Our Blocked Curriculum
What is a blocked curriculum?
A blocked curriculum is a way of timetabling Science and the foundation subjects into weekly or fortnightly blocks. Block teaching allows for these subjects to be taught in equal equity and have quality focused time. It allows us to ensure that no single subject or subjects are given reduced attention and that no subjects are missed from the curriculum. The blocked curriculum approach gives our children a more focused and immersive learning experience, one which enables their knowledge to become more deeply embedded as part of our knowledge-rich curriculum.
Which subjects are taught on a weekly basis and as part of the blocked curriculum?
Science, History, Geography, Design and Technology, Music and Art all form the subjects taught in the blocked curriculum. Some of our subjects are not taught as blocks due to them being provided on a weekly basis. These subjects are PE (including swimming), French (KS2), Maths, English, Phonics, Guided Reading, Spelling, Handwriting, Computing and RE.
How does a blocked curriculum impact our staff and children?
- Allows for staff to focus on quality implementation, as the intent of each block is pre-determined.
- Staff spend time ensuring there is effective building of sequential knowledge, with short time periods between adding new knowledge to existing knowledge
- Allows staff to address misconceptions quickly
- Maximises learning time as there is little or no afternoon transitions
- Stronger assessment judgements as it allows teachers to focus on a pupil’s progress in one curriculum area at a given time
- Improvement on staff work-load and well-being as they can focus on fewer subjects in more detail, creating high quality learning experiences for our pupils
- Children make quicker and stronger links with the blocked teaching time as there is more time for them to think about the lesson’s knowledge instead of moving on to another curriculum area within the same afternoon.
- Quizzing is deliberately planned in so that the children have plenty of opportunities to recall the key knowledge in the subject areas. . These quizzes occur throughout the year and is further enhanced by the teaching and learning strategies deployed in the classroom to allow children to recall the information frequently.
How does a blocked curriculum support memory?
Science and the foundation subjects have been deliberately designed by our subject leaders to progress and build on prior knowledge. The key knowledge has been identified by our expert subject leaders so that it is very clear to our teaching staff what the children must know by the end of the block. In doing this, it has improved staff subject knowledge in the blocked area as they have more time to invest into exploring the subject’s content. This immersive teaching experience reduces the time between reviewing prior knowledge and introducing new knowledge which allows for stronger connections in the brain (referred to as a schema).
When these neural networks become stronger, children can recall information quicker which helps them to access their learning and build on better. Furthermore, our teaching staff are trained to deploy the best Teaching and Learning strategies which enable effective pedagogy to maximise knowledge recall.
How does a blocked curriculum enable us to teach disciplinary and substantive knowledge?
Through external and internal expertise, disciplinary skills have been identified for Science and the foundation subjects. These are introduced from Year 1 and continue until Year 6. The disciplinary skills are posed to children as ‘What does a good (insert Historian, Geography, Scientist) do?’ Each lessons reviews the subject’s disciplinary skills and then homes in on one skill which is the focus for that lesson. Although the skills are explicitly taught from Year 1, the Reception children are given the opportunity to practise some of the skills implicitly such as fieldwork in Geography or observing in Science.
The number of lessons in a block varies as it depends on the amount of substantive knowledge that needs to be taught in that unit. The children have the opportunity to showcase all of their substantive knowledge from the block in a final piece or end of unit quiz.
How does a blocked curriculum support Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) learners?
The immersive blocked curriculum reduces cognitive overload for our SEND learners as one curriculum area becomes the focus for the week or fortnight.