The NOPA Curriculum

All schools have a unique identity and at North Ormesby Academy we believe that we have created an outstanding friendly, caring and supportive environment that encourages our children to fully learn and develop into well-rounded pupils ready for the challenge of the 21st century.

Our children are very happy and feel safe in school. Our exceptionally talented staff team use all their expertise and experience to extend learning, creating challenges in a broad and balanced, experience-rich curriculum.

We intend to abide by some fundamentals for our curriculum: Excellence, enjoyment and enrichment.

- We want children to strive for scholastic excellence; excellent standards that deepen understanding, improve knowledge retention and are consistently challenging.

- We want learning to be fun, engaging and exciting, where pupils take ownership of their learning in creative and innovative ways - we'll use our comprehensive expertise in technology to help deliver this to all pupils.

- At the heart of our curriculum lies ‘Tim’s Traits’; we want all of our children to master these skills to prepare them for the ‘real world’. We’ll use rich, expert experiences to help.


Tim encourages pupils to have a positive attitude to develop resilience and determination in preparation for becoming a confident member of the local and wider community and achieve scholastic excellence.

Tim encourages pupils to achieve and gain the best possible outcomes through hard work, exemplary behaviour and a real love for challenge. He encourages pupils to become masters in everything they do and reminds them that 'practise makes permanent'!

We put ‘Tim’s Traits’ at the heart of our curriculum, ‘wrap’ them with the national curriculum and ‘coat’ with our topic theme, meaning when our children look at learning they see Jurassic Era, Florence Nightingale, The Land of Imagination etc.

Topic Overview:

After over 30 months of consultation and evaluation, the following overview was produced. We purposely built our topics to feature heavily on geography, history and science, as these are areas we felt required more emphasis but also areas that inspired our children most. Each topic is question-focused to stimulate curiosity and provide sharp foci for teaching/learning. We have ensured there is global coverage; topics begin close to the lives of our children, when young, and 'open up' as they grow, both in terms of historical and geographical concepts. We have also ensured that our historical topics follow a logical chronology.

You can view examples of our 'Curriculum iBooks' by clicking the topic covers below. They continue to be a work in progress and highlight how the 3 Es and Tim's Traits are woven into our planning. We think 'experts' are key to helping us all learn - we have many in school but the iBooks also incorporate some of our best school visitors and trips.

You can also see the overviews for each subject, written by subject leaders, here.

We want every child in our academy to go on lead a 'Remarkable Life' - it is imperative they know of and remember those with remarkable lives who have come before them. Because of this, we have produced a 'Remarkable Lives' aspect of our curriculum, spending a full day three times per year learning about some of the most significant people of the past.

NOPA Curriculum 'Learning Flow Model'

We took inspiration from our trust 'Mastery Flow Model' to develop a teaching and learning model for the NOPA Curriculum. The goal for all of our children in the skills and knowledge they are taught/learn is 'automaticity'; the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit.

Having acquired an understanding of a concept, children then move to becoming 'fluent', but only in the short term. Synthesising and higher order thinking in the concept help learn at a deeper level, thus improving the ability to remember and recall. It is only through constant and quality retrieval of concepts that children will remember long term, becoming 'masters'.

Fundamental Knowledge

We've produced what we think are the most fundamental blocks of knowledge for each topic. These help teachers to be sharp in their thinking when delivering and leaders when looking for evidence of excellent progress and standards of teaching/learning. Most importantly, they offer a platform to children. They can be used throughout the 'journey' of learning and provide a focal point for retrieval practice.

Why This, Why Now?

We have also produced, for each topic, a 'WTWN' graphic which highlights where topics fit in the overall learning journey of a child at NOPA. These are excellent for providing clarity to both teachers and children on why they are learning about specific historical or geographical concepts and how they fit in to the NOPA schema - what they have already learnt about which will help and what they will go on to learn about.

'Short term' learning is all about our learning flow model - 'Are you learning at the acquisition, fluency or depth phase?' Over the 'medium term', concepts from previous or future terms can be linked, where as the 'long term' is about accessing content well into the future or using knowledge from past learning. Our 'Remarkable Lives' curriculum features heavily here.

Reading

A stalwart of any effective, rich curriculum, reading features highest of most subjects at NOPA. We have a two-pronged approach to reading (more details here), both of which involve the use of high quality, carefully selected class texts.

