Thematic and Discrete Learning
Within our curriculum at Upton we aim to promote Communication and Collaboration. We want children's learning experiences to be Engaging and Enriching. We actively look to promote Community and Diversity.
At Upton there are some subjects we teach as discrete subjects. This is because we believe that our children are best served by having these subjects taught by subject experts. Within these subjects, children build continuously upon their prior learning to ensure they are gaining and retaining key knowledge. We want them to know more, do more and remember more and believe that for these subjects this is the best way for this to happen. These subjects are Computing, Music, Swimming, Art and Mandarin.
We also link some subjects together under the umbrella of a central topic to link learning a much as possible (thematic learning). In these cases we strongly believe that understanding within one subject can help with building to understanding within another. For example, if children are learning about the Ancient Egyptians in History then there are natural links to the river Nile and its importance to them (Geography), to the construction of Shadoofs (DT) used to collect the water. The methods Egyptians used to light their temples or tell the time link to Science and light and shadow. This interconnected learning can help with children's wider understanding of a particular area.
Within our thematic learning, History, Geography, Design Technology and Science are taught as separate subjects but have an overarching link to a particular topic in order to make them more meaningful to the children.
The Upton learning process for thematic learning
There is a distinct learning process with every thematic unit, providing a structured approach to make sure that children’s learning experiences are as stimulating and rigorous as possible.
It is an activity or event to immerse the children into the topic theme. The goal of the WOW Days is to get every child excited and engaged in the theme. It also provides a common platform so that every child has an experience to draw from as they progress through the topic.
Finding Our Foundations
Finding Our Foundations takes place within Topics. This is a type of Diagnostic Questioning. This gives teachers the chance to find out what the children already know and enables and alterations to be made to planning and knowledge content. Our curriculum is adaptable to the needs of our learners. This also helps children to see how what they are learning connects to what they already know. This approach also provides opportunities for the teacher to challenge original knowledge if it is inaccurate.
Educational research shows us that long term memory is best developed if children are able to link to and build upon prior learning. At Upton our teachers will regularly use the words 'Let's Link' and will remind children of previous learning that could help them understand something new. Lessons are intentionally sequenced to promote these links where possible, while having an overarching topic helps children see how their learning can all be related.
'Begin with the end in mind'
Learning is a journey best undertaken with a clear vision of what the end product of this learning should look like. This is where our planning starts - by looking at the steps that will be needed to reach this end goal. From this the learning is broken down across year groups, topics, weeks and individual lessons
This year we have chosen two key contextual areas to focus attention on as we begin 2022-23
Cultural Diversity: We believe that there is a need in the country at this time to promote cultural diversity. Understanding of differing cultures feeds tolerance and respect. Broadstairs is not as culturally diverse as other areas of England and so we need to ensure that we open children's eyes to cultural diversity. A huge amount of work in this area takes place at Upton.
Social Communication: In an era of ever-increasing social media use, online gaming and phone apps, verbal face-to-face communication is declining. We feel that this is an important social and collaborative skill to teach our pupils and so our lessons contain a great deal of partner and group work
A 'Fabulous Finish' completes the unit.
This may be an event that the learning has been building towards, or an exhibition, display, performance or activity that incorporates learning from the unit. This activity helps children to draw on all their learning from the unit, reminding them of all the connections between subjects that they have made, and creating time and opportunity to build their understanding of their learning. It often involves parents and celebrates the learning that has been achieved.