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Core Intent of our Curriculum

The heart of our school ethos is Nurture. We believe that our curriculum, with its foundations in the National Curriculum, stretches beyond this content to ensure our pupils enjoy learning, make progress, and achieve well. This also includes: ensuring well-being of our pupils to become confident individuals who can lead safe, healthy, and fulfilling lives; embedding the social and communal aspects in learning, so our pupils become responsible citizens who make positive contributions to society. Our Enrichment opportunities, the extended curriculum and personal development, further enhances our curriculum provision. We aim for excellence and greater depth of learning that is retained and enhanced through conceptual links, expertly embedded in our cohesive Downshall curriculum.

The safety and wellbeing of our children is our paramount priority. For children to fulfil their potential and achieve, children need healthy attachments and a nurturing environment at home and in school. Where these are not strong at home, our school is proactive in bridging this gap.

Through our core and wider curriculum, we teach our pupils the life skills that will enable them to thrive in an unknown and constantly changing future. We focus on enabling our pupils to achieve and thrive both now, and as they go through life. Rapid change in the twenty-first century means that the jobs and lifestyles of our current pupils will be vastly different to those we can imagine, or plan for now. Our children need the knowledge and key life skills that will enable them to thrive in this unpredictable future that is ahead of them.

We believe our curriculum coherence emerges from our curriculum design pedagogy which adopts the ‘Centrist’ approach. This is where there is a balance of teacher-led and enquiry-based activities, alongside a balance of skills and knowledge. Our curriculum techniques include a mix of discrete subject teaching with the benefit of thematic, integral, 4-dimensional links which are: built into the projects, progressively within subjects, across year groups and across different subjects. This, along with meeting the needs of our school context and learners, provides the most optimal curriculum structure for our pupils to learn effectively and remember, as the learning is more efficiently transferred into long-term memory.

Our Intent was developed through careful analysis of our school context, historical trends in outcomes for our pupils and patterns in pupil cohort needs. From these, we were able to identify our ‘Five that Drive’ Curriculum drivers, which direct our curriculum choices. They are:


1. 10 Big ideas – our curriculum is underpinned by the 10 big ideas that teach children about the world and our place in it. Revisiting these ideas brings a sense of meaning to the curriculum as a whole.

2. Subject Specific Aspects – Subject Leaders have selected a key skills or concepts that they want our children to master in their subject area. These aspects drive the focus of the subject teaching.

3. Vocabulary & Language – We know that limited language limits our life opportunities. A rich mastery of language and vocabulary demonstrates recall of the knowledge and concepts and broadens our horizons. 

4. Quality Texts – A rich and engaging text inspires learning and enables children to access the words and teachings of a powerful author with the power to illuminate a concept.

5. Critical ThinkingIndoctrination is not education. Children of this generation are continually exposed to ideas or opinions expressed as facts. It is essential that children learn how to decipher what is fact and what is opinion.

We also used our school context to identify individual subject drivers, these further ensure our curriculum content is selected and planned effectively for our pupils.

Click here to view our detailed Vision & Guiding Principles Document, outlining our school Intent, Implementation and Impact.

Introducing our Curriculum subjects


At Downshall the National Curriculum is the foundation of our mathematics planning at KS1 and KS2. We believe that mathematics plays a vital role in our everyday lives and is a skill for life which pupils take with them as they move to their next stage of education. The national curriculum for mathematics aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately.
  • reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, conjecturing relationships and generalisations, and developing an argument, justification or proof using mathematical language
  • can solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.

In order to achieve these aims, we have adopted a mastery curriculum at Downshall. Teaching for Mastery helps our pupils develop a thorough understanding across all the operations in an efficient and reliable way. Mastery maths means pupils of all ages acquire a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the mathematics they are studying. This is achieved through breaking down the concepts into small steps of learning and using a range of representations all underpinned by strong pedagogical strategies.

For all areas of maths, pupil’s learning will begin with concrete experience, leading onto pictorial representations and ultimately secure mental strategies, which will allow them to solve abstract problems. When appropriate, pupils will be taught formal recording methods. To support the delivery of our curriculum we have invested in the White Rose Maths scheme of learning, which is inspired and informed by the work of leading maths researchers and practitioners.


Pupils will develop their early reading through systematic learning of phonics, using the successful ‘Read Write Inc.’ programme.

Once they are able to read texts suited to their ability, they will begin to develop comprehension skills to understand these texts. Pupils will develop spoken language, reading, writing, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation.

Reading is at the heart of all areas of our subject curriculum, including both fiction and non-fiction texts in a variety of formats. Vocabulary will be also developed through our successful phonics programme, and literacy lessons. Spelling is enhanced through our ‘Get Spelling’ scheme aligned to our Phonics programme.

English is both a subject in its own right and the medium for teaching; for pupils, understanding the language provides access to the whole curriculum and life. Fluency in the English language is an essential foundation for success in all subjects. Therefore, instilling enjoyment of reading is our central focus.

Foundation Subjects including Science

Our subject curriculum is built on the foundation of Cornerstones Curriculum (Melanie Moore), which has a creative and thematic approach to learning that is mapped to the Primary National Curriculum to ensure comprehensive coverage of national expectations. It is based on a child-centred pedagogy called The Four Cornerstones, based on how children learn most effectively, in this order: Engage, Develop, Express, Innovate. This was inspired by pioneering works of Loris Malaguzzi, Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi, Sir Ken Robinson, et al.

The key larger concepts that link all learning are called ‘Big Ideas’, and pupils are encouraged to make connections between what they learn and these central, recurring big concepts that interconnect across different subjects. They are:

10 Big Ideas








Place & Space



The Big Ideas are also broken down into smaller, subject-specific ‘aspects’, from which the knowledge and skills emerge.

Other Subjects taught discretely 

Computing, Music and Physical education is provided through specialist teaching. Our pupils receive high-quality, ambitious learning in these areas and hands-on experience with specialist equipment and resources.

Religious Education is a statutory requirement and follows the Redbridge Agreed Syllabus. This syllabus focuses on learning about the main religions and we supplement this through whole school learning assemblies and visits to places of worship to enhance understanding.

Personal, Social and Education (PSHE) is taught through our ‘Jigsaw’ scheme, for which we are a flagship school. This scheme combines: ‘Social and Emotional aspects of Learning’, Citizenship, Health Education and Mindfulness, to support the needs of our pupils. Relationship, Health and Sex Education has been extensively adapted to meet the needs of our pupils and based on the Redbridge Policy.   

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