Theme based learning UKS2 – Where does it fit in with the curriculum?

Key Stage 2 have had a fantastic term with lots of interesting learning going on. Despite the crazy Christmas term, a lot has happened.

Year 5


The geography curriculum was covered by Year 5 during their Pharaohs topic.

Geographical skills and fieldwork

  • use maps, atlases, globes and digital/computer mapping to locate countries and describe features studied


We have found that geography can be quite a difficult subject to teach across the school due to making sure there is progression. Finding countries on a map is something that a Year 3 or 4 child could do so it is important to be showing that we are moving children on…  Think about how this could link into another area of learning.

Year 6


The topic all worked around TASC.  Children were given the task of creating a David Attenborough style video to show to parents.  All their science and geography learning built up to this super moment.


Human and physical geography

  • describe and understand key aspects of physical geography, including: climate zones, biomes and vegetation belts, rivers, mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, and the water cycle

Geographical skills and fieldwork

  • use maps, atlases, globes and digital/computer mapping to locate countries and describe features studied
  • use fieldwork to observe, measure, record and present the human and physical features in the local area using a range of methods, including sketch maps, plans and graphs, and digital technologies.


Even children are using their learning to complete something that they were interested in, away from school.

Science – Living things and their habitats

  • describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to common observable characteristics and based on similarities and differences, including microorganisms, plants and animals
  • give reasons for classifying plants and animals based on specific characteristics.


Active learning – reciprocity

The last learning muscle that I need to share from Guy Claxton’s Building Learning Power is reciprocity.

I have always used superheroes to support BLP.  It gives children a fictional context in which they can join in with and add to.

1Using imaginary and real life learning superheroes can help in promoting all learning behaviours.

By having a superhero for reciprocity, children are given the superheroes remit.  What he is going to help us with.


Then children get children to design their own superhero that has the powers to help Reciprocity Ray carry out his duties.



Theme based learning – where does it fit in with the curriculum?

Term 1 is over so what did we manage to cover in Year 4 through our theme based curriculum?


Science – Living things and their habitats

  • recognise that living things can be grouped in a variety of ways
  • explore and use classification keys to help group, identify and name a variety of living things in their local and wider environment
  • recognise that environments can change and that this can sometimes pose dangers to living things.


  • to improve their mastery of art and design techniques, including drawing, painting and sculpture with a range of materials [for example, pencil, charcoal, paint, clay]



  • select, use and combine a variety of software (including internet services) on a range of digital devices to design and create a range of programs, systems and content that accomplish given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information


  • describe and understand key aspects of:
  • physical geography, including: climate zones, biomes and vegetation belts, rivers, mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, and the water cycle
  • use maps, atlases, globes and digital/computer mapping to locate countries and describe features studied
  • use the eight points of a compass, four and six-figure grid references, symbols and key (including the use of Ordnance Survey maps) to build their knowledge of the United Kingdom and the wider world


  • play and perform in solo and ensemble contexts, using their voices and playing musical instruments with increasing accuracy, fluency, control and expression
  • improvise and compose music for a range of purposes using the inter-related dimensions of music


Moving our curriculum on – learning intentions and skills

In building our world class curriculum, I shared with my staff good examples of how learning intentions are used to drive the learning.

Class teachers need to ensure:

  • Skills are leading the learning intention.
  • Context can be shared in the annotation of what is happening in the lesson
  • Observations, photos, children’s work is used as evidence for the learning intention.


Skills documents used In our school are constantly being reviewed but you can find them here.

Theme based learning – where does it fit in with the curriculum?

Term 1 is over so what did we manage to cover in Year 2 through our theme based curriculum?


Science- Uses of everyday materials

  • identify and compare the suitability of a variety of everyday materials, including wood, metal, plastic, glass, brick, rock, paper and cardboard for particular uses
  • find out how the shapes of solid objects made from some materials can be changed by squashing, bending, twisting and stretching.

Science – Working scientifically

  • asking simple questions and recognising that they can be answered in different ways
  • performing simple tests
  • identifying and classifying
  • using their observations and ideas to suggest answers to questions
  • gathering and recording data to help in answering questions.


By using a programme that deals with characters from fairy tale  and castle settings, children completed learning on the following.

  • understand what algorithms are; how they are implemented as programs on digital devices; and that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions
  • create and debug simple programs
  • use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs


Design and Technology

  • design purposeful, functional, appealing products for themselves and other users based on design criteria
  • generate, develop, model and communicate their ideas through talking, drawing, templates, mock-ups and, where appropriate, information and communication technology
  • select from and use a range of tools and equipment to perform practical tasks [for example, cutting, shaping, joining and finishing]
  • select from and use a wide range of materials and components, including construction materials, textiles and ingredients, according to their characteristics
  • evaluate their ideas and products against design criteria



  • changes within living memory. Where appropriate, these should be used to reveal aspects of change in national life
  • significant historical events, people and places in their own locality.



  • experiment with, create, select and combine sounds using the inter-related dimensions of music.

The New Framework- What’s occurring so far?

According to Amanda Spielman’s letter on 30th October, under the new framework, it is proposed that there will be a new ‘quality of education’ judgement.  This will look at curriculum intent, depth and breadth alongside the quality of teaching, the quality of pupils’ work and the resulting outcomes.


Curriculum intent – What do we want for our children? How much substance is in the curriculum?

Quality of teaching (depth and breadth) – What are our children learning? Are they studying a curriculum that is rich, broad and deep?  How is our teaching showing that we are fulfilling the intent?  Are teachers empowered to feel like they are experts in their subjects?

Quality of pupils’ work- How are children showing that their work is fulfilling the intent?

Impact – The results and wider outcomes that children achieve and the destinations that they go on to.

Best get on with strengthening my curriculum intent then….

How to be website compliant

In terms of the curriculum, there are things that we must include our school website about the curriculum.


As marked out on, here is what we need to be website compliant.




You must publish:

  • your values and ethos
  • the content of your school curriculum in each academic year for every subject, including Religious Education even if it is taught as part of another subject or subjects, or is called something else
  • the names of any phonics or reading schemes you’re using in key stage 1
  • a list of the courses available to pupils at key stage 4, including GCSEs
  • how parents or other members of the public can find out more about the curriculum your school is following


If your school receives PE (physical education) and sport premium funding, you must publish:

  • how much funding you received
  • a full breakdown of how you’ve spent the funding or will spend the funding
  • the effect of the premium on pupils’ PE and sport participation and attainment
  • how you’ll make sure these improvements are sustainable
  • how many pupils within their year 6 cohort can do each of the following:
    • swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres
    • use a range of strokes effectively
    • perform safe self-rescue in different water-based situations

Of course there are more things that have to be included but as Curriculum Leader, these are the areas that are need as part of the role.