School Curriculum

“The school curriculum comprises all learning and other experiences that each school plans for its pupils. The national curriculum forms one part of the school curriculum.”

(National Curriculum in England: Key Stages 1 and 2 framework document, DFE, 2013, page 5)

The teachers at Hill Mead are dedicated to delivering a curriculum that engages, inspires and challenges all of our pupils. We follow the National Curriculum but have devised our own ‘Journeys for Learning’ for each subject. Our curriculum is built upon our children’s prior knowledge, interests and experiences. We do not use external schemes, with the exception of PE. Teachers meet to reflect on the previous term’s learning to plan for the next term. Each sequence of lessons is unique to pupils it is devised for. Our teachers work hard to plan engaging and meaningful sequences of learning for their pupils, whether that be through the use of artefacts or model making, external trips or workshops in school, drama or debates.

Experience is everything –if you can’t experience it, you can’t think it, and thinking is critical to all learning  - this is the key principle that drives our approach to learning and teaching and how we plan our school curriculum. 

You will see a focus on model making throughout our curriculum. Our Year 2 pupils love to make Tudor houses and then burn them down in the playground, immersing themselves in their Great Fire of London topic and our Year 5 pupils have previously undertaken a DT project to understand the makings and mechanisms of a pyramid whilst learning about the Ancient Egyptians. Across the school, we use huge maps and 3D models to give children a sense and awareness of place when studying Geography, starting with their immediate surroundings before broadening out to their local community, London and the rest of the world. We apply this same thinking when planning many of our sequences of learning - starting with our pupils and their ideas and experiences before introducing them to bigger and more complex concepts.

Trips, school visits and visitors play an important role in our curriculum. We have partnerships with several local theatres and all of our children visit the theatre at least once a year. Our children love to explore their local community and beyond, and so we endeavour to plan as many trips as we can to provide new experiences and opportunities for them linked to their learning. Many of our trips are ‘walking trips’ to nearby places of interest like Brockwell Park, Ruskin Park, Brixton Windmill, Brixton House, the Black Cultural Archives as well as local churches, mosques and temples. We venture further afield, often using public transport, to the Unicorn Theatre, St Paul’s Cathedral, the House of Illustration, the Science Museum among many others. We also bring new experiences to the children in school through workshops and school visitors as well as many practical and ‘hands on’ activities and experiments, not only in Science, but across our curriculum.

We place a great emphasis on speaking and listening and drama and role play in our curriculum. Many of our sequences of learning start with the children asking their own questions and sharing their ideas and knowledge with their teachers and peers. This opens up the opportunity for debates and discussions and delving deeper into a particular topic or concept. For example, children reenacting the bus boycotts of Rosa Parks and the Soweto uprisings and re-telling the story of the Three Little Pigs and its variations. Drama, oral rehearsal and repetition and reading aloud feature heavily across our English Learning Journey. We find that this not only improves the children’s understanding of a topic or text but also their outcomes at the end of sequence, in the children’s recall of facts, events and stories or in their own writing.

We also believe that children learn best when they can make links and connections in their learning. There is a cross curricular theme in every half term’s topic. This could be driven by a text eg Beegu and Space, Dolphin Song and plastic pollution, or centred around a specific theme. This provides an engaging context for the children’s learning and wider opportunities for them to apply their knowledge and skills across the curriculum. However, we ensure these links are always meaningful. Therefore, some subjects will be planned alongside a cross-curricular topic but won’t necessarily be linked. This ensures that there is coverage of all curriculum subjects across the term.

Ambitious, Brave and Caring - Whole school topic

With the above in mind, we always start our new school year with our whole school topic - Ambitious, Brave and Caring. This provides our pupils with the opportunity to reflect on themselves, their learning from the previous year and their aspirations for the new year. We recognise that many of our children and their families have valuable experiences from home and their local communities and knowledge of Brixton and beyond that they can bring to their learning and we hope to provide them with as many opportunities as we can to do so. We encourage children to share and discuss their experiences and opinions with each other and we recognise the huge value in this and the benefit of starting the school year in this way.

As part of this topic, children do a self-portrait, which is repeated every year, giving pupils the opportunity to reflect on their own changes and development over the last year. Their scrapbooks, including their portraits, go up with the children into their new class each year.

Black history

After the children have shared their own experiences, often talking about their friends and family, heritage and backgrounds and home life and traditions, we start an immersive Black History topic. This typically continues into October, complementing the Black History Month’s theme. In the past, children have explored The Empire Windrush, The Bus Boycotts, Mary Seacole, The Legacy of Stephen Lawrence, Olive Morris and Housing and The Black Panther Movement as well as exploring Black History through Poetry.


We ensure that all subjects are balanced in our timetables to enable all pupils to achieve their potential. Our timetables change termly and weekly, allowing teachers the flexibility to deliver lessons how they feel best suits their aims and to ensure children get the most out of their learning. Sometimes this means immersing children in a sequence of learning across a day or week and other times, lessons are staggered throughout the term to provide opportunities for trips and more time to build on and consolidate skills.