A bespoke curriculum with Maestro
Craig Steel has been using Maestro since 2019 to develop a curriculum with remarkable localisation and engagement opportunities for the children. During my visit, Mr Steel explained that staff were able to use Maestro to support the fundamentals of their curriculum design, but ultimately, they recognised an abundance of opportunities to tailor individual lessons and make them completely bespoke to their community, their school and their children.
‘Maestro was fundamental in ensuring that we were covering what we needed to cover, giving us the confidence to take our curriculum design further, knowing that we weren’t creating additional content and depth at the cost of any core skills or knowledge.’
Craig Steel, Headteacher
Kibblesworth Academy have achieved a perfect balance with a curriculum that meets all their requirements and, most importantly, the children’s. Developing a curriculum is an extremely daunting task. Not only do schools need to consider whether they are covering all programmes of study from the national curriculum, but they also need to identify knowledge and skill objectives, a clear sequence of learning and be able to articulate exactly what they are teaching, why they are teaching it and how it fits into the wider school curriculum plan. And undoubtedly, the most important aspect of any curriculum design is ensuring that children are completely engaged in their learning and empowering them to use their imaginations.
A positive impact on children
Mr Steel went on to explain that the children have been able to make connections between what they are learning in the classroom and life beyond school. The children researched servicemen and women who had died in battle during World War One and World War Two and presented their findings to the community and the family members of the fallen soldiers. Using the knowledge and skills framework on Maestro, the children were able to develop a depth of knowledge that made them feel like experts in history. As Mr Steel said, ‘Through this unit, and others like it, the children see themselves as historians, and have developed the skills and knowledge to excel at secondary school’. Being able to take learning beyond the classroom while still building fundamental knowledge is an exceptional use of the Cornerstones curriculum.
Localising the curriculum
With teaching timetables having little room for manoeuvre, I wanted to know more about how the school successfully integrated localisation opportunities. Mr Steel explained that once the teachers were sure the curriculum delivered the required skills and knowledge using Maestro, they were able to make it meaningful within their community. This was done by basing work in their local context, which gave research tasks real meaning, and working with visitors and experts to deepen children’s understanding of key events.
Kibblesworth have worked with their community as much as possible. This included working with their local community centre, parish council, members of the armed forces and local historians. The accumulation of this knowledge was presented to the community and stakeholders. Mr Steel enthused that the children engaging with the knowledge they had learned in such a meaningful way gave them the confidence to excel with this project.
What did Ofsted think?
I asked if their bespoke curriculum design had stood up to an Ofsted inspection. Mr Steel detailed how in their most recent inspection, the school was asked questions as part of each deep dive that looked at how the curriculum was designed, what they had decided to teach, when they planned to teach it and when they knew it had been taught. With the aid of Maestro, subject leaders had the confidence to articulate their curriculum design, using the handy functionality to demonstrate where the content was planned to be taught. Mr. Steel explained what they found to be particularly useful was ‘to be able to not only show where we intended to teach objectives, but to demonstrate where they had been taught, and to be able to use the functionality within Maestro to triangulate this with the content in books and planning. It gave both the subject lead and inspector confidence that our curriculum was well sequenced and had the required coverage in place.’
Ultimately, it can be seen that Kibblesworth Academy has been exceptional at providing the best learning opportunities and truly putting their children at the heart of the curriculum. The passion that radiated throughout the staff was very clear to the school’s adviser upon visiting the school, as the children’s work also showed. Listening to them discuss the knowledge in their workbooks with such passion was a true reflection of the work the staff had put into their curriculum. Craig Steel offers the following advice to other schools:
‘Be ambitious. It’s amazing how far the children can take their learning when they are curious and fully engaged with the topic. The outcomes from our Britain at War unit far exceeded our expectations because of the level of engagement, which was partly due to the links to the local community and partly due to the high-quality resources and ideas that acted as a jumping-off point. If you can tie the learning into the local context and community and make it real to the children, it’s surprising how much more you can achieve.’
Craig Steel, Headteacher
We would like to thank all the children and teaching staff at Kibblesworth Academy for inviting us to visit them and join in their celebrations at the end of the project. You should all be very proud of the amazing work you have created!
Kibbleworth’s award submission
Read the school’s Curriculum Award submission below to read about this fantastic work in action:
Year 6 used the resources within the Britain at War unit to gain a great understanding of this important period in world history. Using this as a springboard, the children followed their interests and our local context to dig deeper and further their understanding of specific aspects of the conflict. The class were lucky enough to work with Sam Winnard from the Anne Frank Foundation, developing a great depth of knowledge about Anne Frank’s life and the holocaust, creating an exhibition in school over a week in our school hall. Parents, governors and members of the community were invited into school for a guided tour of Anne’s life and the events surrounding her tragic death. This has led to some of our children working towards being ambassadors for the foundation, with the potential of visiting Poland and the camps in the future. Using Maestro, we were able to ensure that these memorable experiences were mapped onto our existing curriculum, ensuring a clear picture of coverage and attainment was maintained for all our pupils.
Through our lessons looking at life at the front, many of our children were fascinated to find out more about the life of soldiers in both world wars. As a result, the class decided to find out more about the men and women who are named on our village war memorial and also those who are buried in a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in our parish churchyard. From their independent research using the census and genealogy sites, two digital memorial books were created, detailing as much information as they could find about each person, their lives before the wars, and their roles within both conflicts. These books were then presented to members of the local church, where the class visited the graves and placed ceramic poppies they had created on each grave. The children worked with local ceramic artists to design and create the poppies, with staff taking care to ensure that skills were developed and tracked to support our work in design and technology and art and design. As well as featuring at the church, the poppies also had place of honour at the Remembrance Day service. The work they had completed, and the information they had gained took a prominent role in the Remembrance Day service at our local war memorial. The children took an active role in the remembrance service and events, hosting an exhibition for local residents in the community centre, displaying their work, and presenting the digital memorial books to the community. Most importantly, they had the chance to talk directly to members of the families of the fallen soldiers, and were actually able to fill in some blanks for some families, who were both grateful and impressed that the children had gone to such lengths to pay tribute to their family members.
As a result of their engagement and interest, many of our Year 6 children have subsequently gone on to deliver history lessons to their peers and younger children in the school as part of our Mini Masters programme. Not only have they developed a wealth of knowledge through this unit, they have developed as historians and researchers, as well as adding much to community events. Not only did Curriculum Maestro provide a great jumping off point for this work, it allowed us to track and assess all of the subsequent learning that took place, which was fantastic for all involved.