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Principles and Overview

At Sunny Bank Primary School the’ Learning Challenge’ approach is used as a structure and ethos for our curriculum design. It makes use of the new national curriculum and individual subject skill progressions to ensure our children are taught a broad range of skills across subjects.

The Learning Challenge concept is built around the principle of greater children’s involvement with the work. The concept requires deep thinking and encourages learners to work using a question as the starting point.

In designing the curriculum our class teachers and children use a prime learning challenge, expressed as a question, as the starting point. Engagement in learning is encouraged through a ‘Wow’ moment - a starting lesson that sparks curiosity.

Pre-learning tasks ensure that learners are directly involved in the planning process. Well planned pre-learning tasks help to bring out what the children already know; what misconceptions they may have and what really interests them. Using information gained from pre- learning tasks using Mind Maps, KWL grids etc and the school’s context, a series of subsidiary challenges are then planned.

Each subsidiary learning challenge is also expressed as a question. The subsidiary learning challenge is normally expected to last for one week. We ensure the Learning challenges make sense to the children and it is something that is within their immediate understanding.

Continuity and progression in the curriculum is then built around a set of matrices known as essential knowledge, understanding and key skills within subject disciplines. These are broken into year group expectations and have additional challenges for the most able learners. The ‘Essential Knowledge, Skills and Understanding’ matrices within the Learning Challenge Curriculum allow us to guarantee that our children’s essential skills are being developed.

In addition to the relevant skills to be taught, opportunities are identified for English (reading, writing and oracy), maths and ICT. These are weaved throughout each Learning Challenge to ensure all children know the audience and/or purpose for their work and are using ICT to research and/or present their work. In addition to this opportunities for learning outside the classroom are planned for as much as possible.

Time for children to reflect or review their learning is central and a clearly defined exit point or period of reflection is planned. This is in keeping with the ‘Learning to Learn’ principle where reflection is seen as a very important part of individuals’ learning programmes. Within the Learning Challenge Curriculum it is suggested that the final subsidiary learning challenge is handed over for children to reflect on their learning. The idea is that children present their learning back to the rest of the class or another appropriate audience making the most of their oracy and ICT skills to do so. It might be through an exhibition of work, a performance etc. Initially, children may require a great deal of direction so the reflection time may need to be presented in the form of a question which helps them to review their work.

Across the year six Learning Challenges are undertaken, each focusing on a subject from either the Arts - Art, Music or D&T, Sciences - Science, P.E or Computing or Humanities - R.E, History or Geography with a view to also including local, national or global events.

Whilst the Learning Challenge approach aims to tie subjects together under the Learning Challenge question, it may be necessary to teach some subjects as discrete subjects. Some subjects may also lend themselves to being taught in extended blocks.

RE at Sunny Bank Primary School will also be taught weekly using the Learning Challenge approach.

See the Documents below for a copy of each year group’s Learning Challenge Curriculum Overview;


For more in depth detail of what is going on in each class and how you can help please see the relevant class page.