In the classroom at New Islington Free School

The New Islington Curriculum

Our bespoke ‘New Islington Curriculum’ has now been delivered for a year.

This huge project, to create a curriculum that is fit for purpose and excites our learners, has been driven forward by Miss Otu, supported throughout its development by every member of the teaching team.

There has been an attention to detail to provide a clarity:
• What units we will teach
• Why we will teach these units
• When we will teach these units

Using the National Curriculum as our starting point, and partnered with global learning approaches, we have developed a very clear Learning Journey for all our children. It is built on our core values of kindness, respect, cooperation and resilience and underpinned with an expectation that our children will develop a love for learning.

We believe:
• that every child is every adult’s responsibility,
• that every moment counts, and
• that there needs to be consistency in approach to meet the needs of all pupils –
(whether high ability, SEND, EAL or one of our new arrivals.)

The Golden Thread through our curriculum from EYFS to Year 6 reflects our unique pupil population – we have over 24 nationalities with as many different languages spoken. The Global / International and Cultural element of our curriculum offer is embedded in all year groups and across all subjects.

Our Early Years Curriculum is bespoke to our pupils. Building on the expectations of the Development Matters Early Years Curriculum, every year the themes change to ensure we engage and inspire through relevant units, whilst being challenging and aspirational. Our Early Years Curriculum ensures that we narrow the gap from entry on baseline, to their end of year attainment.

Throughout Key Stage One, we establish a secure foundation – well-defined blocks of understanding, skills and knowledge, with clear progression and sequence that the children develop so when they move into Key Stage Two, they are confident and competent learners. This building block approach encourages a systematic approach to knowledge and skills acquisition.

We teach Maths using the White Rose scheme; professionally, the team have been on a journey and feel that for our children the White Rose approach best fits our pupils who need the challenge of greater reasoning and problem solving opportunities.

Our Writing units follow the New Islington Writing Pathway – an aspirational flow of learning that is based on quality texts as the springboard for quality writing. As with the ‘New Islington Curriculum’ our Writing pathway is bespoke to New Islington.

The teaching of writing is, from September 2021, being supported by an approach called The Write Stuff, created by Jane Considine. This is a system that will sharpen the teaching and learning of writing within our classrooms. It is research informed and practically applies evidence into effective best bets for improving writing outcomes.We know that our pupils need to be exposed to high quality texts to widen their vocabulary. We set the standard high in our whole class guided reading sessions – linking texts to writing units so children can make links in their learning.

Foundation subjects are taught discretely – children are clear about the subject they are studying and whether it is a skills-based subject or a knowledge-based subject. We have ensured a mix of British and Global themes to reflect our pupil population. The Autumn term starts with a whole school focus on ‘Our Community’ and the year ends with a whole school focus ‘Going Global’. We have also ensured a real sense of chronology so children can make links to prior and future learning.

The timetable is adapted to the specific focus – at times a subject will be ‘blocked’ and other times it may be interspersed throughout the half term. When subjects are ‘blocked’ we encourage a real immersion and this provides depth and clarity to learning. Teachers are given the freedom to decide what works best for their class and the unit of work being taught.

We believe that our Restorative Approach is central to everything that we do – it forms the foundation of our successful relationships and learning. Linking directly with our values, we explicitly and implicitly teach children positive ‘behaviours for learning’ and ‘behaviours for life’. To this end, each class has at least one ‘Circles’ session each week when children are encouraged to articulate and explore themes and Big Ideas.

We have also built into our curriculum key experiences; we are calling this ‘Eleven before Eleven’ where we have mapped out eleven opportunities over the seven years of being at our school, over and above their usual learning, to enthuse and provide memorable experiences.



For any additional information about our curriculum, or if you have any questions or queries, please contact the school directly via the website.