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Northill CE Academy

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Topic (Including Art & Design, Design Technology, Geography, History and Music)

The Thematic Curriculum (Topic), the Northill Way


Through our bespoke thematic based curriculum, the team at Northill work hard to provide experiential and immersive learning opportunities that enable children to build their knowledge and skills progressively over time. Through our bespoke curriculum children are immersed in a termly ‘theme’ for learning which supports real-life learning, enables pupils to make links in their increasing knowledge and skill development with real life opportunities and engages pupils in inspiring learning activities that build on their own life experiences, as well as expand their cultural capital. Our school vision underpins our aspirational, inclusive and motivational curriculum. As well as building core knowledge and vocabulary related to specific subject learning, pupils have opportunities to transcend their learning across foundation subjects. Through designing our curriculum in this bespoke manner, we enable our pupils to fully embrace their learning opportunities, sharing interests with one another in the process while also embedding a deep love for learning.  


Our foundation subject curriculum is designed in a bespoke manner. Incorporating a number of the National Curriculum (2014) foundation subjects; Art and Design, Design and Technology, History, Geography and Music. Teachers carefully plan termly themes, which immerse children in a topic-based environment. Carefully grouped specific learning objectives, taken from the National Curriculum (2014) allow us to create termly plans that support pupil’s specific subject knowledge and skills alongside relatable and interest based learning experiences.

Our substantive curriculum is embodied in a two-year rolling program for KS1 and Lower KS2. Teachers have carefully organised and designed objectives into groups that are suitable to be taught together without disrupting the progress of learning for pupils in our mixed age classes while also encapsulating the interests and diversities in our own community. An example of this can be taken from our KS1 ‘near and far’ topic. In one cycle, this topic may have a focus of a contrasting non-European country such as Africa, because this is reflective of cultures in our school; however, it may be adapted to focus on Australia in the next cycle, as this is more relevant to the cohort at the time. The learning objectives can continue to be met through this model, while still allowing pupils to engage in an inspirational area of interest that continues to build their cultural capital as well as understanding of our own community’s diversity.


In the academic year 2021_22, in response to the return to school following the COVID-19 Pandemic we have adapted our 2-year rolling program into a standalone recovery year, ensuring objective coverage for pupils in Year 2, 3 and 4 through three new school topics. Objectives covered ensure pupils across these age ranges have opportunities to recover lost learning experiences as well as support pupils in preparation for learning to align to our two-year rolling program in the next academic year.


To ensure and support progression in each of the subject covered teachers ensure they know and understand the key skill progression for our pupils, enabling mixed age classes to engage in the same immersive topic while also making progress and developing skills year upon year.


Explore our Key Skill progression maps by selecting individual subjects through the tabs below.


Teachers have also agreed on a core set of principles for planning our thematic curriculum:

Principles for Topic Learning at Northill:


  • Each topic should include learning in Art & Design, Design and Technology, Music, History and Geography.
  • To be taught across a whole term and should be immersive for all pupils in the class/es, reflecting cultural diversities and pupil interests to create a core theme.
  • Topics should follow a pattern of real life, relatable experiences that align with our curriculum intent.
  • Each Topic plan should consist of a number of specific subject projects (at least one per foundation subject) that builds progressively throughout the topic.
  • Each specific subject project should help to build an end of topic ‘summary’ of cumulative knowledge.
  • Learning should be recorded progressively to enable pupils to reflect on their progress and enhance their understanding of key knowledge and concepts over time.
  • Teachers should plan time for pupils to ‘scrap book’ their learning. This can take a variety of forms, including photographs, reflections, written work, ICT or note taking.


Within our topic curriculum, impact is measured through the building of projects with specific subject foci. Pupils work towards building knowledge in each of the foundation subjects covered through ‘mini-projects’ that produce an end outcome. In history, this may be around building chronology through a timeline. In Art and Design, this could be a progressive project on landscape drawing. Each of these mini-projects produces and end outcome for pupils, which teachers can use to assess confidence, competence and application of knowledge and skills taught throughout the topic.