Hockley Heath Academy adopted the Cornerstones Curriculum and Assessment package in September 2015, ready for the new school year. The impact on staff, parents and, most importantly, children, has been so positive the school has now implemented the Cornerstones EYFS curriculum as well.
Starting with a strong school vision
Principal Roulla Gabriel had a strong vision for the school and set out making big changes even before she took up post in September 2015. After working with the Cornerstones Curriculum for three years in her previous setting as Deputy Headteacher, she could see the positive impact it was having on the children and wanted to bring that to Hockley Heath Academy.
“I didn't hesitate at all in introducing Cornerstones to Hockley Heath. In fact, I did it before I even started my post because I believe in it so much, and it hasn’t let me down. It’s done exactly what I want it to and more. You can see the impact when you talk to the children, parents, staff and my governing body.”
A positive response from the governing body
Catherine Ridout, chair of the Curriculum and Standards Committee for the governing body, was very happy to back Roulla’s decision. She was keen to ensure a positive impact on the quality of teaching and learning within the school.
“It's creative, it makes the curriculum less dry than it could otherwise be and it mixes subjects together so people can see they're not just standalone items. Everything relates together and has an application.”
Catherine also spoke about how she felt both the curriculum and assessment package provided teachers with a good range of resources to save them time, allowing them to spend more time differentiating their teaching to the specific needs of the children in their classes.
“As someone who has dealt with data heavily in the past I can see that the online aspects make tracking progress and putting interventions in place much easier for staff in school. I think that part of it in particular represents extremely good value for money.”
A big change that is easy to implement
Leading and implementing curriculum change can be a challenge for senior leaders. Vice Principal, Louise Porter, was keen to get staff on board with a new, engaging and innovative curriculum but was worried about what challenges this might present. The Cornerstones Curriculum and Assessment package includes everything needed. All the Imaginative Learning Projects are mapped to the national curriculum and are supported by over 1000 high-quality teaching and learning resources.
“I think the fact we’ve managed to get all members of staff on board and successfully using everything since September just shows how useful and easy-to-use some of those resources are. The Hub is a fantastic tool for supporting teachers, saving their time through the whole cycle of planning, delivering and assessing.”
Louise also took comfort in knowing that she had full support from Cornerstones: “The fact that there’s always someone at the end of the phone or at the end of an email is great.”
Bridging learning between school and home
Hockley Heath Academy prides itself on working closely with families to ensure all pupils achieve in a happy learning environment. The engagement of parents is crucial to this, which is why Roulla and Louise invited parents into school to talk about the Cornerstones Curriculum and share some of the learning with them, a move that was clearly very successful.
We spoke to parent, Caroline Pugh, who was impressed by the enthusiasm of staff. “They are so excited about delivering it that I was interested in it myself. In fact you know when you get that little goose-pimples kind-of feeling? That makes you want to teach and I thought, if it's this exciting for the teachers, it will be exciting for the children. If they show enthusiasm, the children will meet that enthusiasm and bring it home with them.”
Caroline described the impact of the curriculum: “It's the more cohesive link between school, home, parents and community that just makes learning more real, I suppose. It's not a textbook, it's real learning. It's active. It's interactive. It's interesting. It's exciting.”
A vibrant curriculum that the children enjoy
The main priority for Roulla is that the children are inspired and hooked in by their learning. She wanted a curriculum that will give them the skills they need to carry on learning throughout their lives and feels that the way the curriculum is structured really engages them. “You go around school and you see 232 children engaged in what they're doing and inspired about the learning that's going on, even storming into my office and telling me the exciting things they've been learning.”
Stuart Brookes is a Year 5 teacher at the school and has been working there for nearly 20 years. He is incredibly enthusiastic about the new curriculum and believes that Cornerstones has had a tremendous impact on changing the learning experience for the children.
“We've seen an improvement of skills and of their understanding and knowledge base and it's really positive to see. They're really, really enjoying the topic work. Anything that gets children to go home and want to do more work independently because they're excited by the journey they're on, and by the learning they're doing, that, for me as a teacher, is brilliant. Half the battle is engaging the children and once they're engaged it's really wonderful to see that they want to know more. They're excited by their learning and want to be part of that process.”
About Hockley Heath Academy
Hockley Heath converted to an academy in August 2012 and currently has around 232 children from nursery to Year 6. Through a successful grant application, it has been able to invest heavily in the extension and upgrade of the teaching and learning environment.
The school’s goal is to ‘develop the skills, concepts, attitudes and moral values so that each child can take their place in the world as an active, responsible member of society’.
Find out more about Cornerstones Curriculum