Evidence of school’s success with Cornerstones – full video

teacher's views

Hockley Heath Academy adopted the Cornerstones Curriculum and Assessment package in September 2015. The impact on staff, parents and children has been so positive the school has since decided to implement the Cornerstones EYFS Curriculum as well.

Roulla Gabriel, Principal at Hockley Heath Academy, invited us to visit the school to see first-hand the impact the Cornerstones Curriculum has had. The full report of our visit can be found in the Evidence/Case Studies section of our website. You can also watch the full video of our interviews with staff, parents and children below or click to view on YouTube.

A transcript of the video can be found below.

Hockley Heath and Cornerstones – Evidence of success

Video transcript

Principal, Roulla Gabriel:

I worked with Cornerstones for 3 years in my previous setting, because my previous head had worked in it in another context as well, and I could see the impact it was having on the children. But I think it's very easy to think oh actually different context won't have the same impact, but actually children are children, and if you inspire them and get them to want to learn, it doesn't matter what context you are in.

It meets the needs of the children and I think that's what key, for me, with the curriculum and I didn't hesitate at all in introducing Cornerstones to Hockley Heath Academy and in fact I did it before I even started my post in September because I believe in it so much and actually it hasn't let me down, it's done exactly what I wanted it to and more and you can see the impact when you talk to the children in my school, the parents, the staff and my governing body.

School Governor, Catherine Ridout:

I'm the chair of the curriculum and standards committee for the governing body and my background is as a senior leadership in a large secondary school, and I'm a maths teacher.

We picked Cornerstones because it's an exciting and engaging curriculum that provides teachers with a lot of material and resources to save them time and put more effort into differentiating their lessons and tailoring things to the specific needs of the students in their classes. It's creative, it makes the curriculum less dry than it could otherwise be, mixes the subjects together so people can see they're not just standalone items, everything relates together and has an application.

In addition to that, the assessment aspects of it make life a lot easier for the teachers – as someone who has dealt with data heavily in the past I can see that the online aspects of that will make tracking progress and putting interventions in place much easier for the staff in school. I think that part of it particularly represents extremely good value for money.

Vice Principal, Louise Porter:

The curriculum that we have taught here over the last few years has been a little more staid and we wanted something that was a bit more engaging and innovative so we were really enthusiastic to get the new projects in, especially with the wow and engaging starters as this has had a real impact on our curriculum.

So initially it was quite daunting to introduce the new curriculum, certainly in a place where a lot of the curriculum has been quite similar for the last few years. So it was just a case of looking at the resources and training staff in terms of leadership and moving them forward and to get involved with the new curriculum and to get them on board.

The actual units themselves have had a real impact on the children and the teachers in terms of that they're very motivated, very enthused and very engaged. Several of the teachers have commented to me on how engaged they are with their teaching now, to have a much more creative element to what their teaching in the classrooms.

In terms of the pupils they are all really enthusiastic to talk to you about what their learning about and it's just a really nice whole school feel. We have all adopted the same creative curriculum and everyone is always interested to find out about what all the other children are doing.

The corridor displays that we have going round the classrooms and around the corridors show that real whole school feel, certainly from Years 1 up to 6 and so it is now something that we would like to consider actually for getting into the Foundation curriculum for nursery and reception as well, because they are so enthused about the way that we’ve all changed our teaching styles and now they would like to do something similar.

Principal, Roulla Gabriel:

My vice principal and I did an information sharing evening based around Cornerstones, where we invited parents into school, talked to them about what the Cornerstones Curriculum was all about, shared some of the learning with them, shared the topic booklets as well and again the impact of that was really really positive. They felt informed and excited about the new learning that was happening at Hockley Heath.

Parent, Caroline Pugh:

The information that was given was presented in such an enthusiastic manner, I think that was possibly the most appealing part of it. The staff were so excited about delivering it that I was interested in it myself.

In fact, at times, you know when that little goose-pimples kind-of thing, thinking that makes you want to teach and I thought if it's exciting for the teachers, it will be exciting for the children. If they show enthusiasm, the children will meet that enthusiasm and bring that home with them and I want to meet that as a parent.

