Here at Graveney Primary School we provide a broad and balanced curriculum based around the Cornerstones Curriculum, a nationally recognised approach for delivering outstanding learning opportunities for children.
What is the Cornerstones Curriculum?
The Cornerstones Curriculum is a creative and thematic approach to learning that is mapped to the primary national curriculum to ensure comprehensive coverage of national expectations. Our planning is based around Imaginative Learning Projects as well as Knowledge Rich Projects
The Cornerstones pedagogy
The Cornerstones pedagogy is based on four distinct stages. These stages are: Engage – Develop – Innovate – Express, also known as the Four Cornerstones.
These four distinct stages give clear direction for both teaching and learning as set out in the following illustration. They provide a consistent approach to pedagogy that provides a flexible framework for schools to build their curriculum. While the Four Cornerstones provide schools with a basis on which to deliver the curriculum, the beauty is in the degree to which it can be adapted to meet a school’s context and any research they have undertaken.
Asking children the right questions is a vital part of the pedagogical process. Listed below is a guide to each stage with some questions you may find useful when getting started in each stage of learning. The questions can be used as part of a display, as table questions or within your planned activities.
Engage is a short stage in which children take part in a memorable experience to stimulate their curiosity, ask questions and talk about their prior learning. They are introduced to the required baseline knowledge to support future learning.
What do you know about…?
What do you want to find out more about…?
What interests you about…?
What do you think we should do next?
What would happen if…?
Why do you think that…?
Can you explain why…?
Develop is a longer stage, where children delve more deeply into the theme, explore and acquire new skills and knowledge, revisit previously acquired skills and knowledge, make links between subjects, explore, make, read and write for a variety of purposes across the curriculum.
Can you explain how…?
What is your plan?
Why is that information important?
What do you need help with?
What resources will you need?
What do you think, so far, about…?
What have you found out about…?
Why did that happen?
Innovate is a crucial opportunity for children to return to previous skills and knowledge and apply them in new contexts.
The Innovate stage poses a thematic problem, challenge, provocation or scenario that requires children to think creatively whilst applying, reflecting and revisiting what they have learnt in previous stages, in a real-life or imaginary context. Each provocation has a learning pathway which is laid out in the style of a board game in the ILPs or a journal in the KRPs.
Sometimes, the Innovate stage introduces the children to a new skill or requires further research. You or your children may also want to include additional steps and activities to the challenge dependent upon individual or group needs, interests or ideas. It is up to you how best to organise the activities to best suit the resources, space and time you have available.
Questions you may ask during the Innovate stage are:
What is the problem with…?
What do you know about…?
What do you need to think about?
What do you need to do first?
Can you think of ways to solve this problem?
How many ideas can you think of?
Which is your best idea?
What resources will you need?
What is your plan?
Why do you think that?
How can you improve…?
How might you change…?
Is it working?
What happens next?
Who can help?
Express gives children a structured opportunity to reflect on their learning, test their knowledge and celebrate their achievements.
What have you learned?
What else would you like to find out about…?
Which part of the project did you find most challenging?
Which part of the project did you enjoy the most?
What progress have you made during this project?
Which skills have you mastered?
How would you like to share what you have learned?
How can you celebrate your learning?
What do you think you need to revisit?
Our KRPs also include a low stakes quiz to help children practice knowledge retrieval and, for Key Stage 2, short summative tests to provide opportunities for more focused assessment of knowledge aquisition.
The Cornerstones pedagogy and Early Years
All Reception projects follow the familiar Cornerstones pedagogy: Engage – Develop – Innovate – Express. This structure provides a tried and tested, consistent approach to learning.
The Engage stage is built around a memorable experience and a variety of activities and enhanced provision all designed to spark children’s creative thinking and curiosity. Practitioners can use these activities to find out about children's knowledge and interests, to support further planning.
The Develop stage allows children to form a deeper understanding of the theme and master new skills through adult led activities and enhanced continuous provision. There are three themed weeks, each with a story to introduce the children to the focus for the week's learning. Every week contains activities to support learning in the Prime areas, including communication-based tasks to develop vocabulary and language skills, and activities to develop fine and gross motor skills. There are weekly phonics games, maths activities and exciting writing opportunities. Children can also enjoy a wide range of creative learning and exploration tasks.
The Innovate stage offers children a creative opportunity to use and apply what they have learnt. They work collaboratively, discuss ideas, make decisions, and use their own judgement to solve real-life and imaginary problems. The tasks are often accompanied by a story designed to encourage the children to reflect on their learning and use their experiences to support them to solve problems. The Innovate learning journals document children’s thoughts and ideas and guide their creative thinking and decision making.
Finally, in the Express stage children can share, reflect on and celebrate their learning and achievements in a supportive and nurturing environment.
How does this work with mixed age classes?
Our curriculum is organised in a two year cycle. This is due to our pupils being taught in mixed age classes. We are will be following Year A of our curriculum plan from September 2022.
We believe that where possible learning should be linked. Where there are no clear links, pupils are still taught in discrete lessons. Many Science, RE and Maths lessons will be taught discretely and are not usually taught as part of our creative curriculum.
All aspects of our curriculum are accessible to all children, irrespective of their ethnic background, gender, disability, religious or linguistic background. We strive hard to meet the needs of those pupils with special educational needs, those with disabilities, those who are more able, those with special gifts and talents and the children who are learning English as an additional language. We provide a rich, challenging curriculum, which stretches all of our children. Staff are aware of children who have exceptional talents and gifts and monitor or track their progress carefully to ensure their academic potential or talent is continually developed.
If you have any questions about our curriculum, please speak with Mrs. Blackwell, our headteacher.