Please find details in each subject section on the left of this page about the curriculum areas. As Penn Wood follows the National Curriculum, you can find out more detailed information on subjects by viewing the curriculum here:

Primary National Curriculum



Penn Wood Curriculum Statement


Inspiring hearts and minds

The school curriculum is what children need to learn. It includes lessons but also events and routines, clubs, visits, dramatic performances and sporting occasions.   The national curriculum is an important part of that programme for learning.  Penn Wood’s curriculum is the very essence of its work and we aim to provide highly positive, memorable and magical experiences, and rich opportunities for high quality learning.  The Education Act (2002) states that the curriculum must be balanced and broadly based.  It must:

  • promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society;

  • prepare pupils at the schools for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life.

The national curriculum introduces children to the essential knowledge that they need to be educated citizens.  It introduces pupils to ‘the best that has been thought and said’ and is ‘an appreciation of human creativity and achievement’.

The national curriculum sets out a series of expectations for what children should know, understand and be able to do by set points in their primary education.  It is a performance model where assessment drives teaching and learning against targets stipulating what children must achieve mastery of. 

Penn Wood depicts its curriculum as a tree.  The branches are the curriculum subjects and the leaves are the individual bits of learning that are required by the national curriculum.  The roots are where the children learn to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, where they learn to work together in teams, develop their own creativity and social skills, learn to investigate, to evaluate, to develop new ideas, to be enterprising and to communicate in a wide range of ways with a wide range of people. 

The roots are where the children develop personally as confident individuals, willing to take risks, persevere and deal with setbacks and difficulties.  They know that learning involves ‘thinking hard’, deliberate practice and knowledge retrieval from the long term memory. They learn from watching how others to do well and respond to feedback on their learning.  We call this having a ‘growth mind-set’; intelligence is not fixed and everyone can improve. 

The trunk is the quality of the learning experience including the use of new  technologies to enhance teaching and learning, having a global perspective and building real experiences into the curriculum that embrace local opportunities.

The curriculum is creative in that careful thought has gone into putting things together, making connections, so that learning can be more effective.  It has the needs of Penn Wood learners at its heart.  English and Maths are at the core of the curriculum as these subjects form a basis for success across other curriculum subjects.  The school has adopted a subject specific approach as opposed to a cross-curricular approach so that children can be introduced to the knowledge and the systems of thought within each subject area.  Subjects will, however, be aligned and connected with thought. 

This thinking is a key element in the process of learning at Penn Wood. Children cannot learn by passively absorbing facts; they need to be actively engaged in a deeper thinking process.  This requires that they not only hear or see, but also mentally manipulate the information—considering its implications and significance, comparing it to what they already know, synthesizing and digesting it, and sharing it with others. To make this happen teachers in Penn Wood do not only focus on facts, although knowledge is essential, but they also help children to understand the thinking processes they are using which will help them to learn.  This approach to learning via deep thinking not only aids problem-solving in school but also throughout a person’s life.

To develop thinking further we engage our children in a programme called ‘Philosophy for Children’. This approach helps them to become more thoughtful, reflective, considerate, reasoning and reasonable individuals. In each subject facts are different but this method of thinking is used to open up thinking about the ‘big ideas’ that apply in each subject area. A range of different stimuli are presented. The stimulus could be a film, picture, drawing, sculpture, poem or book, especially a picture book.  As a Talk for Writing school we already use books as a ‘golden thread’ weaving through all the subject areas. The stimulus in turn raises philosophical questions one of which is then explored by the class which becomes a ‘community of enquiry’, facilitated by the teacher.  Questioning is the driver of good thinking and further questions are brought into the enquiry to push it into depth.

Furthermore we are using the advanced pedagogy of ‘High Performance Learning’ to build superior cognitive performance from all our children. Developed by Deborah Eyre, this pedagogy is dependent on children developing a series of cognitive characteristics along with values, attitudes and attributes which helps them progress to be advanced performers and enterprising learners.

Through our innovative curriculum design incorporating Talk for Writing, growth mind set, Philosophy for Children and ‘High Performance Learning’, we aim to inspire the hearts and minds of the children at Penn Wood to encourage them to want to learn and enjoy their educational journey.