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St Dominic Savio Catholic Primary School ‘Serve the Lord with Joy’


What is our knowledge curriculum?

Our knowledge-rich curriculum exposes children to ambitious content that has been highly specified and well-sequenced, leaving nothing to chance. Within school, time is limited, and our knowledge-rich curriculum ensures that each moment will support children in acquiring the knowledge, skills and cultural capital that they will need to become well-educated citizens of the future. Every historical figure encountered, philosophical idea grappled with, and scientific concept applied, fits neatly into a scheme of learning that holds a sense of purpose and develops logically from lesson to lesson, unit to unit and year to year.

Through utilising cognitive science, and the psychology of learning, memory and schemata, a knowledge-rich curriculum is designed to ensure that the knowledge is taught to be remembered. At its core, a knowledge-rich curriculum enables all children, regardless of socio-economic background, to be provided with the opportunities to succeed in later life. Our evidence-based curriculum at St Dominic Savio ensures that it incorporates the principles of spaced retrieval, formative “low-stakes” quizzing and plenty of practice to develop knowledge fluency in pursuit of mastery.

What do lessons look like at St Dominic Savio?

While lessons vary from subject to subject and year to year. They follow the key principles of ensuring that all learning links back to prior learning. Every lesson has a clear rationale as to why this is taught and 'why now?'. The children have clearly defined knowledge for each unit. They use retrieval practice to ensure that this learning links to a larger schema of knowledge and the end of unit assessments show what we expect children to commit to long term memory. 

Children sit in rows facing the teacher from Year 1. Our teachers provide the knowledge and our children think deeply about it, ask questions, practice their knowledge and apply it. Children expand their vocabulary through our progressive curriculum where all learning builds on the learning which has taken place. This ensures that learning builds successfully over time. 


Lesson structure across each unit:

- Prior learning review (retrieval practice and making connections)

- Explicit vocabulary teaching 

- Knowledge in small steps (knowledge organisers)

- Modelling by the teacher

- Opportunities for talk and teacher questioning

- Written and oral responses

- Feedback given


The purpose of the prior learning is to activate previously encountered knowledge from the same or different discipline or subject areas. Sealy (2017) explains one key benefit of revisiting prior learning: “Each time a concept is encountered within a different context, not only is the concept more likely to be remembered, the understanding of that concept becomes more nuanced”

How do we develop every child's vocabulary?

- Explicitly teach vocabulary

- Rehearse and discuss vocabulary

- Refer to vocabulary during the lesson

- Display vocabulary on the walls

- Use sentence stems to assist children in using new words in full sentences

- Provide word banks

- Give concrete resources

- Pre-teach vocabulary/Post-teach vocabulary

- Support your child by overlearning knowledge organisers at home

How are gaps in knowledge addressed?

Our curriculum is followed by all pupils. Children may require additional scaffolds to support their knowledge development. This may include pre teaching (where children are given access to key vocabulary, knowledge organisers or other content in advance of the lesson or unit), word banks, support from an adult, targeted questioning or over learning after the lesson has taken place. Our curriculum ensures that all children, regardless of socio-economic background or additional needs are provided with opportunities to access an ambitious curriculum so that they can succeed in later life. 

"A cohesive leadership team which is fully committed to a research-based approach to school improvement."

(Ofsted, May 2019)

"Leaders lead through strongly through example and a secure knowledge of how to ensure progress in subjects for all pupils. They monitor the progress that pupils are making in all subjects and coach teachers to help ensure that all pupils continue to make strong progress."

(Ofsted, May 2019). 

Some pupils with additional needs require further scaffolding in order to access the lesson content and complete  learning tasks. Below is a document that summarises the fundamental scaffolding strategies used at St Dominic Savio Catholic Primary School. 

Learning is an alteration in long-term memory. If nothing has altered in long-term memory, nothing has been learned. 


We believe in teacher instruction. Our teachers use the 'Principles of Instruction' (Rosenshine 2012) to actively present material and structure the learning.