Whole school curriculum planning: Eltham North Primary School~ 2019

Context: Introduction

The documentation used to exemplify curriculum planning at Eltham North Primary School have been adapted to best represent the structure of the curriculum following an ongoing review coinciding with the introduction and implementation of the Victorian Curriculum. This will of course change as the new curriculum is developed and implemented. The structure of the documentation however and the stages of curriculum planning it represents at the whole school level, domain level, year level and classroom level will be maintained. Eltham North Primary School is of the view that this base documentation is essential if a school is going to deliver a comprehensive curriculum with proper scope and sequence and which avoids overlap and duplication.

Aim and Purpose of the Teaching and Learning Program

The strategic plan defines the core purpose of the school as providing an inclusive, rigorous learning environment that challenges and engages young people to grow as passionate learners who are connected and motivated, creative and independent, demonstrating social action and values, leadership, resilience and self esteem when interacting with the community.

The school provides a comprehensive curriculum with a strong focus on literacy and numeracy. The two year grouping structure was introduced in line with the VELs curriculum and was reviewed late 2013 with the intention of introducing a year level structure more consistent with the AusVELs curriculum and the introduction of the Australian Curriculum for 2014. It was changed to a single year structure in 2015 and now in 2019 we use the Victorian Curriculum using the single year level mode but have re-introduced a multi-age class for both 3/4 & 5/6 to provide greater flexibility, meet the diverse range of student needs at each level and reduce student numbers between year 3 - 6. We plan to expand this structure over the next four years.

Teaching and learning teams across levels will be maintained to ensure scope and sequence across the school is monitored. These teaching and learning teams are currently responsible for core curriculum development and delivery in literacy, numeracy and an integrated study program addressing the Science and Health. Specialist programs from Prep to Year 6 are delivered for Physical Education, Visual and the Performing Arts, (Italian), ICT, Coaching in Independent Reading and Café Menu and VCOP Big Write. Supportive curriculum initiatives and programs include Literacy, Maths and Science Support and Extension and Reading Recovery.

Teaching and learning teams are supported by school improvement teams in literacy, numeracy, ICT, STEAM, access (welfare), assessment and reporting and personalised learning. A member of each teaching and learning team is represented on the school improvement teams with all team leaders being members of the assessment and reporting school improvement team.

The leadership group is focused on 4-5 year planning cycles and continuous analysis of a range of data around school improvement. At this level there is an integration of long term planning around fiscal management, workforce planning and school structures. There is a high level of professional development and the promotion of professional autonomy in the context of participation in the school improvement and teaching and learning teams and consultancy support for key initiatives.

There has been a significant focus on Literacy in the past four years using the Write To Read program which is embedded across all levels as a school wide teaching practice. Independent Reading and Café Menu were a focus for professional learning. In 2016 our focus moves onto VCOP and Big Write in an effort to integrate our writing with reading and spelling.

With consultant support the program Four Pillars of Numeracy (Big Ideas program), has been introduced as a key improvement strategy and a platform for improved numeracy learning outcomes across all year levels.

The school’s focus for the next four years is to embed literacy pedagogies (Write To Read program), implement Independent Reading and Café Menu and VCOP Big Write, implement a consistent approach to numeracy teaching instruction, use coaching strategies to support improved and explicit teacher practice, and to review, scope and sequence the new Victorian Curriculum. 

Curriculum Development in the school

The school has developed a structured approach to curriculum planning that ensures a shared vision within the school on curriculum development, common documentation and common understanding of the whole school curriculum by teachers and parents.

Curriculum development and planning is based on the strategic plan and the Annual Implementation Plan (a comprehensive planning tool used in government schools to set annual targets for school improvement based on data analysis and the strategic plan). The data analysed regularly by teachers in their curriculum planning includes a suite of year level assessments including NAPLAN and an analysis of school performance data including student, staff and parent surveys. The following diagram outlines the school approach to curriculum development

The school has curriculum and school improvement teams with a curriculum leader and teacher membership from each level of the school, foundation (preps), levels 1 and 2. levels 3 and 4 , levels 5 and 6 plus specialists. These teams develop scope and sequence documents for particular curriculum areas. The level team leaders are also members of an assessment and reporting team that develops an assessment schedule for summative and formative assessment at each level and across the school. This ensures consistency across and within levels in assessment and reporting.

The scope and sequence and assessment and reporting documents are then used to develop term plans for all curriculum areas using common pro-forma which in turn are translated into sessional weekly and daily plans. Planning occurs on a regular basis with a more comprehensive stocktake each term. Year level teams have comprehensive assessment plans particularly in literacy and numeracy that include a broad range of diagnostic testing which complements a well documented approach to formative assessment. The teams also review the curriculum and assessment program to identify students with support needs such as reading recovery and extension.

Curriculum initiatives include the CAFÉ, 'Write To Read' Literacy program and the 'Bounce Back' resilience welfare program The school is a '5 Star Sustainable' and a 'Healthy Eating School' and has award accreditation. In addition to the comprehensive classroom programs offered in literacy and numeracy an integrated classroom curriculum program addresses the domains of Science, Humanities Design and Technology Civics and Citizenship and Health.These domains are also cross referenced with the literacy program to ensure sufficient time is allocated to address the content. Specialist teachers provide instruction in Physical Education, Italian, Visual and Performing Arts and Information Technologies (ICT). Interdisciplinary, personal and social learning are addressed within these domains and supported by a range of Outdoor Education camps and excursion initiatives. The school is an active participant in district sport competitions as well as providing opportunities for students to participate in Instrumental Music, choir, recorder, brass, guitar, piano, drums and extensive keyboard programs.

The school improvement teams have detailed action plans for 2016 that include the review of their curriculum against the new Victorian Curriculum and a particular focus on the implementation of the Australian Curriculum in English and Mathematics.

In planning for the introduction of the Victorian Curriculum the school has developed a schedule to review existing curriculum documentation to identify domains learning/subject areas that need revision and plan staff curriculum days and professional learning sessions around the implementation schedule. This includes reviewing the scope and sequence, content descriptions and achievement standards of domains in the Victorian Curriculum against the current curriculum and unpacking the General Capabilities and Cross Curricula Priorities to ensure these are integrated into the curriculum and curriculum planning processes.  There are five layers of documentation and we include the main layer for your reading.

Table of domain scope and sequence from F to year 6

The purpose of this level of documentation is to ....... 

1.    To outline specific emphasis and specialist areas in the school’s curriculum and to affirm a comprehensive approach

2.    To provide policy level guidance for the school’s curriculum

3.    To outline how the teaching and learning program connects with the school’s vision and strategic plan

4.    To provide an overview of the teaching and learning program across all domains

Features of this table: All domains by year level their allotted time per year level and their brad scope and sequence. This table provides an analysis of the whole school program against the domains and strands or dimensions. Discipline based learning is colour coded and where interdisciplinary learning or personal and social learning is specifically taught, learnt and reported to parents the discipline in which this learning is addressed is indicated. The hours allocated annually to discipline based learning is also provided. This reflects the strong focus in the school on a comprehensive curriculum underpinned by an emphasis on literacy. The additional time allocated to English is a mayor domain used to address interdisciplinary and social and personal learning which is represented in the table. The school offers an integrated studies program to address the Health, History, Design and Technology and Civics and citizenship curriculum. The school has an emphasis on sustainability which is reflected in the curriculum across a number of domains.