What is the Cornerstones Curriculum?

If you’ve been wondering ‘What exactly is the Cornerstones Curriculum?’ then you’ve come to the right place. In this blog, we look at the principles behind it, what’s included, and how it can make an impact in your school.

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What is the Cornerstones Curriculum?

The Cornerstones Curriculum is a coherent, skills and knowledge-based primary curriculum with a creative edge. It’s rooted in a proven pedagogy based on how children learn best. At its heart is the principle that every child deserves a rich, fun, engaging and broad learning experience. The curriculum nurtures engagement, curiosity and innovation, brings learning to life in meaningful ways, and really makes an impact.

Imaginative Learning Projects

The Cornerstones Curriculum is based on more than 80 Imaginative Learning Projects giving a choice of nine per year group. We call these ILPs. Each ILP has an overarching theme linked to a national curriculum subject. In addition to the main subject focus, each ILP makes meaningful links across a range of subjects and covers multiple aspects of the national curriculum. Lessons are organised in a weekly series and link national curriculum programmes of study (the knowledge bit) and age-related skills (the skills bit).

How to use it

Schools design their curriculum by choosing ILPs that they feel meet their needs and curriculum principles. The approach is entirely flexible, with some schools choosing to do one ILP each half term and others doing one each term. After choosing which and how many ILPs to do, schools can check their national curriculum coverage using our online coverage checker. Schools can do this whenever they like, changing their ILP choices and checking their coverage. Being able to check coverage means that if your school's circumstances change, your curriculum can change too.

Subject depth and progression

Each project is closely linked to the knowledge and skills outlined in the national curriculum. Key concepts are learnt and built upon across year groups, ensuring subject depth, coherence and progression. Due to the structure of the Cornerstones Curriculum, children are given ample opportunities to embed knowledge and master new skills in a range of contexts.

Keeping it broad and balanced

While literacy is at the heart of each ILP, each project makes meaningful links across the curriculum, maximising opportunities to apply and build on subject knowledge and wider skills. The front page of each ILP shows the breadth of subjects covered, and teachers should be mindful of curriculum balance as they choose which ILPs they want to do.

Engage, Develop, Innovate, Express

The Four Cornerstones of Learning provides the structure for every ILP. We call these Engage, Develop, Innovate, and Express. We believe this pedagogy reflects the best way children learn and is rooted in a variety of different educational approaches and research. Put simply, the four stages are as follows:

Engage – hook children in with a memorable experience.
Develop – allow children time to gather the skills and knowledge they need to develop a deep understanding.
Innovate – offer creative experiences that allow children to apply their skills, knowledge and understanding.
Express – provide the space and time for reflecting, evaluating, and celebrating learning.

The Four Cornerstones of Learning not only gives schools a coherent structure on which to build their curriculum but also ensures a consistent approach to teaching and learning. This pedagogy means that it can be shared with and understood by both children and parents, making the learning process increasingly transparent to all stakeholders.

Watch our short video, The Four Cornerstones, to find out more.

Resourcing your curriculum

All of our ILPs are housed online. Each project has its own set of engaging, tailor-made resources that includes videos, texts, picture cards, glossaries, information sheets, and much more. Our curriculum team research, write and design these resources to provide teachers with easy-to-use, accurate and invaluable lesson material at just the right level of challenge. The colourful designs add that extra bit of sparkle – and make lessons more memorable. We upload new resources throughout the year, but teachers can also request specific resources.


Online and flexible

The Cornerstones Curriculum is exclusively online, making it incredibly flexible and adaptable. You can use features like our copy and paste tool to add and edit text in your own planning documents. We keep up to date with government and Ofsted requirements, and create new materials and resources to reflect these – ensuring that your school is always on the right track.

Assessment included

Included in your curriculum purchase is the Cornerstones Assessment package. The assessment package includes comprehensive, progressive termly skills for English and maths and end-of-year skills for science and all foundation subjects. Backed by online tracking, skills analyses, and a reporting system, the Cornerstones Assessment package helps schools make the all-important connection between

curriculum and assessment.

We’ve also created termly reading, SPaG, and maths tests for Y1 to Y6, including attainment and progress gap analysis tools that support formative and summative assessments.


Spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC)

All schools are now required to evidence how they put children’s SMSC at the heart of their work. The Cornerstones Curriculum provides meaningful and coherent links to SMSC and fundamental British values (FBV) throughout each year group. Click here to find out more and download free sample materials.


