“Creative curriculum”

(21 Posts)
DrDiva Thu 23-Aug-18 10:44:30

I’m just wondering if there is anyone here with experience of the “Creative Curriculum” (as in the trademarked one) after EYFS? And could tell me the pros and cons? My DS (going into Y2 as a summer born) is in a school that uses it, and as far as I can see, it simply means that he knows how to play the system extremely well, and gets away with doing exactly what he wants most of the time! They have “challenges” they have to accomplish during the week, not at set times, and he has figured out that he can do them all on a Friday morning, just well enough that he doesn’t have to repeat them, but not well enough that they will give him something harder next time. I’d love to know how to navigate both the Creative Curriculum and my DS’s uncanny ability to play his teachers!!

(We are quite strict with him about the whole “I can’t dooo it” batty-eyelids thing, plus his tendency to give up easily because they let him at school. But I’m not there during the day...)

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BubblesBuddy Thu 23-Aug-18 11:31:10

Are these challenges at home or at school?

If at school, why is he not monitored regarding week long attention to the challenges? Why are they letting him get away with last minute Friday morning effort? Why have the teachers not twigged what is happening? Why have the teachers not realised he isn’t progressing regarding difficulty? Why are they not monitoring his progress and performance then asking for and requiring better?

I have to say I don’t know this curriculum but the above comments would refer to any work in any school. Sounds like lazy teaching to me! Talk to the teachers.

DrDiva Thu 23-Aug-18 11:56:20

Yes, all your questions have been put to the teachers!! They just say he is “learning to be accountable for his own learning”. Hmm, I thought you had to teach 5/6 year olds how to learn?
Apparently that’s very old fashioned of me!! And apparently he needs to learn this “as he will need to at high school.” Um, where do you even start with that one??!!

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DrDiva Thu 23-Aug-18 11:59:42

Oh, and he’s a summer born prem boy. They think he’s working to capacity. And if I show them what he is capable of at home, they say “oh, but he’s not being distracted at home.”

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BubblesBuddy Thu 23-Aug-18 12:49:13

I agree with you. Of course young children need guidance. They don’t have the decicion-making skills to learn without guidance. Is this a state school? If it’s not, they will defend the indefensible. He doesn’t need independent working at 5/6. He doesn’t in y6 either or Sats might be challenging.

Children often do better at home, (they do focus better and it’s one to one) but the school should be monitoring his work and his progress. Ask for evidence of progress. (Ofsted ask for evidence and it should be readily available). Can you be shown his work books? Can the teacher show you how this policy is ensuring he is making progress? How does the school measure progress? Do they use a computer program or their own methods? What exactly does his profile look like?

Where I am a governor, we do have a policy in maths where the teacher sets hard, harder, hardest and Herculean tasks. Children try out a level and go up and down accordingly - all with guidance! This enables children to consolidate or steam ahead! This is from y4 onwards. Some children are risk averse and try the hard level first but can be buoyed by achievement and then go forward. We always have a few who get into Herculean fairly quickly and are set similar to take home. Their progress is monitored twice a term at least and a profile is maintained for each child. Your teacher should have similar. Ask about it. It’s not acceptable for them not to share this info with parents. If the school continues like this, I would consider if it meets your criteria.

DrDiva Thu 23-Aug-18 12:55:32

Thanks, that’s very helpful. We are indeed trying to change schools, but in the meantime, we are trying to make the best of what we have. You’ve given us some questions to ask. Yes, it’s a state school (with an outstanding ofsted). And no, we don’t get to see the books until they come home at the end of the year. There was some right rubbish in them too! shock

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Kokeshi123 Thu 23-Aug-18 15:29:06

Oh God. Sounds like more red flags than a Chinese military march, quite honestly.

I think you are wise to try and get him into a different school. In the meantime, hate to say this, but I think I would work on the assumption that he won't be learning a terrific amount at school and that learning will have to be taken care of at home to a considerable extent. It's not easy to get a school to change when they have bought into a sketchy idea as an actual "philosophy."


PoppyPlum Thu 23-Aug-18 16:40:20

I have a summer born DC going into Y2 doing creative curriculum. However, it sounds different from your DC's school.

