Our Inspiring Curriculum at Hillstone School

Curriculum statement Our wider curriculum Explore our curriculum

At Hillstone, we offer a broad, active and inspiring curriculum, bespoke to the needs of all our pupils. At its core, it is the National Curriculum – but it is so much more than that. Our curriculum is sequenced so that knowledge and skills build coherently on previous learning. Our academic learning is underpinned by a strong emphasis on oracy and problem solving skills, along with the mental and physical development required to prepare our children for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life beyond Hillstone. This does not just take place within discrete lessons, but throughout all aspects of school life; before and after school clubs, residential experiences, arts projects, sporting opportunities and our Food for Life projects all work to inspire, care for and educate our children in a way that promotes successful, lifelong learning.

Parents and carers are encouraged to take part in all aspects of school life as we strive to develop citizens of the future that will make a positive contribution to their community, whilst understanding, respecting and celebrating the diversity found within it.

We believe that Hillstone Life Skills,

often known as PSHE in many schools, are crucial to helping are children to become active, engaged and responsible citizens.

How it has developed

  •  The content of the Hillstone Life skills was devised by asking children and parents what they wanted to learn alongside a recommended PSHE scheme.
  • As time has passed we have added additional useful content that we feel important to our pupils’ growth.
  • These included lessons from the No Outsiders schemes, which helps children learn about the equalities act and lessons about growth mind set, providing them with resilience in their learning and development.

Our Wider curriculum offer

The arts, sports, outdoor education and food education. These aspects run not only throughout the projects that the children undertake but can be found in all aspects of Hillstone life. They help equip our pupils with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.

What makes us Hillstone?

Arts education

This gives children the opportunity to explore the world around them, to learn about and appreciate their cultural heritage, to collaborate, be creative and express themselves. We want all our children to have the opportunity to be creators, participants, audience members and leaders.

Physical education

This provides cognitive content and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge, and behaviours for physical activity and physical fitness, providing pupils with the desire, ability and confidence to be physically active for a lifetime.

Outdoor Education

Children have less opportunity today to be outdoors but the benefit of outdoor education is immense. Just being outside is known to be beneficial for mental health. We benefit from extensive grounds and children and teachers regularly use the outdoor environment to enhance their teaching. By taking their learning outside, our children learn how to manage risk, to collaborate, to gain independence and to solve problems. We pride ourselves on the fact that all children, from years 2 to 6, are given the opportunity to participate in a residential trip. We collaborate with a local farm to enhance our science curriculum and to develop our Food for Life partnership. 


National and local statistics show that there is an issue with levels of obesity in children. We wanted our children to have a healthy attitude towards food. We therefore employ an award winning chef who has a very active role within our curriculum; he supports our food technology through teaching sessions with the children, invites parents in for workshops and regularly organises our pop -up ‘Farmers Market’ produce sale. Our children take an active part in decisions linked to their lunchtime meals, sit on the School Nutrition Action group and also act as waiters. We feel it essential that our children leave Hillstone with the knowledge and confidence needed to live a healthy lifestyle beyond their time with us.  We have links with a local farm, run our own allotment and work towards hosting a whole-school Farmer’s Market for our community every year. 

What if Food was a key pillar of learning in all schools?

Click below to learn more

The Food Foundation Blog


Subjects are  taught in an organised and sequential way through our half termly projects. Our well-connected curriculum ensures children can build on previous projects, making links across both subjects and year groups to help them successfully acquire new learning. 

The projects have all been carefully chosen to provide breadth and relevance for our children.  For instance, ‘Proud to be a Brummie’ teaches the children about the history and geography of the city in which they live, building on learning from our local area project, ‘We Love Shard End.’ Year 1’s ‘Fins, Feathers and Feet’ project takes them to our link farm for the very first time, a visit they repeat three times over the course of their time at Hillstone, working to enhance a great deal of their science learning. 

We also run themed weeks across the academic year including ‘Science Week’ and ‘Power to the People’ week. 

21st Century children

Subject leaders have followed research in cognitive science to ensure the content is taught in a logical progression. All teachers are clear of the end points and how learning is built up from the nursery to year 6.

We were conscious when designing our curriculum that we wanted something for 21st Century children. Every year one of the projects has a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) element. This is not just about ensuring those elements are developed, but a methodology that begins with a problem that children have to solve.

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion is important to all our children. Projects and resources have all been designed with this in mind. Giving diversity a high priority helps to instil moral and social traits that will support children’s growth throughout their younger years and into adult life.

The Early Years

In the early years, we ensure we are building the very best foundations for future learning.

There are seven areas of learning and development in the EYFS curriculum and they are all important and inter-connected. Three areas are particularly crucial for igniting children’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, and for building their capacity to learn, form relationships and thrive. The three prime areas are:

• Communication and language;
• Physical development;
• Personal, social and emotional development.

There are also four specific areas, through which the three prime areas are strengthened and applied:

• Literacy;
• Mathematics;
• Understanding the world;
• Expressive arts and design.

Within the seven areas we provide many creative activities and experiences for children, which involve: playing and exploring; active learning and creating and thinking critically.

Delivering this exciting curriculum

How do we deliver this exciting curriculum?

Projects begin with the teacher sharing the purpose of the learning. Why we are studying this topic and asking the children what they already know and what they would like to find out. They usually have an exciting entry and exit point to which they are striving; this may be creating a guide book or putting on an exhibition. Most topics have a writing for real element. This provides the children with a purpose and audience and raises the quality of their writing. Sometimes these writing for real tasks are fantasy and sometimes they are real. An example of this is Farmer John from our linked farm who asks the children for help in learning more about the animals.

How it works

  • Where it fits, we take the children on a visit or have a visitor in school to give them more practical hands on learning.
  • Teachers constantly assess children’s knowledge, skills and understanding through conversations with pupils, looking at their work in books and through use of an assessment quiz at the end of each project. Children are routinely reviewing learning from previous projects. Where gaps are found in children’s learning, particularly in maths, reading and writing, teachers ensure that those gaps are filled either within the lesson or with specific tutoring time after the lesson. In this way we aim for children to keep up not have to catch up.
  • We have found that using drama has helped our children to have an empathy and understanding of a viewpoint which in turns improves the quality of their written work. We have an actor in residence from the Birmingham Rep, who works closely with each year group to design and deliver immersive learning experiences. 

Reading and writing across the curriculum

Keen and fluent readers

Ensuring children become keen and fluent readers is one of our most important tasks at Hillstone. For this reason, and because reading unlocks access to a whole range of subjects and learning, we ensure that it is woven throughout our curriculum. We start our reading journey in the early years with Read, Write, Inc. Children then enjoy a range of reading opportunities and experiences as part of the wider curriculum.   In practice, this means that reading skills are taught and practised in both discrete reading lessons and in a range of other subjects.

Whole class reading lessons

Our whole class reading lessons draw on a range of texts that link to the children’s current topic. Not only does this enhance their engagement with – and understanding of – their current topic, but it also favourably impacts on their attitudes to reading: they are keen to learn more so reading is seen positively and it also helps instil a sense of reading being a highly purposeful activity. In addition, other lessons across the curriculum allow for children to practise both their word reading and comprehension skills, through activities such as note-taking and summarising a text.

‘Writing for Real’

Similarly, writing lessons also link to the topic and underpinned by what we refer to as ‘Writing for Real’: this means that there will be a reason why the children are writing (perhaps the local estate agents needs some promotional materials about the local area, or Coach wants to promote healthy behaviours throughout the school), such that they always have an audience and purpose for what they write.