Creating and Adapting a Winning Curriculum with Cwricwlwm Maestro

School Name: Llanilltud Faerdref Primary School
Used Cornerstones since: March 2012
Case study focus: Collaboration is Key - Maestro facilitates core curriculum functionality, to allow room for collaboration with children and across staffing teams.

Creating and Adapting a Winning Curriculum with Cwricwlwm Maestro

School Name: Llanilltud Faerdref Primary School
Used Cornerstones since: March 2012
Case study focus: Collaboration is Key - Maestro facilitates core curriculum functionality, to allow room for collaboration with children and across staffing teams.


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Schools worked with us on the development of Curriculum Maestro

“It’s like looking into the future.” This was the reaction of Tom Lewis, Headteacher of Llanilltud Faerdref Primary School, when he first saw Cwricwlwm Maestro. The school has a mixed cohort of children from varying social backgrounds. Currently there are seven mixed age classes, but it will be changing structure to become single aged classes from September 2022. We chatted with the wonderful Deputy Head, Sarah Rudall, about the school’s experience of working with Cornerstones.

Early Adopters

Llanilltud Faerdref began its journey with Cornerstones back in 2012 and was one of the first schools in the country to invest in the curriculum. As a result of using Cornerstones for so long, staff have become very confident and creative in adapting and adopting the lessons and themes.

It all began with a discussion about what changes were required in their curriculum. “We felt it was a little stagnant and needed brightening up, plus we felt we wanted to move to a theme-based approach,” Sarah explained. “And over the years we have come to trust that the Cornerstones team will have done the research (that we don’t have the time to do) and that has helped us immensely.”

So, when Curriculum for Wales came along the school were very keen to find out more. The rollout of the new curriculum was so uncertain due to the pandemic and whilst, as Tom said, Cwricwlwm Maestro looked like the future, it initially felt like quite a huge step. However, after reflecting on what they had seen in Maestro, Sarah recognised the value, commenting “Actually the setup is really very easy and then we just have to explain it to the staff, and we have gone from strength to strength with it!”

Planning using pupil voice (Learner Involvement)

Llanilltud Faerdref are now in their second year of using Cwricwlwm Maestro and have found a unique way to involve the children in using Maestro functions to plan their learning.

Using the timetable feature they share the termly plan of the lessons available in a theme with the children. This teacher-pupil collaboration time happens every week in every classroom, and they call it Epic (Everyone Plans in Class).

Sarah gave the following example. “At the beginning of every theme we create “I wonder” questions with the children by sharing the theme overview from Maestro with them. Then they work in small groups to come up with a list of questions which we display in the classrooms on hanging clouds or an “I Wonder” wall display. We revisit these questions every week during Epic and together we look at the lessons on offer using the Maestro Timetable tool. The teachers facilitate this conversation and use the drag and drop tool to plot out a rough draft of lessons. Then the teacher takes this outline and refines it using the sequenced lessons as a guide.”

Sarah admits it is much easier with the older classes, but the important thing is that they “have a big emphasis on the children being involved in their learning.” They found that as children mature, they have had regular practise at using this approach and so it becomes more and more effective as they travel through the curriculum.

Welsh Curriculum – challenges and changes

There has been a long period of uncertainty around the curriculum in Wales. The SLT team at Llanilltud Faerdref were concerned about the impact on staff workload. They were now going to be expected to deal with a new curriculum, understand all the What Matters statements and ensure Literacy, Numeracy and Digital Competency Framework (DCF) were incorporated. However, Sarah felt “with Maestro we immediately felt at an advantage because we already had everything in one place.”

Maestro has supported staff at the school who are very happy with the planning of the new curriculum. It has helped them confidently understand What Matters statements, “it is all there at the click of a button instead of reading enormous documents for each Area of Learning,” Sarah explained.

This confidence was boosted further when they attended cluster meetings. Other schools arrived with reams of paperwork and were in the middle of writing all their own themes. “We could show them we were already one step ahead because we are personalising an existing curriculum.” The teachers are making full use of the lesson builder tool, lesson adaptations and coverage exclusions functions so they can adapt and adopt the Cornerstones Curriculum content.

And because they do so much personalisation, adapting the lessons from the themes, using the Lesson Taught button means they can accurately map what has been taught and how much of the skills and knowledge has been understood. “This means we are confident we can evaluate class and individual performance in different areas of the curriculum,” said Sarah. “It makes no sense to use a separate assessment tool, we are not overwhelming staff with workload and Maestro helps them understand how to move to the next step in teaching.”

Support from Cornerstones

Welsh government support has been very broad, some might even say too vague and open to interpretation. With no formal training provided it has left many Welsh schools feeling they have been left to their own devices with no clear picture of what was expected.

In contrast, Sarah feels that Cornerstones provides an exceptional level of support, from initial training to email contact and, of course, our Live Chat function (staffed by real people, not bots!) “If I email, I get a rapid response, and staff have found the live chat function useful if they have a quick question. The support has been fantastic, and they (Cornerstones) always listen to suggestions if we put ideas forward.”

At Cornerstones we are always open to feedback from our schools. Ideas from them, if appropriate, can be moved very quickly from a suggestion to appearing on the platform. As Sarah says, “Teachers often feel like they are not listened to, but Cornerstones is very open, and we feel listened to and valued.”

Next Steps

Llanilltud Faerdref have two inset days planned during which they are going to investigate using the summative and formative assessment functions and reporting options on Cwricwlwm Maestro. They are planning to do a ‘trial run’ in September 2022 and again Sarah feels confident that they will be one step ahead when other schools will be still busy writing their own content. From our perspective it is a pleasure to work alongside schools like Llanilltud Faerdref to help develop a unique curriculum that perfectly reflects their learning goals and the interests of their children and teachers.

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