The Curriculum at St. Benedict’s
ST BENEDICT's A GREAT CATHOLIC EDUCATION SUPPORTED BY AN OUTSTANDING International Primary Curriculum (IPC)
At St Benedict's Catholic Primary School our philosophy is that we need to help shape society by ensuring we develop confident children who are prepared to use their God-given gifts to help themselves, others and society through a well balanced, broad and inspiring curriculum centred through our RE scheme, 'The Way, The Truth and the Life'. At St Benedict's we want to ensure all children receive a great education. In the challenging global, interdependent world of the 21st century it is more important than ever before.
We use the International Primary Curriculum to ensure learning is high quality, relevant and inspiring using the essential goals of the IPC:
- Rigorous learning: Paying attention to essential and transformational knowledge, to the development of key skills, and to the slow, steady progress towards deep understanding across a broad range of subjects.
- High levels of children’s engagement: Making sure that this rigorous learning can win the battle against superficially more exciting out-of-school activities so that a) children enjoy it and stick to it and b) come to like learning enough to want to continue throughout their lives. And incorporating easy, accessible opportunities for parents to get involved in order to encourage and support their kids.
- International, global and intercultural awareness: So many of our problems at local and global level are caused by different groups not knowing or respecting each other. So many of the key problems we face today will only be solved through local and global cooperation. So many of the opportunities open to our current generation of children will be in countries and cultures different from the one in which they are growing up.
- The development of personal dispositions: Creating opportunities for children to develop qualities that will help them on their journey through life as individuals, citizens and partners. Qualities such as adaptability, morality, respect, resilience, enquiry, cooperation, communication and thoughtfulness.
We all know that children learn best when they want to learn. That’s why the IPC has over 80 different thematic units of learning; all child-friendly, modern-day topics appealing to all ages of primary children. Themes such as Time Detectives, Airports, I’m Alive, Inventions and Machines and Global Swapshop. Teachers use the theme as the hook, the learning platform and the ‘wrapping paper’ in order to excite and engage children.
The theme enables young children to remain motivated through the learning of science, geography, history and so on. It also allows them to make purposeful links and connections throughout their learning and to see how their subject learning is related to the world they live in.
Within each theme, the IPC suggests many ideas for collaborative learning, for active learning, for learning outside the classroom.
At the same time, there’s a huge flow of knowledge and many skills are practised and developed. Child-friendly themes involving issues relevant for today’s children and creating opportunities for them to make their own choices in the progress of their learning ensure that learning becomes inspiring and fulfilling for them.”
The IPC’s engaging approach also encourages parental involvement as children, inspired by their learning, talk freely to parents and family members about what they’ve done at school and often choose to continue their learning at home. Parental involvement is also promoted through learning-focused letters, extended learning ideas, and end of unit ‘Exit Point’ events.
Each IPC unit incorporates most of the core subjects including science, history, geography, ICT, Art and PE and provides many opportunities to incorporate literacy and numeracy. Subjects are only included into each theme if there is a direct link between the required learning and the ideas behind the theme. Each subject then has a number of learning tasks to help teachers to help their children meet a range of learning goals set out in the curriculum. The IPC learning goals are deliberately explicit; designed to make sure that teachers distinguish clearly between children’s learning of knowledge, skills and understanding.
So each IPC unit has a detailed teaching framework incorporating very explicit skills. The IPC suggests real life, practical learning experiences to help them. All the units encourage children to work individually and together towards learning goals. It’s important that children can see that they are still learning skills found in history and geography but set in the context of the big picture theme.
Each IPC unit has embedded within it, learning-focused activities that help young children start developing a global awareness and gain an increasing sense of the ‘other’. Every unit creates opportunities to look at learning of the theme through a local perspective, a national perspective and an international perspective.
Developing Personal Dispositions
The personal dispositions we form as individuals do not come from reading about them in a book or discovering them spontaneously. But rather, they are established over time with constant use and that’s how the IPC views children’s learning of personal skills. So instead of ‘add-on’ lessons about such elusive personal skills as morality or respect, the opportunities to experience and practise very specific personal dispositions are built into the learning tasks within each thematic unit. In addition, many of these tasks are group activities which encourage children to consider each others’ ideas and opinions, share responsibilities, respect other people’s views and communicate effectively.