The Blue’s School’s curriculum is informed by our Mission Statement
“ Whatever you do in word or deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
The Church of England’s Education Vision and guidance underpins our approach. This vision for education is deeply Christian, with Jesus’ promise of ‘life in all its fullness’ at its heart, serving the common good. There are four main themes:
Educating for wisdom, knowledge and skills: enabling discipline, confidence and delight in seeking wisdom and knowledge, and developing talents in all areas of life.
Educating for hope and aspiration: enabling healing, repair and renewal, coping wisely when things go wrong, opening horizons and guiding people into ways of fulfilling them.
Educating for community and living well together: a core focus on relationships, participation in communities and the qualities of character that enable people to flourish together.
Educating for dignity and respect: the basic principle of respect for the value and preciousness of each person, treating each person as a unique individual of inherent worth.
These four themes flow from our Mission Statement and form the pillars of our approach:
Our Curriculum for Wisdom is structured to build children’s knowledge and skills, through carefully sequenced steps, setting out explicit content and concepts. Valuing wisdom encourages a love of learning, an excitement about going deeper and developing expertise. It includes good judgement, critical thinking, and helping children to develop well-informed opinions. In turn these strengthen children’s moral code, ethical decision making and leadership capacity.
Our Curriculum for Hope is aspirational, focused on excellence and on securing a love of learning, building ambition and self-belief. Children showcase their work, perform and stretch themselves, to grow self-confidence, character, and resilience. Children learn to deal with setbacks, which can occur with work or friendships. There is opportunity for forgiveness, healing and repair. We promote courageous advocacy, encouraging children to challenge what is wrong or immoral. Through this they acquire understanding of their mental wellbeing and develop control and agency.
Our Curriculum for Community provides a strong identity as The Blue School has educated Isleworth’s children for nearly 400 years. This strength of tradition provides children with deep roots in a complex global society. Children learn how to collaborate and work creatively together. They learn how to debate, to contribute and participate in communities and institutions, building the qualities of character that enable people to flourish together. We learn about our neighbourhood and its history, about our fine capital city, both historic landmarks and future developments. As an eco-school we focus greatly on our shared life on a finite planet, considering how we are each called to care for one another and to contribute responsibly to our communities.
Our Curriculum for Dignity is at the heart of our values. Every individual is a child of God, deserves respect and to succeed in life. Our school is diverse – half of our children are multilingual and have family members across the world. We speak often of our Global Christian Community and cherish the range of traditions that this includes. We challenge stereotypes and promote positive representation of our diverse society. While our children have their roots in the Blue School, we carefully nurture them to have a shared identity as successful and confident global citizens.
Our curriculum is broad and balanced, covering the full range of the National Curriculum. We are attentive to developing children’s identity in terms of Isleworth, London, the UK and globally. Our curriculum draws heavily on the locality, which is steeped in history and has many interesting geographical features, as well as being commercially vibrant with many leading global businesses sited within walking distance. In KS2, children travel into London for visits and workshops including St Paul’s Cathedral, major concert halls and even as far as the Docklands. In UKS2, children have two residential experiences in different UK locations.
Children learn French in KS2. France is one of our nearest neighbours and local secondary schools (and more distant CofE high schools) offer French. Music is taught throughout the school and is extended through choirs and instrumental tuition. In KS2, both subjects are taught by a specialist teacher.
PE is popular and all staff have specialist PE training. Y5 and Y6 are taught by specialist external coaches. Children do a ‘daily mile’ activity and we have an annual Sports Day at Redlees Park. Many children also enjoy participating in inter-school sports competitions, which we take part in at a range of levels. The school has held the Games Mark Gold Award since 2019.
There is a wide-ranging extra-curricular offer including sports, additional music provision, arts and crafts activities and debating. These clubs take place before school, at lunchtime and after school.
Children whose families are on low incomes are funded for school visits, residentials, music instrumental lessons and club provision.
Each subject has a clear vision statement, and carefully sequenced planning which is set out in ‘knowledge organisers’ (KOs), which are shared with parents ahead of each segment of teaching.
