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The Stour Federation

Multi Academy Trust

Learn, grow, succeed together

Curriculum Excellence

Curriculum Excellence

We provide a curriculum that enables children to gain curiosity, ambition and a willingness to practise so that they gain the knowledge, skills and understanding to help them be socially active citizens.  It emphasises the central importance of proficient reading, writing and maths skills as the basis of a good education and future personal and social contribution to society.


All schools currently use the Cornerstones Education Engage, Develop, Innovate, Express process, although this is not mandatory.  This gives a framework for teaching knowledge and skills-rich subjects deeply in a topic approach.  Schools in the Trust do not have to use Cornerstones - they have autonomy to develop their own curriculum.  The Stour Federation has a set of principles that are underpinned by our Trust RESPECT values and act as the basis for planning the curriculum and the cornerstone of school life as a whole. These aims in practice in our Trust schools demonstrate our commitment to develop flourishing communities. We want to create the best provision possible for every child in every Trust school.  Our values set the tone for our culture, behaviours, and the expectations of our school communities.  They are embedded in everything we do.



1. The curriculum is structured around the integrated concept of wellbeing and learning - providing an all-rounded, inclusive education covering academic, non-academic, life skills and character development, to strengthen children’s sense of self, build resilience, achieve highly, develop intrinsic motivation to learn and drive greater equality, knowledge, engagement and spiritual connection in the world.


2. The curriculum is designed and delivered through four distinct stages and built on a variety of different aspects of educational and cognitive research - 

  • Engage is a short stage in which children take part in a memorable experience to stimulate their curiosity, ask questions and make links to their prior learning. It provides an opportunity for cultural and real-world experiences and promotes discussion about the concepts introduced in each lesson or project. This stage also includes an introductory knowledge session where children are taught new knowledge or are asked to recall prior knowledge.
  • Develop is a longer stage of learning, where children delve more deeply into the knowledge and skills required to understand and build their conceptual understanding. Learning is well-sequenced and interconnected.
  • Innovate provides crucial opportunities for children to retrieve previous knowledge and skills in order to apply them in new contexts.
  • Express gives children a structured opportunity to reflect on their learning, test their knowledge and celebrate their achievements.


3. The curriculum has reading at its heart as windows, mirrors and sliding doors - early reading and phonics is given high priority.  We want children to love reading, enjoy books and see it as a gateway to the wider curriculum and derive pleasure from it.  Children should know a range of authors and texts and be excited about reading through being exposed to high quality texts, meet authors, develop and widen their vocabulary and delight in the written word.

  • Books that are windows offer a view into unfamiliar worlds as well as imaginary worlds.
  • Books that are mirrors reflect experiences and a sense of familiarity with a reader’s own life.
  • Books that are sliding doors allow readers to walk into a story and become part of the world that has been created by the author.


4. The curriculum is ambitious, relevant, broad and balanced - through the knowledge and skills that the curriculum seeks to develop and the wider experiences that children have the opportunity to access and learn from.  The EYFS curriculum framework and National Curriculum coverage are the minimum expectations, with ambition beyond the National Curriculum shaped by the individual context of each school.  A wider range of learning contexts that enrich the curriculum ‘beyond the classroom’ such as trips, visitors, community groups and clubs as well as leveraging digital all serve to promote the development of a sense of wonder and creating powerful moments, encouraging high aspirations for children at each of our schools in the pursuit of academic excellence.


5. The curriculum is the progression model for wellbeing and learning - each of our schools’ intended curriculum enables children to engage with a rich and deep knowledge base across core and foundation subjects through coherent and progressive interlinked sequences of lessons that provide purpose and help children to retain their learning over time, enabling them to make links and flourish.  Modern learning is quality learning that sticks with you.


6. The curriculum is accessible for all - teachers are committed to equality in delivering the full curriculum in ways that enable all children attending each of our schools to access it and make progress relative to their starting points.  Each school must consider strategies and adaptations to enable the most disadvantaged and those with SEND can engage with the curriculum and shine.


