Placing the rights of the child at the heart of curriculum development

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Hafod Primary School develops pupils’ aspirations through shared values, including love, simplicity and tolerance. Pupils, who are from many diverse backgrounds, learn through an innovative curriculum that uses local resources and focuses on creative arts to improve skills. This case study represents the school’s curriculum development in relation to their progress in self-evaluation, planning and preparation and realising change.


Hafod Primary School, located in a designated Communities First area, serves a former industrial area close to Swansea city centre where most pupils live within the 30% most deprived areas of Wales.  There are 242 pupils on roll including 39 in the nursery.  A minority of the pupils are eligible for free school meals.  A minority of pupils have additional learning needs and a few have statements of special educational needs.

Around half of the pupils are white British and around half speak English as an additional language.  A majority of these pupils come from ethnic minority or mixed backgrounds.  There are 15 different languages spoken by pupils, the most common of which is Sylheti.  A very few pupils speak some Welsh at home.

Stage 1:  Evaluating the current curriculum within wider self-evaluation arrangements

Although the school already offers an innovative curriculum, it has recently evaluated its provision to ensure that it is fully prepared for forthcoming changes.  As a part of this work, the school has re-organised the senior leadership team to incorporate teaching and learning responsibility posts for literacy, numeracy and digital competency.  It has developed teams and individuals with responsibility for overseeing the six areas of learning as well as staff with responsibility for assessment for learning and ensuring continuity in pupils’ learning from the age of three to sixteen.  Whilst there are teams for each area of learning, the school does not allow staff to work in ‘silos’.  Effective monitoring and staff development from senior leaders, for example on professional learning days, ensures that the areas of learning stay connected.

Stage 2:  Planning and preparing for change

Senior leaders, leaders of specific areas of learning and their teams evaluate the curriculum and its impact on learning through a carefully planned calendar of monitoring activities.  These include book scrutiny, lesson observations and, more recently, learning walks.  This work has identified clear and appropriate next steps.  For example, the digital competence team understands that, whilst pupils’ presentation and creative skills are strong, aspects of work around data handling are at an earlier stage of development.

Stage 3:  Realising change

The school fully embraces and works effectively to deliver the four purposes of the curriculum identified in Successful Futures, (Donaldson, 2015).  The school’s ethos arises from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  From this starting point, the school has established a set of 10 shared values that permeate its work.  These include love, simplicity and tolerance.  The school makes particularly effective use of famous and less well-known religions from across the world to stimulate learning.  It works particularly well with other schools internationally to develop pupils’ understanding of the lives of other children.  Pupils from the school support other children in less favourable circumstances to access their rights in accordance with the UNCRC.  For example, they sponsor pupils and work closely with Kabbila School in Africa.  Topics also include a study of people who have had a positive influence on improving the lives of others, for example Mother Theresa, Ghandi and Martin Luther King.  In combination, this work means that pupils have every opportunity to become ethical and informed citizens. 

Curriculum development at the school ensures that teachers take full advantage of valuable local contexts for learning to enable pupils to develop and apply skills in context.  For example the ‘Copperopolis’ project draws on the rich local copper mining history of the Hafod area of Swansea.  All topics start with an educational visit or immersion experience.  For example, the pupils in Year 5 walked the ‘Copperworks Trail’ in Hafod with sketch pads, tablet devices and clipboards to draw on authentic sources of historical evidence to stimulate literacy, numeracy and creative activities.  Pupils make highly effective use of green screen technology to record and present their work.  Older pupils collaborate well on such tasks, demonstrating the attitudes that the school encourages them to have. 

There is a strong emphasis on developing pupils’ appreciation of creative arts.  Projects such as ‘take one picture’ develop pupils’ understanding and appreciation of art successfully.  Within this work, pupils study the selected picture from the point of view of the artist, the historian and the educationalist.  This promotes effective learning, for example by using the buildings in the pictures as a stimulus for mathematics work on three-dimensional shapes.  This project led to the creation of the art gallery in the school hall.  This is a display of famous artwork on a large scale.  The school uses the gallery very well to support learning.  Pupils’ artwork is generally of a high standard and benefits further from specialist teaching during other teachers’ planning preparation and assessment time.  This work develops pupils’ aspirations well.  It supports them to develop an understanding of the need to persevere to succeed.