Our School Curriculum Model

Our Curriculum Learning Model

At Frome Valley First School, we have developed our curriculum through the Chris Quigley and cognitive science principles. We believe that learning is a change to the long term memory. We have planned our curriculum to provide the best possible opportunities for children to learn knowledge and build up their schema in a particular subject.
Key Principles of our Curriculum Learning Model
Spaced Practice: If we continue to return to knowledge, then we can build on that knowledge. Therefore, our curriculum is built over two years (Year 1 & 2 then Year 3 & 4) where children return to topics over the two years to build on their knowledge of key concepts (threshold concepts). 
Retrieval Practice: For knowledge to be learnt on our long term memory, we need to keep recalling that knowledge. Children need to keep recalling knowledge from a day ago, a week ago, a month ago or longer. We continue to retrieve knowledge through retrieval practice. In our school, this is through our Flashback Fives. Most lessons begin with a Flashback Five.
Milestones in Learning: Children work for two years on certain milestones in each subject. In the first year (either Year 1 or Year 3), the children focus on the fundamentals of learning at a basic level. In the second year (either Year 2 or Year 4), children build on these fundamentals when they advance and deepen their knowledge.
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Milestone 1 (Basic)
Milestone 1
(Advancing & Deep)
Milestone 2
Milestone 2
(Advancing & Deep)
Cognitive Load & Working Memory:  Our working memory is different to our long term memory. We use our working memory to work on current information. For each child (and adult!) , our working memory is limited. When we learn something new, we take into account the limitations of our working memory and we learn the basics of the new knowledge before using problem solving skills and investigative or application skills. In this way, we are giving children the best opportunity for children to learn new concepts and ideas. To also support children learning new concepts (particularly more difficult knowledge content), we use dual coding within our lessons. This is when children learn knowledge often by the use of pictures, symbols and key words or phrases.
Vocabulary: At Frome Valley First School, we place a lot of focus on vocabulary and ensuring that children learn key vocabulary that is then retained in their long term memory. There is a progression in vocabulary across each subject and across each Year group. Vocabulary is taught in a specific way: we introduce the word and explain it in a way that the children can understand its meaning. Then, we put the word in context of a sentence. We then encourage our children, when ready, to use the word in another context. You will often see vocabulary appearing in our flashback fives!
Assessment of Learning: If learning is a change to long term memory, you cannot assess learning in the short term, especially as knowledge and facts may be stored in the short term memory but not yet secure in your long term memory! Therefore, we believe that assessment of knowledge (and schema building) will take place over time, through a child's journey to their two year milestone. Along the way, there will be informal assessments of children's understanding. Throughout the year (usually half termly), children complete milestone tasks where they can demonstrate their progress towards the milestones.