How we build Cultural Capital for our children – and why it helps

Our pioneering Hinterland programme is providing cultural capital for Ipswich Academy’s pupils so they can enjoy a richer life experience and improve their learning.

Cultural capital has existed as a phrase and a concept for decades, but was introduced by Ofsted into its framework in September 2019. They describe it as ‘the knowledge and cultural capital children need to succeed in life’ which dovetails smoothly with work we have been doing in this area for years.

The amount of cultural capital a pupil has can impact how much they get from their lessons at school. Due to differing circumstances and backgrounds, young people inevitably come to the classroom with a range of different life experiences. For instance, some pupils may have been to the seaside, while others will never have visited the coast. If then, in an English lesson, the class reads a novel set by the sea, everyone can understand it and answer questions on it to some extent, but the students who have actually been to the coast are able to relate far more readily and enjoy a richer experience than those who haven’t. 

We are committed to levelling this playing field, ensuring all pupils have access to high quality experiences. We do this through Paradigm’s Hinterland programme, which we’ve designed not only to increase cultural capital in our pupils, but academic capital (the knowledge which supports new learning) and character capital (the knowledge which lets you engage with the world). 

It’s a curriculum of thought-through systematic experiences which Paradigm expects every child from Early Years to the end of Year Eleven to benefit from. These include going to the seaside, the zoo, having a picnic, residentials, museum visits, visiting backstage at a theatre, taking part in plays and other activities which prove beneficial to student’s learning. The activity is then brought back to the classroom and the teachers spend a lot of time unpacking and exploring it to ensure maximum value is drawn out of every experience. 

With recent restrictions it has been difficult to implement as many visits as we would like, however in the past we have taken all our Year 7 students to France, which led to a whole scheme of work based around the visit. Pupils have gone to Wembley to watch an international football match, and at the start of the September we take all Year 11 students to Mersea Island for ‘Boot Camp’ as the official launch of the year. It’s a weekend of team building, revision strategies and no sleep!

By running the Hinterland programme we are working hard to ensure no student is disadvantaged in their education. In this way, we can broaden pupil’s life experiences and help prepare them for future study, employment and, most importantly, leading a fulfilling life.

Last updated July 12, 2021