My interpretation is that the creative curriculum is just something to wrap the normal curriculum around, such that each term has a topic (eg the Middle Ages, or Rain Forest) and many of the assignments are adapted to suit that topic (e.g. writing letters to historic characters) but still teaching what needs to be taught.

If the children are entirely self directed I would be a bit worried.

Xaawo Thu 23-Aug-18 16:40:51

Clever boy!!wink
But maybe not so good for his learning.

Our primary school has 'challenges' too, but they seem to work different. My kids have 90 minutes every morning when they work on their challenges. Can be everything from 20 minutes quiet reading time at the (supervised) school libery, maths worksheets, online research on a certain topic, school/class service (watering flowers...) or to finish a task in Art and Design. But the kids are always supervised and get guidance. The teachers teach them how to organise their work and - of course - help when they struggle with a special task.
It seems to work really good and I think I helped my older kids a lot because they learned decicion-making skills, independent learning and so one. A lot of their classmates had problems with it when they start secondary.
But they don't learned it all at age 5/6. My youngest son starts y2 in september and still needs a lot of guidance. That's normal. He's just 6 years old.
They teachers also watch his progress and can show me whenever I ask for it.

Seems like your sons school is leaking some teaching skills.sad

(English is not my first language, so please don't worry to much about my mistakeswink)

BubblesBuddy Thu 23-Aug-18 17:07:43

Many schools select a topic each term and may weave writing, class reading, geography, history, art, drama and a trip out into a creative curriculum to enhance the learning experience. However this isn’t something you buy in. It’s about a whole school approach to developing and delivering the curriculum.

Op, his books should be available at parents evening. Ask to have a meeting with the teacher to review progress and ask to have a look at the books. Look at the marking and the comments made regarding improvement. You should see progression in the work completed. It should be dated. Is there plenty there all through the week or not? Does it tie in with the curriculum topics? Children at 6 are very young to find things out for themselves and learn independently.

I think what other pp have described makes a lot of sense. How does the school describe the curriculum on its web site and what does it give to parents each term by way of a description of what they will teach? Being creative about that is what any good school should do.

When was it graded Outstanding? Recently or 7 years ago?

DrDiva Thu 23-Aug-18 18:29:41

kokeshi that properly made me laugh!

Ofsted was this last academic year.

It really sounds like our concerns are not unfounded from what you all have said. And yes to most of his learning happening outside school. Clearly it suits some kids, as some of them love it and are doing very well. It doesn’t suit mine - he has too many ideas of what he would like to do with his time! smile
For us, the really big thing is teaching him that it’s ok to find things difficult and need time and repetition to get things. He’s learned to run out of the classroom if things get the slightest bit tough, AND THEY LET HIM. As you say, xaawo he’s a clever boy!

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DrDiva Thu 23-Aug-18 18:31:06

We do get a curriculum overview for the term, although it is fairly generalised. There doesn’t seem to be anything on the website.

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teaandbiscuitsforme Fri 24-Aug-18 00:21:31

You don't mean creative curriculum, your issue is with the way they have set up accessing continuous provision. Will the same set up continue into year 2? I'd be concerned about him doing all the challenges on a Friday afternoon and not doing them very well. That is worth discussing with the teacher. Dismissing continuous provision in key stage 1 because it doesn't look like formal learning isn't ok though IMHO.

Norestformrz Fri 24-Aug-18 07:34:09

The Creative Curriculum is a published scheme treaandbiscuits. Many schools bought into it prior to the change of government and the introduction of the new National Curriculum. There are set topics for each year group with a scheme of work/programme of study for each. Personally I wasn't a fan as I thought it defeated its stated purpose by its structure. It went out of favour when the expected Curriculum was scrapped as a result of the general election.
Op I've not heard of anyone using it in the way you describe. Sorry not helpful I know.

teaandbiscuitsforme Fri 24-Aug-18 08:11:32

I know that mrz, but I think the op is describing continuous provision in year 1, possibly where the school are using it as part of 'creative curriculum'. Challenges to be completed by Friday, all part of independent learning, no set time to do this work all sounds like continuous provision to me.

