Whole School Curriculum Rationale


At Glusburn we deliver a broad and balanced curriculum where knowledge building is at the heart. Our long term plans ensure mastery of subjects where progression is built on and deepened year on year and children successfully ‘learn the curriculum’. Our learning culture is based on high aspirations and the motivation that ‘every child can’ through a carefully planned and cumulative learning process.

The evidence base for our approach to the knowledge-based curriculum is derived from Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction.

Rosenshine’s Principles combines three distinct research areas (cognitive science, classroom practices, cognitive support) and how they complement each other by addressing how:

  • Pupils learn and acquire new information
  • Teachers implement effective classroom strategies
  • Teachers can support pupils
  1. Begin a lesson with a short review of previous learning

Rosenshine suggests devoting time to review at the start of a lesson. As our cognitive load is quite small, if we don’t review previous learning, then trying to remember old information will get in the way of us trying to learn new information. By dedicating a short period each lesson to reviewing and evaluating previous learning we believe pupils will perform better.

    1. Present new material in small steps with student practice

    Cognitive Load Theory explains how our working memory has a limited capacity. So, if pupils are presented with too much information at once, the brain suffers from overload. This causes the learning process to slow down or even stop since the brain can no longer process all the information being presented at that one time.

    As a result, this principle suggests that information should be presented in small steps. This can be done by removing any irrelevant material from the lesson and to just focus on what pupils need to know at this point.

    The Redundancy Effect is part of Cognitive Load Theory and states that giving pupils irrelevant information whilst they are learning something will stall their working memory. This means pupils may remember the wrong information, not the parts of the information you actually want them to.

    1. Ask a large number of questions and check the responses of pupils.

    Engaging in effecting questioning techniques is one of the most powerful tools a teacher can use to enhance pupils learning and encourage them to explore a topic in more depth. Questions allow teachers to:

    • Establish how well a class is engaging with the lesson and topic area
    • Determine whether to dedicate more time to explore a topic
    • Enhance pupils learning by requiring them to practice retrieval
    • Requires pupils to be reflective
    1. Provide models

    Providing a way for pupils to make connections and links within their learning not only enhances their memory recall, but also allows them to understand new information quickly. Worked examples, demonstrating how to solve a problem, and thinking aloud are all modelling strategies that teachers can use to aid pupils learning. This is because it allows pupils to focus on the specific task at hand, reducing the overall demand on their cognitive load.

    1. Guide pupils’ deliberate practice

    This principle highlights the importance of providing pupils with enough time to ask questions, practise retrieval, or get the help they need. It’s not enough for a pupil to learn information once, they have to keep rehearsing it through summarising, evaluating, or applying this knowledge. If teachers rush this process, then pupils’ memory on lesson material will be diminished.

    1. Check for student understanding

    Take intermittent periods throughout the lesson to stop and gauge whether pupils are understanding the learning material. This can be done by asking pupils to summarise the information, asking questions about the lesson content, what their opinion is, or asking them to make a presentation.

    By stopping every now and then, you can identify any misunderstandings pupils may have and clarify any points that pupils are still struggling with. As a result, pupils have a clear foundation for their learning.

    1. Obtain a high success rate

    Research suggests that teachers who utilised effective teaching strategies were more likely to have pupils with higher academic success rates as evidenced by the work produced. Rosenshine suggests that the optimal success rate teachers should strive for is 80%. These success rates show that although challenged, pupils still understood and learnt new material.

    1. Provide scaffolding for difficult tasks

    When introducing pupils to more complex material, Rosenshine suggests utilising scaffolding in lessons. Scaffolding is when teachers facilitate pupils’ gradual mastery of a concept or skill by gradually reducing teacher assistance. There is a shift of responsibility over the learning process from the teacher to the pupil. The temporary support it provides helps pupils reach higher levels of skill acquisition and comprehension that would have not been possible without assistance.

    1. Require and monitor independent practice

    Although scaffolding is important, pupils should also be able to complete tasks independently and take responsibility for their own learning. Developing independent learners is important as it helps pupils to stay motivated and improve their academic performance.

