Reach Out Curriculum

Over the last three years, Reach Academy has been developing a fully resourced, intelligently sequenced, knowledge-rich curriculum, informed by the best research evidence available. We currently cover Key Stage 2 History and Geography and Key Stage 3 Geography (the curriculum map is in the curriculum overview document at the bottom of the page). 

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These curriculum materials have been written exclusively by practising classroom teachers, assisted by subject experts, academics, senior leaders and leading educationalists.

Their design has been led by Jon Hutchinson, who gained a Masters in Educational Research from the University of Cambridge in 2018. Jon’s thesis was on applying evidence from a wide range of fields to classroom practice. He currently tutors on a Masters in Expert Teaching programme. Interested parties can read more about our curriculum development on Jon Hutchinson’s blog and we hold regular training for those interested in learning more.

The curriculum has been constantly refined and our approach developed based on feedback from teachers who have taught the lessons. We will continue this feedback cycle in the years ahead. In December 2018 Reach Academy Trust was awarded three bids in the Curriculum Fund pilot. Through 2019 it will support six Primary schools and six Secondary school to implement the Reach Academy Feltham History and Geography curriculum which has delivered excellent outcomes over the past six years.

For sample materials from the Year 4 Key Stage 2 History unit on the Anglo-Saxons please see below.

Materials are presented in a highly consistent approach, which we believe makes our curriculum coherent, as well as both scalable and easy to implement with minimal training. We also believe that this approach serves to help train teachers in effective educational approaches as they teach. :


Knowledge Organiser

The knowledge organiser is the beating heart of each unit. The core content is meticulously curated and itemised to clarify the necessary (but not sufficient) knowledge necessary to develop a sophisticated schema for each unit of work. Over the course of the years, these knowledge organisers ensure that all pupils become ‘culturally literate’ (Hirsch, 1987) and have the opportunity to engage in ‘powerful knowledge’ (Young, 2013) A knowledge organiser acts as a planning, teaching and assessment tool. It provides complete clarity to leaders, teachers, pupils and parents about what is expected to be learnt and remembered by the end of the lesson, the unit, and in the long term.

Work Booklet

Each unit includes a work booklet which ensures that every lesson includes rich, challenging text, written at age appropriate level. Key graphics, images and diagrams are all included alongside the text. Questions and tasks break up the lesson, meaning pupils get regular opportunities to practice new learning, in line with Rosenshine’s (2012) principles of effective instruction. The work booklet very clearly sets out the standard expected in terms of class work, ensuring high academic expectations of all pupils (Rosenthal & Jacobson, 2008). Increasing the subject knowledge of teachers, especially non-specialists such as primary school teachers, is paramount as (“pedagogical) content knowledge” has been identified as the most important controllable factor associated with student outcomes (Coe et al, 2014). Furthermore, the workload of the teacher is considerably reduced, as the booklet is printed at the start of each half term, and then no further resourcing is required.


The benefit of retrieval practise is one of the most robust findings in cognitive psychology (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006; Storm, Bjork & Storm, 2010). Low stakes multiple choice quizzes are efficient, effective and motivating for pupils, whilst providing teachers with vital information about what pupils have misunderstood, and/or what they are struggling to remember. These questions can be easily recycled, utilising the spacing effect and ensuring content is retained in for the long term, and not forgotten soon after the lesson or unit has ended.

Lesson Plans

Each unit consists of six, carefully sequenced ‘knowledge lessons’, which can be contrasted with popular but ultimately less effective ‘activity-based’, ‘enquiry- based’, or ‘discovery-based’ lessons described by Kirschner, Sweller and Clark (2006) as “minimally guided instruction”. In line with findings from cognitive load theory (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974; Baddeley 1986; Rosenshine 2012; Sweller, 1988) lessons are chunked into small sessions of explicit teaching followed by regular opportunities for all children to think, apply and practice key skills and knowledge.

Slide Shows

Each lesson includes a slide show, to support the teacher in delivering the content of the lessons clearly and precisely. The slides aid pupil memory by making effect of ‘dualcoding’ (Paivio 1986; Mayer & Moreno, 2003). The benefits of receiving explanations through both the visual and auditory channel is well established in the research literature. Not to be confused with the discredited learning styles approach, dual coding can improve the absorption of new knowledge without increasing extraneous cognitive load.


At the end of each unit, pupils write an extended essay. This ensures that pupils are able to synthesis and elaborate on all of the knowledge that they have acquired throughout the unit, whilst also setting them up for success in secondary school. The ability to reason, argue, persuade and consider multiple perspectives are crucial but ultimately domain specific, and so each essay allows these skills to be contextualised with the knowledge taught during the unit. Essays strengthen the storage strength of the material learnt, whilst helping knowledge to move from inflexible status to being more flexible