St James C of E Primary School

St James C of E Primary School


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Vicarage Road, Hereford, Herefordshire HR1 2QN

Tel: 01432 273961




Essentials Curriculum

  • At St James’ Primary School, we have chosen to follow the Chris Quigley Essentials Curriculum which sets out essential coverage, learning objectives and standards which are required for all subjects.
  • Furthermore, it provides progress measures for all subjects including personal development. One of the primary reasons why we have chosen to adopt this curriculum is because it emphasises the importance of developing the depth of children’s learning.
  • In essence, this means providing children with increased cognitive challenge, allowing them to apply the skills which they have learnt independently in a range of contexts rather than moving them onto the next skill needlessly when they have not truly mastered it. Such thinking is encapsulated in the scenario below:
  • We have designed our system to reflect the changes from the DfE. From Year 1 to Year 6 pupils’ performance will be described in terms of achievement by age related Milestones. This will incorporate the Chris Quigley ‘BAD’ system we have adopted:
    • Basic: understanding of basic facts and ideas relating to a concept – can tackle questions, sometimes with support.
    • Advancing: more independent application, can explain, use or summarise understanding
    • Deep: have a full understanding and can apply independently in different contexts/ problems solve/ etc.
  • Subjects that are assessed are: Science, D&T, PE, Art and Design, History, Geography, MFL (KS2), PSHE, Personal Development, RE and Computing.
  • In January 2019, we introduced depths of learning in order to assess children’s learning. We assess their progress in each subject, including personal development, by reviewing the depth of their understanding. All learning is grouped into three milestones. Throughout Y1 and Y2, children are assessed on the concepts contained in Milestone 1. During Y3 and Y4, children are assessed on the concepts contained in Milestone 2. Finally, in Y5 and Y6 children are assessed on Milestone 3.


  • B. Children in Reception will continue to be assessed on the Early Learning Goals.


  • During each term, we continuously assess the depth of children’s understanding within that milestone – whether it is basic, advancing or deep. Each milestone has 6 assessment points: Basic 1, Basic 2, Advancing 1, Advancing 2, Deep 1, Deep 2. These points are not a mere label about a child: basic is not less able than deep. Rather, they allow us to determine each child’s level of understanding of a concept in the curriculum.


  • All children begin each milestone at the ‘basic’ level. Here they are acquiring new skills and are dependent upon the support of adults in order to learn new concepts. A child at the ‘basic’ level will be able to: name, describe, follow instructions, use, match, recognise, label and recall concepts and skills essential in a specific milestone.
  • After children are able to demonstrate this ability on multiple occasions, they move to the ‘advancing’ stage. They are more independent learners, capable of making some degree of decision whilst applying some of their skills with guidance. Typically they are able to: explain, classify, infer meaning, make predictions, interpret summarise and apply their skills to solve problems.
  • Finally some children may reach the ‘deep’ level of thinking. This involves a high level of cognitive challenge, where children are expected to apply their skills in a range of complex contexts without the guidance of adults. At this stage, children are able to: solve non-routine problems, appraise, explain concepts, hypothesise, investigate, design and prove.


  • At deep level 2, Children will have ’mastered’ all skills and concepts taught. It is important to note, however, that only some children will reach this level of understanding during the course of their learning journey.



  • At the start of each theme pupils are asked to complete an exercise which shows what they already know about a theme. This is then used to adapt planning to cover less what pupils already know and more of what they are more interested in.
  • Pupils ask questions at the start of a unit which are then answered gradually and used to help track progress.


  • Key objectives and skills are taught in themes. The following themes are delivered across the school:





KS1 (Year A)

Great and Ghastly Events/ Lets Remember

Lift The Teacher/

Farm to fork

Australian Adventure

KS1 (Year B)

Extreme Weather

Amazing Places

Cracking Ideas

LKS2 (Year A)

Earthquakes, Zones and Volcanoes

The Arts


LKS2 (Year B)

Transports and Trade

Land of Hope and Glory

Art Bot

UKS2 (Year A)

Achievements and Legacies/ Balloon Blasters


Route 66

UKS2 (Year B)

Shake Things Up




  • Themes are designed in a progressive way. Not only are children taught and assessed progressively using key objectives and skills in each theme but themes are progressive in chronology too. For example, in UKS2 children are taught about the specific aspect of history (conflict) over every era.
  • Children will start to look at conflict in the early civilizations and move on each lesson through a different era.
  • This ensures children’s knowledge of chronology is built upon in an appropriate and progressive way ensuring retention and learning takes place at a deeper level.

Curriculum and Lesson Time

  • At St James’ Primary School we now block foundation and some core subjects (not associated with our themes) into week or two week blocks. Each term the subjects are set out for certain dates ensuring all classes across the school are teaching the same subject.
  • For example, pupils will complete a Science unit of work over two weeks. Each week pupils would spend three afternoons on one subject. The rationale for changing the curriculum in this way was increased pupil retention when blocking and avoiding any subjects not being completed due to other things taking place over the week.


  • Planning is done in year group pairs. Years 1 and 2 deliver the same themes, similarly for years 3 and 4 and then 5 and 6.
  • Planning is based around the essentials curriculum.
  • Years 1 and 2 work towards achieving milestone 1 by the end of Year 2. Years 3 and 4 work towards achieving milestone 2 by the end of Year 4 and Years 5 and 6 work on achieving milestone 3 by the end of Year 6.
  • Each milestone objective is broken down into a basic, advancing and deep level. Children in the younger years and those who are struggling would be working on a basic level. By the end of the second year pupils should be working at a deep level.
  • For SEN pupils and those who are more/most able there are other differentiated statements for every subject.

Subject Leadership Groups – Implementation Stage

  • Subject Leadership takes place using a collaborative approach. Teacher expertise and skills are audited. This then results is teachers being placed in leadership teams. There are currently two teams: Creativity and Discovery. The Creativity Group is responsible for the following subjects: Art, Design and Technology, Computing, Music, PE and SMSC and The Discovery Group is responsible for the following subjects: Science, History, Geography, MFL, PSHE and RE. The Leads for these curriculum groups are the school’s Assistant Headteachers. The groups meet every other week in staff meeting time. They will work on: writing policies, writing and reviewing the action plan, making arrangements for monitoring, identifying and delivering CPD, writing reports and liaising with the Governing Board.


  • Their role in the implantation stage particularly focuses on: organising CPD based on an annual audit of teacher and TA knowledge and skills, as part of an NQT or new teacher induction or from issues arising from monitoring. Their other main role in this stage is monitoring the planning and delivery of knowledge and skills in lessons to ensure they meet the requirements of the school’s rationale and aims.
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