Skip to content ↓

Curriculum Rationale

“Aspire not to have more but to be more.” Archbishop Oscar Romero                     


At St Bernadette’s, we provide pupils with a rich curriculum which recognises substantive and disciplinary knowledge are intrinsically linked and interdependent. 

Categories of knowledge are identified in each subject and sequenced carefully to ensure broad coverage and progression across each key stage. Key knowledge is mapped and sequenced in subject progression documents and medium term planning. 

Subject specific themes alongside carefully planned sequences of learning with clearly defined end points ensure learners forge deep associations between knowledge and its application. As a result, teachers are able to draw on prior learning and prepare pupils for the next steps of learning. High quality texts are also used to bring the themes and knowledge to life and promote connectedness with learning.

Our whole school values are: Courage, Compassion, Humility, Kindness, Stewardship and Justice. Our values' curriculum alongside our taught curriculum provides pupils with opportunities to contextualise their learning and engage with real life audiences through projects, educational visits and wider opportunities. This not only helps them to make sense of the increasingly complex and rapidly changing world in which they live but also encourages them to think critically and ethically about local and global issues and the impact they can have on the lives of individuals and the wider world.  

In essence, we want our whole curriculum to provide our pupils with the cultural capital they need to be able to understand the world a little better - to be able to connect the inside of the classroom to the outside world. 


If deep learning is linked to the application of thought, then we understand that knowledge building is not an end in itself. When substantive and disciplinary knowledge are intrinsically linked and interdependent, we broaden possibilities for pupils to deepen learning by making choices, identifying patterns, following enquiry and also challenging perceptions. As such, our curriculum is built upon a range of subject specific themes and carefully crafted around well considered end points which allow children to demonstrate and apply new learning in a subject specific, meaningful context. When designing sequences of learning across the curriculum, we use a ‘teaching backwards’ approach. At the heart of teaching backwards is a thinking process that enables teachers to plan and teach from a clear and well-defined destination. As a result, our learning journeys are supported at all times by high expectations which provide children with opportunities to develop 21st century skills such as research, collaboration, innovation, presentation, evaluation and reflection. Additionally, metacognition plays a pivotal role within our learning sequences by providing opportunities for pupils to explain and reason, think about evidence, evaluate and make judgements or decisions.


Clearly defined destinations are our primary source of assessing understanding and  application of knowledge and subject specific skills. Throughout a unit of learning, we help children remember more and do more through regular reviews of learning, rehearsing and connecting background knowledge and by providing a good deal of instructional support as well as immediate feedback. Additionally, we use regular and robust triangulated monitoring to gauge the impact of our curriculum design on all pupils. In our drive to continually improve our curriculum, leaders at all levels consider the impact of our curriculum by reviewing a range of evidence gathered from: classroom learning reviews, considering evidence in books, having discussions with children about what they have learnt and what they have remembered and discussions with teachers around decision-making. Where appropriate and relevant we make comparisons with  national and local data.