As a school, we have acknowledged the current research on Cognitive Science, in particular Spaced Retrieval Practise and the beneficial effect it has on long-term memory. Consequently, we have thought carefully about the progression of each unit of work within and across year groups, and have purposely spaced them out over different terms, leaving gaps in between, to tie in with this approach. These gaps between learning allow time for the knowledge that has been taught to become embedded into the long-term memory via ongoing retrieval practise. This is achieved across the curriculum via regular low-key quizzes or lesson warm-ups using the key facts and vocabulary outlined in the Knowledge Organisers for each block studied. Within Maths, key procedures and facts are practised during daily fluency practise.
Ensuring that knowledge is firmly embedded in the long term memory before moving on allows children’s working memory to be freed up; this enables them to absorb and understand new concepts more easily as the previous required knowledge is already secured. It also means key facts or skills won’t need re-teaching at the start of a block as the knowledge is already so deeply rooted.
Pupils should find future learning easier if they have readily accessible subject schema to build upon (Deans for Impact, 2015; Bransford et al 2000).
Our long-term planning and progression maps demonstrate how each unit has been intentionally placed with spaces between linked units of work, thus ensuring teachers and children have the time to ensure that knowledge is secure in the children’s long term memories before moving on. Thematic links between cross curricular units still exist and are used where appropriate, however progression of knowledge and skills are the main focus of our curriculum.
The Reading curriculum has been carefully designed to ensure that children already have background knowledge of a subject, and the associated vocabulary, before being exposed to a range of different texts. Consequently, each half term, texts are studied relating to a common theme, which will have been taught before within a different curriculum area. Again, gaps are left between finishing, for example, the Science block and starting the Reading unit, in order that retrieval practise can take place before the theme is studied again.
Knowledge organisers contain the specific knowledge and vocabulary that will be taught within each unit of work. They have been carefully planned by subject leaders to ensure that each knowledge organiser builds upon the key facts taught in previous units of work, as identified on the progression maps for each subject.
The knowledge organisers are used by children as an aide-memoire throughout a topic; by teachers to ensure that all the required knowledge and vocabulary is taught throughout the lesson sequence; and by parents to support their children’s learning at home.
Throughout topics and after a topic has been taught, teachers use the knowledge organisers in the form of retrieval questions and quizzes. This is to ensure that the knowledge and vocabulary becomes embedded in the children’s long-term memory.
At the beginning of new units of work, facts from previous, linked knowledge organisers will be referenced and re-capped in order that children see how the two units are linked, and how the knowledge and vocabulary that they already know, will support their understanding within the new topic.
Each knowledge organiser also contains references to famous people from both the present and the past. The idea is to help develop the children’s cultural capital by encouraging discussion around the individuals and their achievements. Children may choose to deepen their cultural capital further by researching the skills, talents, qualifications and career paths of chosen individuals referenced in the knowledge organisers.