Developing Progression across the Curriculum

Developing Progression across the Curriculum

Developing progression across the Primary curriculum is crucial to developing learners who continue to be successful throughout their education. As teachers, what we do matters so much more than just for the day, week, or term we teach something; it is also important in the wider sense of what the children do over the next few years and beyond. Everything children do in Primary school is formative and will set them up to hopefully succeed in all that they want to achieve as they move forward through their education. What we do in Primary schools is so unbelievably important, and I cannot stress this enough.

The Technical Stuff

So, progression is what I’m here to write about, and it is for the very reasons stated above. Children need to build on everything they do to know and remember more. If we don’t put the building blocks in the right place and the right order, then the children we teach may fail to reach their full and amazing potential.

Metacognition is a word that gets mentioned a lot. Its definition is to understand and be aware of how we learn. This is important as educators, as we need to be aware of how the 30-plus children in our care learn and build on learning to be successful day-to-day, week-to-week, term-to-term and year-to-year. When I first looked at metacognition, I remember travelling down a rabbit hole involving ‘schemata’ or ‘schema’, and I found these images (taken from ) to help place things clearly:

Teachers must understand that there is a short-term and a long-term memory. Children have a better chance of retaining new information if they make connections with prior knowledge.

In this image, a mouse experiences different shapes. He sees a blue cube. Five minutes later it is shown an orange cube. It knows it’s a cube because it has seen one before, so the prior learning is the shape, and the new learning is the colour. Five minutes later, it is shown a green cylinder. It knows that it is a shape due to prior learning, but the name of the shape and the colour are new. Three weeks later, the mouse is shown a blue cylinder – this reaffirms learning about the colour blue as it has seen a blue cube before and the shape of a cylinder as it has seen a green one before. This is a simple example, and the blog I cited previously goes into much more detail and is worth reading if you want to learn more. In essence, learning and remembering knowledge is easier when we can link it to something we have learned before.

Avoiding Overload

So, I said I was going to talk about progression. This is a key part of it. Progression is all about providing the building blocks for children to keep building knowledge in their long-term memory. Metacognition and schema are so important. This is why the Learning Challenge Curriculum developed by Focus Education works so well. Each unit is carefully crafted so the children learn key knowledge one step at a time. The knowledge is broken down into smaller chunks and built upon systematically so that cognitive overload (trying to take in too much information at the same time) can be avoided. For this reason, I want to take you through how one aspect of the Learning Challenge Curriculum builds on children’s prior learning through careful sequencing to support teachers in enabling children to know more and remember more.

How the Learning Challenge Curriculum works

I’m going to take you through the subject of history. Partly because it’s an area of the curriculum close to my heart but also because we can take so much away from it and apply it to other areas. So, units of learning begin with an overarching ‘enquiry question’. One which gets the children thinking about what they are about to learn. The units are built around the key substantive knowledge they need to remember and the disciplinary knowledge/skills they can utilise in future learning, as seen in our example below:

By using an enquiry approach, we ensure progression throughout each unit with a focus on prior learning. Each unit begins with an over-arching question (composite), which is split up into further sub-enquiries (components). The sequencing here is important, as you can teach the second component with first teaching the opening component of the unit. The LCC works so well because it builds upon each previous block within a unit. There is also a methodology called ‘Link it. Learn it. Check it. Show it. Know it,’ which means that the children continuously make links, revisit key aspects, and show what and how they have remembered it.

The LCC also includes knowledge organisers for each unit, making the key substantive knowledge clear to students and staff. They highlight the key vocabulary that will form part of the student’s learning. This is so important when reviewing learning and allowing children to refer back when consolidating their knowledge.

The great thing is that this doesn’t only apply to units in a standalone fashion. Every unit has been built this way, and they all fit into the overarching progression. This means that it is easy to see how each unit fits in with other units across the year, the units taught in previous years and the units the children will be taught in future years. This is also broken down into different disciplinary strands. Chronology and Causation, for example, can be seen here.

Substantive knowledge is also broken down similarly. As a subject leader, this makes it straight forward to have an overview of history across the school.

Vocabulary is also critical. The new overview I have written for history vocabulary shows how key and additional language can be developed in history lessons across the Primary phase, and it is linked directly to the LCC. Here is an example of the ‘topic-specific’ vocabulary for Year 4:

Disciplinary vocabulary is also made explicit, and it is broken down into the key areas of ‘chronological understanding’, ‘knowledge of people, places and events’, ‘conceptual knowledge’ and ‘enquiry’ here:

Furthermore, each unit is thoroughly planned and resourced (including retrieval activities and an end-of-unit summative assessment) to support teachers in developing learners who can achieve the best possible outcomes. Each unit builds on the previous one. Each unit builds on the previous year’s learned knowledge. Each unit sets the children up for their next unit of learning. The resources and retrieval activities mean it is easy to deliver and assess what the children have or haven’t learned so that teachers can provide further opportunities and interventions to enable all learners to be successful.

So there you have it. The Learning Challenge Curriculum is set up to help children know and remember more. It provides the building blocks manageably, steadily and progressively, building children’s schema (links) through strategies for metacognition (children understanding how they learn) to avoid cognitive overload and to be able to apply their new knowledge in future learning. If you can get the sequencing and progression right, you can produce life-long learners who will reach their potential.

Find out more about the Learning Challenge Curriculum

Alex Neophitou will introduce you to the concept of the Learning Challenge Curriculum. He will show how each unit is carefully crafted so children learn key knowledge one step at a time.

He will explain how one aspect of the Learning Challenge Curriculum builds on children’s prior learning through careful sequencing to support teachers in enabling children to know and remember more.

Alex will review the resources, including the units of learning, the assessments and the knowledge mats, and the recently added vocabulary overviews. He will also introduce you to the art and DT curriculums.

You can ask questions and get more information about our curriculum. You are absolutely not obligated to buy.

We are passionate about our curriculum and want to show it to as many people as possible. If you are looking for a change or want to implement a new curriculum that will have an impact and be cost-effective, then this session is for you.

Book a Free Demo over Zoom with Alex >>>

Watch a video on how the Learning Challenge Curriculum works>>>


Click here to see more history resources

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