The words we use to describe our curriculum are "stretch, enjoyment and academic rigour". We hope that, as parents and children experience the reality of that, they will begin to appreciate how the IGS: Durham approach to education can prepare young people so well for whatever the future holds.
Children respond to being stretched and challenged. We will do that! First and foremost, in our view, it is that stretch and challenge that brings satisfaction and enjoyment. Children love to master difficult things and, in the best sense of the term, to "show off" their mastery. We will give them lots of opportunities to do that.
A typical school day at IGS: Durham will comprise Maths and English in the morning and then an afternoon of mainly topic work. Sport and Music will be included at appropriate times.
Maths and English will focus on providing children with the basic skills which will equip them well for the future. Repetition and rote learning will be common. Times tables will be thoroughly learned and mastered by the end of primary school, preferably well before then. A major emphasis will be given to grammar, spelling and punctuation. Children will be taught to read at the earliest age reasonably possible. All children will be encouraged to read as much as possible, making the most of the wide range of excellent literature in the beautiful school library. All children will be asked to learn nursery rhymes and poems - the things that, once learned in primary school, may well remain with them for life. In later primary years, children will be exposed to traditional but now sadly neglected disciplines such as comprehension, dictation and even précis for the more able. In short, this will be an unashamedly traditional approach to the curriculum! In addition, from Year 2, children will be introduced to French and a little later to Classics. Most children will be studying Latin by the end of Year 6.
The curriculum will be significantly enhanced by using the Core Knowledge UK materials, which many of the best independent schools are now using. Parents may check these books out, either online or by visiting the school, and we are confident that they will be hugely impressed by their rigorous and demanding content.
During the afternoon study programme, all the major subjects in the curriculum will be addressed over the course of a term. This will take place through a combination of more formal lessons and Project work. So, for example, if the topic chosen is "The Vikings", a visit could be arranged to Lindisfarne and that followed up with writing tasks, Art and Music, and History and Geography could also be covered. A topic on "Trees" could involve a visit to a local park, learning to recognise the major kinds of trees we see in England, and such a topic could involve Maths and Science. These topics will be teacher-led and flexible. The Head of School will oversee the appropriateness of the proportion of time given to each curriculum subject.
That combination of "tight and loose" - a highly structured morning followed by a more flexible afternoon - is what gives IGS: Durham its rigour and vitality.
Each class will have at least one PSHE lesson per week. PSHE stands for Personal, Social and Health Education and will cover many important areas as we seek to prepare children for growing up, developing relationships, life in the wider world and in modern Britain. Central to these lessons will be the teaching of British Values, on which we will major as a key part of our curriculum. These lessons will be followed up and supported (and vice versa) by our assembly programme. Part of our aim at IGS: Durham is to help and encourage - and discipline where necessary - children to become good citizens as they enter the world, to do their honest best, to be loyal to their friends, to be tolerant of others and to make a real contribution for the good of those around them.
History will be taught chronologically (in two parallel streams: World History and British History) and follow the course set out in the Core Knowledge text books. So, for example, Year Three children will learn about Ancient Greece and Asian Civilisations, including the origins of Hinduism. They will cover the period in British History from William the Conqueror through the medieval period to the beginning of the modern age and the Tudors, including the Reformation. Year Four History will cover the Rise of Islam and the Crusades, and the period in Britain from Guy Fawkes to Sir Francis Drake. And Year Five will move from Ancient Rome and then the Creation of Great Britain through to the American Wars of Independence and the French Revolution. Thus children will appreciate not only the broad sweep of British History but also the origins of the British Values they study during PSHE lessons and elsewhere. They will also learn to appreciate the origins of major world religions and something of the history of other countries and cultures.
Geography will cover "where you live", the Geography of Western Europe and Rivers in Year Three; Mediterranean and Eastern Europe, Mountains and British Geography in Year Four; and then in Year Five Maps and Weather, English regional Geography and Australian climate and major cities.
In all subjects, children will be taught the importance of debate and argument and of listening respectfully to others whilst putting their own views forward persuasively and confidently. Children will be encouraged to express themselves clearly in speaking and writing. Spelling and grammar will be seen as very important indeed in all contexts.
In this atmosphere of lively, positive, demanding and enjoyable learning we believe children will thrive.
It's an exciting vision - why not help us deliver it?