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Five Islands Academy Curriculum Intent


The Five Islands Academy brings together children from the archipelago of the Isles of Scilly, 28 miles out into the Atlantic from Land’s End. We take our learning principles from our extraordinary environment, our creative islands community and the far-reaching horizons in every direction that inspire boundless possibilities.



We have worked together since 2017 to design a truly excellent curriculum for our students: one which will nurture curious, collaborative, creative global learners with the rich knowledge and confident oracy that will empower every student to thrive whether they choose to contribute to their local community or to sail away across the wider world.



We believe that every aspect of our children’s learning should have meaning and purpose. We have the privileged opportunity to guide each child’s learning journey from the ages of 3 to 16, allowing us to take a holistic approach to building a coherent curriculum, all parts of which lead to authentic outcomes and powerful preparation for life beyond school.


Curriculum Coherence

Our curriculum design philosophy is underpinned by four key strands of thinking: substantive content, guiding disciplinary concepts, adventurous and ethical connections, and confident communication.

Through School Curriculum Development Project


We have been working since January 2017 to bring our Primary and Secondary curricula together to create a coherent, connected learning journey for all children, growing from the EYFS Early Learning Goals through all the Key Stages to GCSE and preparation for post-16 education. Our initial steps were to secure confident curriculum planning in both Primary and Secondary phases. A robust planning cycle was implemented for the Primary phase underpinned by clear overviews for Maths (White Rose) and English (Talk for Writing based) and use of Cornerstones Maestro to guide topic planning so that subject development was tracked throughout the years. In the Secondary phase, all teachers were supported to create new 5 year curriculum plans which were implemented in September 2017 and rapidly saw impact on the depth and breadth of student learning. All Secondary planning is fully mapped out for students and parents on our Firefly portal.


During the 2018-19 school year, we began a through school project, identifying the challenges of and the opportunities created by the design of a holistic 13 year journey which would minimise transition difficulties and maximise knowledge, understanding and love of learning throughout the school. Key concepts were discussed and identified for each subject area, and new subject leadership teams created to map out how we would enable all children to 'Become a Historian / Scientist / Musician etc.'. In such a small school, every teacher becomes a subject leader and curriculum designer.


By the end of the 2020-21 school year, all curricula have been clearly mapped out, and each curriculum team has contributed to staff training on how disciplinary learning in their subject area is implemented. We are not waiting until the end of a paper exercise for this curriculum planning to impact on student learning: at all stages, teaching and learning is being continuously improved in the light of our research so that students' experiences are increasingly broad, balanced and joined up. Through Primary topic webs and Secondary horizontal plans, we are also able to identify powerful interdisciplinary links which can be developed through our REAL Projects to maximise cross-curricular learning. You can see an example of how our through school Curriculum Narratives can be used to track character and values teaching in the Eco-Links Curriculum Narrative below.


The links below show how our curriculum is implemented in (and outside) the classroom at both phases. The subject pages are being updated to show the final mapped out through school curricula as they are completed. The History page gives an example of a completed 3-16 'Becoming Historians' curriculum approach. 

Click here to explore how we track eco-action and learning through the curriculum:

Primary Phonics and Reading Schemes

From EYFS and Key Stage 1, the school follows the Read Write Inc. phonics programme. This is a highly-structured and effective programme, initially taught in whole-class groups, developing into small group teaching sessions.


Our reading scheme is made up from books from a range of publishers, which help our children to develop a love of reading while selecting within a choice at their appropriate level.


As the children develop in fluency, towards the end of Key Stage 1, they will be ready to join the Accelerated Reader programme.

Project Weeks

Project Weeks take place at the end of the Autumn, Winter and Spring quadmesters. These provide deep learning opportunities as well as enabling outside agencies to work with us to enhance our curriculum.


Project Weeks for 2021-22 are as follows:


  • Autumn: 15th-19th November 2021 - 'Scilly Stories': How should we celebrate our islands' heritage? (Secondary)
  • Winter: 14th-18th February 2022 - 'A Wider World': Island Light Festival 2022 (Through School)
  • Spring: 16th-20th May 2022 - 'My Adventure': Personal challenges for adventurous learning (Through School)

Year 9 Options

Year 9 students choose their optional GCSE subjects during Quadmester 3.


All students are expected to study:


  • English Language
  • English Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Combined or Separate Sciences
  • Religious Studies
  • History or Geography
  • Core PE sessions are timetabled for all, with Health and Fitness as an Option qualification