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.