Debbie Isaachsen, head of Heatherton School in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, discusses creating a unique curriculum
Being able to create a curriculum that will inspire all my pupils and develop their enquiring minds is a real privilege. At Heatherton, our planning is based on the National Curriculum, but we are able to go beyond the constraints many teachers experience, such as time, lack of resources or expertise and fixed testing. With subject specialist teaching available from nursery, alongside class teachers until Year 4, our children experience high quality lessons and nurturing pastoral care.
With less time restrictions, we have been able to introduce a programme which allows our girls to work in small, mixed-age groups, experiencing activities such as mindfulness, chemistry and team-building. Our curriculum is based around the principles of ‘Building Learning Power’, where we actually teach our pupils how to learn. We take the time to individualise targets so pupils know the skills they need to develop. Our Year 6 girls spend the last half term of their school year involved in a bespoke leavers’ programme, which is an excellent preparation for senior school. This is another advantage of creating your own curriculum, as we are not confined to preparing pupils for SATS.
Our curriculum at Heatherton caters for all and is personalised and varied, giving them wonderful opportunities and, I hope, instilling in them a love of learning that will continue throughout their lives.