An example of creativity in the curriculum – @fulbridgeacademy

A Creative Topic Approach

The Story of our Term
Ok so it doesn’t quite have the ring of the one direction number one single , but it certainly is a big hit with the children at Fulbridge Academy. We have long advocated an immersive approach to teaching, our creative curriculum ensures pupils are highly engaged and excited by their learning. One pupil when questioned by a visitor about their hobbies outside of school said “weekends are boring – I just want to be at school”
So how do you go about planning a topic which both covers the content required  and captures pupils imagination? Over the last few years we have become increasingly aware of the importance of a cohesive and well thought out topic, which doesn’t only appear in literacy lessons or rely on tenuous links through foundation subjects. Kids are more than willing to ‘go along’ with a teacher, but trying to convince a class that studying the water cycle  will give them a better understanding of Tudor England will  cause even the most polite child to raise their eyebrows in suspicion.
We approach all of our planning of topics with one question in mind – what will the story be? Having a clear storyline throughout your topic ensures that there are strong and meaningful cross curricular links and provides children with a clear purpose for their learning. Subjects cease to stand alone as solitary blocks of learning and instead provide a new insights and perspectives on the storyline as it develops. To illustrate what this looks like in practice I will tell you the ‘story’ of one of our recent topics.
The topic was crime. The corridors of Fulbridge are rife with criminal activity: the police are no match for this unprecedented crime wave. A new crime fighting force is required – enter the Fulbridge Detective Agency (F.D.A).
We needed fresh new recruits so a CV and persuasive letter of application were required. These letters of application were also written by staff members and analysed using inference and deduction skills. In addition to this  the department would need an identity, so a badge needed to be designed.(Art)
Badge
Barely a week into a new term and the F.D.A  had their first case to crack – Mr Fox (a Teaching Assistant)  was mugged and gave a description of the assailant… It was our duty to write this report up, focusing on clarity of our description and show not tell. Meanwhile the security of our new department was under threat so a clear understanding of email protocol  (ICT) was required . Also an  alarm system (Science) needed to be installed to protect the evidence locker – this project would take some time.
Our character descriptions of the mugger (a heavy set man with bulging muscles) proved to be inaccurate as the real culprits were Miss Cartwright and Miss Biggs (two other members of staff ). As their true identity was revealed in assembly they fled out of school – at which point they were involved in a traffic incident.
This crime scene needed processing so it was all hands on deck. The snaps taken needed to be stored online on the F.D.A’s evidence site, so it could be analysed by the forensic lab (ICT) . As witnesses to this incident we were also required to write a detailed report of the incident.
As it turned out the driver was under the influence of narcotics, we needed to inform the public of the dangers of drugs (Literacy/PSHE). After all the drama of the first half term surely we deserved a restful last day? Wrong ! We were informed that in the words of the late Mark McManus ‘there’s been a murder’.
Miss Weeks and Miss Copping our two student teachers had been killed and never returned! (The children weren’t told that their placement was due to end). Fingerprinting, hair and fibre analysis , extracting DNA, chromatography- we used all our knowledge from the previous weeks training sessions (Topic sessions) to find the murderers.
In addition to this we also used maths to crack the case. Co-ordinates mapped the crime scene, venn diagrams  allowed us to sort the suspects based on the evidence collected and data handling narrowed our search down to our main suspect.
Miss Bass was on trail, there was plenty to prepare questioning methods, using evidence to support an idea and speaking and listening skills all came into play as the defendant had her day in court.
Phew! We could finally rest  … Not quite there is  still one twist in the tale – but I cannot reveal this just yet ! The real excitement is still to come.
This is just the main storyline , there were plenty of sub plots which kept the ‘detectives’ on their toes. The children really ‘bought  into’ the topic and revelled in questioning and generally harassing staff.
Our ‘truffle moments’ are key to the story lines of our topic: memorable experiences which enhance the pupils learning. Our head has written about this on his blog.
Whilst planning these stories is great fun, it does require  careful planning and outstanding communication between staff to ensure we achieve the coverage of content throughout school. Subject co-ordinators work with all year groups to match areas of learning to the most appropriate topics and ensure no gaps are left.
The creation of a story is a team effort with all members of staff from pupils to teaching assistants to head teachers and governors all involved, gathering ideas from as many people as possible provides a rich topic which is valued by all who are involved.
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