St Mary's

Catholic Primary School

Cognition and the enquiry approach


In a nutshell, enquiry-led learning provokes learners with key questions too big to answer in one go, but not so conceptually large that they cannot understand.


The purpose is to guide learners through a scaffolded process, answering the big question with a piece of writing for example, performance or animation.


As cognitive development, emotional literacy and language immersion underpin the Curious-city approach, as well as purposeful links to mastery-led learning principles and attachment theory, we recognise children's awareness of the world develops as they mature and that this has a significant impact on their ability to learn.


Our job is to help learners make sense of the world, not just expose them to it.

The enquiry approach is built around the ideas of Bronfenbrenner's theory which views children's development as a complex system of relationships affected by multiple levels of the surrounding environment, from immediate settings of family and school to broad cultural values, laws, and customs.

This theory challenges us to consider the abstraction of ideas in our curriculum and link them to children's understanding of the world.


Younger children for example understand the world around them from their direct experience of the things they do, see, hear and feel.

Older children can understand more abstract ideas such as how long ago in history something might have happened because they have a conceptual understanding of large numbers and how these might relate to time.


This challenges us to make sure our curriculum is relevant to children's understanding of a range of concepts

The Bronfenbrenner model of how the enquiry approach needs to match children's conceptual understanding and life experiences.