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Curriculum overview

Subject areas


As a school we have implemented the Chris Quigley Essentials Curriculum.


It is important to us to ensure that we consider the children and community as a key curriculum driver.  We want our children to develop the values of The Empower Trust and to ensure they have a solid grounding in key attributes which will enable them to go on to succeed in the future.


For this reason we focus on aspects of the curriculum which develop our children as citizens.  We want them to share their work with a wide audience and to be able to experience huge successes.  We also wish to develop a social conscience in all members of the community.  This may mean they are involved in an enterprise through their work, which will benefit a charity or organisation,  they may plan a community project, consider the environmental impact they can have through their work or create a legacy outcome which has a long lasting impact.  We have found the recognition that they have achieved through these outcomes has a significant impact on their social and emotional development, as well as the educational outcomes.

Three elements make up the Essentials Curriculum:

Threshold concepts


Threshold concepts are the ‘big ideas’ that shape students’ thinking within each subject. The same threshold concepts will be explored in every year group and students will gradually increase their understanding of them. Previous editions of this curriculum referred to the Threshold Concepts as ‘objectives’. We have stopped using this terminology because it implies that there is a target to be met. Instead of meeting objectives we now advocate exploring concepts. An important principle, therefore, is that exploring concepts will never be complete; students will continue to explore them for as long as they continue to study the subject. Each subject begins with an overview of the essential characteristics students should develop and these form the basis for the threshold concepts. An example of one of the threshold concepts in history is “evidence tells us about the past”. This, of course, cannot be taught in isolation: it would be abstract and meaningless to students. The concept must be explored within a breadth of different contexts so that it has tangibility and meaning.


Breadth of contexts


Breadth provides the contexts for exploring the threshold concepts. It has two roles:

1) Knowledge*. Concepts need knowledge to make sense. Contexts give students subject specific knowledge with which to think about the concepts. For example, students will use the context of the Great Fire of London to explore the concept ‘evidence tells us about the past’. They will be shown extracts of Samuel Pepys diary and will explore how an historical account gives us the knowledge of the cause and spread of the fire. The more knowledge students have, the better their understanding of the concepts becomes. Another benefit of knowledge is that it helps pupils reading comprehension. A student with a greater knowledge of the world will infer more from a text than one with little knowledge, no matter how good his or her decoding skills may be.


2) Transference. Whilst it is only possible to explore a concept within a context, this also causes a problem for students: their understanding is context bound. They find it very difficult to transfer the concept to another situation. By providing a breadth of contexts, students begin to transfer the concepts. They do this by comparing the new context knowledge to previously learned knowledge, the bridge being the concept. For example, if students explore the concept ‘evidence tells us about the past’ through the context of The Great Fire of London they learn that a vital piece of evidence is that Samuel Pepys kept a diary. They then later explore the same concept in the context of The Ancient Egyptians, in which they learn that the Rosetta Stone gives us evidence of the meaning of hieroglyphics.


Each subject has a suggested breadth of study which exceeds the requirements of the English National Curriculum. it is also recommended that schools consider additional breadth of study so that students develop cultural capital. (The essential knowledge that pupils need to be educated citizens, introducing them to the best that has been thought and said and helping to engender an appreciation of human and creative achievement.)


Milestones for progress

Because the threshold concepts are repeated in each year group it is important that students progress in their understanding of them. The Essentials Curriculum sets out this progression in the form of three ‘Milestones’. Each Milestone contains a range of descriptors which give more detail to be discovered within the concept. Over a two year period students will become more and more familiar with these details by exploring them in a breadth of contexts. These descriptors are not exhaustive and should only be used as a guide for teachers. They should not be ‘ticked off’ as each one is covered: they should be repeated in as many different contexts as possible. For more details on progression within each Milestone, please see our supporting materials on planning for Greater Depth.


© 2019 Chris Quigley Education

Some of our most positive impacts over the past two years have been:


Display of art work in The National Gallery, London.


A QR trail at Whittington Castle which links to animations created by year 1 and 2 about the legends and folklore of the castle.


Dementia training and a link with The Uplands Nursing Home in Oxon, Shrewsbury.


A performance at Theatre Severn of The Wizard of Oz, with ticket sales benefitting The Ark, Shrewsbury.


Publishing a Fairtrade Cookery Book through Crowdfunding.  Profits from the sale of the book, £2,250, were donated to Sherwsbury Ark and hopefully will be used to provide a furnished kitchen in their new premises

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)


There are seven areas of learning for children in EYFS.

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive Arts and Design


The whole school theme and children's interests are used as the starting point for planning. We build upon children's prior learning and challenge them in a safe, supportive learning environment.


Development Matters is the document used to support children's learning and development through planning, observation and assessment.

Development Matters for the Early Years Foundation Stage

We are part of The Empower Trust
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