Curriculum Approach

Making Learning Memorable 

“Memory is the residue of thought” 

“People are naturally curious, but we are not naturally good thinkers; unless the cognitive conditions are right, we will avoid thinking.” 

Daniel T Willingham 


At Fulbridge Academy our overriding aim is to ensure that we improve the lives of the children by enabling them to enjoy learning and fulfil their potential by developing the resilience, curiosity, knowledge and skills required to be successful. There is a moral purpose and underlying rationale to all we do: 

  • We ensure the curriculum is fit for purpose

  • Our pedagogy gives children the best chances to succeed 

  • Staff have an excellent work life balance 

At Fulbridge Academy we have designed an innovative, knowledge-rich curriculum that will PREPARE children for their future. It is informed by research and shaped to meet the needs of our local community. Our curriculum enables each child to develop an ACTIVE mind, identity, heart and voice. The knowledge and skills of the curriculum are thoughtfully sequenced so that children remember what they learn and understand the key concepts of each subject. 


'Active Learning’ is a framework that supports our ‘curriculum offer’. It covers all the things we teach and the ways in which we teach and educate the whole child. 


Active Learning is split into four sections:


  1. Active Mind - The academic side of all we teach. There is a strong focus on reading because of the way reading supports children to learn through the rest of the curriculum. 


We want to enable every child to become a fluent, enthusiastic, lifelong reader with a foundation for understanding the world and a positive attitude to learning.

  1. Active Identity - The children’s recognition of themselves in context. Do they have a supportive understanding of who they are? Where they come from? Their place in the world? 

To ensure every child is proud of who they are and has a positive understanding of their community, heritage and background

  1. Active Heart - The children’s understanding of other people and how they relate to other people. 

To ensure every child understands the importance of respectful relationships and an appreciation of the diversity in the world. 

  1. Active Voice - The children’s ability to express themselves, to communicate and to collaborate. 

To ensure every child develops the confidence to express themselves clearly and the empathy required to collaborate with others. 


The four aspects ensure we are looking at the whole child when we are supporting them to fulfil their potential by developing their curiosity, resilience, knowledge, creativity and skills. 


Making Learning Memorable

  1. We want the children to remember the learning they are taught in their lessons

  2. We aspire for the children to have experiences that will live with them for the rest of their lives.

This second part is achieved through trips, experiences and role play. Woven into the curriculum are opportunities for children to learn through play. They get the chance to role play events and scenarios linked to their learning. The planned trips support the curriculum, but also allow children to experience things that all children should have the opportunity to experience, for example:

  • Going to the beach and woods - a contrasting environment

  • Visiting London

  • Going to the theatre, sports stadium, a museum, a place of worship


For the first part: our Active Learning model is complemented by our PREPARE framework. 


This supports the implementation of our intent and the aim of ‘Making Learning Memorable’. The PREPARE framework is based on Daniel Willingham’s Simple Model of Memory. 

  • First a learner pays attention to information in their environment, something they experience through their senses 

  • This information is brought into their working memory where it is thought about deeply in relation to information already held in the learners long term memory 

  • Through deep thinking and practice this information is stored in their long term memory: attaching itself to, and changing knowledge that is already stored there 

  • Knowledge in long term memory can then be retrieved and brought back to working memory to support future learning 

  • The ability to retrieve information can be strengthened through practice

  • Information in long term memory and working memory can be forgotten


Alongside this we work with Tom Sherington’s Walkthrus, which give the staff the support and common language of many teaching techniques that we have carefully selected to underpin the areas of our PREPARE framework. Each area of PREPARE has a cluster of Walkthus that we use as part of individual coaching and whole school development. 


Plan Precisely - knowledge must be built on knowledge and concepts already in the long term memory. 

  • When planning we must think of what the students already know 

  • Current knowledge needs to be brought to the forefront of their minds so that children are ready to understand a new concept

  • Planning must break information into small steps

  • Our working memory is limited so we don’t want to overwhelm it
  • We plan to ensure there aren’t too many new things being taught at one time

  • We need to plan for possible misconceptions that children may gain or already have in their long term memory


Retrieve Regularly - 

  • We review previously taught learning

  • We consolidate the knowledge that children already hold in their long term memory and to show how it is relevant to the new learning 

  • Learning should be effortful 

  • Remembering is an important part of the learning process 

  • Retrieving information from the long term memory strengthens the memory

  • Retrieval activities must be difficult, but not too difficult

  • High challenge, low threat: retrieval needs to be low stakes, but challengin


Explain Explicitly - 

  • Children are provided with worked examples

  • A worked example is a visible model that is clear and concise and provides the process we want the children to complete

  • We use ‘examples’ and ‘nonexamples’ to clearly describe concepts. These allow children to connect to something they already understand


  • We vocalise thought processes. By making our own thinking clear we show exactly how to understand a given concept as well as role modelling how to be an effective learner


Practice Purposefully

  • We provide opportunities for independent application to give children the chance to think deeply about the learning that is currently in their working memory and begin to store it in their long term memory 

  • We ensure there is enough repetition for children to become fluent in the retrieval. Practising something to become fluent reduces the chances of it being forgotten

  • We encourage children to explain their processes. If children think deeply they can verbalise their thoughts and describe their processes

Assess Accurately - 

  • A key part of assessment is to identify common errors

  • This helps us detect the children’s misconceptions and provides timely feedback

  • By identifying and pausing the practice that could be ineffective, and explaining the misconceptions, we can increase the chances that the rest of the practice supports learning

(These areas are both formative assessments and lead to changes in teaching)

  • Summative assessment is completed through moderation and standardised tests. These allow a clear and precise view of children’s progress and attainment 

Review and Reflect

As described below (Turning Vision into Reality) the level of reflection, review and discussion is significant, beneficial and has a positive and significant impact on CPD provision.