All of our curriculum iBooks come with suggestions of quality, tried and tested texts which relate to the content or the theme of a year group's topic. That list certainly isn't exhaustive and teaching staff regularly look for and use new reading all the time. This, of course, will be just one of many texts they encounter throughout the year, and just one part of our 'NOPA 4x4 Reading'.

Research

We are keen advocates of research-informed practice; we have developed a confidence and courage in implementing and embedding new initiatives but also the ability to be brave enough to say when they do not work!

Whilst our Curriculum Team includes a 'Research & Development Lead', we want all NOPA practitioners to be aware of research and we have incorporated some of the most profound and internally-tested research initiatives into our curriculum.

All of our curriculum iBooks come with 'retrieval quizzes' and 'retrieval tasks' to help with retrieval practice. We have also implemented a 'maths memory' session, daily - an extra session of maths per day devoted to retrieving key content from previously taught material. This approach also takes advantage of what we have learnt about 'interleaving' and 'spaced practice'.

We worked with Rosedale Primary School and the EEF on 'Reflect_Ed', a trial on the embedding of metacognition through explicit teaching. This ended in 2018 but we have continued many elements, such has been the impact of the work.

The book 'Understanding How We Learn' has given us much to aspire to; the work of the 'Learning Scientists' can be found here.

Leadership

It is important to us that all NOPA staff have a say in how the curriculum is structured and works. Design, architecture and top-level review comes from the 'Curriculum Team' which includes a member of staff whom oversees the wider curriculum (Curriculum Lead) and the aforementioned R&D Lead.

Our Curriculum Lead oversees the work of each Subject Lead, ensuring there is quality support, challenge and cohesion in what we do. It is the role of each Phase Lead to ensure standards of teaching and learning, in everything that is taught, remain high.

The Teaching Team are responsible for coverage, delivery of the learning model and creativity!

This is all then supported by the work of the English, Humanities and STEAM teams who meet termly to monitor the above, particularly by looking at children's work, and suggest improvements going forward. Members of the Curriculum Team feature in each group here.

Immersion

We want our school and curriculum to be as enthralling as possible, so to coincide with our school’s flexible seating approach, we try to make our school as immersive as we can, bringing topics to the children! We love turning our classrooms into mission control centres, having boats as seats and having igloos to learn in! It’s not just the classrooms that get a makeover though; we have a wonderful ‘Magic Weaver’s Garden’ that the children can use for inspiration on any day and a 'Learning Village' which includes its own reading den!

Using Technology

As an Apple Distinguished School, we work with 1:1 iPads from Rec to Y6 – technology plays a huge part in our curriculum and allows our children to communicate, collaborative, create and evaluate very efficiently. Children spend much of their curriculum time designing posters, producing videos, Keynote presentations, animations, games and more. This creativity and productivity means they are constantly synthesising the knowledge they are gaining, as well working on key skills.

We’re also avid users of VR – we now have around 50 headsets used daily across school. VR gives the children the opportunity to ‘experience the impossible’! They can walk alongside dinosaurs, experience first-hand what it is like to be an astronaut or see the depths of the darkest parts of the ocean! You can read more about this here.

Topic Portfolios and Digital Books

From Y1, the children at NOPA produce their own 'Topic Portfolios'. In this they can set out and 'evidence' their learning in any way, shape or form they wish. Support is on offer but our portfolios are very much about personalisation and customisation. They incorporate lots of cross-curricular work as well as any learning that children do at home.

In phases 2 and 3, children produce digital books for subjects like Science. You can see from the example below, children are again free to structure their learning in any way they see fit, with the added bonus of being able to include videos, sounds, animations and a multitude of images. We've seen the significant impact this has on learning, particularly with our EAL and SEND children.

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Celebrating and Sharing

A key aspect of our curriculum is celebrating the outcomes it brings. We hold ‘Inspire’ days in each class every half term so parents and carers can spend time in school, learning with their child(ren) and celebrating their success.

We are also very active on Twitter and Facebook, and we produce ‘Excellence, enjoyment and enrichment’ videos for our school YouTube channel and website.

Each class/phase also produced their own learning portfolio for each topic which showcases the excellent learning that has gone on. You’ll also find the children’s work on high quality displays throughout the school.

Enjoy our You Tube videos showing all the fun things we've been getting up to!

(You can access our You Tube channel here.)