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Our Primary Curriculum

Across our federation of small primary schools, we believe it is essential for all children to access a broad and balanced curriculum that offers every child the chance to reach their full potential, that promotes a love of learning and that prepares children for their future lives beyond primary school. 


Our curriculum gives pupils the opportunity to:-

  • Experience the challenge and enjoyment of learning
  • Understand the purpose and value of learning and see its relevance for their past, present and future
  • Develop a rich and deep subject knowledge and explore the full breadth of the curriculum
  • Develop new skills and demonstrate their creativity
  • Understand the links between different aspects of their learning
  • Learn within a coherent and progressive framework

As school communities, we recognise that education is about developing the whole child and we recognise the importance of pupil health and wellbeing and the importance of pupil voice within our schools. Through our teaching and curriculum offer, we aim to: –

  • Develop every child’s self-esteem and confidence in their own abilities
  • Help all children to respect themselves and others
  • Support children to build respectful friendships
  • Teach children to reflect on their learning
  • Support all children to develop their own interests and be themselves

Pupil voice gives children the opportunity to:

  • Make positive contributions to the school and local community
  • Explore ways of becoming active citizens
  • Make choices about things that are important to them
  • Say what they like and dislike about their learning and contribute to planning their own learning
  • Take part in democratic activities across the curriculum
  • Express their opinions on a range of different subjects and issues

Our approach to teaching aims to:

  • Excite, promote and sustain children’s interest
  • Promote problem solving, creativity and communication
  • Enable children to reflect on and evaluate their own learning
  • Encourage innovation and introduce children to entrepreneurialism
  • Provide opportunities for children to learn outdoors
  • Develop partnerships with external providers that enrich children’s learning experiences
  • Hold specialist curriculum days that enrich the curriculum
  • Use high quality resources in and out of the classroom
  • Encourage the involvement of parents and carers to take part in children’s learning experiences
  • Utilise educational visits and off-site experiences to enhance the curriculum provision


Our long-term curriculum planning is designed jointly between all schools to ensure breadth of coverage and development of skills for all pupils. Our pupils are taught in small mixed age classes, so our emphasis when planning the curriculum is based on clear differentiation of age appropriate skills. Where it is necessary to deliver very specific content to certain year groups, e.g. puberty talks, online safety education specific to secondary transition, we combine the pupils from all three schools so that staff can deliver teaching to targeted groups.  

Since November 2021, children from St John’s Chapel and Wearhead are taught in their own schools on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday each week and are taught together every Thursday and Friday.  These joint days enable us to organise the children into EYFS, KS1, LS2 and UKS2 groups so that we can deliver aspects of the curriculum that are challenging to teach in mixed age classes.  Since the formation of the new federation in September 2023 with Hamsterley Primary School, pupils from Hamsterley have joined their peers from the Upper Dales schools for educational visits and the annual KS2 residential. .

We believe that teaching around a core theme is the most effective way to engage pupils and develop enthusiasm for learning. The starting point for our long-term planning is taken from the Cornerstones Curriculum, which enables us to identify many thematic learning experiences. We then identify other aspects of the curriculum which need to be covered and teach these discretely from our theme.

Our Long Term Plans

Please see our planning which explains how learning is developed through a series of topics and themes

Impact of our Curriculum

We evaluate the impact of our curriculum in a number of ways. Academic outcomes are monitored through our assessment procedures and pupil progress meetings. We also monitor the effectiveness of our curriculum coverage through learning walks and through pupils’ reflection on their learning and feedback from parents and carers. The intended impact of our curriculum is that all pupils will achieve to the best of their abilities and will be able to articulate their understanding of what they have learnt. We aim to instill an enthusiasm for learning and to equip all pupils with the strategies and skills they need to be successful.

Promotion of British Values

How do we specifically promote ‘British Values’ in our federation.

We seek to promote British values in our policies and practice here at Durham Dales Federation. Our activities and the way we manage learning and behaviour, clearly reflect British values. We promote these values in the following ways:


  • Provide pupils with a broad general knowledge of, and promote respect for, public institutions and services – by discussing these whenever appropriate in curriculum work.
  • Teach pupils how they can influence decision-making through the democratic process – e.g. in our School Council work.
  • Include in the curriculum information on the advantages and disadvantages of democracy and how it works in Britain – e.g. when considering periods of history where democracy was not as fully developed as it is now.
  • Encourage pupils to become involved in decision-making processes and ensure they are listened to in school – again through the work of the School Council.
  • Organise visits by democratic establishments e.g. local councillor in school.
  • Hold ‘mock elections’ so pupils learn how to argue and defend points of view e.g. when electing representatives to the School Council for each class.
  • Help pupils to express their views e.g. through English lessons and opportunities to present work and opinions.
  • Model how perceived injustice can be peacefully challenged e.g. through our interactions with pupils and the school’s behaviour system and discussing scenarios in assemblies and class PSHE work.

The Rule of Law

  • Ensure school rules and expectations are clear and fair e.g. by discussing these with pupils and establishing classroom rules with the pupils themselves.
  • Help pupils to distinguish right from wrong e.g. during everyday interactions and discussions of stories, fables and other literary materials.
  • Help pupils to respect the law and the basis on which it is made e.g. by showing how rules help everyone to interact in an orderly and fair manner and protect the vulnerable in society.
  • Help pupils to understand that living under the rule of law protects individuals
  • Include visits from the police in the curriculum e.g. have sessions with the Community Police Officers and visits from the Fire Service.
  • Teach pupils aspects of both civil and criminal law and discuss how this might differ from some religious laws.
  • Develop approaches focused on fairness and justice to resolve conflicts e.g. as part of sanctions in our approach to behaviour.

Individual Liberty

  • Support pupils to develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem and self-confidence e.g. through all areas of teaching and learning in school.
  • Encourage pupils to take responsibility for their behaviour, as well as knowing their rights.
  • Challenge stereotypes e.g. through PSHE/RSE work and assemblies.
  • Implement a strong anti-bullying culture – as enshrined in our policies for Anti-Bullying and Behaviour.

Respect and Tolerance

  • Promote respect for individual differences in all areas of learning and interaction.
  • Help pupils to acquire an understanding of, and respect for, their own and other cultures and ways of life e.g. through our Religious Education work and PSHE/RSE.
  • Challenge prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour e.g. through discussion and use of illustrative materials as well as our approach to behaviour in school.
  • Organise visits to places of worship e.g. visits to the local churches and other diverse places of worship as appropriate to the curriculum.
  • Develop critical personal thinking skills throughout our curricular work.
  • Discuss differences between people, such as differences of faith, ethnicity, disability and,when appropriate, gender or sexuality. Also differences of family situations, such as looked-after children or young carers e.g. through our PSHE/RSE and broader curricular work and through visitors to school sharing their experiences.

We use the ‘Picture News’ assembly resource to teach children about current events and to identify links to British Values.  We also identify links to British Values in our curriculum delivery and staff take every opportunity in their teaching to make children aware of the links between what they are learning and core British Values.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

At the Durham Dales Federation, we believe that inclusive education means providing all pupils with appropriate education and support alongside their peers. The Curriculum is all the planned activities that our schools organise in order to promote learning, personal growth and development. Further information can be found in our SEND Information Report.  If you would like to discuss your SEND requirements in detail, please contact us to arrange an appointment.

Aspects of our curriculum: