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.
Every topic has a Big Question poised to the children at the start of the unit and then is reviewed at the end. These questions are designed to be thought-provoking, asking the children to consider impact on societies, history and what might have driven these events or outcomes.
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.
There are several different end points to the children’s learning from a celebration of learning through trips or experiences in school. There are also oracy end points through intended outcomes for children to articulate their learning to different audiences. These activities help 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.
At the end of the unit a low stakes knowledge quiz is an extra way of helping to determine what has been retained and understood. The information from this informs the next lesson – ‘Clarify’ – where anything not understood can be revisited/retaught.
Our Yearly Unit overview: