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Dagnall VA Church of England School

'Like trees, we grow and keep on bearing fruit.'

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Religious Education (R.E.)


1. Our vision and curriculum aims shape our curriculum breadth. The vision is Bible based and derived from an exploration of the backgrounds of our students, our beliefs about high quality education and our values. The curriculum aims are used to ensure we give our students appropriate and ambitious curriculum opportunities.

2. Cultural capital gives our students the vital background knowledge required to be informed and thoughtful members of our community who understand and believe in British values.

3. Curriculum breadth is shaped by our vision, curriculum aims, cultural capital, subject topics and our ambition for students to study the best of what has been thought and said by many generations of academics and scholars.

4. Our curriculum distinguishes between subject topics and ‘threshold concepts’. Subject topics are the specific aspects of subjects that are studied.

5. Threshold concepts tie together the subject topics into meaningful schema. The same concepts are explored in a wide breadth of topics. Through this ‘forwards-and-backwards engineering’ of the curriculum, students return to the same concepts over and over and gradually build understanding of them.

6. For each of the threshold concepts three Milestones, each of which includes the procedural and semantic knowledge students need to understand the threshold concepts, provides a progression model.

7. Knowledge categories in each subject give students a way of expressing their understanding of the threshold concepts.

8. Knowledge webs help pupils to relate each topic to previously studied topics and to form strong, meaningful schema.

9. Cognitive science tell us that working memory is limited and that cognitive load is too high if pupils are rushed through content. This limits the acquisition of long-term memory. Cognitive science also tells us that in order for students to become creative thinkers, or have a greater depth of understanding they must first master the basics, which takes time.

10. Within each milestone, students gradually progress in their procedural fluency and semantic strength through three cognitive domains: basic, advancing and deep. The goal for students is to display sustained mastery at the ‘advancing’ stage of understanding by the end of each milestone and for the most able to have a greater depth of understanding at the ‘deep’ stage. The time-scale for sustained mastery or greater depth is therefore two years of study.

11. As part of our progression model we use a different pedagogical style in each of the cognitive domains of basic, advancing and deep. This is based on the research of Sweller, Kirschner and Rosenshine who argue to direct instruction in the early stages of learning and discovery based approaches later. We use direct instruction in the basic domain and problem based discovery in the deep domain. This is called the reversal effect.

12. Also as part of our progression model we use POP tasks (Proof of Progress) which shows our curriculum expectations in each cognitive domain (see diagram of curriculum intent model in Curriculum policy).



13. Our curriculum design is based on evidence from cognitive science; three main principles underpin it:

13.1 Learning is most effective with spaced repetition

13.2 Interleaving helps pupils to discriminate between topics and aids long-term retention.

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

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

15. Our content is subject specific. We make intra-curricular links to strengthen schema.

16. Continuous provision, in the form of daily routines, replaces the teaching of some aspects of the curriculum and, in other cases, provides retrieval practice for previously learned content.


17. Because learning is a change to long-term memory, it is impossible to see impact in the short term.

18. We do, however, use probabilistic assessment based on deliberate practice. This means that we look at the practices taking place to determine whether they are appropriate, related to our goals and likely to produce results in the long-run.

19. We use comparative judgement in two ways: in the tasks we set (POP tasks, see point 12) and in comparing a student’s work over time.

20. We use lesson observations to see if the pedagogical style matches our depth expectations (see point 11).


Church of England Statement of Entitlement