At Butler’s Hill we make ‘learning irresistible’ sparking the interest, enthusiasm and curiosity in our children. This motto sings through everything we do from day to day lessons, our learning environment, visits and visitors, extra-curricular activities. We want our curriculum to be meaningful for children giving them a real sense of purpose when they learn. Children learn where they feel safe and are listened to, where they are valued and loved, where they are stimulated and challenged and where they ‘have fun!’
We understand and are committed to the development of the ‘whole child’ and acknowledge literacy and numeracy skills are essential but are only part of the education jigsaw. All pieces are important. We want children to leave Butler’s Hill with a thirst for learning, to be independent thinkers and to care for the environment with self-worth and confidence, with a care for the world and care for each other.
We want our school values to be embedded within our children and we want to educate them to be ‘good people’ who care for others and the community, who care for all things around them, including animals and the environment.
We aim for our curriculum to be skills based and knowledge rich. We also recognise the need for intelligent repetition as nothing has been learnt until it goes into your long term memory
A concept-based curriculum is used a Butler's Hill. We teach broad concepts like knowledge and understanding, chronological understanding and historical enquiry in history. We recognise that facts and topics are really important in our children's learning, but that there are other levels of learning above them that we can define and design. We recognise one level of learning informs the next, and how our children can transfer knowledge within a subject, between subjects, between year groups, and even between school and the world around them.
We think of a concept-based curriculum in five elements, sort of like a pyramid that builds from fact to theory:
Facts form the foundation of theory. These are the concrete pieces of knowledge, skills or processes students learn that support everything above them.
Example: When we’re teaching a Great Fire of London unit in Year 2 History, we look at:
- date it started
- date it ended
- reasons why it spread
- famous people from the time
- changes to housing and fire fighting over time
Topics bundle facts together into specific, cohesive units that give them context. They’re an umbrella that brings individual lessons together. This level is where most curriculum planning stops.
Concepts are the big ideas. They connect ideas that have common attributes in ways that are abstract, cross-disciplinary and enduring. They lie at the heart of each topic and answer the question, “what is this really about?”
Example: The topic of the Great Fire teaches our children about the significance of the event on our capital city and how evidence of historical events are recorded over time.
Generalizations and Principles
Generalizations and principles pull those concepts together, as supported by facts, in a sentence that says something about the world we live in. Principles are generalizations that reach the level of law or theorem.
Theories describe the way we explain the world around us. Informed by the facts and with an understanding of the concepts and generalizations, theories help us make sense of our experiences and solve problems in new situations.
Example: After understanding the different theories of how the dinosaurs were made extinct, children begin to form their own opinions about which theory they believe in or lean towards.
In the end, concept-based learning addresses one very important key question that’s been absent in other approaches: why students should care about anything we teach.