7. The curriculum is evolving - a great curriculum is about a culture and growth mindset that permeates a school, which flows from teachers and wider staff considering how they design and deliver learning for children in a way that stimulates, challenges and promotes progress and a love of learning. Through reflection of outcomes and teachers being given time to develop emotional intelligence, wisdom and curiosity, the planned curriculum must continually be reimagined to inform future learning and curriculum intent.


8. The curriculum supports children to be active local, national and global citizens through the 6 global competencies - teachers are able to understand the physical, emotional, social and academic progress that each child makes and works with them to effectively transition into each new phase of their education development.  Whilst external tests can provide a means of judging academic progress and attainment in core subjects, we aspire for the children in our schools to develop as well rounded human beings and live life in all its fullness.  Central to this is the constellation of purpose, meaning, belongingness, connectedness and contribution to the world, now and in the future.   The 6Cs (character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking) is our framework for deep learning, developing socio-emotional and academic knowledge and skills alongside forming children of moral and spiritual depth.  Through the 6Cs children become agile thinkers, wise decision makers, loving friends, good neighbours and generous citizens that have a transformational impact on the world as young people and adults.


9. The curriculum is responsible - we know that we have a responsibility to use the curriculum as a tool to keep all children safe from harm and educate children about physical and mental health.  Through accumulation of knowledge, behaviours and skills children will be able to demonstrate cultural awareness, tolerance and respect for others, enabling them to develop successful relationships and contribute positively to society.


10. The curriculum will support children to be guardians of the planet - climate education will instil an ethos and ability to care for the natural environment now and in the future.  Building on a foundation of fundamental numeracy, literacy and broad academic knowledge, children will learn about nature, the causes and impacts of climate change and the importance of sustainability.  Children will be prepared for the future with the knowledge they need and empowered to make a marked impact on our world.


We have aligned approaches across the Trust for the teaching of reading, writing and maths to equip children with a strong command of the basics and the confidence, ambition and teamwork skills to succeed.





We are committed to ensuring all of the talents and skills children have are developed to the full.


We will deliver high quality social, moral, spiritual and cultural education (SMSC) that enables our children to know themselves, relate to others from a range of backgrounds and cultures, keep themselves healthy and safe and contribute as fully as they can to wider society.


We are committed to a bucket list of experiences that each child will experience during their time in a school in the Trust.


Reading is at the heart of our curriculum.  Schools in the Stour Federation follow a key text approach for their topic work, PSHE social and emotional learning, our No Outsiders lessons on equality and for developing a love of books and pleasure.  These core texts underpin the learning across the curriculum, often developing both the substantive and disciplinary knowledge within a global theme.


Teachers also look to instil and develop in our children six global competencies that describe the skills and attributes needed for learners to flourish as citizens of the world: character, citizenship, collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. Relationships are the active ingredient in so much of the realisation of the 6Cs and learning in our curriculum.



  • Proactive stance toward life and learning to learn.
  • Grit, tenacity, perseverance and resilience.
  • Empathy, compassion and integrity in action.



  • A global perspective.
  • Commitment to human equity and well-being through empathy and compassion for diverse values and world views.
  • Genuine interest in human and environmental sustainability.
  • Solving ambiguous and complex problems in the real world to benefit citizens.



  • Working interdependently as a team.
  • Interpersonal and team-related skills.
  • Social, emotional, and intercultural skills.
  • Managing team dynamics and challenges.



  • Communication designed for audience and impact.
  • Message advocates a purpose and makes an impact.
  • Reflection to further develop and improve communication.
  • Voice and identity expressed to advance humanity.



  • Economic and social entrepreneurialism.
  • Asking the right inquiry questions.
  • Pursuing and expressing novel ideas and solutions.
  • Leadership to turn ideas into action.


Critical Thinking

  • Evaluating information and arguments.
  • Making connections and identifying patterns.
  • Meaningful knowledge construction.
  • Experimenting, reflecting and taking action on ideas in the real world.


The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a set of goals and targets aimed at making the world a better place.  We are embedding a more global ethos into our curriculum to deepen children’s understanding of these local and global issues so they acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.

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