REAL projects

At Wensum Junior School we are on a journey to transform learning into something genuinely engaging, authentic and purposeful for our children, staff and families. Since September 2016, the core of our academic curriculum has been Learning through REAL projects. REAL projects is built around three domains (science, arts, humanities) and provides a rich context for our children to engage with learning that is meaningful to them and of value to the world beyond the classroom.   In order to facilitate deeper learning and deliver on the aims set out in our vision statement, we run one REAL project a term as follows:

  • We work as scientists each Autumn term
  • We alternative between geographers and historians in the Spring term
  • We work as artists in the Summer term.

What is REAL?

REAL stands for Rigorous, Engaging, Authentic Learning and it represents a very different vision of what teaching and learning could look like in school.  All of our REAL projects include:

  • Significant academic content taken from the primary domain (e.g. science) with natural and relevant links made to other curriculum areas exploited to enrich and deepen learning
  • Integrated English opportunities (reading, writing, speaking and listening)
  • Planned opportunities to explore the philosophical themes emerging from the content
  • A commitment to multiple drafting and critique
  • Student-crafted final outcomes that reflect authentic 'thinking and doing' (e.g. working as scientists)
  • Rich first hand experiences to deepen engagement, understanding and enjoyment
  • Innovative planning and authentic assessment developed with expert partners
  • A termly public exhibition, showcase or performance where every child is represented
  • Authentic audiences

Each project is 10 weeks long, with 5 hours dedicated to REAL each week.  Projects are structured over five phases as follows:

  • Romance:  launch the project by stimulating awe and wonder; leave the children with more questions than answers. Build the project around a driving question forged by the children's curiosity
  • Precision:  learn the significant content needed to answer the driving question
  • Generalisation:  children identify an area that interests them, formulate their own driving question, and then work individually or collaboratively to pursue their project.
  • Showcase:  All children present their investigations to a public audience of peers, families and experts. The format for the showcase reflects the domain being studied (exhibition, performance, conference etc)
  • Legacypowerful and meaningful learning needs sharing  (new for 2020)

REAL demands different priorities

Bigger blocks of time dedicated to a narrower focus delivers deeper learning. That is the premise that underpins our thinking around REAL.  In order to deliver on the statements enshrined in our vision we dedicate a significant amount of time to individual or small group independent work so that children can have the space and time to take what they have learned during Precision and apply it to new, more personally significant contexts.  This is essential in order to help children synthesise their new learning. The showcase events embody our expectation that all children (and staff) are fully accountable - in a benign and enjoyable way - for sharing their new learning with audiences.  These elements combined deliver on the promise of REAL.  We can't do it all, so don't try to.  What we do commit to is powerful, personally significant learning, hopefully setting our children on a journey towards a life-long love of learning.

REAL 2021 - 2025: a four year programme

In September 2021 we made the decision to reorganise our classes into mixed age teaching groups.  This required a new model for our curriculum which is now built around a two year rolling programme.  Please click the link below to view what this looks like across the four years of Key Stage 2.

REAL curriculum overview 2021 - 2025

Assessing REAL

Please click here to find out more about how we assess REAL projects.

REAL and the National Curriculum

REAL projects doesn't seek to cover the National Curriculum, but to uncover it.  David Price

Our vision for the REAL curriculum prioritises depth rather than breadth, underpinned by a commitment to the notion of 'teach less, learn more'.  We pursue the knowledge, skills and understanding set out in the National Curriculum for English and maths and science (although the science content has been reorganised thematically for focussed, deeper learning). For the other subject areas, we start by seeking out powerful project opportunities locally then identifying our project partners. Planning then starts in earnest 12 weeks before project launch with teachers working alongside the partners to keep the projects real and ensure authenticity.  We will draw on National Curriculum content (through NAPS), where it will support great learning, but we will also identify other ‘significant academic content’ where it will enhance the experiences of our children.  Natural links between domain areas will be exploited (e.g. history always includes geography and visa versa), but they must be relevant and purposeful rather than tokenistic.  Please visit subject pages to see REAL mapped against the National Curriculum.