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Foundation Subjects

Topic based to Subject specific


At Brook Street School we have always placed a high value on teaching a wide ranging a varied curriculum. This is partly to ensure we meet out statutory requirements but mostly because we know the benefit our children get from this. Exposing children to a wide range of disciplines, making sure everybody has the opportunity to experience and excel at something and creating links between subject and content are all important and valuable. The biggest change that came about from our curriculum review was in how we organise and teacher the foundation subjects, subjects such as history, geography, art and design etc.


Previously we have taught all of these though six half-termly topics that started with a question or stimulus. This approach did have its merits, such as high levels of engagement but it was not perfect. When we reviewed our curriculum we felt that some subjects were too heavily weighted, subject specific skills were not being taught or reinforced, assessment was challenging as was progression. 


Our new curriculum has a focus on subject specific teaching, taught in spaced blocks and linked with milestones. This has helped to ensure all subjects are valued, there is clear progression and assessment and that the individua nature of each subject is clear and communicated. 

The Essentials Curriculum


The Curriculum Document, found on the previous page, gives significant detail about out curriculum. However, elements of it are based on the Chris Quigley Essentials Curriculum which is worth a mention here...


We opted to adopt the Essentials Curriculum because we felt it reflected out needs and what we wanted from a curriculum support package but also because we felt that the work produced by Chris Quigley is always very well thought out and rooted in the best interests of children and sound education theory and experience. 


We have adopted the Essentials Curriculum for history, geography, art & design, design technology and science. 


Within each subject there are a small number of threshold concepts which are integral to effective and in-depth study of that subject. These threshold concepts run across the whole primary phase, from year 1 to year 6. Within each threshold concept there are a set of 3 milestones that run across two year groups. Milestone 1 is for years 1 & 2, Milestone 2 is for years 3 & 4, Milestone 3 is for years 5 & 6. Each milestone will have a range of subject specific skills. The example below looks at history. 



Subject - History

  • Threshold concepts
    • Investigate and interpret the past
    • Build an overview of world history
    • Understand chronology
    • Communicate historically


Threshold concept - Investigate and interpret the past

Milestone 1Milestone 2Milestone 3
  • Observe or handle evidence to ask questions and find answers to questions about the past
  • Ask questions such as: What was it like for people? What happened? How long ago?
  • Use artifacts, pictures, stories, online sources and databases to find out about the past.
  • Identify some of the different ways the past has been represented.
  • Use evidence to ask questions and find answers to questions about the past.
  • Suggest some suitable sources of evidence for historical enquiries.
  • Use more than one source of evidence for historical enquiry in order to gain a more accurate understanding of history.
  • Describe different accounts of a historical events, explaining some of the reasons why the accounts may differ.
  • Suggest causes and consequences of some of the main events and changes in history.
  • Use sources of evidence to deduce information about the past.
  • Select suitable sources of evidence, giving reasons for choices
  • Use sources of information to form testable hypotheses about the past.
  • Seek out and analyse a wide range of evidence in order to justify claims about the past.
  • Show an awareness of the concept of propaganda and how historians must understand the social context of evidence studied.
  • Understand that no single source of evidence gives the full answer to questions about the past
  • Refine lines of enquiry as appropriate






As well as guiding, shaping and informing our teaching, the threshold concepts and milestones also support and underpin our assessment. Each milestone runs across 2 academic years and so children in years 1, 3 and 5 are not expected to be secure in these. As a result we have adopted the BAD approach develop by Chris Quigley to support their Essentials Curriculum.


Beginning Advancing Deep 


In the first year a milestone children should be Beginning to develop their understanding and in the second year they should have advanced this understanding. Some pupils may advance their understanding in the first year and have a deeper understanding by the end of the second year. Assessment sheets are located in children's work books and assessment takes place at the end of each unit of work against these milestones. 

Other Foundation Subjects


In addition to Essentials Curriculum we also use a range of other schemes and providers to support our teaching of foundation subjects. These are outlined below.



We use Purple Mash to support the planning and teaching or computing. We also use Purple Mash to support our remote learning 


We teach French in years 3 to 6 and use Salut to support our planning and teaching. 


We use Charanga to support the planning and teaching of music across years 1 to 6. We also use First Access music teaching from Cumbria Music Service in years 4, 5 and 6. In year 4 children learn a simple instrument such as the ukulele. In year 5 they select and instrument, such as the guitar, clarinet or keyboard, which they then go on to learn for the next 2 years. 

Physical Education 

We use the Cambridgeshire scheme of work to support our planning and teaching of PE. This is supplemented by swimming teaching at the local pool with local swim teachers, our outdoors program, outreach work from Newcastle Falcons Rugby team and other sports coaching and support from a local secondary school. 

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