DrDiva Fri 24-Aug-18 10:51:38

Yes, if that is continuous provision, then it describes it perfectly, although it is being sold to us as the creative curriculum. As I said in my op, if someone can give me the pros, that would be great, as currently I’m not seeing it - frankly it seems to me a way of leaving some important aspects of the learning process by the wayside. But that might simply be the way DS’s school is applying it. And I would suggest that if he can do them all to what they consider an acceptable level in one morning, then he I should not being adequately stretched.

Another difficulty I have is that they use peer review at this early stage. I don’t expect teacher marking on everything, that’s impossible and a bad use of teacher time. But what use is another 5yo’s view of their friends’ work? Especially on tests that are supposed to matter?

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DrDiva Fri 24-Aug-18 10:53:25

And yes, they use this all the way through the school.

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teaandbiscuitsforme Fri 24-Aug-18 11:39:03

Continuous provision involves having the classroom set up similar to EYFS (reception) classrooms where children access the resources independently (you'd call it play). Challenges are often used in KS1 to make it a bit more purposeful than in EYFS. To me that sounds like what you're describing but it could be something else? There's loads of evidence in favour of this approach; however, like all things, it can be done well and it can be done really badly!

As for peer review, it's a great tool with any age range (obviously good and bad ways of doing things!). There's a lot of emphasis at the moment on reducing the amount of meaningless marking, especially in ks1. Verbal feedback given at the point the work is being completed has more impact on learning than a tick for example. Peer marking is used because it's a deeper skill - your son will have reviewed somebody else's work which will have deepened/reinforced/questioned his learning in that lesson. So it's less about what's written in your child's book, more about the process your child will have gone through marking somebody else's book.

DrDiva Fri 24-Aug-18 12:19:53

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond and explain, teaandbiscuits. I do get the idea behind it, that there’s always stuff available for kids to be learning, even when not in the direct attention of the teacher. What I don’t know how to do, is how to get DS to learn some perseverance and stickability when the school is clearly allowing him to give up as soon as something is a tiny bit difficult. Especially as we went nearly a year before they admitted this was happening - oh, and that he had not spoken to an adult for the entire first term of year 1. This all doesn’t happen anywhere else - at home, other classes, etc. But has become an engrained habit at school that I feel it is up to us to break. But how do you do that when you are not there? Especially as he is a summer born prem who should have been autumn born, has a slight delay that is being ignored, but the other kids are taunting him about what he can’t do, resulting in him not wanting even to try?

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teaandbiscuitsforme Fri 24-Aug-18 13:37:30

Lots of valid points! I apologise if this sounds a bit blunt but you need to focus on your son and things you can change and ignore things you can't. There's no point focussing on continuous provision because if that's what the school do, that's what they do. Their internal processes should be routinely analysing the data to see whether it's having an impact. Being prem is obviously a huge thing for you. I've worked with children who were prem and in the right year group and prem and we're in the 'wrong' year group. Unfortunately there's no point fighting the system on this. He's going into year 2 which means that he will have to be judged by year 2 standards.

So things you can do IMO:
- Go into school and raise your concerns about your DS's attitude to the challenges. Ask what can be put in place to monitor his effort and how you can support this at home.
- When you say delay, has he had SEN involvement? Are his needs being supported in class? If not, keep on at this one.
- What does his report say about his attainment? Is he at the expected level for yr1 and if not, are there specifics about his areas of weakness? Discuss this with his new teacher but always from the point of view of what is being put in place at school and what can you do to support both DS and the school at home.

It sounds like you've lost a lot of trust in the school.

DrDiva Sat 25-Aug-18 11:14:20

No, it has never been our intention to change how the school works, although I would still maintain that if something is not working for a number of pupils (and we are not the only ones with concerns) then something needs to be done about those kids. I was wondering if we had missed anything obvious we should be doing to help. We’ve done pretty much everything suggested here, which is great, as it kind of shows we are on the right page - and possibly this just isn’t the right school for him and we do indeed need to move him. (Another school which we are on the waiting list for has a programme for prems designed to catch them up a year for every week they are early, so 9 weeks early = catch up by age 9.) He doesn’t have SEN involvement as he is simply doing things later rather than being delayed in the educational sense. Which they don’t see as a problem, as there are kids who need that intervention far more, and school budgets only stretch so far!
Thank you for your replies, tea !

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