    By practising a task over and over again in their own time (or “overlearning”), pupils develop greater fluency and automaticity in the skill they’re trying to learn. By overlearning a topic, pupils can recall this information automatically, keeping the space in their cognitive load free for new learning.

    1. Engage pupils in review

    The final principle is an extension of the first, but involves spacing out reviews of previous learning over weekly, termly reviews. This combination of spacing and retrieval is a strategy called successive relearning which involves spacing out the use of retrieval practice techniques on several occasions over time, until a certain level of mastery has been achieved (I.e. correctly retrieved from memory multiple times).

    Successive relearning ensures pupils relearn content and maintain the ability to correctly retrieve this information. This allows them to make connections between new information and old knowledge, enhancing their understanding of a topic.

    We call these reviews Learning Vibrations at Glusburn School, see the Assessment section below.


    The Glusburn School Curriculum offers all pupils a broad and balanced curriculum The curriculum is aligned from EYFS to Y6, is sequenced and systematic, building on prior knowledge week-to-week, unit-to-unit and year-to-year. Subject leaders have established long-term and medium term plans, ensuring essential knowledge for each subject and year group, subjects are led through individual subject rationales and a parallel vocabulary curriculum.

    Nurturing Memory

    Each subject divides new material into manageable steps, lesson by lesson, fostering and nurturing a child’s semantic memory through use of repetition and revisits, STEM sentences and focused lessons where the memory is not over loaded. This implementation ensures that pupils are ready for the next stage, whether that is the next lesson, unit of work, year or key stage.


    Although ‘knowing and remembering more’ is our key driving factor, creativity also permeates our curriculum. Teachers plan opportunities in all subjects for pupils to think in different ways; find different solutions; make links and connections between subjects and information and imaginatively use and apply knowledge. This is achieved by teachers presenting concepts and key knowledge in a variety of ways.

    Creating Global Citizens through Cultural Capital

    Our children leave Glusburn as independent and resilient learners full of curiosity and wonder. We hold reading at the centre of our curriculum and aim to encourage wider, more avid and life-long readers. To do this, we choose texts which explore many social, emotional and cultural issues thus developing the cultural capital of our children. We nurture the intrinsic links between pupils, parents and school, striving to help our children become respectful and kind citizens on a local and global scale with a central focus on the UNICEF Rights of the Child.

    UNCRC ARTICLE 28: Every child has the right to education. Primary education should be compulsory and free. Different forms of secondary education should be available to every child. School discipline should respect children’s dignity and rights. Richer countries should support poorer countries in this.

    Special Educational Needs and Disability

    We recognise that pupils with SEND have a range of different needs and starting points. Some of our pupils have severe, complex or profound needs that have a significant impact on their cognitive development, especially the way that they are able to make alterations to their long-term memory. Leaders are ambitious for all pupils including those with SEND, developing and adapting the curriculum so that it is coherently sequenced to all pupils’ needs, starting points and aspirations for the future; acquiring the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life and supporting specific outcomes: communication and interaction, cognition and learning, physical health and development, social, emotional and mental health. In line with our Inclusion Policy all children on the SEND register have a ‘My Support Plan’ and Individual Provision Map (IPM) detailing all support and provision in place for each child; these are reviewed termly with parents. Children with more complex needs have an Educational, Health Care Plan which details specific provision from all agencies involved with a child; these are reviewed annually.

    UNCRC ARTICLE 23: A child with a disability has the right to live a full and decent life in conditions that promote dignity, independence and an active role in the community.

    IMPACT: Assessment

    How are the foundation subjects assessed?

    Each unit of work begins by ascertaining the children’s prior knowledge and any connected knowledge held in their long term memory. Any misconceptions that arise throughout the unit are identified and addressed appropriately. Children continue to recall their knowledge throughout a unit in order to ensure an alteration in long term memory.

    The curriculum provides sufficient opportunities for planned revisits of previously learned knowledge, concepts and procedures; this is to ensure that, once learned, knowledge becomes deeply embedded in pupils’ memories. 

