Brockmoor Primary School is located in Brierley Hill, close to Merry Hill, a shopping mall built as part of a UK Government enterprise zone to incentivise firms to move to areas affected by a downturn in the manufacturing industry. Our area is ranked as an area of high deprivation (97.3% of our pupils from the lowest quintile of IMD/IDACI banding) and so many of the families in our community aren’t afforded what others may take for granted. Our curriculum must first of all seek to remove the barriers that these circumstances might bring.
In our Early Years this means we focus on making sure our children are confident talkers and on developing the foundations of Early Reading through systematic teaching of phonics and sharing our love of stories and books. We have worked with the EEF, University of York and DfE to ensure that we are at the forefront of educational research into speech and language teaching.
We follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum. We are building our school environment to best enable the early years children to strengthen their core muscles through physical play. They develop through wonderful, exploratory, sensory experiences in our mud kitchen, giant sandpit and urban forest. The children are supported to learn to work together, manage their feelings and ask questions through skilled adult facilitated play. The children learn nursery rhymes and develop their mathematical thinking through direct teaching and exploration.
We believe that our pupils deserve a curriculum that gives them improved life chances by enabling social equity and mobility. We start with a focus on the foundations of English and Maths throughout school, ensuring children experience a broad rich vocabulary; share wonderful stories and books; and are given opportunities to develop a deep understanding of maths concepts through systematic teaching and practical exploration. We have developed a foundation curriculum that teaches each subject as a discrete subject in its own right. We have taken some of the building blocks of tried, tested and successful schemes from across the country and then tailored them to suit our pupils’ needs.
We use technology creatively to build fluency through practice, increase engagement, and allow us to look back at previous learning so we can see how it builds over time. Our online learning journals also give our families a window into our learning. We have ensured we have closed the digital divide by delivering over 200 devices to families to ensure 100% of our children have access to online learning. Further up the school we want to build in experiences our children might otherwise not have the chance to experience. Sometimes physically and when constraints make it more difficult (COVID) we visit virtually, like our online trip to the House of Commons.
We are proud to be from the Black Country and want to learn about the rich heritage of our borough. We learn how it has been part of the history of our country and its industrial influences around the work. We have partnered with Historic England and Local Heritage groups to ensure experts are guiding the history and geography behind our curriculum, gaining access to resources that would not otherwise be available. We have also engaged our community with many sharing their experiences of living in the area over time.
We learn where our local history influences the wider world through a focus on those areas in our foundation curriculums. We seek to lift up our children’s eyes to widen out their view of their world. Every academic year our children learn about local history and geography but then also a wider context across the world. We are also proud to share that can speak more than 20 languages within our school, and so we must teach our children to become respecters of different cultures. They grow to understand what we have in common, to know about different faiths and to be accepting of all our school community. We have embraced our many cultures and ensure that our communication with stakeholders is easily translated and we have partnered with local colleges to support our parents/carers learn English to support the learning of their children. Our MFL curriculum allows us to explore and learn a common language and culture. We access the UNICEF Rights Respecting School Award curriculum. We link in with local elected officials so our children can have an understanding their role in democratic country with visits from the Mayor, Councillors and MP.
Statistics show us that the reality is that children and teenagers in our area are vulnerable for many reasons. Form neglect at home to external influences including to criminal exploitation, gang culture, alcohol and drug abuse. In that context, it is crucial that our curriculum teaches children how to stay safe and give them the tools to make choices which change their community. This starts in Early Years with an understanding of private parts and appropriate touch using the NSPCC Pantosaurus material building over time to a sophisticated understanding of the dangers of grooming for our older children.
Our curriculum builds on big ideas and concepts so that children have the knowledge and skills to look wider than their immediate context and make different, aspirational choices. We look beyond the primary school experience to ensure that our children have a foundation so they are secondary ready. We are conscious that the next external qualification our children will gain will be at KS4 and develop our curriculum with that in mind. We therefore put in place the intellectual architecture that is needed for children to develop a conceptual structure:
Examples include the teaching of Christianity, Tudors, Greeks and Romans so that our children will be able to understand the themes behind Shakespeare so they can understand the contexts and references of the plays for GCSE English.
Our ASPIRE curriculum drives aspiration and opportunity, even with the constraints of COVID we have organised 12 bespoke careers days so children can have a greater understanding of the opportunities available to them in 2030 and beyond.
The impact of all this is that children leave Brockmoor having achieved excellent academic standards, but also prepared as fluent, resilient, ambitious, lifelong learners ready to thrive in the next stage of their education.