500th School Supported by Creative Curriculum Specialists Who Helped One Doncaster School Turn Aroun

The future looks bright for creativity in the classroom according to a team of curriculum experts who have helped over 500 schools prepare engaging lessons – and one Doncaster school quickly turn around its fortunes.

Goldthorpe-based Cornerstones Education Ltd is just celebrating the fact that 500 schools across England and Wales now buy its creative curriculum learning materials designed to help teachers plan and prepare rigorous and engaging lessons.

And, headteacher at one Doncaster school supplied by the growing company, says the creative curriculum supplied by Cornerstones, helped her staff and pupils turn around their fortunes with OFSTED. Marshland Primary in Moorlands, Doncaster, which was previously in special measures, saw its OFSTED assessment change from inadequate to good with outstanding features within just six months last year.

Head teacher Sally Kimber with pupils displaying Cornerstones project work at Marshland Primary School in Moorends, Doncaster

Marshland head Sally Kimber, said: “OFSTED inspectors really liked what they saw in the classroom. They said our curriculum ‘gave pupils plentiful opportunities to practice a whole range of skills’. I believe the Cornerstones curriculum definitely helped teachers by providing the framework for excellent cross-curricular topic work and saving us so much time in planning. We have been able transform the school with hard work and good creative learning resources.”

Cornerstones Managing Director Melanie Moore said: “We are delighted to have signed up our 500th school as we set up our company two years ago with the express intention of spreading and supporting a creative learning philosophy in schools like Marshland Primary across England and Wales.

“We are optimistic about working with more schools and also hope to counter concerns that the new National Curriculum could threaten creativity in the classroom.”

Cornerstones has now launched a thorough review of all its products to ensure they are future-proof and comply with new National Curriculum requirements for 2014.

Melanie said:  “We are aware of concerns that new demands presented by the National Curriculum may squeeze creativity out of learning, but we are adamant that a creative curriculum is proven to get results and improve educational standards and aspirations – there will be absolutely no need to compromise on creativity in the future.

“We aim to support schools to keep the curriculum creative by making sure our learning resources have all the revised government learning targets covered.”

Shipston on Stour Primary School in Warwickshire is the company’s 500th customer, joining a list of Cornerstones schools based as far afield as Kent, Cumbria, Birmingham and Cornwall; Sunderland, Swindon and Swansea. Cornerstones supplies a high concentration of schools in Wales – a total of 375 – and also produces its resources in Welsh.

As part of the process of revising and re-writing the Cornerstones curriculum, the new resources are being expanded to give teachers more tools to help ensure their engaging lessons – which encourage children to develop, innovate and express themselves – do comprehensively cover all National Curriculum requirements. The company plans to re-publish its upgraded curriculum packages before Christmas – allowing schools plenty of time to plan for the new academic year.

Melanie said: “Cornerstones is also mindful that many teachers will be struggling to find time to even read the 200-page National Curriculum document released by government this September, so we are producing a concise summary of the key changes and developing a short training course to brief teachers.”

Cornerstones is also opening a new learning centre for curriculum training sessions at its Barnsley-based headquarters this month and is developing a new hub for online learning resources.

Cornerstones was established in 2011 by a team of three directors each with 20 years’ experience in the teaching profession behind them. Melanie Moore, Simon Hickton and Graham Bell now employ 26 people – many of whom are also former teachers.

Melanie said: “We are an educational business with our roots in the classroom. And, Simon, who is the company’s chairman, remains a full-time primary school headteacher. We know teachers do not want to talk to people who do not know what they are talking about.”

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