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Our explicit curriculum



What is enquiry-based learning at Parson Street Primary School?

Our enquiry curriculum enables our learners to become curious about the local world around them. Using the Curious City Curriculum as a starting point, we can teach the National Curriculum through a content that is centered around Bristol. This gives learners a valuable context to their learning that they can relate to and then gives them the tools to look outward towards the world around them. We find that this approach, streamlines, aligns and ensures everything we do is purposeful, progressive and immersive with local places, people and stories.


What is enquiry led learning?

In a nutshell, enquiry-led learning provokes learners with key questions too big to answer in one go, but not so conceptually large that they cannot understand. The purpose is to guide learners through a scaffolded process, where they engage, immerse, practice and finally challenge themselves to answer the big question with a piece of writing, performance or animation, for example. Through this process learners develop both the skills and knowledge they need in order to answer the big question, and through the practice section, they are given the time and space that they need to apply the skills and knowledge they have acquired.


What are the core principles underpinning this?

As cognitive development, emotional literacy and language immersion underpin the Curious-city approach, as well as purposeful links to mastery-led learning principles and attachment theory, we recognise children’s awareness of the world develops as they mature and that this has a significant impact on their ability to learn. Our job is to help learners make sense of the world, not just expose them to it. This means that initially learning reinforces personal identity and the present day, which is essential in creating self-aware individuals. As they develop, we then connect them to the immediate environment/community/country until they are able conceptualise abstract themes such as tolerance or culture on a global scale: from ‘Me’ to ‘Everyone’


Adapted Model of Bronfenbrenner (1989) Ecology of Human Development by Lighting up Learning (2021)


How does this affect lessons?

Lessons may also feel different in our setting from the norm. Think of a child’s time in school as a continuum of experiences rather than a set of lessons. Sometimes experiences are short, sharp and immersive, other times they are light-touch events over a longer period of time. This is exactly what a curious, knowledge-engaged curriculum should be. 

The usual Author (English) and Mathematicians (Maths) teaching sequences continue. National Curriculum subject objectives from Science, History, Geography, Art and Design and Design and Technology are woven throughout enquiries as seen on the Whole School Enquiries Map. Some subjects are taught discreetly, such as Spanish (Language Angels), Computing (Rising Stars), Music (Charanga) Physical Education, Religious Education (Bristol Locally Agreed Syllabus)  and PSHE (Jigsaw). Where possible learning is still taught through an enquiry approach and links are made, but more often than not, they are stand-alone experiences. 


What are States of Being?

States of being (below) enable learners to focus on and/or combine powerful knowledge in different enquiries. Each knowledge-engaged state symbolises an aspect of the curriculum, helping learners to master both the know of and know how of a subject, not just remember it. For instance, we want our learners to be Scientists, not just learn about science. As learners get older, we help them cross-pollinate states. We want learners to discover for themselves that they can be an Author, Scientist and Geographer at the same time and that some adults combine these states to become Archaeologists, for instance. We want our learners to see the interconnection between what they are learning and how this knowledge is applied. We intend for our children to talk about being an Author or a Scientist rather than ‘doing’ Science or English.