Curriculum Intent

Our aim:

Our aim is for our children to leave Year 6 with everything they need for success in their bright futures, including a broad academic knowledge, respect for themselves and others, confidence in themselves and a host of fond memories. We aim to make sure that our pupils run smiling to their parents at home-time, keen to share what they’ve been doing that day. We want to spark the imagination of our pupils. We want to provide an education that prepares our children to be upstanding members of our community, both local and global.

Curriculum Drivers:

At Bede Burn Primary School we have three Curriculum Drivers, which underpin and shape the curriculum we provide to our children. They are based on the needs and background of our pupils, and on the values we hold. They are linked to our School Motto and are used to personalise our curriculum. They are:

  • Culture (We Think Big)
  • Resilience (We Dream Big)
  • Adventure (We Go For It)


We know that children cannot aspire to things they have never encountered. We work to broaden our children’s horizons, spark their curiosity and nurture their interests. Children will have the opportunity to both experience the arts and also to express themselves for an audience. We develop our children as world citizens by developing their knowledge and understanding of a broad range of world cultures and religions, celebrating diversity.


Our children will need resilience to become successful lifelong learners. They are encouraged to show resilience and a growth mindset throughout the curriculum. We value mistakes as opportunities to learn, and instil the confidence to persevere when faced with a challenge.


We provide rich experiences to encourage our children’s excitement of the real world, sparking their imagination and developing innovation. We ensure confident learners by allowing them to manage real risks through having fun and experiencing a little danger! We believe that our children’s journey through school should be an adventure.


Knowledge and Cultural Capital:

Knowledge is a change in long term memory. To ensure this change takes place, we provide frequent opportunities to recall knowledge and apply it in different contexts. Knowledge builds on prior learning, and we develop this through meaningful links. More knowledge with which to reason leads to deeper understanding, and frees up working memory.


Our curriculum encompasses semantic knowledge (assimilation of facts), procedural knowledge (the skills improved through practice) and episodic knowledge (experiences to promote understanding). 


Cultural capital gives our students the vital background knowledge to be informed and thoughtful members of our community. We strategically plan our curriculum to strengthen and broaden the cultural capital of our students.


Threshold Concepts:

Threshold Concepts capture the essence of the most important aspects of a subject. They are ‘concepts that open up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something’ (Jan Myer and Ray Land). One example is ‘Civilisations’ which is returned to in History across a number of year groups, deepening in complexity each time. The progression in complexity is how we build on ideas and is the basis of how we measure progress.

Organisation of Projects:

Our children study four projects per year. For each, children are provided with a Knowledge Organiser which contains the key knowledge they will acquire. This always takes the same format, with a glossary, timeline and so on. During the project, the children will cover four ‘Cornerstones’ which are Engage, Develop, Innovate and Express. This approach helps students to master the basics first to allow them to free up working memory and to become creative thinkers. As part of the progression model through the Cornerstones, we change our pedagogical style from direct instruction in the early stages to discovery-based approaches later, based on cognitive science research.

During the Engage stage, children take part in a memorable experience which ignites curiosity and interest; this is an opportunity for episodic learning.

During the Develop stage, children learn about the content, making meaningful links to other knowledge, to develop a deeper understanding.

During the Innovate stage, children are offered creative experiences that allow children to apply their skills, knowledge and understanding.

During the Express stage, children have space and time to reflect on, evaluate and celebrate learning.


Our curriculum is based around the core learning in English and Maths complemented with a topic based approach to learning with a chosen theme each term used to explore different subject areas.  Topics range from ‘Hola Mexico’ to ‘Dinosaur Planet’; this imaginative approach makes meaningful cross-curricular links. Each project has a driver subject which is the main focus of that project; we ensure a balance of subjects across the year and key stage.


We plan for frequent and regular retrieval and application of previously learned content, which increases a child’s ability to store and retrieve.

Vocabulary is a form of knowledge; the more vocabulary a child has, the better they are at reasoning and making sense of the world. Vocabulary is part of our cultural capital and is well-planned for. We have a clear progression of Tier 2 and Tier 3 words across the school. Our Tier 3 words include key conceptual vocabulary that can be used across subjects and topics, for example ‘irrigation’ rather than ‘sheduf’ in our Egyptians project.


Reading is promoted throughout our entire curriculum. Texts are chosen to inspire and challenge, with meaningful links to other subject areas where valuable. We teach Whole Class Guided Reading lessons, with explicitly taught reading comprehension skills. We use the Accelerated Reading programme to ensure progression in reading is promoted. We share our love of books in class during our daily DEAR time (Drop Everything and Read), in which the teacher reads a text to their class, and time is also given to individual reading.


Meaningful opportunities for writing, linked to our projects, are provided, as well as other writing foci based on texts read in class.


In maths, we follow a mastery approach, using Power Maths, based on White Rose planning. This ensures that our curriculum approaches of regular recall and application of knowledge continue through this subject.


We ensure that our children are provided with many wider opportunities for learning. This includes extra-curricular clubs such as choir, sports clubs and school council. We also offer Forest School for every year group and Opal (Outdoor Play and Learning).





Reading and Phonics


At Bede Burn Primary School, early reading is taught using synthetic phonics as the main approach to reading. Pupils are systematically taught the phonemes (sounds), how to blend the sounds all through the word for reading, and how to segment the sounds in order to write words. They are taught to use their phonic skills and knowledge as their first approach to reading, but are also taught high frequency words which do not completely follow the phonic rules.

The school follows the programme Soundswrite. For more information about phonics, including a video of how to pronounce the phonemes (sounds), please go to phoneme pronunciation.


Below you can view Bede Burn’s Long Term Plan (entitled Bede Burn 2019-2020) as well as topic webs, long term plans and parent/carer information relating to the topics being covered for each class.