At Millside Spencer Academy, we are proud to have a SHINE curriculum that engages children in literature and the world around them. It stimulates our children into asking searching questions, shapes their learning and enables them to develop into independent critical thinkers and learners.

Our SHINE Curriculum:

  • Is owned by the children
  • Is a passport to the world through a love of books
  • Is developed around challenge and questions that promote enquiry
  • Has purposeful, relevant and engaging learning opportunities
  • Is immersive and creative


The National Curriculum’s Framework Document informs the basis of planning and teaching at Millside Spencer Academy with skills maps and knowledge organisers to support coverage and progression. We plan with the children’s needs and interests in mind. Where possible, teachers plan for cross-curricular links, however we realise that, occasionally some units of work need to stand alone. We ensure that the whole curriculum is delivered so that all children have access to a broad and balanced education.

We provide the pupils with a knowledge and skills based curriculum we feel is relevant for the 21st Century, and critically important to their successes now and in their future in education and life, and for contemporary careers and workplaces.

Through our curriculum, we aim to provide the pupils with the skills, work habits and character traits that can be applied across all academic subject areas, and in all educational, career, social and civic settings throughout their life. We provide rich opportunities for the children to explore citizenship and real-life world issues, which at times they may have to grapple with to make sense of it, which then in turn helps them to develop skills such as collaboration and communication, and equip them with the necessary skills for life in the 21st Century.


21st Century Skills

  • Critical thinking and problem solving, reasoning, analysis, interpretation, synthesizing information
  • Research skills, interrogative questioning
  • Creativity and innovation, artistry, curiosity, imagination, personal expression
  • Perseverance, self-direction, planning, self-discipline, adaptability, initiative
  • Oral and written communication, public speaking and presenting, listening
  • Leadership, teamwork, collaboration, cooperation, facility in using virtual workspaces
  • Information and communication technology, literacy, media and internet literacy, data interpretation and analysis, computer programming


Our SHINE Curriculum has been designed to encompass knowledge and understanding of the world in which we live, and also the events that have shaped it in the past to make it what it is today. It promotes a love of reading, through a carefully selected range of high-quality texts that extend children’s experiences, are rich in knowledge and vocabulary and that stretch and challenge.

Through in-depth discussions, debates and questioning, children develop schema for core knowledge and values that are transferable. Our global themes are designed to complement and build on one another with clear progression and links, so that in subsequent year groups, they will be able to explore concepts deeper, applying their knowledge in different contexts.


Whole-School Theme Based Learning

Our SHINE Curriculum will evolve in our initial years to suit our children and school context. Global themes will be revisited every year, allowing children to explore concepts at a deeper level and apply their knowledge in different contexts.

A guiding theme spans the half term, and rich and engaging stimuli are used, linked to the theme, to immerse the children in the learning. Themes, stimuli and topics are carefully chosen to inspire and engage the children. These main driver subjects are planned around either a history or a geography topic which allows greater depth learning with a rich learning journey leading towards a high quality final outcome.


Why we do it…

In recent decades, cognitive scientists have confirmed the need for a knowledge-based curriculum for two reasons:

Knowledge frees up your brain’s capacity for thinking

Cognitive scientists have found that our brain works at different speeds, depending on whether we have learned something already, or whether we are relying on “working memory”. Working memory is new information you can keep in your head and is very limited (holding between three and seven pieces of new information). That is why learning your times tables by heart is useful. Completing more complex calculations is made more simple if knowledge of tables is already ‘locked in’. This links to our use of rolling numbers.


We learn new things by connecting them to old things

The way in which the brain stores new information, and makes inferences and discoveries, is by connecting to existing stored knowledge (schema). You cannot have skills without knowledge, because you cannot evaluate something you do not know anything about. You also cannot come up with new ideas without jumping off existing ones.