The purpose of organising the delivery of the curriculum this way is to achieve the following, which we consider to be aspects of the school's culture which help us to deliver on our vision and values:
- Responding to misconceptions through same day intervention
- Setting children learning challenges (Apprentice Tasks) that are open-ended and encourage decision making (and time management)
- Setting up inspirational areas of provision within the environment
- Providing frequent masterclasses which communicate age-appropriate skills in all areas of the curriculum
- Supporting children to critique their own work and that of others
By delivering the curriculum this way we hope to ensure that all areas of the curriculum are covered and that they aren't being squeezed out by Maths and English. We also hope that as a result of taking this approach children will not produce near-identical pieces of work. As well as this we aim to provide children with less structured time which gives them opportunities to engage in decision making and time management. Because there is less structured time than in a more traditional timetable teachers are also freed up to spend time on same day interventions based on feedback gained during all lessons, including Maths and English.
|The green sequence shows what the adults are doing during the sessions; the turquoise sequence shows how children are grouped.|
Each unit of work runs for one half term. The length of the half term will dictate the number of Apprentice Tasks set and the number of Masterclasses that take place.
Each unit of work is based on a book. Units of work cover National Curriculum objectives as well as objectives taken from the school’s own skills continuums for painting, drawing, clay work, woodwork etc. Long Term Planning documents ensure coverage of all objectives.
Each unit of work is also centres around a question which should be answered by the end of the unit using information learned during the half term.
Units of work usually cover a range of national curriculum subjects although there is often a predominant subject e.g. Space covers mainly Science but also some History and Geography, Castles covers mainly History but also some Geography. Currently most Science is taught discretely by a cover teacher during teachers’ PPA.
Key Fact Sheets
Knowledge teaching is supported by Key Fact Sheets which contain 10 key facts for the topic and 10 key pieces of vocabulary. This information is learned by heart supported by various retrieval practice activities. A Key Fact Sheet is produced per unit of work prior to the planning of the unit to ensure teachers know what it is they want children to know by the end.
Facts on the Key Fact Sheets should spark intrigue and should be a gateway to further learning. They should provoke children to ask questions and to want to find out more.
Key vocabulary words should be linked to the theme of the unit and should be words that will be used regularly in both spoken and written language during the unit. Child-friendly definitions should be written by teachers.
Diagrams and useful images may be included on the Key Fact Sheet.
The Showcase event provides an audience and purpose to all the apprentice tasks. It might be in the form of an exhibition, gallery, exposition or a screening. Alternative audiences/purposes might be a website, a tea party (e.g if the unit is formed around Alice in Wonderland) or a show. This event is decided upon before planning the Apprentice Tasks to ensure all tasks feed into this final event.
Apprentice Tasks and Masterclasses
Apprentice Tasks are open-ended tasks which allow children to operate with some freedom and creativity. However, each task has a set of objectives that should be demonstrated in the final piece. The expectation is that each child produces unique and original pieces of work.
Each Apprentice Task, or sequence of Masterclasses, is typically controlled by one member of staff: they source or make exemplars, research information further to the core information contained on the Key Fact Sheets, deliver the masterclasses and support children during the independent application stage.
One Apprentice Task might require more than one sequence of Masterclasses running consecutively. For example, an Apprentice Task which requires children to produce a painting might have two sequences of Masterclasses: drawing skills and painting skills.
During a Masterclass focusing on creative skills such as woodwork, painting, drawing or clay work, children will create studies which will help them to practise the skills they will need to complete the Apprentice Task.
Not all Masterclasses focus on skills teaching. There are also regular Masterclasses focusing on knowledge teaching, particularly linked to Science, Geography and History. These Masterclasses expand on the Key Facts from the Key Facts Sheets.
Some Masterclasses may focus on producing a final piece for an Apprentice Task – this would occur when children need more adult input, for example if it is too soon to expect independent application of the skills.
Some Apprentice Tasks may be group tasks, most are individual tasks.
Some Apprentice Tasks may be worked on as part of the English lessons, particularly where writing is a major component e.g. a script for a documentary, a poem, a story, a report. In this case, the Masterclasses become the whole class/half class teaching inputs.
Logistics and Organisation
Although a detailed Medium Term Plan is produced, logistical and organisational planning takes place weekly to ensure best use of time and adults. This might sometimes making decisions to provide whole class inputs rather than repeated group inputs, making decisions about length of time needed to complete a Masterclass carousel and so on. No two weeks look exactly the same where timetabling is concerned.
Most of this work takes place in afternoons once Maths and English has been taught. However, English is sometimes taught in half-class (or smaller) groups whilst some children complete a Masterclass or work on their Apprentice tasks.
Materials needed to complete Apprentice Tasks are readily available either in classrooms or in shared areas. Most of them are displayed in sight and not kept in cupboards – children can access what they need when they need it without needing to ask for it.
As well as the Apprentice Tasks and the Masterclasses there are also further activities (linked to prior teaching in all subjects) which children can access (usually independently) during the time set aside for work on the wider curriculum. These will be set up in classrooms in the same way that Early Years classrooms have activities set up in areas of provision.
Equipment for all subjects is available to the children at all times enabling them to continue to practise skills learnt in Masterclasses.
The following are some images of the studio area we have developed outside of the classroom as an additional learning environment. The classrooms in year 5 are set up as fairly traditional classrooms with a bank of 5 computers each - the size of the rooms and the size of the children meant that to provide the aforementioned items in our environment we had to use some other space.