Oakham Church of England Primary School has chosen Cornerstones as the driver to provide an exciting, inspiring and aspirational broad and balanced curriculum which delivers the requirements of the National Curriculum for all learners. With Reading, Writing and Maths at its core learners receive a wide and varied curriculum offer of both discrete and thematic learning which progressively builds and deepens knowledge, understanding and skills over time. The curriculum has been shaped to include cultural capital and encompasses our local community and context.

We believe that children deserve a balanced curriculum that enables them to develop a deep understanding of all subjects and the interconnections between them. The rationale for the Cornerstones Curriculum takes the form of 10 big ideas that provide a purpose for the aspects, skills, knowledge and contexts chosen to form the substance of the curriculum. These big ideas form a series of multi-dimensional interconnected threads across the curriculum, allowing children to encounter and revisit their learning through a variety of subject lenses. Over time, these encounters help children to build conceptual frameworks that will enable a better understanding of increasingly sophisticated information and ideas. Knowing more, doing more and remembering more! 

The 10 Big Ideas are: 

Humankind: Understanding what it means to be human and the cause and effect of human behaviour.

Materials: Understanding the unique and physical properties of all matter and how we interact with them.

Significance: Understanding why significant people, places, events and inventions matter.

Processes: Understanding the many dynamic and physical processes that shape the world around us.

Creativity: Understanding how everyday and exceptional creativity can inspire and change perceptions.

Place: Understanding the visual, cultural, social and environmental aspects of different places around the world.

Investigation: Understanding the importance of asking questions, formulating hypotheses, gathering information and analysing evidence.

Nature: Understanding the complexities and interdependence of the plant and animal species that inhabit the world’s many ecosystems.

Comparison: Understanding how and why things are the same or different.

Change: Understanding why and how things have changed over time.

(Please click here to read about the Big Ideas in more detail)  and see below to see what this looks like at our school.


Whilst we endeavour to identify meaningful cross curricular links, Reading (including phonics), Writing and Maths are taught discretely through a range of carefully sequenced and planned approaches such as; Maths Mastery- using White Rose, Book Talk, Letters and Sounds, Write this Way Sentence Stacking and Talk for Writing.  

As we have some mixed year groups we have a two year rolling curriculum cycle. Each term has a new project with six being taught over the year. Each project has a dominant subject focus as the driver. Our approach to the thematic learning is based on four distinct stages of the learning process.

These stages are: Engage – Develop – Innovate – Express, (also known as the Four Cornerstones).  

Engage: Engage is where children take part in a memorable experience to stimulate their curiosity, ask questions and talk about their prior learning. They are introduced to the required baseline knowledge to support future learning.

Develop: Develop where children delve more deeply into the theme, explore and acquire new skills and knowledge, revisit previously acquired skills and knowledge, make links between subjects, explore, make, read and write for a variety of purposes across the curriculum.

Innovate: Innovate is a crucial opportunity for children to return to previous skills and knowledge and apply them in new contexts.  The Innovate stage poses a thematic problem, challenge, provocation or scenario that requires children to think creatively whilst applying, reflecting and revisiting what they have learnt in previous stages, in a real-life or imaginary context.   

Express: Express gives children a structured opportunity to reflect on their learning, test their knowledge and celebrate their achievements.  We also use low stakes quizzes to help children practice knowledge retrieval and, for Key Stage 2, short summative tests are available to provide opportunities for more focused assessment of knowledge acquisition.

Embedded in learning across the curriculum we use ‘Power Thinking’ to develop reflection and metacognition in the learning environment.

Knowledge Organisers are used during the implementation phase to give children and teachers the ‘bigger picture’ or desired end point of a topic or subject area in order to help children to know and remember more. Knowledge Organisers enable children to make links in their knowledge; essentially they help children move information into their long-term memory. Children revisit their Knowledge Organisers regularly within the class and have mini quizzes about them so that the knowledge becomes ‘sticky’ – the more you know, the more you learn – which helps children gain deeper understanding and build on prior learning over time. At the start of each new topic the Knowledge Organiser is also sent home so that the key learning can be shared and reinforced. 


Evidence in Knowledge: Using Cornerstones and Knowledge Organisers ensures that by the time children leave our school they have learned, and are able to recall and apply the key information that we feel is important in order for them to be successful in the future. Children have an increasing knowledge base supported by their acquisition of a broad vocabulary. 

Evidence in Pupil Voice: Through discussion and feedback, children talk enthusiastically about their learning. They can articulate the context in which the curriculum is being taught and relate this to real life purposes. Children show confidence and can apply the knowledge and skills they already have.

Evidence in Outcomes: Our intent and ambition for our curriculum is that it is designed to at least meet the requirements of the National Curriculum and enables increasing proportions of learners to progress well in all year groups and attain at least ARE combined in in Reading Writing and Maths by the end of Key-Stage 2. Children who have gaps in their knowledge receive appropriate support and intervention. All children, including those who are disadvantaged or SEND access the curriculum and make progress in line with their start points. 

Evidence in the readiness for the next stage: Through this ambitious curriculum, every child will thrive and by school, parents, the Church and the wider community working in partnership together our children will leave school as resilient, independent and inquisitive learners with happy, positive memories ready for the journey ahead.