opportunities for educational visits, inviting speakers into school, competitions, fundraising events and using our environment to spark learning, as well as other activities that extend children’s experiences. We develop links with the community – HFS is an exciting place to come to school and learn; we want children to be aware that they are a central part of our community and have a role to play in that community.
Everything from which children learn in school – the taught subject timetable, the approach to spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, the co-curricular provision and the ethos of the school – are to be seen as part of the school curriculum.
We use rigorous triangulated monitoring throughout the year to gauge the impact of the curriculum design. Alongside senior leadership, middle leadership monitor their individual subjects: reviewing learning, evaluating pupil voice, providing individual feedback to move practice forward, celebrating positives and highlighting areas of development. Our whole school team strengthen our ethos and vision as we work together to reflect upon our curriculum each term and share outcomes driving forward next steps. We don’t confuse coverage with progress when assessing as learning is measured through careful analysis of the application of knowledge and skills across the curriculum.
At HFS we combine, in various ways, both formative and summative assessment to track pupils’ progression through the curriculum. We use ongoing assessment to check pupils’ understanding and use this to inform planning for individuals as well as to impact the school’s curriculum design. Through our customised curriculum tracking tools, subject leaders and SLT can effectively analyse ongoing assessment to inform curriculum development further.
Our summative assessments allow pupils to demonstrate their growing understanding of subjects and teachers to assess the impact of their teaching. These summative assessments are typically taken at the end of each term, enabling teachers to focus on formative assessment from lesson to lesson. Our formative assessments are designed to support pupils in achieving fluency in each subject. This means that in lessons pupils are questioned on prior knowledge in order to embed this knowledge in their long term memory. This frees up their working memory to attend to current learning. We are also particularly conscious of the role that literacy and vocabulary plays in unlocking the whole curriculum. Teachers explicitly teach the meaning of subject-specific language and we encourage all pupils to read widely.
As a diverse and multi-cultural school community, we believe our children possess unique talents, skills and qualities. As such, they have the right to succeed, the right to recognise their own greatness and the right to develop who they are in a respectful and nurturing environment. Every child has an equal right to a challenging and enlightening curriculum. By teaching this curriculum well, and developing effective habits in our pupils, we hope to bring out the best in everyone.
There are also aspects of our provision which we feel enhance learning for our pupils and make for a unique HFS experience; these include:
- Edible Garden Allotments
- Specialist music and art teachers
- Fluent German speakers teaching German from Year 1 up
- Thinking School
At Hatcham Free School, we place a strong emphasis on the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics in the early years of reading and writing in order to give all children a solid foundation for learning. Our phonics teaching is logical and rigorous and we follow the Essential Letters and Sounds scheme. Our excellent phonics teaching is only a small part of our approach to nurturing a love of reading.
Our curriculum is designed to provide all our students with the core knowledge and cultural capital that they need to be educated citizens. We ensure that the curriculum enhances the experiences and opportunities available to children, particularly the most disadvantaged. HFS aims to provide pupils with a wide range of cultural experiences which help them to be comfortable in discussing its value and merits. We want all pupils to be confident creators and able to make informed decisions about what culture they consume and participate in, and can articulate why it has value.
Examples of how we are equipping pupils with cultural capital in our school:
- We have a range of visitors from different professions and diverse backgrounds, e.g. Diva Amon who is a deep-sea biologist and ocean explorer with mixed race heritage
- Parents are invited in to do assemblies about their jobs or passions, e.g. violin making, film making
- I Can Be programme in Year 3 to give disadvantaged girls exposure to a wide variety of women in different roles
- Black History Month open house celebration
- Model United Nations event in Year 5
- Architecture workshop day for the whole school
- All classes visit at least one art gallery a year, one place related to science and one related to history/geography, as well as other school visits relating to the wider curriculum
- Musician, country and artist of the term
- Group of pupils taken to the Home Office to present to ministers
- We carefully select challenging texts for school performances and pupils explore the cultural and historical value of these, e.g. Gilbert and Sullivan The Pirates of Penzance
- Texts and film clips are selected for English that are ambitious and that we believe will help engender an appreciation of a range of literature (see our English overview for examples)
- German football club taken to the Emirates Stadium
- We celebrate a number of different German festivals throughout the year such as German Karneval and St Nikolas
- Year 3 study a Shakespeare play and perform at the Albany theatre
Schedule 10 of the Equality Act 2010 requires all schools to produce an Accessibility Plan that identifies the action the school intends to take over a specified timescale to increase access for those with a disability. It must address:
- (a) increasing the extent to which disabled pupils can participate in the school's curriculum
At Haberdashers’ Hatcham Free School (HFS) we are committed to establishing equality for all pupils, their parents, staff and other users of the school. Please refer to our Accessibility Plan for information about how the school sets out to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people: pupils, staff, parents, carers and other people who use the school or may wish to through: -
- providing a curriculum offer that is accessible to all pupils improving the availability of accessible information relating to the school to parents, pupils, staff and visitor
- Through careful planning, the primary curriculum is adapted to ensure that all pupil groups have access to their learning within lessons and are able to make progress.
- Informed planning to utilise school passports.
HFS believes that the entitlement to a broad, balanced, coherent and tailored curriculum is a right for all and should not be constrained by age, gender, faith, race, physical disability, special education needs, medical needs or vulnerability. This entitlement should be delivered by trained personnel, committed to maximum inclusion, who are able to provide a happy, sensitive, secure and developmental environment in which all individuals are encouraged and enabled to undertake self-development, self-advocacy, respect for self, respect for others and respect for the environment.
Equality of Opportunity, thoughtful and effective assessment and testing, parental involvement and tailored teaching that is appropriate to the needs of the individual and the subject matter should be integral to the planning of educational provision, for all pupils.
The school is committed to ensuring that every pupil who is in difficult circumstances gets the extra support that is needed, without stigma or prejudice. All pupils are equally valued. High standards of behaviour and moral values are set for all.
The Special Education Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 Years states:
High quality teaching that is differentiated and personalised will meet the individual needs of the majority of children and young people. Some children and young people need educational provision that is additional and different to this. This is special educations provision under Section 21 of the Children and Families Act 2014. Schools and college must use their best endeavours to ensure such provision is made for those who need it. Special education provision is underpinned by high quality teaching and is compromised by anything less.
- HFS are committed to meeting the individual needs of pupils and believe this is the responsibility of all staff in the academy.
- Staff development and training must be at the heart of effective provision for individual needs.
- All staff will accept personal responsibility for the education of all learners and this should be reflected in the professional development of all staff.
- We will put in place collaborative teaching and co-operative action-research and evaluation, vital for the development of effective provision which is in harmony with legislative requirements and progressive educational ideas.
- The school believes in the principle that each pupil should have a broad and balanced curriculum and that it is not enough for the curriculum to be on offer; it must be fully accessed by each individual student.
For further information about our curriculum, please contact Hatcham Free School's Principal, Mr D Welsh.