Blackrod Primary school in Bolton is one of the many primary schools which adopted the Cornerstones curriculum when the new national curriculum came in to force last year. Here, deputy head Jill Bramwell tells us how it's been going:
Bolton's Blackrod Church School, in the Greater Manchester region, has a long established commitment to creative learning and this passion led its staff to adopt the Cornerstones curriculum when the new national curriculum came in to force last September. Here, deputy head Jill Bramwell talks about the school's decision to work with Cornerstones and describes how it's been going.
“We started working with Cornerstones in September 2014 to bring us in line with the new national curriculum requirements. We decided this would be better than adapting our existing curriculum scheme, which had been successful and enjoyable for a while, but was perhaps becoming stale with over-teaching. The Cornerstones' projects have given us all a fresh start and we've never looked back.
“Our staff have always been a resourceful and imaginative team and are used to working in a creative way to bring the curriculum alive, so they absolutely love the Cornerstones ILPs which are like a treasure trove of jewels.
“Each new project seems to spark everyone's imagination and staff are always eager to try out the ideas.
“Some use the projects as a basis to work from, taking their favourite parts and adding in their own ideas too. Others follow the projects more directly and appreciate knowing that by completing all the activities they are covering national curriculum requirements in the right amount of detail.
“The projects are a real time-saver too with ideas ready to go. The growing number of resources available on the Cornerstones Hub are also very valuable. We look forward to teachers using the Hub even more to share their own resources as well & teachers helping teachers to save time is always a winner.
“Our children have loved the Cornerstones curriculum and any child you talk to at any time in school will happily tell you all about their favourite project & or their current project, which is more often than not, their favourite! Most of all, they thoroughly enjoy all the creative or hands-on scientific activities.
“Some of the Cornerstones projects that have really captured our children's imagination include Muck, Mess and Mixtures, Scream Machine, Alchemy Island and Peasants, Princes and Pestilence. Our huge Trojan Horse built out of boxes for the Gods and Mortals project was just one of the pieces of exciting project that got our children's efforts featured in the local paper.
“Whilst it is still a little early to fully evaluate the impact of the curriculum on standards in learning, we can already see that engagement, interest and motivation is up.
“We have also changed our homework procedures and children are now given the Cornerstones ‘Homework Ideas' sheet which comes with each ILP and asked to work on their own mini-projects during a half-term. This has, in our opinion, been particularly successful and children have been producing some spectacular efforts & they take the initiative and many parents face exciting demands to make castles the size of dinner tables out of junk materials & and even in one case with fully working lights!
“As a school, we use Facebook to share with parents what is happening in lessons and the responses we've had to our curriculum photos has been very positive and supportive.”