St Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary School

'A welcoming and vibrant place in which children develop their skills well'  — Ofsted 2015

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Our Curriculum Intent


St Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary School

St Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary School aims to provide its pupils with a broad, balanced curriculum that is underpinned by our Mission Statement Achieve, Believe, Succeed: Together in Christ. At the heart of the school’s faith is St John’s statement: “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full”. These words colour the whole of the curriculum; we want our children to have a sense of self-worth through their experience of belonging to a caring community.

We aim to create successful, confident and caring learners.

We are proud of our pupils, but we also know that high academic attainment isn’t the only mark of an excellent school.

Our curriculum will be taught with consideration of the needs of all our learners and local context.

We follow The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum and The National Curriculum. However, we have developed a programme of learning, based on the Chris Quigley Essentials Curriculum that drives the aims and values of our school and serves the needs of all our children and families.


The breadth of our curriculum is designed with two goals in mind:

1) To provide a rich ‘cultural capital’;

2) To provide a coherent, structured, academic curriculum that leads to sustained mastery for all and a greater depth of understanding for those who are capable.


Cultural capital

Cultural capital is the background knowledge of the world pupils need to infer meaning from what they read. It includes vocabulary which, in turn, helps pupils to express themselves in a sophisticated, mature way.

A coherently planned academic curriculum underpinned by our key drivers, our academic curriculum sets out:

  1. a) A clear list of the breadth of topics that will be covered;
  2. b) The ‘threshold concepts’ pupils should understand;
  3. c) Criteria for progression within the threshold concepts;
  4. d) Criteria for depth of understanding.


The diagram above shows the model of the curriculum structure at St Mary Immaculate Primary School. The structure also supports mixed age teaching and our assessment policy.

  1. a) The curriculum breadth for each year group ensures each teacher has clarity as to what to cover. As well as providing the key knowledge within subjects it also provides for pupils’ growing cultural capital.
  2. b) Threshold concepts are the key disciplinary aspects of each subject. They are chosen to build conceptual understanding within subjects and are repeated many times in each topic.
  3. c) Milestones define the standards for the threshold concepts.
  4. d) Depth: we expect pupils in year 1 of the milestone to develop a Basic (B) understanding of the concepts and an Advancing (A) or Deep (D) understanding in Year 2 of the milestone. Phase one (Years 1, 3 and 5) in a Milestone is the knowledge building phase that provides the fundamental foundations for later application. LEARNING AT THIS STAGE MUST NOT BE RUSHED and will involve a high degree of repetition so that knowledge enters pupils’ long-term memory. If all of the core knowledge is acquired quickly, teachers create extended knowledge.

Sustained mastery

Nothing is learned unless it rests in pupils’ long-term memories. This does not happen, and cannot be assessed, in the short term. Assessment, therefore answers two main questions:

‘How well are pupils coping with curriculum content? And ‘How well are they retaining previously taught content?’


The Curriculum design at St Mary Immaculate Catholic Primary School is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it,

1) Learning is most effective with spaced repetition.

2) Interleaving helps pupils to discriminate between topics and long-term retention.

3) Retrieval of previously learned content is frequent and regular, which increases both storage and retrieval strength.

In addition to the three principles we also understand that learning is invisible in the short term and that sustained mastery takes time.

Some of our content is subject specific, whilst other content is combined in a cross-curricular approach. Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in some cases provides retrieval practice for previously learned content.



The impact of the Curriculum is judged at the end of each milestone. The goal is for the majority of pupils to have sustained mastery of the content. We aim that the children remember and are fluent in the content. We aim for those that can to have a greater depth of understanding. We monitor carefully to ensure pupils are on track to reach the expectations of the curriculum.