At St Stephen's we are passionate about enquiry-led learning and have therefore been developing an enquiry-led curriculum with an emphasis on mastery of the subjects. This means that the children are following a line-of-enquiry in order to answer a specific question, for example, 'How are humans and wolves similar?'. Enquiries may have a specific subject focus such as Science or History but provide rich cross-curricular opportunities within them.
All enquiries start with a 'wow' experience to engage the children and end with a challenge. The children are immersed in the required skills and knowledge and are given the opportunity to 'have a go' before embarking on the final challenge. Because the children know their challenge at the beginning of an enquiry, their learning is always purposeful and with clear direction. Our enquiry challenges have been carefully chosen to ensure breadth across the school and so that they are particularly relevant to the children at St Stephen's.
Every enquiry starts with a 'wow'. This is to engage and excite the children as well as providing them with a rich life experience. The photos below show some examples of previous 'wow's. Year 3 went fossil hunting in Aust for their enquiry, 'What is Theco?'. Year 4 took a trip to The Wild Place Project to find out how wolves and humans are similar and Year 6 spent a day exploring the war memorials and learning about Bristol's involvement in the First World War at Arnos Vale Cemetary.
Immersion and Have a go
At the immersion stage, the children are immersed in the skills and knowledge they will need to achieve the challenge. This may involve the teacher modelling certain skills and then teaching the specific knowledge the children need. The children are then given the opportunity to put their skills and knowledge into practice during the 'Have a go' phase of the enquiry; this is a trial run of the challenge and allows the children to make any changes before the final thing. Below you can see photos of Year 6 making prototype activities before using the final products to teach the whole school about the First World War.
The challenge is the culmination of the enquiry and what the children have been working towards for the duration. It provides the children with the opportunity to use all the skills and knowledge they have acquired to achieve something real and rewarding. The challenge should also lead to the children being able to answer their enquiry question for example 'Which front won the war?', 'What is Skellig?' or 'How can pIzza be healthy?'.
When the challenge has been completed it is always celebrated. This might be by sharing the work with the rest of the school and community or making the outcome available online for others to access. We feel it is very important that the children have their hard work acknowledged and also used as inspiration for others.
For our full curriculum map, please see the attached document below:
Whole School Enquiries
Throughout the year we plan days or weeks where the children can focus on a subject or area of enquiry in more detail. This allows them to develop specific skills, gain a more in-depth knowledge and take part in new experiences.