    Regular ‘low stake’ assessments and ‘deliberate practice’ are used in order to strengthen memory by revisiting prior learning

    These ‘Learning Vibrations’ occur throughout units of work so that all children have the opportunity to make connections and embed the information in their long term memory. To ensure that these connections become stronger and children have gained the intended understanding and unconscious competence in knowledge, ‘Learning Vibrations’ take place after a half-term’s unit of work.

    Learning Vibrations help the children to tune in, recall and listen to their learning; increasing the volume and vibrancy of their knowledge.

    This combination of spacing and retrieval is a strategy called successive relearning which involves spacing out the use of retrieval practice techniques on several occasions over time, until a certain level of mastery has been achieved

    This system of sequenced ‘Learning Vibrations’ allows children to continue to learn new curriculum content whilst also making alterations to long term memory; not overloading the child.

    Learning Vibrations: The process

    1. Weekly recalls of learning throughout.
    2. Knowledge Organiser; the process by which children record the new knowledge they have learnt into their Learning Vibration Book. This could be at the end of each lesson, or a full lesson at the end of the unit.
    3. Learning Vibration 1: children are the given the opportunity to recall previous learning via a range of activities including: short quiz; verbal discussion; video. The children can use their KO for reference.
    4. Any gaps of forgotten information can be recorded within a ‘simmering pot’ in class which can be referred to intermittently to keep the vibration going.
    5. Learning vibration 2: End of half-term, children are the given the opportunity to recall previous learning via a quiz, or open written question. Children will not have their KO for reference.


    Example Sequence of Learning Vibrations Timescale

    Spring 1




    February Half Term

    Spring 2

    Week 7

    Week 1

    Week 3

    Week 4

    Week 5

    Week 6

    Week 7

    Knowledge Organised

    Learning Vibration 1





    Learning Vibration 2

    IMPACT: Monitoring

    How do we monitor the Foundation Subjects?

    Subject leaders partake in an annual Deep Dive of their subject. The questions below are designed to gain an understanding of how each Foundation Subject is managed and led by the subject leader, as well as recognising its impact on children’s progress, knowledge and understanding of that subject.

    The Deep Dive will also consist of:

    Subject leader discussion/questions; pupil discussion; lesson visits following the subjects journey and transition from EYFS to KS2; study of ‘Learning Vibrations’ book; staff meetings to present an alignment of work showing progression from EYFS to KS2.

    Key questions for the Deep Dive

    Intent: planned intentions for your subject across school

    Explain the rationale for your subject?

    How do you know that your subject meets the requirements of the National Curriculum?

    What is the aim for all children to know when they leave year 6?

    Is the curriculum ambitious for all pupils? PP / SEN How it is adapted to meet the needs of children who are disadvantaged or have SEND?

    Tell us about the long-term / medium term plan your subject and how progression is planned.

    How do class teachers know what has been taught in previous year groups?

    Implementation: teaching of your subject across school

    How do you know essential knowledge is built systematically and cumulatively for each year group?

    How do you know that your subject is taught consistently across all year groups and the teachers show good subject knowledge?

    How are lessons implemented to ensure that children are able to memorise and recall knowledge about the subject and understand how this knowledge fits with larger concepts?

    Selecting an area that is currently being taught, can you talk through the progression of skills linked to the National Curriculum from year group to year group?

    Impact: intended cumulative outcomes for your subject

    What is the intended knowledge that pupils are expected to remember in each year group?

    What does children’s achievement look like in this subject?

    A lesson observation

    What do you expect us to see in this lesson?

    How does this lesson fit into the long-term plan for your subject?

    Will the children be learning new skills and knowledge? How will we know?

    What vocabulary should we expect to hear in this lesson?

    Monitoring and Assessment

    How do you monitor your subject: quality of teaching; outcomes for pupils?

    Cultural Capital

    How well does this subject contribute to developing pupils’ cultural capital?

    Remote Learning and Learning Loss

    How was your subject taught during lockdown? How has remote learning impacted upon your subject? (revisions/adaptations)


    What do you consider the strengths of your subject? What areas do you need to develop?