I just think it's that, the more cohesive link between school, home, parents, community and it just makes learning more real I suppose. It's not a textbook, it's not, we'll look at planets in a book. We try and link to the concept that they actually exist. It's real learning. It's active. It's interactive. It's interesting. It's exciting.

Principal, Roulla Gabriel:

Parts of the curriculum that weren't being taught in school, we've actually put them into a topic-based homework based all around the Cornerstones and the impact of that has been very, very positive in that the vast majority of parents have commented really, really positively on the change, and the fact that they feel really, really involved in what's happening in school. Really positive comments as well about the Cornerstones topics.

Year 5 Children:

I like doing the homework. I get excited when I do it and I think my Mum and Dad like it, the way we do our homework now, instead of just giving them the homework, and we have to do that. And it’s really fun and it’s more exciting as well with the new topics.

Principal, Roulla Gabriel:

I've got a little boy in Year 1 who was quite un-engaged with his learning and the curriculum and there was one incident where he was quite poorly and mum phoned up to say he's really poorly and he's not going to come into school. However, he has got up, got himself dressed because he is desperate to come in because he knows what's happening in terms of the curriculum this afternoon and he's desperate to come into school. The same little boy who never did homework before did two pieces of homework in one night because he was that engaged with what was going on. So that was a huge moment for me.

You go around and you see 232 children engaged in what they're doing and inspired about the learning that's going on and I have a very open-door policy and there was one moment where it was the Year 1s and they were doing a fairy hunt and the Year 1 teacher, who’s an outstanding practitioner, had done this fairy hunt and they found evidence of fairies and they came back into school, because it was in the garden, all this evidence, and they stormed into my office and said: “Mrs Gabriel, we've got fairies in the garden!” and they showed me the evidence and they were so hooked in to what they were doing.

Parent, Caroline Pugh:

The comment that my child made, only probably a week or so ago, was that “I love all my topics mummy”. Which is exactly as he said it and he's currently covered three topics.

Year 5 teacher, Stuart Brookes:

Another great project has been the Peasants, Princes and Pestilence project. We've had children going home and making rats, bringing them in and filling the classroom with them. One boy I can having quote as said, “We love that project because we got to do all the grim things!”

I had children coming in and telling me all about the chemical properties of the plague. And then from that we actually saved London. The children loved that. We became a bio hazard division that explored a plague pit found in London in an archaeological dig and the children really got on board with that. The suspension of disbelief was amazing. They went into this whole character persona of these doctors researching and wanting to track down the route that the potential plague victim had taken home and how that would be affecting other areas. And the children really engaged with it and their understanding at the end was really fantastic.

Year 5 Children:

We get to do more interesting things because before, we just read something on the board, or our teachers read to us off the board and told us what to do, but now we get to see videos. We get to see all gory things like… what was that with Christopher Columbus, the video?

Oh yeah. I like the Pestilence video as well.

Like, we’d never done the plague before and we just got introduced to this Pestilence video and we were like, OK, this topic’s going to be fun and mad!

Year 6 Children:

We even got to have a bull’s heart, and open it – a real one – and a sheep’s heart. I liked the way we could have fun and chop it open but actually be learning at the same time.

Year 4 Children:

I quite like the new topic Burps, Bottoms and Bile and when we found out quite a lot of people in our class kept laughing at it and lots of people were excited. We've learnt about the teeth and the mouth, where the digestion will start, and then we've learnt about all the other parts and then we just learnt about the digestive system in general. In our classroom some people have made digestive systems, 3D models of them, and some of them are working and I quite enjoyed doing that.

Cornerstones Education:

I've heard this crazy idea that boys don't like writing their ideas down…

Year 5 Children:

That is a rumour spread by girls… So yeah, praise Cornerstones!

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Kathryn Farr - Marketing Assistant

Kathryn is the Marketing Assistant here at Cornerstones, where her role involves updating the blog on the Cornerstones website and looking after Cornerstones' various social media channels.

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