Do you ever stop and wonder how many times you have repeated yourself since you started teaching? “Sit properly on that chair!” “Turn around!” “Underline the date and title”…and the list goes on! Those examples are firmly tongue-in-cheek, because here at Ten Ten Resources we think there are great benefits to repeating ourselves! In a  recent CPD session, we explored the idea that Life to the Full is a spiral curriculum. So what does that mean and how can the Life to the Full programme be considered one?

The spiral curriculum is widely attributed to American Psychologist and Cognitive Theorist Jerome Bruner. The term ‘spiral curriculum’ refers to a programme of study where key concepts and topics are presented repeatedly throughout the curriculum.

However, it’s more than simple repetition, because each time a topic is returned to, layers of knowledge and understanding are built up, providing deepening complexity.

A spiral curriculum provides opportunities for pupils to consolidate their prior learning and use it to unlock the next phase of learning. It highlights to the pupils that all learning is important and topics are interwoven and connected. As pupils ‘spiral upwards’, a rich breadth and depth of knowledge is achieved

How can the programme be considered a spiral curriculum?

Life to the Full for primary schools is split up into Key Stages to help teachers know what content should be used when. With the exception of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), each Key Stage covers two year groups. For the purpose of Life to the Full, these are EYFS, Key Stage 1 (KS1 – which covers Years 1 and 2), Lower Key Stage Two (LKS2 – which covers Years 3 and 4) and Upper Key Stage Two (UKS2 – which covers Years 5 and 6).

Across each Key Stage of Life to the Full, the same broad themes are returned to. This is reflected in each Key Stage being split into the same three module titles: Created and Loved by God, Created to Love Others and Created to Live in Community.

Within these three umbrella module titles are unit titles which also demonstrate returning to the same themes at each Key Stage: Religious Understanding (which falls in each module), Me, My Body, My Health, Emotional Well-being, Life Cycles, Personal Relationships, Keeping Safe, and The Wider World.

Through this structure, pupils are introduced to simple concepts in EYFS that lay the foundations that are built upon across KS1 and KS2 – a true spiral curriculum.

Is this programme a spiral curriculum in the same way?

The Life to the Full spiral curriculum journey doesn’t end in primary school. The module and unit titles used in primary school now become the main theme and sub theme titles for secondary schools, providing structure and content descriptions for the 7 yearly sessions of Ten Ten’s Life to the Full secondary programme. In this way, the spiral curriculum pattern of returning to topics with deepening complexity is foundational.

An outline of the topics returned to, along with some of the sub-topics explored to different extents across the year groups, is below:

  • Puberty (personal hygiene, an understanding of the body)
  • Life Cycles (fertility, menstruation, natural family planning, miscarriage,  contraception and abortion)
  • Sexual intimacy (sexuality, gender, delaying sex, consent, STIs, pornography)
  • Relationships (family and friends, marriage, online relationships, social media, grooming, pressure, the effect of drugs and alcohol on relationships, sexual exploitation)

The nature of Life to the Full for secondary schools means that as pupils advance through the programme, in addition to new learning topics, they increasingly hear more real life stories and are encouraged to explore their own thoughts and opinions with regards to these topics. This means that as pupils progress up the Life to the Full spiral and encounter new content, they are empowered in a new way to consider their mastery of and perspective on principles they have continuously revisited throughout their school career.

For us as Christians, one of the recurring themes in the Bible is God calling His people back to Him. In Salvation history, from Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis right through to all the stories of conversion we hear in the New Testament, we see the same pattern of sin, repentance and forgiveness played out in the lives of God’s people over and over again.

It might seem repetitive to us, but God never tires of welcoming us back to Him! So when we feel our tempers fraying when a child asks us for the 99th time where their reading book is, let’s remember how patient God is with us!

If you would like to find out more about how Life to the Full for primary schools is a spiral curriculum, the full CPD session is available via our ‘Watch Again’ feature.