Enriching your curriculum

To help schools enrich their curriculum, we’ve created a range of additional subject enhancements. These include Love to Investigate (science), Love to Read (reading at KS2), and Love to Celebrate (RE). These additional materials are built on the Four Cornerstones and help schools enrich areas of their curriculum that need extra focus.

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What do senior leaders say?

‘The Cornerstones Curriculum has had a huge positive impact on learning behaviours and attitudes to learning at Hockley Heath due to it being such an engaging curriculum.'

Roulla Gabriel, Principal, Hockley Heath Academy

‘Cornerstones has undoubtedly made a difference and impacted positively on standards. In just 18 months, standards have improved rapidly from well below national average at every phase to well above national average at every phase.'

Lyn McNamara, leader in education and executive principal at Probus Primary School

‘For us, it’s about getting that balance and coverage of everything. Cornerstones has been fantastic for that because it’s actually enabled us to use our topics through our English, Maths and Science, which really helps make sure that children know that what they’re doing is purposeful and they understand it. It just makes learning real.

Ofsted loved the work we were doing with Cornerstones. They said it was ‘alive, real and vibrant.'

Sarah Isberg, Headteacher, Kentmere Academy and Nursery

‘The implementation of the Cornerstones Curriculum has proven highly beneficial to our school. We originally chose Cornerstones due to their creative and cross-curricular approach to learning. Our children and staff are highly engaged by the Imaginative Learning Projects which provide imaginative ideas across a broad range of curriculum areas. The online hub is extremely useful to subject leaders, allowing them to carry out gap analyses and monitor subject coverage and assessment. We were proud to be using Cornerstones during our most recent Ofsted inspection in which we were graded as outstanding.'

Jason Howard, Deputy Headteacher, Queenborough School and Nursery

Click here to read more case studies and testimonials.

What does Ofsted say?

With over 2000 schools using the Cornerstones Curriculum, there’s lots of documentation on what Ofsted has to say about it.

‘There is a strong emphasis on exploring and investigating… across the whole school, there is a buzz. Pupils are highly attentive and usually thoroughly engrossed in their learning.'

Queenborough School and Nursery, Ofsted report – October 2016

‘The school’s curriculum is a strength of the school. It is broad, balanced and provides children with opportunities to explore and develop key skills and concepts in depth.'

Bilsdale Midcable Chop Gate CE (VC) Primary School, Ofsted report – October 2017

Click here to read more case studies and testimonials.

What’s included?

If you decide to go ahead and invest in the Cornerstones Curriculum, you’ll receive:

  • A coherent curriculum structure: The Four Cornerstones of Learning
  • 80 Imaginative Learning Projects
  • our online coverage checker
  • online resources
  • the Cornerstones Assessment package
  • support from our curriculum team
  • new resources
  • updates that link to national government initiatives.
  • Cornerstones Yoimoji programme for SMSC and FBV

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Curriculum Maestro™

Curriculum Maestro is a comprehensive curriculum design, delivery and management system. Created to help primary schools complete and manage complex curriculum tasks with ease and with maximum time-saving efficiency. Pre-populated with fully editable and coherently sequenced early years and primary content, Curriculum Maestro supports the process of curriculum design, that begins with the articulation and creation of curriculum intent to the daily detail of individual teacher timetabling and lesson planning. Linked assessment and the ability to monitor real-time curriculum coverage enables all staff to ensure that plans are taught and assessed. A magnitude of teaching resources, a whole-school skills and knowledge framework and the ability to generate and publish bespoke curriculum projects makes Curriculum Maestro a must-have tool for all primary schools.

Curriculum Maestro find out more

 About us

Cornerstones Education is one of the UK’s leading primary curriculum providers. We are a team of senior leaders, teachers, consultants and learning designers, who share a passion to bring learning to life for children. Since 2010 we’ve been helping schools across the UK and beyond to deliver a creative, impactful curriculum. So far, over 2000 schools have implemented the Cornerstones Curriculum, and it’s helping over 600,000 children love learning.

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Caroline Pudner

Caroline is a Curriculum Developer at Cornerstones. She writes curriculum materials, teaching resources and blogs. Caroline has 10 years primary teaching experience and has worked in both museums and galleries education and adult education.

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