Sidegate Primary School

Seize Opportunity, Create Success

Intent, Implementation & Impact

Key Stages 1 & 2 Curriculum


Basic Principles

Learning is a change to long-term memory.


Our aims are to ensure that our pupils experience a wide breadth of study and have, by the end of each key stage, long-term memory of a broad and rich body of procedural and semantic knowledge.



Curriculum drivers shape our curriculum breadth. They are derived from an understanding of the backgrounds of our pupils, our beliefs about high quality education and our values. They are used to ensure we give our pupils broad and rich curriculum opportunities.


Cultural capital gives our pupils the vital background knowledge required to be informed and forward thinking members of our community who understand and believe in British values.


Our curriculum distinguishes between subject topics and ‘threshold concepts’. Subject topics are the specific aspects of subjects that are studied.

Threshold concepts tie together the subject topics into meaningful schema. The same concepts are explored in a wide breadth of topics. Through the careful organisation of the curriculum, pupils return to the same threshold concepts over and over and gradually build a deeper understanding of them.


For each of the threshold concepts three Milestones, each of which includes the procedural and semantic knowledge that pupils need to understand the threshold concepts, provides a progression model.


Knowledge categories in each subject give teachers a focus for curriculum content and pupils a way of expressing their understanding of the threshold concepts. Not all knowledge categories are covered in a subject topic.


Knowledge webs help pupils to relate each subject topic to previously studied topics and to form strong, meaningful schema.


The transfer of knowledge from the working memory to the long-term memory and the subsequent retrieval of knowledge from the long term memory can be hampered if cognitive load is too high. We recognise that it is essential for pupils to master the basics of a process or concept before they can develop a greater depth of understanding - this takes time, practice and regular opportunities for retrieval from long term memory.


Within each phase (KS1, LKS2, UKS2), pupils gradually progress in their procedural fluency and semantic strength through three cognitive domains: basic, advancing and deep. The goal for pupils is to display sustained mastery at the ‘advancing’ stage of understanding by the end of each phase and for the most able to have a greater depth of understanding at the ‘deep’ stage. 


As part of our progression model we use a different pedagogical styles in each of the cognitive domains of basic, advancing and deep - with direct instruction in the early stages of learning and independent/discovery based approaches later. The Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction and The Seven Step Model for Teaching Metacognitive Strategies (below) are exemplifications of the pedagogical styles used to develop understanding and independent learning.


Pupils are given regular opportunities to retrieve, practise and apply their knowledge and understanding through a range of different contexts. 


Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:

  • Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.
  • Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.
  • Interleaving learning through revisiting threshold concepts, building knowledge webs and applying knowledge and understanding in different contexts, helps pupils to discriminate between subjects and subject topics and aids long-term retention.


In addition to the three principles we also understand that learning is invisible in the short-term and that sustained mastery takes time.


Our content is subject specific. We make intra-curricular links to strengthen schema and develop knowledge webs.


Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides retrieval practice for previously learned content.


At an age-appropriate level, pupils use metacognitive strategies to assess and review their own learning and make improvements.



Because learning is a change to long-term memory it is impossible to see impact in the short term.


We use comparative judgement in two ways: in the Proof of Progress (POP) tasks we set and in comparing a pupil’s work over time. We also compare pupils’ work with the work of pupils from other schools in the Trust and locality against an agreed set of criteria (including statutory criteria for the end of each Key Stage).


We use standardised testing for mathematics, reading, grammar, punctuation and spelling to compare our pupils’ ability to recall and apply their knowledge with pupils from other schools nationally.


We use lesson observations and talk to pupils to ensure that the pedagogical style matches the stage of learning (see intent point 10).

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