Our 'EPIC' Curriculum
The ‘EPIC’ approach to inspire and equip learners for the 21st Century
The development of the curriculum is paramount at Whiston Junior and Infant School. Each year children will be immersed in at least six learning projects; FS2 plan for a range of mini learning projects which are a balance between specific topics and children’s interests. Each learning project is split into sections, which starts by a planned enquiring question and sees children progress through four stages of learning.
The four stages of learning are Engagement, Progression, Innovation and Communication (EPIC):
1. Engagement: During this opening phase the children are immersed in an experience connected to the new theme; an opportunity to develop an ‘awe and wonder’ moment. We plan to ‘hook’ and engage them to build excitement around their learning. This phase would also incorporate re-visiting prior knowledge, through retrieval practice and then build on new knowledge, skills and vocabulary. Teachers use modelling and questioning to find out what children know already, what they want to find out and how they are going to do that, by leading learning through enquiry questions so we can learn more, make links to connect learning and concepts 'Big Picture' and remember more.
2. Progression: If the children are going to 'learn more and remember more' from their curriculum they will need to focus on new knowledge and vocabulary and develop and revisit subject specific skills, or might have to practise some old ones. This is where the teacher plans and models new learning across the curriculum subjects identified for the project and teaches children metacognitive strategies to enable them to remember new knowledge and progress through the skills at an appropriate pace, incorporating discovery and curiosity, differentiation, questioning and challenge. There are planned opportunities for children to develop an understanding of the social, moral, spiritual and cultural aspects within the project and to be given opportunities to develop an understanding of the importance of British values.
3. Innovation: In this stage the children are encouraged to develop their divergent thinking skills in order for them to be innovative, independent and resilient to use and apply their new skills, knowledge and understanding through challenging learning activities. They may be given a problem to solve, an experiment to test or a task to investigate. They will be challenged to work and learn on their own, in pairs or together in small groups to discover, find solutions, identify patterns, and investigate a theory by putting all their learning into practice.
4. Communication: The final stage is an opportunity to link their learning from their starting point and assess their progression through their understanding of new knowledge and development of skills and their understanding of the topic. This will lead to them planning opportunities to share and apply their skills and knowledge in order to celebrate their learning in different ways. The children, with support from their adults, will make decisions of what and how they want to celebrate their learning. For example, they may produce an e-book, make works of art, perform a play/dance or write a diary/newspaper report in role and then share their outcomes and invite an audience to a presentation/assembly or exhibition etc - maybe other classes, parents/governors or a ‘Public’ audience. Finally, they will critique their learning and outcomes and set themselves challenging targets.
Our 'EPIC' Curriculum in Action
OFSTED stated that our curriculum is:
'A catalyst for the improvements to teaching and learning is the implementation of a new, exciting curriculum. Topics with a lead subject provide the focus for learning across the curriculum. Pupils are full of enthusiasm for the activities that have helped them learn about the ancient Egyptians, volcanoes, planets, Chinese new year and much more. They value the visits, for instance to historic houses, that have expanded their horizons and helped them understand topics more fully.
Learning in this way is enhanced by themed weeks when the whole school shares a focus. A recent example of this saw each class studying a different Roald Dahl book and learning about the author, while the school hall was transformed into the chocolate factory. The vibrant displays throughout the school promote learning, particularly through celebrating the best that each pupil can do. This approach reflects the school’s determination to ensure that all pupils have equal opportunities to succeed. The wide range of topics and themes helps pupils understand British values as well as preparing them effectively for life in modern Britain.'