With the new national curriculum coming into force in September 2014, teaching staff at Blackrod Church School knew they needed to change the school’s curriculum to meet the new requirements. They chose to implement the Cornerstones Curriculum.
Deputy Head Jill Bramwell explains their decision: “We decided this would be better than adapting our existing curriculum scheme, which had been successful and enjoyable for a while, but was becoming a little stale with over-teaching.
“The Imaginative Learning Projects (ILPs) that make up the Cornerstones Curriculum have given us all a fresh start and we’ve never looked back.”
A time-saving treasure trove
Staff at Blackrod pride themselves on being a resourceful and imaginative team and are used to working in a creative way to breathe life into the school’s curriculum. They have never been afraid to try something new and Cornerstones has helped spark their imagination, with staff eager to put ideas from the ILPs into practice.
“Staff absolutely love the Cornerstones ILPs, which are like a treasure trove of jewels. They’re a real time-saver too, with ideas ready to go. Some staff use them as a basis to work from, taking their favourite parts and adding in their own ideas. Others follow the projects more directly, safe in the knowledge that by completing all the activities, they’re covering national curriculum requirements in the right amount of detail.”
The wealth of ideas in the ILPs isn’t the only benefit to the Cornerstones Curriculum. The growing number of resources on The Hub, our exclusive online portal, are also an asset to the staff at Blackrod, who are keen to get more involved in the online community.
“We look forward to more teachers using The Hub to share their own resources and teachers helping teachers to save time is always a winner.”
Staff aren’t the only ones at Blackrod who are enjoying the new curriculum. Pupils at the school have embraced the themed projects and are enthusiastic about their learning, particularly when it involves creative and hands-on activities.
“Our children have loved the Cornerstones Curriculum and any child you talk to will happily tell you all about their favourite project, or their current project, which is more often than not their favourite. Projects that have really captured our children’s imagination include Muck, Mess and Mixtures, Scream Machine, Alchemy Island and Peasants, Princes and Pestilence.”
The creative approach to learning that Cornerstones promotes has also brought the school to the attention of local press. The Gods and Mortals ILP inspired pupils to build a Trojan Horse out of boxes that was so large and impressive, the school was featured in the local newspaper.
Implementing the Cornerstones Curriculum has seen Blackrod make a number of changes, including to their homework procedure. Now, pupils are given the ‘Homework Ideas’ sheet supplied with each ILP and asked to work on their own mini-projects during a half-term.
“Giving our children the ‘Homework Ideas’ sheet has been particularly successful. Children have been producing some spectacular efforts. They take the initiative and many parents now face exciting demands to make castles the size of dinner tables out of junk materials. One castle even had fully working lights!”
Even though Blackrod has only been using the Cornerstones Curriculum since September 2014, Mrs Bramwell can already see the short-term impact it has had on the school and it’s been overwhelmingly positive.
“We use Facebook to share with parents what is happening in lessons and the response we’ve had to our curriculum has been very positive and supportive. It’s early days, but we can already see that engagement, interest and motivation are up.”
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Background: Blackrod Church School is a one-form entry primary school based in Blackrod, Bolton. The school has a full-time nursery and is one of only two schools in Bolton to have a DREAMS classroom & a specialist, resourced ASD provision. Blackrod Church School is an outstanding church school (SIAS 2012).