Evaluate Effectiveness

Feedback from all stakeholders is taken into consideration: we always evaluate changes. The choices we have made have had a lot of thought and research and will not change without good evidence. 

(all images are (C) John Catt)


To measure impact we bring it back to the intent and the way we structure this around our Active Learning framework. We look at how this framework impacts the decisions on our curriculum, and therefore the children, parents, staff and community. 


The impact this level of review has on the pupils is evident through how:

  • Active Mind supports them to acquire academic content and make it part of who they are 

  • Active Identity supports children to understand themselves

  • Active Heart helps them understand others and the wider world

  • Active Voice is supporting their ability to communicate and collaborate


Every aspect of our curriculum supports one or more of these elements of Active Learning. 


Examples of this in our curriculum:

  • The history and geography curriculum focus on the community the children come from and the wider world they will embrace as they grow up 

  • The commitment we make to physical education with specialist teachers. We want children to identify as people who enjoy exercise and enjoy sport, who see themselves as healthy, active individuals. 

  • The specialist performing arts teaching supports children to develop an Active Voice, to think about how they can communicate with confidence and collaborate with others. 

  • Our mathematics develops children’s Active Minds through a coherent way of teaching. It supports them in their academic goals. It seeks to identify them as mathematicians; to see mathematics as a reasoning and problem solving subject. 

  • Our reading curriculum aims for the children to become fluent and enthusiastic readers in the wider reading curriculum. The texts and stories that are chosen ensure the children are given a different view on the world, as well as being able to relate to the characters and content. All of the elements of Active Learning are supported in the reading curriculum 


School is not all about data and results, however it is hugely important. Good results, especially in the core subjects will support children progress through their education journey and move into the working world. The children at Fulbridge achieve a high standard of academic success in the core subjects and gain knowledge to support their development in the other curriculum areas. 


The parents and community are involved through our parental engagement work. Parents have the opportunity to come in and be part of lessons, listen to leaders speak about what they will see in the lessons, why we teach it, and how as a parent they can help their children at home. Our inclusion team supports families and their children where there is a specific need. This is often highlighted through the Active Learning framework. For example: this could be related to the child’s academic, physical, emotional ability or concerns around their identity. 


The building of the curriculum and pedagogy has evolved over many years. Working with Mary Myatt, Jon Hutchinson and Emma Turner. We have been inspired by the work of Sir Ken Robinson, Daniel Willilngham, Tom Sherrington amongst others. For 2 years, from 2020, Christopher Such (The Art and Science of Teaching Primary Reading - Corwin Ltd) worked at Fulbridge and has been an integral part of leading on further curriculum improvements and design. 


Fulbridge is a very large school and consistency of approach to ensure the curriculum and pedagogy is aligned is a practical challenge. The solution has involved recording CPD sessions so that staff can go back to, and revisit the previous input if they need to. This exists alongside a robust induction programme for new staff. The CPD we offer has adapted to ensure the key messages are getting to all staff. This is as well as differentiating for individual needs or something particular to one subject or area of the school. 


The amount of PPA staff receive is above the statutory requirement. The extra PPA time means that they have more opportunity to talk about the lessons, the planning and the way in which the lessons are taught, discussing good practice and how to overcome challenges. Planning is done collaboratively and curriculum leaders support planning meetings where it aligns with a whole school initiative. Another aspect is ensuring teachers improve their subject knowledge. As well as in depth learning about the subject they are going to teach, they use release time to learn about the models and representations that support the teaching of that content. 


We have developed a coaching programme for all staff across the school. This is a personalised CPD for all teaching staff related to the PREPARE framework. In the 2022 autumn term we worked over two days with Jon Hutchinson to develop this further to offer teachers a high quality coaching across school. This follows the instructional coaching approach which involves fortnightly lesson drop ins and coaching conversations. 


The community we work in and the world we live in is always changing, so the development of our teachers must not be static either. It is essential teachers have the chance to read books, articles and blogs that are relevant to the schools curriculum and pedagogical approach. Ones that also align with the professional development and appraisal that teachers have undertaken. 


We have a CPD library and a CPD section on the curriculum website, containing blogs and podcasts for staff to access. This is supported by high quality in-house CPD. When you combine all these factors it gives staff the opportunity to learn and develop as well as share their own thoughts and ideas, effectively contributing to the school’s continuous curriculum development.


It is further enabled by having specialist teachers in PE, performing arts, art and Forest School. We want every subject to be taught with the expertise it deserves.


This has resulted in the curriculum continually evolving, higher staff expertise, better work-life balance and improving the lives of the children.