Each subject has a Subject Leader who leads on planning and provides training to other teachers and teaching assistants. Subject leaders have received internal and external training on the curriculum in line with the latest research on cognitive load, sequencing, building long-term memory and sequencing teaching steps and content. Sequencing the curriculum enables children to make links in their learning, thus developing a ‘schema’.
By introducing ‘going deeper’ challenges we ensure that children of all abilities have the chance to extend their learning through problem solving, engaging with more complex content or exploring areas of interest.
Vocabulary building is an important feature of curriculum design. Many of our children benefit from being multilingual and we value their linguistic versatility and fluency. We ensure that they encounter and learn the full range of higher order vocabulary in English that is required for academic success across the curriculum.
Our curriculum is not static. Both children and their parents are invited to participate in its development. Children use research sheets to add local knowledge to the knowledge organisers. This helps make our curriculum personalised and relevant to our own children.
Role models and experts from among our parent body are invited into school to enhance our topics. This helps children to imagine their own futures in a range of roles from the health services to the film industry.
We also welcome external visitors e.g. Oxford University’s student news team came to run a workshop on journalism for our Year 6s in 2019 as part of our Newspapers topic. Kieran Brown, who played the lead role in Phantom of the Opera in the West End led acting and singing workshops. We benefit from visits from authors and artists. In 2022, we were visited by the Bishop of Kensington
Reading is the top focus from the early years right through to Y6.
Our youngest children in Nursery and Reception are introduced to reading through a systematic synthetic phonics approach. We use the scheme Read Write Inc which teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter, spell correctly, and compose their ideas step-by-step. All staff from Nursery to Y3 have training in Read Write Inc.
The teaching of reading continues with regular guided reading and comprehension tasks. We invest regularly in our books, updating our collections and keeping interest up at all times. The book areas in each classroom are inviting and help nurture a love of reading. We ensure that these and our library include books, magazines, texts and materials which represent the range of ethnicities and backgrounds of our children as well as many which actively promote positive role models.
The high-standard of writing across a range of subjects is demonstrated clearly through the children’s portfolios. High-calibre writing in subjects from RE to History is greatly valued by staff, children and their parents.
The teaching of maths has been systematically reviewed and improved over the last four years. It is an area of international interest and there is significant educational research on this area which has informed the approach we have adopted.
We launched the full Maths Mastery scheme in September 2020. Children engage systematically in six-step lessons which are consistent across the school. These use a CPA approach (concrete, pictorial, abstract).
At The Blue School we have implemented a block system for how we teach the curriculum. Maths and English are taught daily. Subjects that rely on regular retrieval, such as French, are taught weekly; whereas subjects, such as history and geography, are taught in blocks. The blocks allow the child to stick with the subject for between a week and a half to three weeks. This allows for a deeper exploration of the subject and a chance to immerse themselves within the language and content. Year 1 – 6 stick to the block system to guarantee full coverage of all subjects.
Next step marking is rigorous and consistent. Pupils respond to feedback so that they understand how to improve their work. Marking dialogues are often well developed and used appropriately such that marking is effective. Nonetheless we are mindful of staff workload and staff use ‘hot marking’ and more flexible approaches to in-class assessment. This links with our encouragement of children to adopt a ‘growth mindset’, equipping them with tools to evaluate their own work.
Through the children’s work in their books, quizzes and end of unit assessments, we see the impact of our broad and balanced curriculum. Our quality cycle allows SLT, governors and subject leaders the opportunity to observe teaching, see books and talk to children about their learning throughout the year. We are always delighted with our children’s responses to their learning and recall. Using their knowledge organisers, the pupils are able to talk through their previous learning and enjoy sharing their knowledge.
At The Blue School we are lucky to have experts from the local area and beyond contribute to our curriculum. Experts join us both in school and via video. They help us to see what subjects lead to which futures and help to inspire our decisions. We have been lucky to have dentists, doctors, business owners, journalists, west end performers, ballerinas, scientists, university students, poets, authors, artists, linguists, politicians and the Bishop of Kensington.